Alex LakeHozier’s “Take Me to Church” is being worshipped around the globe. It hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, gained admiration from famous fans like Taylor Swift and Adele, landed the Irish singer gigs on Saturday Night Live and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and nabbed him a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year. Not bad for a tune that was initially recorded in his parents’ attic fewer than two years ago.
"I always thought of myself as a very, very obscure artist," the Irish singer tells Rolling Stone. "I never thought Irish radio would be turned on by my music -- or any f**king radio station, excuse my French."
It’s true that the ballad, which takes aim at the Catholic Church and mixes blues, gospel, folk and soul, sounds like almost nothing else currently on top 40 radio. That’s because Hozier, born Andrew Hozier-Byrne, didn’t grow up listening to modern-day hitmakers. "We lived far out in the Irish countryside," the 24-year-old says. "We had a very, very bad Internet connection."
His main source of musical education was his father, who played drums in blues-rock bands and owned a collection of vinyl and cassettes. "I developed a fascination with the roots of African-American music," Hozier says. "I love Muddy Waters and Nina Simone. I also watched The Blues Brothers movie over and over."
Eventually, he taught himself to play guitar and started writing songs. His crude attic demo of “Take Me to Church” got him noticed by the indie label Rubywords, who teamed him up with producer Rob Kirwan. After his music video for the song went viral in 2013, he attracted the interest of labels from around the world. Columbia signed him in the U.S. and the song took over American airwaves shortly after.
While Hozier’s happy that “Take Me to Church” is a huge hit, he says he worries about the possibility of it becoming too big. "You don't want a song to be bigger than yourself," he says. "I mean, do you? Maybe you do. I don't know. I guess I'll find out."
As of right now, he’s too busy accepting the offers brought on by newfound fame to start working on a second album. "Sadly, I'm too busy to work on my second album in any meaningful way," he says. "But I have a guitar with me everywhere I go and I'll try to keep the ideas coming. I just won't be able to do much meaningful work until 2016, I think. We've just had some fantastic offers this year and we don't want to pull any punches. We're really going for it."
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