Hunter Hayes had good reason to celebrate this week. His new album Encore, which adds to his 2011 self-titled debut with five new tracks, dropped Tuesday (June 18), and the very same day he played to a sold-out crowd at New York’s Webster Hall.

The concert was part of MTV’s Artist to Watch series, and Hayes gave good indication just why attention should be paid. Even before he took the stage, the entire room was clapping and chanting his name. As he and his band kicked off their nearly two-hour set with “A Thing About You,” one of the new songs on Encore, the balcony floor was shaking profusely. The screams and foot stomps only grew louder as he played hit single after hit single.

“I’m speechless right now,” Hayes confessed midway through the show. “We’re filling up balconies now. This is really cool. This may sound a bit cheesy, but happy Encore day! You don’t know how special it is to spend this night with you.”

Related: Behind The Song: Hunter Hayes’ ‘Wanted’

This week, Hayes sat down with to discuss the decision to revisit his debut with new songs, as well as how his new duets with Ashley Monroe and Jason Mraz came together.

“They all felt like they should be part of the original record,” he said of the new tracks. “The more we recorded them and spent time with them, it was a very interesting revolution. It is all a part of that early chapter, that original record chapter. To hold it for something else would have been dishonest. Putting [the songs] on this record helped me keep the evolution of what’s going on right now without moving ahead too quickly and rushing into the next record.”



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