Hozier is a throwback. It’s evident with a glance at the striking cover art for each of his albums.
His eponymous breakthrough release features a faceless Hozier with a sliver of the ocean replacing his eyes, nose and mouth.
The aquatic theme also plays a role on his latest album, “Wasteland, Baby!,” which was released March 1 and just debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. It’s his first No. 1.
Hozier, whose real name is Andrew Hozier Byrne, is sitting at the bottom of a pool.
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“You can thank my mother for those covers,” Hozier says while calling from Los Angeles. “The first album is a painting my mother made. We did a photo shoot in a pool with the second one. I like the concept of being under water.”
Hozier, 28, is a throwback when it comes to music as well. That was evident with his breakthrough “Take Me to Church,” which was released in 2013. The song caught fire and led to a recording contract and a 2015 Grammy nomination.
“I couldn’t believe how that song took off,” Hozier says. “But then again I don’t believe in a lot of things.”
What Hozier means is that he doesn’t believe the hype. After his eponymous album was released, it went straight to the top of the charts in Ireland and made noise in America, hitting No. 2 on Billboard’s chart.
Hozier attributes his mindset to being Irish. “When the going is good,” he said, you don’t buy what everyone tells you.
Hozier, who will perform a sold-out show March 16 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, points to his fellow countrymen, the iconic U2, who have mastered taking the air out of the hype machine.
“They couldn’t have accomplished what they have if they bought into what people say,” Hozier says. “Believe it or not Bono is still a regular guy here. All I want is to be that and make music.”
Hozier took a hiatus after his initial tour, not worrying about keeping the momentum going.
“When the tour ended I needed to decompress,” Hozier recalls. “I went to the Irish countryside for a year just to live life. I caught up with friends and family. I went swimming in the sea and cleared my head.”
That places Hozier in the minority. Many peers who have tasted success will continue to grind. “That’s just not me,” Hozier says. “If I did that, ‘Wasteland, Baby!’ wouldn’t sound like it does.”
The latest batch of Hozier tunes are poignant, sardonic and at times sensual. Hozier infuses a spirituality into his rock.
“You’re listening to what came from a blank canvas,” Hozier says. “I took the next step with this album.”
Hozier is looking forward to showcasing the songs in Raleigh. This time he’s hoping for better weather.
“The last time I played Raleigh (June of 2015 at the Red Hat Amphitheater) it rained so much that it was biblical,” Hozier says. “There was two or three inches of rain and lightning struck close by. I’ll never forget the crowd that night.
“The people that came out were total troopers. They were soaked to the skin but they hung in there and sang along with me. I know we’ll be inside this time but I don’t want to even ask around in the rain in Raleigh. It’s a cool city. I don’t just want to play it. I want to get out on the streets and experience it.”
Will fans have a chance to see Hozier busk on the streets?
“If you want to see someone busk, don’t look for me, look for Bono,” Hozier says. “Nobody really talks about it much but Bono busks along the Main Street of Dublin pretty much every Christmas Eve. But that’s what it’s about when you’re an Irishman. You’re part of the people no matter how successful you become.”
Who: Hozier with Jade Bird
When: March 16, 8 p.m. (He will perform at Charlotte’s Ovens Auditorium March 17).
Where: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh
Tickets: Few tickets remain, starting at $110
Info: 919-996-8700 or dukeenergycenterraleigh.com