Josh Hoyer, 39, isn’t afraid to speak candidly. With a heavy touring schedule and family at home in Lincoln, the lead singer and keyboardist for Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal knows full well the sacrifices musicians have to make. The five-piece band describes itself online as a “combination of soul, funk, and R&B,” and Hoyer counts Otis Redding, James Brown, and Curtis Mayfield as major influences. He says “throwback soul” is something of a trend right now.
“I think that the soul resurgence is something that’s happening naturally because people are looking for something that’s more authentic these days in the music that they listen to,” Hoyer says. “But we’re not trying to follow in that trend at this point. We’re not just trying to just be a throwback soul band.”
People used to call James Brown “the hardest working man in show business,” and Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal are no slouches either. They released their first record with Silver Street in 2014 and have since released a live album and two more studio albums, including the April 2016 release Running from Love.
In addition, the band toured 32 states last year, playing 150 shows and traveling nearly 60,000 miles. They’re on pace to do that again this year.
Some shows have 10 or 15 people in the audience; factoring in travel costs means that the tours aren’t necessarily financially lucrative.
“There’s a lot of parts that have to come together to have a successful show in a new city as a new band. And it’s very difficult to get your name out there, get people to recognize that when they look at the paper, and go, ‘Oh, I’ll go check out this Josh Hoyer dude.’ Why would you do that?”
The band recorded Running from Love in Nashville at the Sound Emporium with Ken Coomer, a Grammy-nominated drummer and producer. They hired a publicist to promote the record. They’ve also posted some videos on YouTube (as of this writing, the video for their song “Parts of a Man” has more than 65,000 views).
“Our goal, working with some of these higher-profile people and the higher-profile studio, was to hopefully get our foot in the door in…more of the national scene,” Hoyer says.
However, despite some fantastic reviews, the breakthrough success hasn’t quite arrived.
“I’m still proud of the art, I’m proud of what we did, but as far as the mass marketing or whatever, it didn’t really pull through yet at this point.”
Hoyer has a wife and two daughters (ages 7 and 2). Everyone in the band makes sacrifices to be on the road, and Hoyer says missing his kids is the hardest part for him. He would be willing to eventually scale back and only play locally for his family’s benefit.
So, why press on for now?
“I ask myself that all the time, brother,” he says. “I love it. There’s nothing like connecting with an audience or a listener or a lover of music. When something magical or spiritual may happen in a room when they’re listening and we’re playing, there’s nothing like that.
“My experience is I have had just enough of that, where someone in the crowd will come up after the show and say, ‘Man, you really touched me. Thank you for your music; it empowers me.’ Just enough of that where you feel like you’re doing something that has merit to the world.” Encounter
Visit joshhoyer.com for more information, including this video: www.joshhoyer.com/media/2016/3/5/soul-mechanic-by-josh-hoyer-soul-colossal