Bruce Hornsby on making albums: Format ‘still has great relevance to me’

Bruce Hornsby has covered plenty of stylistic ground since his multi-platinum debut in 1986. Yet he still found new horizons to explore on his 21st album, “Absolute Zero,” which is radically different than the string-band sound of 2016’s “Rehab Reunion.”

What follows is an edited excerpt from a recent email interview with Hornsby, bringing his band the Noisemakers to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Tuesday, July 16.

Q: What was your mission plan for “Absolute Zero”?

A: Over the last 11 years, I've written over 230 different pieces of music for Spike Lee films. There were several that felt special to me, felt they needed to be developed into songs. I had my engineer create a file of 14 of these, and I already had some song ideas for some of them. So, my charge was to get in my studio and do the hard, mental lifting, the hard thought needed to create over these musical pieces that, for the most part, felt like fairly complete musical statements. So, I did that and entered a very intense period of creativity surrounding these "cues" I had written.

Q: Where did you record?

A: I recorded these in my studio in Williamsburg, Va., and then moved around the country here and there for the next eight to 10 months, adding special spices to the music: yMusic, Rob Moose, Blake Mills and Justin Vernon along with his merry band of musical cohorts.

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Q: Do you subscribe to the belief the album format has become irrelevant?

A: The album format has clearly become irrelevant on a commerce level. On an artistic level, it still has great worth and relevance to me, so I'll continue for a good while in this endeavor in spite of all worldly attempts to diminish and dismiss it! Naysayers have been predicting the demise of the novel for years and years, but that's not stopping the amazing modern writers working in that area.

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Q: What makes Amos Lee a good match for co-headliner?

A: I met Amos last year in L.A. where he was working on his last record with my longtime friend and creative partner Tony Berg. We hit it off personally right away. I have great respect for his abilities and his work, so I asked him to perform at my Funhouse Fest coming up a few months later. He played the festival, was fantastic and later reached out to see about coming together for these dates. We have different approaches musically, of course, but share similar musical tastes and a great love of American music in all its forms.


Who: Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers with Amos Lee

Where: Rose Music Center, 6800 Executive Blvd., Huber Heights

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 16. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Cost: $23.50-$60

More info: Call 937-228-2323 or visit

Artist info:

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