Walker Hayes' new album, boom., is out today (Dec. 8). The 10-track record was written or co-written entirely by Hayes.
"I started writing stuff that was so personal that I'm almost embarrassed sometimes to sing about what I'm singing about 'cause I feel like I'm a little bit naked," he said at his album release party last month.
Hayes, whose wife is expecting their seventh child next year, already has a Top 15 hit with "You Broke Up WithMe," the debut single from boom. But perhaps no one is more surprised than Hayes that his album is out, since it was only a couple of years ago that he was working in Costco, still writing songs when he could, while chastising himself for holding on to what seemed like an impossibility.
"I was thinking that my dream was such a waste of my time in life, but I still wrote on cups and napkins in my car," Hayes tells Rolling Stone Country. "I would get pissed off at myself, like, "What are you doing? Get your life together." I think it was a matter of me hitting that point, because all of the sudden, people started liking what I was writing. Then, also, Shane McAnally… I wouldn't be here without him, hands down. Exactly two years ago, I was working at Costco, he called me and said, 'Hey, I'm listening to your music. I can't get any of these artists I'm working with to cut it, but I want to make a record on you.' And that changed everything."
McAnally produced boom., and co-wrote two of the tracks, setting Hayes off on a path that he still can't quite believe. But while it took Hayes a long time to finally make his dreams come true, in hindsight he says everything happened exactly as it was supposed to.
"I think that we – we meaning my family – kind of hit rock bottom along this journey, and that's when the truth came out," he says of his songwriting "I didn't think I was going to have an album coming out, so I started writing songs just to write songs, which is why we all should create."
Hayes will serve as the opening act on Kelsea Ballerini's 2018 Unapologetically Tour, which kicks off on Feb. 8 in Birmingham, Ala. A list of all of his upcoming shows is available on his website.