I’m from Indiana, so when an interview with Hicks came across my desk, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more. What does that have to do with being from the Midwest? Well, people from the Midwest, specifically parts of Indiana, are often referred to as, “hicks.” Listen to Jason Aldean’s hit single “Hicktown” and you will get a sense for what it was like growing up in a small Midwestern town. From dirt roads to high school football games, just the name Hicks brought back so many memories.
In an effort to learn more about Hicks before the interview, I took some time to listen to his music and was immediately impressed. Hicks is a British CMA winner, Nashville Universe nominee, and writes songs from the heard. I LOVE his single “I Belong To You” and can’t stop listening to “Stomp A Little Louder.” Listening to him makes me want to drink a Budweiser and sing at the top of my lungs under the stars at a country show. Guys, this is going to be fun. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Hicks.
I’m dying to know… Hicks? Where did the name come from?
I wanted something short and easy to remember. And it fits me fine. I’m a hick from the southern part of Sweden. I never thought that Miqael Persson sounded very country. But Hicks sure does.
You are originally from the south of Sweden. What is the live music scene like there, and have you tried moving to places like Nashville or LA to further enhance your career?
It’s pretty good. There are a few venues that have live music. I think that’s good for a small town like Helsingborg. I moved to Stockholm… That’s where the music industry thrives in Sweden. I was a songwriter when I moved and I never thought that I would go back to be an artist. I was happy writing songs for artists ’round the world.
I am playing with the idea of moving to Nashville. We’ll see what the future holds.
You’ve worked with some impressive talent over the years. Tell me what it was like working with Barbados and how working with so many different artists has helped form the musician that you are today.
It’s always great to work with talented people. I’ve been fortunate to write songs to Jimi Jamison (Survivor) before he sadly passed away. That album Never Too Late was the last album he recorded. It’s an album that I’m so incredibly proud of. Erik Martensson and I co-wrote most of the songs on the album. Erik produced the album. He’s a freakin’ genius. The way Jimi sings those songs are way beyond amazing. He was one of the greatest voices in rock.
I’ve also worked with Bobby Kimball (Toto), W.E.T featuring Jeff Scott Soto, Giant (Dann Huff), Toby Hitchcock, Eclipse, First Signal (Harry Hess), and Nordic Union (Ronny Atkins, Erik Martensson).
Working with Barbados was cool. They were looking for a country song with a twist.
So Jorgen Elofsson and me came up with Kvinnornas Man (The Ladies Man). They loved it and recorded it. The album went Gold and they got a GRAMMY for best album. Not bad…
What is your songwriting process like? Do you sit down to write a song or does it happen over days/weeks/months?
It’s so different. Every song has it’s own ways to get written. Some songs you write in 5 to ten minutes and others can take years. That song writing thing is a funny business. You never know… Some songs write themselves while other has to mature.
I usually write in my head first before I pick up my guitar. I tweak the melodies and lyrics and when I think I have something that sounds like a song then I pick up the guitar.
Tell me more about “Hayride.”
“Hayride” is such a fun song. Fun to write, fun to record and fun to play live. We wanted to write a beer drinking foot tapping song. And I think we did. I had the title and I took it to Lasse Andersson and we started bangin’ out the melodies and guitar riff. It was just so much fun. We actually recorded the video here in Sweden. It was -16 C (-3 F) Freakin’ cold… But it was so worth it.
You’ve won some awards over the years. Tell me more about the British CMA Award you won.
One of my proudest moments. For the first time in my life I couldn’t find the words to speak. Winning “Best European Country Act Of The Year” just blew my mind. Sometimes I stand and look at the award thinking, “Yep, it’s there. I really won it. I’m not dreaming.” It sure has opened a lot of doors for me. After the win I was invited to play CMA Music Festival in Nashville and represented Sweden. That was truly awesome.
I’m originally from the Midwest, what I consider country music isn’t necessarily what they are playing on the radio. I mean… I love Florida Georgia Line, but that ain’t country! In your opinion, what makes country music country?
These days I’m not sure… Some say what I do isn’t country. That there’s too much rock in it, while others love it. To me country has always been about great lyrics and great melodies. And that it was I’m trying to do.
I’m not so crazy about the direction country music has taken. That it has gotten so similar. You can’t tell one artist from the other on radio cause they all sound and look kinda the same. Just like the boybands back in the 90s.
But that’s not the artists fault. I think labels are pushing artists in that direction.
Just because Florida Georgia Line is so successful everybody should sound and look like that. What they forget is that FGL became big because nobody sounded like that.
What I miss is trademark sound. I think when you put on a Hicks song you can tell it’s Hicks. Same thing with Eric Church or Brooks & Dunn. Trademark sound.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Brooks & Dunn. The way they mix country, soul, blues, rock and sometimes a little gospel is just off the hook. Steve Wariner… Great guitarist, great singer, great songwriting. What more can you ask for in Van Halen? (The Sammy Hagar years.) They just had the whole package. Musicianship, songwriting, entertainers and I love Sammy Hagar’s voice.
Eric Church a modern outlaw that does it on his own terms.
Def Leppard especially when they worked with Mutt Lange. Great great melodies and hooks. Larger than life choruses. What they all have in common are strong melodies. I just love great melodies.
You are active on Facebook and Twitter. How has social media helped your career over the years?
I have had huge help from social media. That’s where it all started for me. I uploaded “Mamas Kitchen” on YouTube and it took off from there.
Tell me more about your experience working with MTS Management Group.
GREAT!!! I wouldn’t be where I am today without working with MTS. Hard working straight shooter no bull. And I just love that. Michael’s the best.
I think today we artists can do a lot thanks to internet. But you need help. There’s only 24 hours a day. I’m writing songs, performing, shooting videos, recording in the studio, writing more songs for other artists. So there just isn’t enough time. And I’m a strong believer that do what you do best. And let others do what they do best.
What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
There’s so many… Gotthard (from Switzerland) at Sweden Rock Festival. They just owned the whole festival. Steve Lee their former lead singer. (Who tragically died 2010 in a motorcycle accident). Fantastic singer and front man. Prince in Copenhagen when he just put New Power Generation together. Magic… Chris Janson at Hard Rock Café Nashville. What an entertainer…
Thin Lizzy in Lund with Gary Moore. Phil Lynott was a genius.
How many different instruments do you play?
My voice is my main instrument. But I also play guitar bass and some drums.
What’s next for Hicks?
Right now it’s a lot of promotion. Recording and writing. I’m also writing for other artists. Just got back from London where I was a guest on the TV show Country Sessions. It’s gonna air in December. Gonna go back to play a big Christmas show in my hometown.
In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
For more Hicks info go to website, where you will find all my social media links.
Check out my latest video “Stomp A Little Louder” where Steve Wariner shows up at the end of the video. Crazy fun…