Trevor Hall getting ready for double duty in Columbus
Singer-songwriter will be here twice in a span of two weeks
By Justin Powell
September 29, 2009

Coming from South Carolina, Trevor Hall doesn't know all that much about Columbus. But give him a few weeks, and he might be an expert on our fair city.

The singer-songwriter is playing here twice within the span of two weeks. That's something national artists don't do when they're headlining, but when you're an opening artist like Hall, your schedule is at the whim of the people you're traveling with.

In his case, those artists are Michael Franti and Spearhead (playing Sept. 30 at Newport Music Hall) and Colbie Caillat (playing Oct. 13 at Newport).

Hall—who's best known for his song "Other Ways," which appeared on the soundtrack for "Shrek the Third"—talked with Metromix while driving on a highway somewhere in Idaho. He discussed his hectic schedule, the importance of being flexible and how the songwriting process works for him.

Anytime you're an opener, you're introducing your music to a lot of new potential fans each night. What is it about your sound that helps you stand out and stick with people?
Well, hopefully it sounds original. (Laughs) Hopefully it sounds a little different. It's kind of like this acoustic, reggae, rock, folk vibe, and I don't think a lot of that is going on right now. As a whole, it’s very spiritual music, and there aren't a lot of cats out there that are strictly doing that these days. It deserves a second listen for people who are interested in that path for sure.

The group of headliners you’re touring with is fairly diverse, with Michael Franti and Matisyahu falling into one area, and Colbie Caillat falling into another. Do you alter your show at all depending on who the headliner is?
Well, I think it’s important to bend but not break. I try to be flexible. Whoever we’re touring with, it's good to cater a little to their crowd. If we're playing before someone like Michael Franti and we play a bunch of slow songs, it probably won’t go over as well as if we played an upbeat set. Whereas with Colbie Caillat, if we rocked for 45 minutes with no love songs or ballads, it might not go over that well. It's important to hold your own, but you’re there to please the fans, and you have to keep that in mind.

This tour is pretty extensive. You don’t have many days off between now and the end of November.
Yeah, tell that to my manager. (Laughs)

How do you have fun on tour during the times you're not performing?
[Touring] has its ups and downs ... it's funny because the whole thing revolves around that hour you’re gonna be on stage. The whole day is all about that hour—everywhere we drive, everything we do, it all revolves around an hour. The rest of the time, you have to make sure you keep your head centered and calm, and that type of thing. There's a lot of down time, so we use that for reading or writing new songs, or coming up with new melodies in the car. Just whatever we can to keep our minds healthy and busy. It's not that bad. Usually we're so tired, a lot of the down time is used for sleeping. [Laughs]

If you would, talk a little about your songwriting process. Do you normally come up with melodies first and then try to fit lyrics around them, or are the words the first thing to come?
It goes both ways. Usually I’ll figure out the melody first and then kind of mumble over the melody to see how the words want to come out—I try to see the rhyming pattern and then translate my mumbles into real words. ... Other times I may have some words in my heads and the melody just fits in with it.

What kind of topics do you normally find yourself discussing in your music?
Well, all the songs are very spiritually heavy, whether it's a love song or a song about searching or a song about keeping your strength. They're all crying-out songs. But I don’t really like to [describe] them too much because I want people to interpret songs themselves. I don’t want to say a meaning and have that not be their own meaning for the song. But overall, I do want to reflect a positive message, and I want the music to inspire people and make them think in different ways.