Eric Hutchinson Unveils His Swoon-Worthy Sound
He may be a week away from his current tour’s swing through the New England region, but Eric Hutchinson is already nostalgic for an area of the country he once called home.
"You’re calling from a 508 number," asserts Hutchinson, the moment he answers his ring for a phone interview with EDGE. "My ex-girlfriend was from 508."
Hutchinson’s relationship, like most of his memories of the area, is now a vestige of the past. But the singer-songwriter retains a fondness for Boston and its ’burbs; he studied filmmaking at Emerson College, recorded part of his debut album "Sounds Like This" in Cambridge and includes a street map of greater Boston on the disc’s cover artwork.
But, though he returns in the week ahead for a few stops at Massachusetts and Rhode Island venues, the 20-something artist has grown beyond his local roots into a bona fide national draw. He’s his generation’s answer to Billy Joel’s observational everyman lyrics, combined with the acoustic-soul-pop of Jack Johnson.
He’s sincere. He’s cute. He’s complicated. Insert: Swoon.
"I’m interested in the gray area of life and relationships," says Hutchinson. "I think that’s the universality to my songs. I try to make a break-up song that’s [like], ’I love you and you love me, but you slept with my brother.’ I think people relate to those details."
More importantly, they relate to the way in which Hutchinson treats even the most heartbreaking, heartrending, or--in the above case--dysfunctional relationship circumstance. He melds even his most despondent lyrics with upbeat guitar strums and indie-light leanings that practically command listeners to tap their foot with a big, gleeful smile through any and all personal pain.
"You can get people to sing along to anything if it sounds upbeat," Hutchinson says with a laugh. "I have one song about a landlord who falls in love with his tenant and winds up murdering them."
"Oh, real life’s not exciting enough," he laughs, when asked if the harrowing tale of housing homicide is based on real life experience, as many of his relationship-driven songs are. "Sometimes you have to make it more dramatic. My life’s not always interesting enough."
"Besides," he adds, regarding the value of hyperbole. "You never hear a song that goes, ’I really like you a lot.’ It has to be ’love,’ or it doesn’t quite cut it."
One thing that’s not being exaggerated is Hutchinson’s success, which has grown exponentially since he was that Emerson College student dabbling in the local music scene, to a signed Maverick Records artist who saw his first attempt at a full-length album fall flat when the label folded.
"I really considered quitting," says Hutchinson of the time after his 2006 work with Maverick met with a dead end. "I really felt that the Maverick shot was my best chance, and I really didn’t know what else to do. I had put so much into it... what was I going to do, go to a job interview with no resume? ’Oh, what did you do? You made one CD. OK, thanks.’"
Luckily, Hutchinson refused to give up. Soon, he work was discovered by Perez Hilton, the celeb-sphere blogger who posted a note about the artist’s music on his website. With that one entry, Hilton launched Hutchinson into the top iTunes downloads; sound like this suddenly landed at No. 5 on the iTunes album charts, becoming the highest charting album by an unsigned artist in the chart’s history.
"It’s funny how many people are embarrassed to tell me they saw me on Perez," continues Hutchinson, though he’s quick to dismiss any hipster stigma; he even gave Hilton a cameo in his music video for the track "Rock & Roll."
There is, however, one area in which Hutchinson departs from the celebrity obsessed, blog-driven culture that created, at least in part, his recent success.
"Maybe at one point I was doing it [music] because I wanted to be famous," admits Hutchinson. "But after all the heartache, I realized the only reason I do this is because I love it: the ability to go out and connect with the fans."
Hutchinson continues, "I realized the fragility of it all."
Eric Hutchinson plays Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA on Sunday, July 27; Wilbur Theatre in Boston, MA on Tuesday, July 29; and Hi Hat in Providence, RI on Wednesday, July 30. For show prices and to purchase tickets, visit: erichutchinson.com