An Interview with Singer/Storyteller Eric Hutchinson
At HelloGiggles, we always appreciate a good storytelling session. And the only thing better than hearing a good story is hearing a good song. That’s why I love Eric Hutchinson and his latest album “Almost Solo in NYC.” First of all, the songs are awesome. Like, “Stick your wet hand out of the shower to make sure Pandora knows you like this song” awesome. Then, you really get a sense of his personality by his totally honest, no B.S. stories and anecdotes in between the songs.
Whether they’re about his adventures in Amsterdam or his spoof of Snoop’s relationship with “Hot Pockets” by the end of the album you feel like you’re friends with the guy. I was lucky enough to interview him, so we pretty much really are best friends now. Okay, probably not best friends. But it’s always more fun to be a fan of someone who you genuinely think is a good person. But don’t take my word for it. Read for yourself what a cool dude this great singer is.
Santina Muha: Thanks so much for meeting with me. How are you?
Eric Hutchinson: “I’m good, I’m good. It’s been a fun week. This record has been waiting to come out, so it’s always fun to get the live stuff out and have people download it.”
SM: Who are your musical influences?
EH: “I grew up in a really musical household. My parents pretty much worshipped The Beatles so they were kind of my introduction to music and are still sort of my favorite band, but there’s a lot of new stuff coming out lately that’s been really inspiring to me. Vampire Weekend is probably my favorite out right now and Frank Ocean, and the FUN record I thought was really great. So there’s been a lot of stuff that’s been encouraging to me, and gets me excited about smart pop music.”
SM: With this album you’re offering that your first one million fans can “pay with a tweet” and, get the album free! What was your thought process behind doing that?
EH: “I did this live acoustic tour, the “Almost Solo” tour, and it was a fun way to reconnect with the songs and do them in a different way, and I thought let’s make sure as many people can hear this as possible. So I had the idea to give away a million copies on my website and so far the reaction’s been awesome. It’s really fun to find a different way to do things. You know, it’s 2013 – It’s not going to a record store anymore. It’s something new and different and that’s really exciting to me.”
SM: Well you’ve had sort of a rollercoaster ride with labels, is that right?
EH: “Yeah, you know the label thing is sort of up and down. I always say it’s worth it, but it takes some work sometimes.”
SM: Do you have any advice to people who maybe sometimes feel like just throwing in the towel?
EH: “In my experience, persistence always wins out. There’s been a lot of times when I thought about just quitting, or it would’ve been easier to quit, and I just keep pushing through it and I love what I get to do for a living. A lot of the people that I know that are in entertainment, the ones that have really stuck to it and keep pushing, they’re the ones that are really in their stride.”
SM: Perez Hilton is a big fan of yours. Tell me about that.
EH: “Yeah, he was really supportive in the beginning and helped me get my name out there when it was important.”
SM: How did he end up finding out about you as an artist?
EH: “I think a friend of mine just sent him a link to my record and he liked it so he put it up on his website, and then it sort of just blew up overnight and suddenly my album was in the top 5 on iTunes. It was exciting.”
SM: So I’ve listened to the album and I love all of your little monologues and storytelling that you do between songs – It’s so funny.
EH: “Yeah, I really like doing that stuff. That was a part of my show when I first started touring – Joking around with the audience and having fun, and as the venues got bigger it was a little harder to do. So that was part of the reason I wanted to do this tour, and also wanted to release those stories so people could sort of hear that and get that part of who I am.”
SM: Yeah, it feels like just as much a part of the album as the music because it really gives the listener a chance to understand your personality. And I loved your shrimp commercial parody on the album, “Watching You Eat Shrimp.” So I was looking through your twitter (@EricHutchinson) and you seem to be really into pop culture and retro TV. If you could play the theme song for any TV show in history, what would it be?
EH: “Probably Saved by the Bell. I’m an insane Saved by the Bell fanatic and that’s a pretty great song. But probably the best theme song of all time, if we’re being honest, is Cheers. “Everybody knows your nammmme.” I mean, that’s just a great song. If I had written that song, I would proudly sing that every night at my show.”
SM: So besides music and retro TV, what do you love?
