Artist You Need to Know: Clay Hollis

By Aaron Wagner

There are some artists that you know singing seems to come easy for them. It’s so pure and effortless. One of those artists is country riser Clay Hollis.

Clay Hollis grew up in Texas where he built his musical foundation on artists like George Strait and Waylon Jennings. When you listen to his music it’s timeless in a way that can transport you back to the traditional rich era in the 80s and 90s, while still appealing to the modern country music fan.

He recently released his newest single “Here I Go Again.” With a sound that resembles the likes of Cody Johnson and Randy Houser, Clay delivers a rocking song that showcases his impeccable vocals as he sings about wondering what a former love is up to. I would love to hear this song at radio someday.

As this week’s Artist You Need to Know, we caught up Clay to talk about his new single and his musical background.

Since we’re called Raised On It, we love hearing which artists have influenced your music career and have influenced the type of music you hope to make. Which artists are those for you?

“I grew up listening to a wide variety of music. I grew up listening to guys like George Strait, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard. Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson are two of my favorite artists that I would see live in concert at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. I also have a love for classic and alternative rock thanks to my dad. My all-time favorite being Tom Petty, followed closely by an artist named Todd Rundgren and groups such as Journey, and YES.”

What lead you to a career in music? Do you remember your first music memories where you may have thought ‘this is something I want to do?’ 

“I was encouraged to play more in public after singing in the high school men’s choir. At the time I was a pretty decent guitar player, so I put a set together of my favorite country songs and started playing bars and restaurants, later forming my band.”

When you are writing a song or choosing a song to record, what are the things you look for that makes you know that it’s a song for you? 

“Songwriting is different for me every time. Sometimes it’s the melody that inspires me. Other times it’s good lyrics. I am still learning and becoming a better songwriter every day. When writing music or listening to songs, I look for a catchy melody and then for relatable lyrics. Being a guitar player, I love hearing loud guitar-driven songs with big drums. Every song is different though and sometimes it just depends on the situation and what song it is in order for me to decide if it’s the right song for me.” 

Your recent release is “Here I Go Again.” How did that come to be? What’s the story behind that? 

“Believe it or not, my great friend Gabe Garcia recorded it first. He had it on his record titled “Missing” however he never had the opportunity to promote it to radio. I had always loved the song and actually have been playing it in our live show for years. This past January, when I was in the studio, we really needed a good song to add to the EP and I had the idea of re-cutting it. I asked Gabe if I could have his blessing of recording it and of course, he’s said to go for it!”

“I am extremely happy with how the song came out. It has powerful lyrics and a driving tempo that keeps me wanting to listen on repeat and the volume cranked. As for the story the song tells, it speaks for itself. The story of someone missing a past love and wondering what she is doing. I think we have all been there at some point in a relationship.”

What drew you to “Here I Go Again?” 

“It was a song that really grew on me over the years. Although I didn’t write it, I have always loved it. It’s a song I was able to relate to and absolutely love playing live.”

When your fans hear this, what do you hope their takeaway is?

“When fans hear my new song, “Here I Go Again”, I hope their reaction is them saying, “turn that thing up and play it again!” Granted the song is lyrically about a break-up, the production of the song is powerful from start to finish, loud guitars and drums. That’s what I love most!”  

What’s the response been like since it was released? 

“The response to this song has been great! My social media has been blowing up with people tagging me in their stories and playing the song over and over! I think my fans are really excited to have new music from me. It’s been three years since our last release, so it was time!”

Lastly, the question everyone seems to be asking – how has quarantine been impacting your ability to write and make music? 

“Quarantine has been tough because I have been away from my family. I have been residing in Port Aransas, TX living on a boat. It has allowed me to song write and spend time on the water which is what I love most. It’s not all glitz and glamor, I do pull my weight around the boat in exchange for the owner letting me stay there, but the upside is I have the water as my back door.”

“I have my guitar and I’m still being productive with my music-making the best of this predicament we are in together. As much as I love the water and being around boats, I’m ready to get back to the studio and make more music, but most of all I missing touring with my band and playing shows on the road.”  

Fast money questions: 

What’s your favorite album of all time? 
Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers Greatest Hits Album

Who is your dream collaboration that you’d love to sing with? 
I would love to write and work with Dean Dillon and George Strait someday.

Who is another artist we should all know about, that most may not know?
Somebody that you may not know, is my best friend Isaac Jacob. He is an Americana artist from New Braunfels, TX and a killer songwriter.

What’s your favorite concert you’ve ever been to?
My favorer concert I have been to was seeing Chris Stapleton and Vince Gill perform at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville for Country Radio Seminar.

What’s your favorite song you have written?
My favorite song I have written is one that has not been cut yet. I plan to record soon…perhaps the next album. It called “Past My Beer Time” and I wrote it with Jason Allen and Bart Butler.  

What’s a song that you wish you wrote? 
A song I wish a had written is “Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell. It has always been one of my favorite songs and I still perform it live time to time!