CD Interviews: Bryan Hutson (Soul’d Out Quartet) on Soulace 3
In the CD interviews column, instead of sharing a reviewer’s thoughts about a project, we interview the artist to get the artist’s own thoughts. Our family has taken the structure and adapted it into a 8-1 format: eight questions from each member of our family for one singer. In this edition, we spoke with Bryan Hutson of Soul’d Out Quartet about their most recent release in their unique Soulace series, Soulace 3.
David: Soul’d Out’s latest project is number three in the Soulace series; would you tell us about the Soulace series and its unique title?
Bryan: When I first came with the group, November 2011, we wanted to do some songs that were recognizable to the typical Southern Gospel quartet fan/concert goer. One of the guys said, “How about if we take the word soul as in Soul’d Out and kind of put a twist on it.” Well, the word solace means comfort. So we took the word solace and put our twist on it and made it soulace with the first CD coming out in January 2012.
Last year, we did Soulace 2 in which we did some old Imperials songs, because we had a new bass singer, Ian Owens, who had spent some time early in his career as part of the Imperials. We grabbed an old Imperials song, The Old Gospel Ship, put our twist on it, added some older songs, and some hymns. We find that we enjoy singing them because we grew up singing those songs in the church and listening to other groups record them – groups like the Statesmen, the Cathedrals, Kingsmen, and Gold City. That’s what the Soulace series is all about.
Kris: For readers who have never heard your music, describe your sound in five words.
Bryan: Five words? Wow! I’m going to say fresh, exciting, harmony, ministry and camaraderie. When my wife comes to a concert, she can tell we all get along, we are all equally minded, and that our hearts are all in the same place. We’re about ministry, we’re about making music, and we’re all friends.
Ben: Who arranges your music? It’s very diverse!
Bryan: I think with the backgrounds we all have, we all just kind of jump in and say, “You know, this would be cool here, this would be a neat inversion here, let’s invert the parts here, let’s try this.” So we take our own thoughts and ideas and incorporate them into our music. I like harmony, so any time there’s a soloist who does a little vocal move, I say, “Let’s put the parts around him as he’s doing this really cool vocal move.” We’re all pretty good at knowing what we can do vocally, what is going to add to the song or take away from the song. I guess we all contribute the best we can and pray it turns out good.
Taylor: Being newer to the quartet, what does Ian Owens bring to the group sound?
Bryan: Ian has a very distinct vocal range. A lot of bass singers, all they can do is sing low and they don’t have a very good solo voice, to me. Ian is much like a George Younce (of the Cathedrals); where he can step up, sing a solo, and sing it in a register that is mainly for a lead singer. He can step up and perform it flawlessly. I think vocally, that’s what he’s brought to us where he can sing the low stuff, hitting ultralow notes and rattle the walls when we need him to, but he can also sing a melody and a solo so we can build parts around it with a great blend. Plus, he spent some time with the Imperials (like I said earlier) and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, so he had a lot of experience when it comes to singing harmony songs. He hears harmony parts really well.
Leesha: Noting this is the second time you have recorded “When God Ran,” would you tell us what that song means to you?
Bryan: “When God Ran” is my testimony song. The song was recorded originally by Benny Hestor in the early 80’s. You could really tell he was an 80’s type of rock gospel singer – real raspy sounding voice. Then Phillips, Craig, and Dean recorded it in the late 90’s, and that’s the version that I heard first. I was a prodigal. I had grown up in church and I let things happen in my life and I got away from God. It was only by His grace and His restoration that I was able to come back and able to be completely restored. I’m so thankful that He loved me enough to welcome me back home.
When I went back to the Kingsmen in 2007, that was the song that I took to the group and to the record company. They could not hear a quartet singing it. They heard a really Contemporary trio – Phillips, Craig, and Dean – and they really couldn’t grasp a quartet like the Kingsmen doing this song. I said, “Listen, people will be blessed by this song – people will be encouraged by this song.” They finally agreed and we recorded it. Night after night, when I was with the Kingsmen, people would come up and say how much the song had ministered to them and helped them.
