Unlike many artists, Hayes is interested in doing more of his own songs.
"I would like (to) as a matter of pride," Hayes says. "I like having my own songs on my own records. That may wrong to think of it that way. I like people to think of me as a musical person."
Hayes is no Johnny come lately to country and honky tonks. His father, Don, was a professional musician in Oklahoma, who tried to make it in Nashville, but the indy label he signed with quickly folded.
That left the family in debt and scampering back to Oklahoma.
Hayes started playing mandolin as a child and plucked guitar strings at 11. After the family's return to Oklahoma, Wade played in his father's band.
Hayes tried three different colleges, but dropped out after seeing Ricky Skaggs on the 1991 Country Music Awards show.
Next stop, Nashville.
His father's failure sure didn't dissuade his son from music. "I couldn't help it," Hayes says of going to Nashville. "It's something I had to do. It was almost not a conscious choice you know."
"I learned a lot of things. I learned not to trust people for sure. It's kept me out a lot of trouble career-wise. The regular stuff that artist run into," referring to labels and management.
He played on demos while working his own material and playing guitar for Johnny Lee. Hayes began writing with Rains, who gained him an audition with Cook.
Hayes was quickly inked to a contract and released his debut. With his success, Hayes found himself on the road with Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson and a bright future ahead.
But the soph effort somewhat tempered that. His sound didn't match the country light, commercial sounds on radio.
That now could be changing given signs more traditional signs are returning.
"I think everything runs in cycles for sure," Hayes says. "I'm not going to change what I'm trying to do just (for radio). That would be totally unnatural, the way they sound just to fit into a format somewhere. I'm just going to continue to try and sing the best songs I can and sing the best I can. Try to do things naturally and not worry about around me. But I'm glad to see more traditional sounds."
"Sure it bodes well for me," Hayes says. "That's what I cater to more. I'm happy to see that for listening and for business. I just like that kind of music."