Jack is no stranger to Bluesdoodles, we have followed his varied and always exciting career from his release of Get It Back, nearly five years ago, when we said: ” on the EP; Jack and the band have a scorching sound that is full of depth, rawness, and electric blues.” His guitar and vocals just keep on giving his fire have grown in intensity with different collaborations and bands. The passion for delivering recorded and live music that tantalizes never over-complicates the sound, so the raw authentic Jack rocks our speakers every time.
Check him out on digital streaming services, fall in love with his sound, and then buy the music. Give real tangible support to the artists that give us such joy on stage, at home, and wherever we listen to music.
Without further blurb lets hear what Jack said when Liz asked the questions.
Photo credit: Rob Blackman
Before we chat about your forthcoming studio album, let’s go back to the beginning. What were your influences growing up in Burnley?
Burnley wasn’t the easiest of places to grow up, particularly as a kid who by the age of 14 had long hair and wore flares! I got in quite a few scrapes, simply for the way I looked, and me and my mates certainly learnt how to handle ourselves. The more people took the piss out of me for dressing like a hippy and listening to Led Zeppelin and Neil Young, the more I wanted to stick to my guns. I think I’ve retained that attitude of never giving up to this day. Thankfully I don’t tend to get chased down the street anymore though!
How has the experience gained by playing in a plethora of bands including until recently RHR, influenced your solo persona?
It’s funny because although I’m probably only really known for my solo career over the last 5 years, I’ve been playing in bands for 20 years now which is quite a colourful history. I’ve probably experienced all there is to experience, from drug-addled lead singers who don’t show up to gigs and when they do fall off stage, to bassists who come to rehearsals without their bass.
Any experience is positive because it helps you develop into a better musician, and hopefully more rounded person. One thing I’ve learnt is that I’m far happier being a solo artist than being in a full band set up. I have two amazing musicians who work with me, Lazarus Michaelides and Felipe Amorim, who share the vision I have for my music. I think anyone who has worked with me will know that I am a bit of a control freak, so having two people on board who put up with my crap whilst bringing their own distinct character to the table is fantastic.
Jack, do you see yourself as a guitarist or a wordsmith?I always describe myself as a songwriter above anything else. I tend to write on acoustic guitar, and the words are incredibly important as my songs are usually about personal experiences. I think that’s the thing that connects people with my music – that it is honest. But the guitar is central to that process, and anyone that has seen me live will know that I’ve definitely studied the Zakk Wylde book of guitar hero poses!
Bluesdoodles have been delighted to share the first single and video from your next studio album, The Hammer Falls. What made this the song to launch the build-up to the release of the album next year?
We haven’t got a firm release date for the record yet as everything is dependent on how things evolve with the pandemic. There’s no point sticking something out without being able to gig it, so we are taking our time over the next release.
World On Fire kind of acts as a launchpad for this process, which will take up most of next year. It’s had tonnes of play on rock radio, which is fantastic, because it hopefully preps that wider rock audience for the onslaught that is The Hammer Falls.
You recorded the track in Brazil at Estúdio Versão Acústica and produced by Lucas Sagaz, who also mixed Hutchinson’s recent live album ‘Who Feeds The Lockdown?’ I assume this was pre-pandemic, what was it like recording in South America?
Yes it was a couple of months before the chaos ensued! The studio we recorded at was phenomenal, in the hills surrounded by a beautiful forest. I actually chose to sleep on the floor of the studio the night before we started recording, which was an almost ethereal experience.
Was the rest of the album recorded by the band in individual studios and mixed in Brazil like the B-side to the single ’Ghosts Of Yesterday’?
Well the original plan was to go back to Brazil and do a slightly longer tour there this October, and then record the rest of the album at the same studio. But obviously that has now been postponed, so we’ve been recording at Momentum Studios in Devon. It’s a very similar setup to the space in Brazil, so we’ve captured a similar vibe. We are tracking as a full band in one big space, which is important to the sound we want to create. There’s none of this ‘fix it later’ attitude – we just go in and play the songs right the first time!
Were all the songs written in collaboration with your band mates? How does that work does someone find the lyrics or the music first and the rest of you add your thoughts. Knowledge and expertise?
It’s been a mix. There are certain songs that have evolved between the three of us and others that are just me. As I’ve just mentioned I’m a bit of a control freak, so letting Laz and Felipe in has been quite an eye opener. Laz is a massive metal fan and frequently discusses bands that have logos that are ineligible, whereas Felipe, despite being this heavy hitter on the drums, is into a lot of softer melodic stuff. So the mix is really quite interesting.
Your sound is definitely getting heavier, more rocky. Has it been a deliberate choice, or has it been a natural evolution?
I think everything that happened with my dad in 2019, when he was admitted to a home after developing Alzheimer’s, had a big impact on my music. I basically spent 12 months feeling very angry with the world, in ways I still can’t get my head around. There was another personal issue that effected me right in the middle of my tour of Spain last October which forced the band to come home early that I couldn’t really publicly discuss, but again just felt like another kick in the teeth. So the music became darker and more insular. I apologise if that has alienated my blues fans, but that fire is still burning, it’s just dimmed a bit for the time being. But as I say, I write from the heart and people can take it or leave it. It’s up to them. No need to apologise, music should change reflecting a musician’s experiences. It would be very boring if a band or artist you loved kept producing a painting by numbers imitation of the original album!
All our certainties have been swept away as 2020 progress from full lockdown, through to restrictions and a plethora of rules back into more lockdowns. These times have been particularly challenging for anyone working in the creative industries. As a musician how have you coped with your normal routines of being on the road, being in the thick of festivals, etc. coped with the shrinking of your world?
I’ve always remained positive and tried to develop new ways of adapting to the situation. I’m sure I pissed off a few people this year by constantly banging on about all the different stuff my band were trying out whilst others were just waiting for everything to magically return to normal. But I come from a visual arts background and my partner Liz is an artist, and that sector has been really forward thinking in terms of engaging audiences. The discussions I tend to have are with artists rather than musicians, and that’s certainly rubbed off on me. Yes it’s gutting that the touring life we are all used to is not happening right now and yes this is a disaster for so many people. But we can also use this moment in time to be creative and try new things.
Photo credit: Rob Blackman
With all this change what is next for Jack J Hutchinson as your Solo career grows. Are you planning tour dates for 2021?
Well the main thing I am hoping comes off is a return to South America. That would be phenomenal. But yes we have a whole host of tours waiting to go, including Spain, France, Russia and obviously the UK.
I’ve also been working on some instrumental electronic music that I hope to record next year once The Hammer Falls is completed.
Lastly, what music has been keeping you sane throughout 2020?
Well, my vinyl collection has certainly grown in the last 10 months. I’ve actually been rediscovering a lot of the albums I loved in my youth, and although have listened to sporadically since, have probably never sat down and had that ‘vinyl experience’ with. I’ve been listening to a lot of middle period Neil Young, which had sort of fallen off my radar. And also rediscovering a lot of blues artists, like Charlie Patton and Elmore James, that I’d not necessarily spun in a while. Laz has also finally converted me to liking Iron Maiden. Now and Iron Maiden/Charlie Patton mash-up…that sounds interesting!
Thank you Jack for your time and we look forward to the release of The Hammer Falls in 2021 and a year that brings back live music to stages everywhere.