EH: “I’m a crazy food lover. I live in NY and I pretty much go out to eat every night. And on tour obviously I’m eating out every night. I love learning about new places and new restaurants, and I like cooking when I’m home. I’m also a big sports fan.”
SM: Who are your teams?
EH: “I’m from DC originally so I like the Redskins and the Baltimore Orioles.”
SM: But you’ve lived in both Los Angeles and New York, so tell me your version of LA vs. NY.
EH: “The short version is I love to live in NY and I love to visit LA. I’m out in LA a lot for work stuff and I love the sushi and the tacos and the weather. I have a lot of friends there. But I’m an east coaster at the heart of things so I connect with NY a little more. But I just spent three weeks in LA finishing up my new studio album and it’s great. The weather is great – You put your windows down and cruise in the car, ya know? I mean, that’s one of the best parts of my job is I get to travel and experience a little bit of everything.”
SM: I once heard a live version of one of your songs on Pandora, and afterwards you called out these girls who were talking to each other the whole time you were performing, and it was so funny. What made you want to do that?
EH: “They made me sound a little meaner on the record, but in the show it was lighthearted and they had a good time with it. I just like to joke around with the audience. And I never quite get why people decide to go to a show and talk the whole time, but I guess if they pay for their ticket they can do whatever they want.”
SM: There’s a song on your album called “Breakdown More” that you wrote in college but stopped performing, then started again. What happened there?
EH: “It was a song that I wrote a long time ago and forgot about it, and people kept asking for it and I didn’t really want to play it anymore. And the funny part is I didn’t know how to play it anymore. So I went on youtube and found a person who knew how to play it and I learned from their video. But then I started playing it more and I really started to reconnect with it, and now it’s one of my favorite songs to play live. So you never know.”
SM: Did you ever contact the person whose YouTube video you watched to refresh your memory?
EH: “No, I should maybe.”
SM: I’m sure they would be very happy if you did! And speaking of fans, how often do you respond to fans when they tweet at you?
EH: “All the time. That’s one of my favorite parts about twitter. Especially after a show or when these new live albums come out, getting to hear feedback from people is fun and energizing.”
SM: And when you’re not responding to fans, what’s your “tweet” style?
EH: “I retweet anything I think is interesting. I’m really big on like, “On this day something happened…” or I like tweeting about movies I like. I’m not really a negative tweeter. I don’t like putting bad stuff out there. I just like being able to connect with the fans, and sometimes I’ll do little interview times with them. But I like to joke around, and sometimes people don’t get my jokes on twitter. They’ll get confused, so I have to be careful sometimes.”
SM: Do you do Facebook or anything else?
EH: “I mainly just do Twitter stuff – It’s just easier and quicker. But it’s just great that people are interested at all. I don’t take that for granted.”
SM: What were some of the most fun shows or tours that you’ve done.
EH: “This summer I went overseas and did some shows for military which were really cool. I went to Africa and the Middle East and did a bunch of shows. It was funny though because when we were doing the show, we knew they were all men and women who have a series of jobs and have been trained to sort of learn to keep their impulses under wraps, so I’d be like, “Clap along!” and nobody would clap. And then I’d say, “Let’s get up and dance!” and nobody would get up and dance. And I felt like, “Oh man, this is going terribly.” But then afterwards everyone was super into it and stayed around to meet the band and talk to everybody and take pictures, and they were actually really into it. They were just like, “Yeah, we’re not used to cheering and clapping anymore. That’s just not what we do.” But it was a really cool trip.”
SM: And right now you have two shows planned – One in Nashville and one in New York City?
EH: “Yeah, when the album was coming out I thought it’d be fun to do some more of those acoustic shows. It’s just something fun for me to do, really. And then I’m finishing up my new studio album right now so that’s really been taking up a lot of my time, so I’m excited to get that out. That’ll be out soon too.”
SM: So with these acoustic shows, are they more intimate?
EH: “Yeah, exactly. They’re just sort of small and a little more impromptu. Sort of like the stuff in the record – It’s just more me having fun and messing around and stuff.”
SM: Well maybe one of these days we’ll get you out for a HelloGiggles Storytelling show!
EH: “OK, cool. Sounds good!”
Thank you so much to Eric Hutchinson for taking the time to talk with me! And please, do a Cheers theme song cover on your next album!
Photo Credit: Ramsey Mellette