It’s been nearly four years since Sam Hunt released his chart-topping debut album, Montevallo, and fans are anxious for a follow-up.
ET exclusively spoke with the 33-year-old county star at the Bud Light Getaway Festival in North Charleston, South Carolina's Riverfront Park on July 14, where he explained why it’s taking longer than expected – and his answer will make you swoon. Not only that, but Hunt is also thinking about heading back to college.
“Yeah, I've been experimenting a lot… Montevallo was a product of a few years of, if you heard all the music I worked on before Montevallo… I mean, it was so all over the place. And then I sort of found this little, this thing with that record… it was this little recipe and I've wanted to try to, like, do that again ‘cause that was fun to me. Not do Montevallo again, but to create something different and unique again. And that's hard to do and that's what I've been trying to figure out how to do,” Hunt revealed.
But he’s also finding it more difficult to write now that he’s “so happy.”
Montevallo was largely inspired by his now-wife Hannah Lee Fowler (Montevallo is her hometown). The pair was broken up when he wrote the album, and then got back together. They wed last April.
“A lot of that first record, I wasn't content in life. And so I felt like I had something to say because I needed to prove myself… but I'm so content and I just don't turn to music as often to, like, validate myself, you know?” he explained at the festival, which also featured performances by Dashboard Confessional and Lil Jon.
“She inspires me, certainly. But the dynamic of our relationship now compared to then is a lot different,” Hunt said. "And I've never written a lot of love songs. Now, I feel like my life is full of love and I don't really know what to do with it, I don't know how to get that into a song. I know how to get the angst into the song.”
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How Sam Hunt and Wife Hannah Lee Fowler Handle His 'Heartthrob' Status (Exclusive)
But Hunt has released some music since 2014. The song “Body Like a Back Road” topped Billboard’s hot country songs chart for 25 weeks after its 2017 release. His new song, “Downtown’s Dead,” was released in May.
Still, the singer is feeling the pressure to get the sophomore album out.
“Yeah, I definitely feel that pressure. When I had those songs ready for Montevallo, I had such a certainty about putting those songs on the record and putting those out to the world and that's what I wanted to say at that time, and since then, I just haven't had that confirmation, that conviction about anything that I've worked on so far,” he said.
“There's such an expectation because, you know, most artists put out records every couple years and I'm just not, maybe as prolific a writer as some of these other artists, so I haven't been able to churn it out," he added.
It truly seems like Hunt is taking his time and enjoying married life, and has made great personal strides over the past four years as well.
“I've evolved in a lot of ways, a lot of perspective that I did not have several years ago. And going through this experience as a small town kid who goes off to college, picks up a guitar and decides he wants to become this, or do this thing that I sort of idealized… and realizing that it's a lot, it's not everything that I thought that it was,” he shared. “And it's given me a perspective on a lot of the naivety that I had as a younger adult….And now I'm really appreciating all the little things that I took for granted. Fortunately, I've been able to do well enough with the music so far that I don't feel like I'm cornered and my back is to the wall… that I've had enough success to really stop and smell the roses a little bit.”
Hunt is doing just that, also spending more time reading and educating himself.
“I went to college and I didn't tune into my studies like I should have and I started to get a little older, and I started to appreciate the value of knowledge, and realizing how much I should know that I don't," he said.
In fact, he’s planning on going back to school in the future.
“Yeah, I plan on at some point,” he revealed, before noting he’d likely sign up for online courses. “I would probably do something like that, which is becoming a more reasonable way to approach learning. So yeah, we'll see.”
In the more immediate future, Hunt is on tour through the summer with Luke Bryan. He also plans to release a new song, “Nothing Lasts Forever,” in the coming months.
“It's just a song that I want to put out. I've been game planning on how to go about putting music over the next 12 months and 18 months, that song is going to be out at some point. Maybe in a couple of months, maybe it'll take longer, but hopefully I'll have a lot more music.”
The singer also revealed he has baby fever, and shared just how many kids he and Hannah are hoping for. Watch the video below for more.