Published on May 1st, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Blues Traveler’s Brendan Hill On Touring With moe., Upcoming Projects & The H.O.R.D.E. Tour
Around 30 years ago, the four original members of Blues Traveler, who had known each other since their early teens — John Popper, Chandler Kinchla, the late Bobby Sheehan and Brendan Hill — gathered in the basement of Hill’s parents’ Princeton, New Jersey home, and the seeds were planted for a band who has released a total of 13 studio albums. Of those 13 full-length Blues Traveler studio releases, four of them have gone gold, three of them platinum and one six-times platinum.
Ultimately over the course of its illustrious career, Blues Traveler has sold more than 10 million combined units worldwide, and played over 2,000 live shows in front of more than 30 million people. “Run-Around” was the longest-charting radio single in Billboard history, also earning the group a GRAMMY® Award within the “Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals” category.
Fast-forwarding to 2019, Blues Traveler is hitting the road for a Summer 2019 tour alongside moe. The All Roads Runaround Tour, as presented by SiriusXM JamON, kicks off on July 11th in Farmingville, New York at the Long Island Community Hospital Amphitheater at Bald Hill. Meanwhile, the tour is currently part of Live Nation’s National Concert Week promotion where tickets are priced at $20 for thousands of upcoming Live Nation concerts, as running today through May 7th.
I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Blues Traveler founding drummer Brendan Hill — now a resident of Washington State — and below are some highlights for The Hype. More on Hill and Blues Traveler can be found online by visiting the band’s official website at www.bluestraveler.com.
A lot of your shows will be on-sale as part of National Concert Week. How long has your summer tour been booked for?
Brendan Hill: We started thinking about a potential summer package tour last September. I believe moe.’s name came up very early in the discussions and we all got really excited. We have always been big fans of moe. and the chance to play together and collaborate musically was too good an opportunity to pass up.
So yes, this summer you are going out with moe. When did you first realize that Blues Traveler was going to be a permanent fixture in arenas and amphitheater even if you were an indie band?
Brendan Hill: We were very lucky early on to be managed by one of the all-time great promoters, Bill Graham. He put us in front of our heroes like the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynrd, Little Feat, Neville Brothers, Jerry Garcia Band and more all in our early 20s. We got to see how to plan for and play amphitheaters and sheds, all while keeping the improvisational flow going. H.O.R.D.E. Tour was an amazing experience not only from being on stage, but seeing and being a part of all the work that went into putting it on year after year.
Once this tour wraps, what is planned for Blues Traveler?
Brendan Hill: We always have the next year thumbnailed, whether it’s writing, recording or touring. We will be most certainly up to something.
Do you have any other projects going on at the moment? More work with Stolen Ogre?
Brendan Hill: Year round, I always do outside recording and producing projects as well as teaching and mentoring young drummers. But mainly I have been focusing a lot of energy on a couple of cannabis=related ventures. As you know, Washington legalized cannabis in 2015; I was lucky enough to open a successful licensed medical and recreational shop with a partner, “Paper & Leaf,” here on Bainbridge Island. We also just launched a software company made exclusively for Cannabis businesses called “Klicktrack” which has been really fun, challenging and satisfying.
Given how nostalgic people are these days, and how many great artists’ careers were launched in part because of the H.O.R.D.E tour, is there any chance of the H.O.R.D.E. ever coming back?
Brendan Hill: H.O.R.D.E. was an amazing tour that lasted 9 years! There were so many great musicians who graced the stages over the years; the amount of improvisation, collaboration, and musical excellence was a real honor to be a part of. That said, the touring festival has morphed into big destination weekends. I think for H.O.R.D.E to come back it would need to be some sort of variation of this model. We are always open to bring it back, but it has to been done right.
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
Brendan Hill: I have a wonderful family, wife and kids that I spend time with. I have a sailboat and love to be outdoors. I am lucky to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where you have access to ocean, sound, mountains and forests all a day trip or less away. It really is a wonderful place to come home to after tour.
Is there anything you wish more people knew about you personally?
Brendan Hill: I am just very grateful to have had such a long career, being able to play music with my best friends throughout the years, has been a true honor. Making and meeting fans over the years, recording and playing on tour is a dream come true.
Finally, Brendan, any last words for the kids?
Brendan Hill: Music is and should be a part of your life. Play, sing, dance, and listen. Keep supporting live players, start a band, go see bands, support your friends in bands. Music is like water, your body needs it, it refreshes your soul.