The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Jack J Hutchinson Pops Into Rock ‘N’ Load World HQ For A Chat
So, Jack, I have seen you floating around media social for the last year or so making waves and such, so it is a pleasure to finally catch up with the enigma that is Jack J Hutchinson.
I have yet to actually hear your music, so I am wondering as a newbie if you were to point a fresh-faced JJH virgin like myself to a track that is “Jack in a jar” what track would that be and why?
You’ve been missing out! Joking aside, the new single ‘World On Fire’ captures the light and shade of my music. I guess I’m known for delivering two quite different types of music – full-on rock with my band featuring Lazarus Michaelides and Felipe Amorim, and then my softer acoustic roots songs. This track runs at full throttle with a Sabbath-eque first half, before it unexpectedly veers into a softer middle section, and then kicks back in for the finale.
Where did your passion for music start and who was responsible?
I’ve always had a creative urge. When I was a kid I was always drawing and creating art, and this developed into a love of guitar. I think the thing that actually really interested me about the instrument was the possibilities to write my own songs, rather than be a ‘guitar god’ or whatever you want to call it. I’ve always seen myself as a songwriter above anything else. Both of my parents are really creative people, with my mum writing novels and short stories whilst my dad loved to restore vintage cars. So my creativity came from them.
Who would you say were your biggest musical inspirations and which do you feel helped shape your sound?
Neil Young is probably the artist that has had the biggest impact over the years. Obviously, his songwriting has influenced my own, but his general attitude to life has been important. I think the music industry is a tough thing to try and navigate, and having a sheer will to survive is handy. On the guitar side of things, Zakk Wylde and Tony Iommi are obviously there, but I’ve always listened to Nick Drake and John Martyn as well. I’ve also been influenced by jazz, particularly in terms of the improvisational element of my soloing, so John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk are in there as well…although I’m not sure people will hear it!
Is there one particular artist that you admire who inspired or influenced you and what is it about them that drew you to them?
Jimmy Page is my all-time #1. Obviously, he’s a great guitar player and songwriter. But there’s an air of mystique about Page that few other artists achieve.
Do you have an iconic album (or two) in your music collection that sums up your youth?
I bought a copy of Physical Graffiti on vinyl when I was about 15 which means a lot to me. I actually remember picking that up from a music store in Burnley where I grew up. It was the middle of summer and I was obsessed with this girl at school, who I’d written a bunch of songs about but couldn’t pluck up the courage to ask out. I remember listening to Ten Years Gone and that song has a massive effect on me. I seem to remember saying to myself “well I may not have got the girl, but at least I have Zep!”.
If you step away from the guitar orientated music, who would you listen to and what is it about their music that draws you in?
I actually listen to a lot of electronica, particularly after shows. When you’ve been playing loud guitar for two hours, the last thing you want to listen to is more of it! I’ve been listening to quite a lot of Bonobo recently, which is great stuff. And I frequently listen to John Carpenter, who is best known for his movie scores but actually has created a hell of a lot of really captivating music.
You have new music en route, how do you feel it sits against your previous work and how does it feel releasing it in 2020, the year that never was …?
It’s funny because my attitude to this year was that it was an opportunity to be creative in unexpected ways. I’m a visual artist as well as a musician, so maybe that’s influenced my approach – that it’s a unique moment in time to think outside the box.
I’ve written a lot of new material this year, including songs for my forthcoming album The Hammer Falls. I’ve also been working on an acoustic blue roots album and an instrumental electronic/rock album. So it’s been exciting to realize these projects, which I’ve been planning for a while but never had the time to commit to.
As a hard-grafting artist, for us mere mortals on the outside looking in, with the music industry as it is today even pre-Covid, what does it take for you to do what you do day in day out?
I’ll admit, I really struggled early on this year. Having 12 months of touring wiped out was a punch in the gut, both emotionally but financially. But we’ve survived so far and the support of our fans has been immense. I won’t forget it.
Looking at how we consume music now, streaming vs physical products, what kind of expectation do you have around an album release and how do you quantify its success on a personal level?