We recorded it for Soulace 3. The first time we did it was New Year’s Eve, and we’ve sung it every concert since. I have had countless people already come up and had never heard the song with the Kingsmen, but are being blessed once again. I just feel like it’s a message, not just for Soul’d Out, or the Kingsmen; I feel like it’s a message that all Christians should tell – that we do mess up and we make mistakes, but God is faithful, God forgives, and God restores. We need to get that message out because there are so many people in churches all across America that feel like they’ve messed up so badly that God won’t forgive them. That’s why I’m passionate about it, because I know that I was there; I was in that far country like the prodigal. Thank God, that He ran out to us, ran out to me, and I’m eternally grateful.
Sam: How much practice does it take to prepare for a new album?
Bryan: Well, honestly, we don’t rehearse a whole lot. A lot of times, if it’s like the Soulace project, we found demos of the groups we liked. We didn’t learn it exact before going into the studio, because there’s a lot of things that can change in the studio. When you get into the studio and the track is a little bit different than the original; then you’ve got to relearn it, and you’ve got to get your mind to work to match up with your voice. It’s sometimes difficult. Once we get in the studio and get it all worked out; then it’s almost like we take the CD home and learn what we did in the studio.
Jayme: Which song was hardest to record and why?
Bryan: Probably, on Soulace 3, “Arise My Love.” It was the hardest one to record because it was a track that the Imperials had, so we had to match what they did. I had heard different versions of it: New Song, (the Contemporary group) who wrote it and recorded it first in the early 90’s; the Southern Gospel group The Greenes, had recorded it also years ago – so I had their versions in my mind. But we really had to stick with what the Imperials did, because we used their track. Plus, it is very vocally taxing. It starts in a one key and changes keys. We have sang it out in concert about four or five times, and get great response.
Caleb: We asked Matt Fouch, bass singer for Legacy Five, host of “On the Couch with Fouch,” and formally of Soul’d Out, if he had a question for you concerning Soulace 3. Matt asks, “With as many albums as you’ve recorded on, what stands out to you as the being the best feature of Soulace 3?”
Bryan: Wow! That’s a great question! That’s surprising because he’s not usually that smart. Well, I would have to say a song called “You Were There.” Dusty Barret, our tenor singer, recorded this. Dusty, in my opinion, is one the best tenor singers I’ve ever sung with. The best way for me to describe Dusty is he has music in his voice. He’s not a screaming tenor, and he’s not concerned about singing just the high notes. He has just a beautiful, beautiful voice. The song, “You Were There,” talks about God is always there in the midst of the unknown and amidst the things we’re going through. Dusty just executes it, to me, perfectly. If you see Matt, tell him that that was a good question, and ask him how long it took him to come up with that question.
David: Well, you made it through all eight questions! I have Jayme standing right next to me and she is just itching to ask a bonus question. Are you ready for it?
Bryan: I’m ready.
Jayme: Do you guys fix your hair to go into the studio?
Bryan: I do not. Because you have to wear the headphones, okay? So if you fix your hair, then you have to worry about headphone-hair. I learned my lesson the hard way. Now this was back in the day – you know, I’ve been out here for twenty years professionally – and I think the first real professional recording I was going to do, I fixed my hair and I wore a really nice shirt. Now I’m thinking, “I’m gonna be standing for seven or eight hours today, and I’m gonna have headphone-hair – no, I am not going to do my hair.” So I always wear a ball cap or some kind of hat, and I get as relaxed as I can with a good pair of tennis shoes or something comfortable. You’re going to be standing and then sitting, and then standing and then sitting, and then standing, so I do not fix my hair. But I do any other time. I make sure I fix my hair, but not in the studio. That was a great bonus question!
David: Bryan, is there anything else you would like to share about Soulace 3 and what you guys have going on that we can share with the readers?
Bryan: Well, I am excited about Soulace 3, it’s full of great songs, it’s very diverse. A lot of people label our music progressive Southern. We’re a quartet, yet we don’t do songs that are typically done as a quartet. So we do some things I think the young people who really enjoy Contemporary music are gonna like. We also do quartet songs that people who are die-hard quartet fans will like. I feel like there’s songs for everybody. We like to be diverse and this CD showcases that – our diversity, our vocals. We try stuff that sounds neat, and if it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t – and I feel like this CD really showcases that.
Thanks Bryan for sharing about Soulace 3 with us! You can pick up your own copy of this CD on Soul’d Out Quartet’s website: www.souldoutquartet.com.