The show has to evolve, he believed, and he has to evolve musically. Otherwise, there doesn't seem to be much point.
Even with almost 16 years in show business, Hayes thinks he's still learning, particularly from the people around him. He's the youngest member of his own band.
"I was a little nervous about that," he acknowledged. "I was a little nervous about serving as kind of the musical director for a band full of Berklee music school grads. Everyone in my band has studied music at a music college of some sort."
But he said he didn't surround himself with musicians with advanced degrees on purpose.
"I was just happy to get guys who love to play music."
Still, he values their perspective, which is clearly very different than his.
"I love it when we sit in the back of the bus and just go over our ideas," Hayes said. "I love collaboration."
Outside of music, Hayes said he doesn't have a lot of interests.
"I'm a total music nerd," he said, but noted that he can cook a little. "I'm a high energy, not especially patient kind of guy, and cooking is the exact opposite of that."
He also loves cars. One of his biggest thrills lately was when TV network Great American Country filmed a segment that put him behind the wheel of an Indy car.
"It was unbelievable," he said. "I'd never been in a vehicle with that much power."
He loves cars, but he probably won't have much opportunity to drive. Through the summer, he's playing dates around the country in support of his self-titled major label debut, and come September, he joins country superstar Carrie Underwood on tour through December.
Pressure? What pressure?
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.