When Hozier was growing up on the east coast of Ireland, he saw the United States through the eyes of his heroes: bluesmen like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker. “As I listened more and more to the music that moved me, I gained more fascination with America,” he says. “I was definitely drawn to the mythology of one man, one voice and one guitar.
The 24-year-old has since scored an unlikely pop hit with gothic single “Take Me to Church,” made fans of Adele and Taylor Swift and performed at that most American of institutions – the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. That means he’s now traveling the country not as a lonesome singer-songwriter but a genuine, if uneasy, teen idol.
We caught up with Hozier while he explored Tulsa before playing a show at the downtown Brady Theater. This included a stop at the Woody Guthrie Center, lunch at Harden’s Hamburgers and photos outside an unusual roadside attraction. “I didn’t know what to expect of real America,” he tells Rolling Stone. “What shocked me was the diversity of it and how different every city is. But also just how polite and usually good-willed and optimistic most Americans are.”
Of course, the same could be said of Hozier, who met with fans both before and after the show and signed a girl’s shoe when he walked into the restaurant. This sort of adoration still comes as a shock. “I’m not quite used to being seen through the eyes of fans yet,” he admits. “Being met with squeals and screams, I haven’t gotten used to that.”