Andrew Hozier-Byrne may hail from Ireland but his music owes a large debt to fifties blues and gospel from the United States. If you aren’t already familiar with his music, it would be a good idea to get a head start now because a lot more people will be aware of him after he performs on Saturday Night Live this weekend. For the young artist, this is surely a huge milestone and a very memorable cap to the week during which he released his self-titled debut. In the past year, the 24-year old singer-songwriter had released two EPs, From Eden and Take Me to Church, the latter of which contains the slow-burning title track that helped him break through. Ahead of his performance at this past summer’s Newport Folk Festival, Hozier chatted briefly with us about “Take Me to Church” and its controversial music video.
Did you anticipate “Take me to Church” being as big of a hit as it has become?
No. When I first released it in Ireland, it was like the first group of songs that I recorded in my attic. And that I co-produced with Rob [Kirwan]. They were demoed in my attic. The vocals were all recorded in my attic, it was like the first project that I recorded myself. So no. I certainly didn’t see it ending up here. It’s been an insane year, so really it has happened very, very fast.
Would you say the song is a bit anti-religion?
I wouldn’t say it’s… Well you could bring it that way. The objection of it is not anti-religion. But its certainly tongue-in-cheek attack against the Catholic Church. But also on a larger extent, just all organizations — they always will exist — that undermine humanity.
Have you faced any backlash from any critics or anyone in Ireland?
None that will I would consider worthy of the attention. You know, like the toilet wall of a Youtube comments section possibly. People spark a lot of debate there. But even so. You know thankfully I don’t think it should be controversial, you know, a human right is a human right. So not a huge amount, thankfully, not yet. So the worst is yet to come.
The video was sort of about the Russian LGBT community. Do you feel as if you are trying to reach out to them actively?
Oh yeah. The video is very purposefully set to that. I didn’t want the video to reflect the church as such. I didn’t want to be so on-the-nose about it. It’s about just a different organization. Somewhere else in the world where the same thing is happening. Albeit in a more violent and… [with] a fairly bare-faced, a lot more bare-face, hatred. I have been following what was going on and conditions and stuff. I think Allout.org had words sharing information about the laws in Russia. So, that’s why we’re based on that.
Do you find yourself actively supporting any other causes?
I do. Oh yea. I have very strong feelings about a lot of things. I am sometimes reluctant to come straight to the forefront with it. You know first and foremost I’m a musician. I’m a songwriter. I don’t want to confuse people. Like if I was writing songs just with my agenda. I think I would rather write songs that just reflect today naturally. Like just reflect life right now, and I would be wary of putting in a very deliberate pushing agenda in music. I think it’s for people to reflect upon. But certainly my opinions will bleed through that.
What are your thoughts on the environment given that we are at Newport [an environmental festival to some extent] now?
Mostly very depressed ones. I think it’s incredibly frustrating and aggravating for anyone. Not even just [the] environment but just, you know, seemingly watching the world burn and having very little power to stop it. I’m very happy to do Newport festival. [It’s] a big deal to me. Just all my influences, all played Newport from the Fifties onwards.
When was your first visit, as an artist, to the US?
Last year, yeah. We first stopped in New York, and it was also my first visit to America, full stop. I had never been to America. We did some stuff in NY. Some radio, little bits and pieces. People were very supportive. We played the show. I think the first, in The Slipper Room in New York. That felt good and the crowd were amazing.
Hozier has already sold out many tour dates for this year and his early 2015 stretch, some of which are with native-Icelander Ásgeir. When I mentioned Ásgeir had gone to see him at Bowery Ballroom (from what I could tell on social media), and suggested that touring together would make sense, Hozier responded enthusiastically, “OH REALLY? Oh wow yeah, I think we are label mates. He’s a fantastic artist. I keep missing him.” Hopefully you won’t miss either of them as they are both currently touring the United States.
2014 Hozier US Tour Dates:
Sep 29 Nashville, TN Exit In
Sep 30 Nashville, TN Exit In
Oct 1 Atlanta, GA Variety Playhouse
Oct 3 Austin, TX Austin City Limits Festival
Oct 4 Dallas, TX The Kessler
Oct 5 Houston, TX Warehouse Live
Oct 12 Álvaro Obregón, MX Corona Capital Festival
Oct 16 Los Angeles, CA The Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church
Oct 17 San Francisco, CA Regency Ballroom
Oct 19 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
Oct 20 Vancouver, BC Commodore Ballroom
Oct 21 Seattle, WA The Showbox
Oct 24 Boulder, CO Fox Theatre
Oct 26 Chicago, IL Metro
Oct 28 Toronto, ON Phoenix Concert Theatre
Oct 29 Montreal, QC Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre
Oct 31 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club
Nov 1 Philadelphia, PA The Trocadero Theatre
Nov 4 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
Nov 5 New York, NY Irving Plaza
Nov 6 New York, NY Irving Plaza
2015 Hozier US Tour Dates (includes some shows with Ásgeir:
Feb 5 San Diego, CA North Park Theatre
Feb 6 Los Angeles, CA Fonda
Feb 10 Oakland, CA Fox Theater
Feb 11 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades
Feb 13 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
Feb 14 Seattle, WA Paramount Theatre
Feb 15 Vancouver, BC Orpheum Theatre
Feb 17 Salt Lake City, UT The Depot
Feb 18 Denver, CO Ogden Theatre
Feb 20 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
Feb 21 Milwaukee, WI Pabst Theater
Feb 23 Lawrence, KS Liberty Hall
Feb 24 Saint Louis, MO The Pageant
Feb 25 Chicago, IL Riviera Theater
Feb 27 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall
Feb 28 Royal Oak, MI Royal Oak Music Theatre
March 2 Toronto, ON Sound Academy
March 3 Montreal, QC Massey Hall
March 4 Boston, MA House of Blues
March 6 New York, NY Beacon Theatre
March 7 Philadelphia, PA Electric Factory
March 9 Washington, DC Lincoln Theatre
March 12 Charlotte, NC The Fillmore Charlotte
March 13 Atlanta, GA Tabernacle
March 14 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium