Listen to Hunter Hayes on iHeartRadio

Reigning CMA New Artist of the Year Hunter Hayes is back with a deluxe edition of his debut album. The re-release, Encore, features five brand new tracks, including latest single, "Crazy," as well as re-recordings of some of the songs from his Grammy-nominated debut. Hunter tells iHeartRadio the decision to re-release the album with new music was because he doesn't feel like he's ready to close that chapter just yet.

Listen to tracks from Encore

Hunter stopped by the iHeartRadio headquarters when he was in New York City to talk about Encore and let us in on the stuff he loves the most. Get to know Hunter by discovering some of his Favorite Things below.

Buy Encore on iTunes

Favorite thing about Louisiana:

The first thing that kind to came to mind was food, but the second thing that came  to mind was people because a lot of my family is still down there. So I'm going to go with food and the people.

Favorite Cajun food item to eat:

I love gumbo. A good gumbo will absolutely set me on the right track and make me happy. 

Favorite sports to watch:

Racing of any kind. NASCAR, INDY. I'm a big fan of INDY and F1.

Favorite show to watch re-runs of:

"Top Gear," the British "Top Gear." It's a car show.

There's an unlimited budget. They can do anything because they are like rockstars in the U.K. They've done everything - they bought an old car, turned it into a rocket, launched it into space. They build campers out of cars... they're just ridiculously fun. Three guys and just goof around and love cars.

Favorite thing about crazy people:

I would say the adventurous parts. Like one of my best friends, I think we get along so well because I'm not very adventurous apart from music, and she forces to me to be adventurous. I'm inspired by people like that... dreamers. I love people who are just endlessly brave and confident, and there's a fine line between confident and the next stage.

Favorite adventurous thing you've done: 

I'm actually learning how to fly airplanes, which is new for me. Which explains geeky pilot's watch. I've spent so much time in simulators now that I could totally go on my solo-flight and I've technically got enough hours to do my first solo. I'm hoping maybe this summer I can find a couple of dates and do that thing.

Favorite new song on the Encore re-release:

I love "Crazy." I'm really proud of that.

Favorite moment on the Blown Away Tour with Carrie Underwood:

I think my favorite moment on the Blown Away Tour was, just starting out, the mystery of it. Ninety five dates on a tour with somebody - that's a long tour. I was so used to doing my own shows at that point, it was an adjustment to shrink our shows down to 40 minutes, but it was nice to be able to do production for the first time. Getting to design the show, I experimented with the show,d which has led to the show that we're doing this fall, the Let's Be Crazy tour. That show is designed from experiments we have done through 95 days on tour. 

Favorite musician that's inspired you:

Stevie Wonder, absolutely. Musically, he's brilliant, I love he way he thinks. It's ... and it's fascinating to watch him. We actually got to sit in a room and write together - I didn't see that coming. It was actually after we had rehearsed for the ACMs. Stevie has done everything he could possibly want to do.

When we did "Dancing with the Stars," he had his dressing room right next to mine,  so I could hear everything. He had his arpeggio set up -it's like this little mini-harp kind of thing - and I'd see him walk past the door in between every set, they were taping it live. He walks past, he goes in the dressing, the door closes and then you hear him jamming. And then they knock on the door and you hear him stop and then he walks back, and then he walks back and he's jamming again.

That just energized me, because I was like, finally, someone else who is as excited about making music as I am.

We've actually e-mailed back and forth a lot of ideas, believe it or not. I got a voicemail from him actually that I saved. That's why my phone never leaves my side. (laughs)

Favorite fan interaction:

All my favorite moments basically come from stories that they bring to meet and greets about songs. They'll talk about a song and what it means to them or how it affected them in a certain point of their life or how it became a part of their soundtrack for a second. That's a very complete feeling for a songwriter. That's exactly what I'm doing it for. 

Favorite thing to do in Nashville:

Honestly, just drive around. There's so much to see in Nashville. My favorite thing to do in Nashville is get in my car. Because if I'm in Nashville, it probably means I haven't been in Nasvhille for a while. 

Favorite place to wake up:

I love waking up at home because I don't get to wake up there very often. My own place. I lucked out - I have this really cool place with a great view, but I don't like to stay there too long. I get antsy. I like waking up at home but I like finishing my day on the road.  I don't know how that's going to work, but the rest of my life is going to be very complicated.

Favorite gas station purchase:

When I stop at a gas station I'm probably getting a soda. I always look for the throwback Pepsis. It's like made with real sugar or something, it's amazing.

Aside from the guitar, favorite instrument to play:

You do have to start that with, aside from the guitar. I love jamming our piano every now and then.

Favorite amusement park ride:

I haven't been to a music park, amusement park in a while. I like the video interactive ones, when you sit in a chair and look in a giant screen or something, I love those. There's no danger in that. 

Favorite drink to order on an airplane:

If I'm on an airplane, the first drink I'm ordering is water, because I get so dehydrated on planes -I drink a lot of water during the day, it's ridiculous. It's probably going to be water and maybe coffee because if I'm flying, it's either early in the morning or late at night. 

Favorite chain restaurant to eat at when you're on the road:

Panera. I love the pastas. I love the sandwiches too... healthy options on the road, which is hard to find. 

Favorite way to travel:

I love traveling by bus. I love driving, I obviously love flying, but there's something really fun about getting in a bus after a show and work on my track - I have a little studio on the back of my bus. I actually built it, and designed it. I'll sit down for a second, catch my breath, change, go back into the back lounge and work on a demo. That's really refreshing to me.

Favorite way to waste time:

Movies with friends are the bomb. Any of them. I'm not into scary movies, they freak me out. I'm in to a good story. Prestige, Deception, stuff like that, I love. You can watch it like 20 times and you're still wondering if you got everything.

Favorite way to agitate your manager:

I try not to. I try to stay on the good side so that when I actually do have to beg for something, it'll come.

Favorite song to perform for your encore:

I love doing covers for encores. I don't think we're going to have a whole lot of covers in the show. My goal is to play as much from the record as possible. But I love encores and I love doing covers as encores because that's kind of letting go, that's kind of like, taking the jacket off and chilling out. That's the relaxation part and that's something that everybody can sing along with. That's why we do shows. We just started doing a Maroon Five cover, "This Love." We have a very rhythmic band; they can do really groove central. So, it's really fun to let them loose on something like that. I really want to do a Train song at some point.

Hunter Hayes' CMT Let's Be Crazy tour with special guest Ashley Monroe kicks off October 10th in Knoxville, Tennessee. Encore is available now.

Photos by Shelby Case