I’ve always approached music from a creative side of things, in the same way, I do my drawing. If it sells, great, but that’s not why I am doing it. There’s something in my gut that pushes me to want to write songs and respond to the world in that way. I think some artists get it the wrong way round. I’ve had conversations with musicians where they’ve gone “I only sold 500 copies of my album and I’m devastated”. Well, that’s 500 people who have been touched by your craft, which is phenomenal. I always say, “but are you happy with the songs you have created?”. That for me is enough. If others catch on, wonderful.
Speaking of Covid – apart from the obvious were you directly affected by the pandemic, were any major tours in the works that had to be shelved or the album itself, was it due for an earlier release date originally?
It was almost like Rambo ran in and utterly annihilated my 2020 schedule! Seriously, we had so much planned for this year, including tours of Brazil, Spain, France, Switzerland, and Germany. There were even discussions about shows in Dubai at one point that got scrapped. But we persisted and did a series of reduced capacity shows, culminating in a large festival in France. That’s one of the major things I’m proud of this year, that will still managed to get out there and play shows.
In terms of album releases, we actually recorded an album in lockdown called Who Feeds The Lockdown? that was produced remotely by Lucas Sagaz in Brazil. We somehow got it pressed on vinyl during that crazy period too. So, in actual fact the next album wasn’t really delayed…we just recorded another one in between!
How do you see the industry coming out of this, do you feel there will be major changes on the horizon that was already on the cards, or do you think now a potential vaccine has been tipped that we may see confidence returning and business as normal n 2021?
I’m not sure we will return to how things were pre-pandemic any time soon. But I still think shows will take place and tours will start to get back up and running, albeit with reduced capacity shows that possibly integrate live streaming. In some ways, this is the most exciting time in living memory as it’s an opportunity to shake up the system and develop new ways of being creative.
With your new music coming our way, what is next on the cards for you and if you could have one (selfish) wish for 2021 what would that be?
We’ll be spending the next two or three months working on the next album The Hammer Falls. We’ve had a few discussions with different labels about working with them on its release, but I’m always a bit cautious about that side of things. Basically, I don’t like being told what to do!
In terms of a selfish wish… I reckon Led Zeppelin should reform for one more show. The world deserves it.
Jack J Hutchinson releases the first single & video from his next studio album The Hammer Falls. This coincides with him being the ‘Live Act of 2020‘ & a ‘Top 20 Band of the Year‘ by the listeners of www.greatmusicstories.com
‘World On Fire’ is a 4-minute slab of hard rock that mixes a brutal Sabbath-esque opening riff with a sing along chorus perfectly built for packed venues. The middle 8 takes the track in an unexpected direction, with hints of Pink Floyd, before the band come crashing back in for the finale.
The track was recorded in Brazil at the renowned Estúdio Versão Acústica and produced by Lucas Sagaz, who also mixed Hutchinson’s recent live album ‘Who Feeds The Lockdown?’. It was co-written with his band mates Lazarus Michaelides (bass) and Felipe Amorim (drums).
The B-side to the single, which will be released on limited edition silver vinyl style CD and digital, is the brand new track ‘Ghosts Of Yesterday’, which was written during lockdown in response to the global pandemic. The song was recorded by the band in their individual home studios, and again mixed by Sagaz in Brazil.
Commenting on the release, Hutchinson says: “We wrote and recorded World On Fire in the middle of a remote forest in Brazil. It had an incredible vibe that pushed us to try new things. I actually slept on the floor of the studio whilst I was there to really soak it up. It was an incredible time.”
Explaining the themes of the track, he says: “The song was written before the pandemic, but since the events of this year it has taken on an even greater meaning. Basically 2020 has been a kick in the teeth for everyone, but in many ways it gives us an opportunity to rip up the norm and start again. We have to remain positive.”
The band are currently working on their next album at Momentum Studios in Devon, where Kris Barras Band recorded their last two albums. “We had a blast touring with Kris last year and love the sound of his records. We had originally planned to complete the recording in Brazil this year, but our 2nd tour of the country has been postponed to 2021, so this seemed like the perfect solution.”
“Southern-smoked blues-rock with hooks, choruses, the lot.” (Classic Rock Magazine)
“Swaggers confidently between loose-limbed blues, Southern rock and even a touch of psychedelia.” (Planet Rock)
“Growling vocals combine with raunch ‘n’ roll acoustic and electric guitars. A name to watch out for.” (Guitarist Magazine)