Hozier's "Take Me to Church" was one of the biggest hits of the 2010s and is a song just about any artist would be happy to have in their catalog. However, it also posed a challenge for the Irish singer-songwriter. While he could have easily gone down with the one-hit wonders of music history with the track, that was not the case. After the whirlwind success of that acclaimed song and his self-titled album, Hozier simply put his head down and made the record he wanted to make. Without deliberately trying to craft a radio hit, his latest has resulted in a solid effort fans have fervently latched onto.
"I think when you have a song like that, that was a bit of a crossover ... I was unsigned, pretty much, when that song was written, and poor. And it was kind of coming from an indie place, and then it just became this huge kind of mainstream, top-five kind of pop hit, which was super cool," Hozier told PopCulture.com during an interview at Bonnaroo this past June. "I think replicating that or trying to replicate the chart success and success by numbers would mean writing by numbers and that would mean writing music that sounded like other charting hits. 'Take Me To Church' never was that. It never sounded like a charting hit; it kind of stood outside of that. So, it was a bit of an outlier, it was a bit of a dark horse."
Hozier adds that the "pressure" he felt after the hit single was more about writing something that came from a "similar ethos."
"Some people will follow your work on from that and some people won't, but I think what was more important to me was continue to write with an eye and with an aspiration to write and the ethos to write, with a similar ethos that I wrote that song with and a similar approach that I wrote that song with. That was what I tried to do," he said.
Of the songs on his sophomore effort, Wasteland, Baby!, that exemplifies this effort is the grand protest rocker "Nina Cried Power." The song, which was the first song released from the LP, features Hozier teaming with music icon Mavis Staples to rally for change and honor artists like Nina Simone and James Brown, who are referenced in the song's chorus. Staples was one of the musicians Hozier name-checked when penning the track, so it presented the perfect opportunity for the two to collaborate.
"There was a bit of talk back and forth about us getting together on some sort of project. It never really came to fruition. We never got a chance to sit down and talk to one another," he said. "And then when that song was written, when "Nina Cried Power' was coming to fruition, or the song was making sense and the names of artists were in there including Mavis, it just was a no-brainer. She kind of embodies, in her work and her legacy embodies what that song tries to say. And so we sent it to her, she was in Chicago at the time, and we flew out to Chicago."
Wasteland, Baby! is available wherever you buy or stream your music. Hozier's tour dates can be found on his official site.
Photo Credit: PopCulture.com / John Connor Coulston