Singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson took some time today to answer some of our questions.
Mads: When did you start writing songs?
Eric: I wrote my first song when I was eight.
What was it about?
It’s not that much different from the ones I write now, really. It was called “Why” and it was a contemplative look at why bumble bees sting people and why Pop Eye closes one eye.
To me I always loved music and loved singing and the next logical thing for me was to start writing. I would make up songs with my brother and sister and we’d make a little tape or something. Then when I started learning how to play guitar in high school I started writing more. It was just something I liked to do, as kind of a good outlet for my own expression.
What inspires you to write a song?
It kind of comes from all over. I dunno, I’m kind of interested in the gray area of life. A lot of movies and TV and books and everything has always kind of told us it’s either this or that. It’s love or hate. It’s dead or alive. But I find a lot of gray area in life that’s not really discussed so I’m kind of trying to look at that. It’s not just “I love you,” it’s, “I love you but I can’t be with you because I’m in love with your sister.” There’s a lot of complexities that I try and figure out.
What is your song is “Rock n’ Roll” about?
At the time I was underage and living in New York and I couldn’t get into any of the bars or clubs. I was just trying to convince myself that I didn’t really need to go to the clubs to have a good time and I tried to paint a picture of the people I’d probably meet there be there that I didn’t want to be involved with anyway. It’s me kind of trying to talk myself out of wanting to go there.
Every bio of you mentions how celebrity blogger Perez Hilton introduced your music to the masses. How did he hear of you?
I didn’t really read his blog. My sisters had mentioned him before so I had heard his name, but I didn’t really know much about him. A friend of mine from high school randomly sent the songs in to him and [my sister] called me up a few days later and said, “I just want you to know Perez put this stuff up here.” I said, “Oh, cool.” You know, I thought it would be maybe a couple of extra MySpace hits or something like that. But he put it up there and I woke up the next day and it was insane. My MySpace page overloaded and I was getting tons and tons of emails. It was exciting and really unexpected at the same time. The attention was overnight. It was really great timing and a certain amount of luck because the album had just come out a week before. It was a great publicity push.
You featured Perez in your music video for "Rock n' Roll." What’s he like in person?
He’s extremely friendly and a big music fan. It was kind of just a fun little thing to have him in the video, bringing everything full circle.
You’re lucky he's on your side. He can be pretty nasty to celebrities.
That is true. (Laughs) I’m gonna try and stay on his good side.
You and Meiko both performed at Perez's party in Austin a few months ago. What do you think of her?
We’re friends. We’ve done a couple of shows together. We actually have a couple of connections. Will Golden, who produced my album also produced hers at the same time and we kind of crossed paths together at the studio and stuff.
Do you play a lot of college shows?
College shows were the way I really made my living and got used to being on stage. I probably did college shows for four or five years. If a school is excited to have me then I’m excited to go play there. It’s about audiences and having a good time.
What’s special about playing at colleges?
My music tends to appeal to that kind of crowd and I’m playing to a bunch of people that can all potentially like the music. I think college kids also get a more enthusiastic. As you get older you get jaded and you don’t get as excited at shows. So playing colleges is a lot of fun.
You went to Emerson College. What was college life like for you?
I had a great time at Emerson. I really felt like it was the right place for me. I actually founded a comedy troupe when I was there and I was really doing music as a hobby. But, as I got to the end of school I switched the two.
How about a craziest college memory?
(Laughs) I am a pretty boring guy. I get asked that question relatively often about lots of things and I’ve never got a good story unless I make something up. My interesting stories are pretty lame.
On your website you list Vampire Weekend as one of your favorite bands. They played here last September. What’s your favorite song of theirs?
The song that got me hooked on them was “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.” I think they’re really fun and exciting and kind of different and they’ve got some cool influences. It’s rare that I hear some new music that’s fresh and exciting and has a lot of energy in it.
Your song was just featured on the soundtrack to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. Was it exciting to be featured in a major motion picture?
It was definitely exciting. I have to be honest, I haven’t seen the movie. I didn’t see the first one and I’ve heard my song plenty of times so I don’t need to go to the movies to see it. But it definitely was cool. I got a lot of new fans and a lot of positive messages from that. So it was definitely cool.
Do you have any advice for singer-songwriters who are trying to make it?
You need to be writing all of the time. In college there are lots of great places you can be performing. As a singer-songwriter the two things you need to really hone are your songwriting and your stage [presence]. It sounds cliché or obvious, but it’s writing as much as you can and doing shows as much as you can.
Eric will be performing on September 1st at 9:30pm in the Drama & Film Quad.