When Eric Hutchinson stepped into the studio to record the songs that would eventually land on his sophomore release Moving Up Living Down, he had a solid idea of the feeling he wanted his songs to create. “I definitely had the live show in mind when I was working on the album, I thought: can people sing along with this stuff? Can people dance? Can people clap?” He explained, “The best thing people tell me about the last album is, ‘it’s my feel-good music – I put it on to feel better.’”
And it’s true. If you’ve listened to the tracks on Eric’s debut record, Sounds Like This, then you already know that he has this soulful, organic and undeniably fun quality that makes you want to play the songs over and over again.
With Moving Up Living Down, Eric strikes again.
“To me, the record is about growing up but also staying true to yourself,” he said. Growing up, he says, because he wrote many of the songs on his latest record after he moved away from his hometown in Maryland and straight to the Big Apple, New York City. Eric has a unique way of bringing us along through the ups and downs of his life in New York, especially with the cynical yet fast-paced songs like “I’m Not Cool” and “Talk is Cheap.”
The first single released from this record, “Watching You Watch Him,” makes you feel like you’re watching him play it live with it’s clapping beat and the addition of some layered vocals during the bridge to make it sound like you’re at a party.
Eric played a special set at The Bing Lounge in Portland last month and one of the things that really struck me about his performance was his incorporation of hand claps and foot stomps to accentuate the emotion in all of his songs. Now that I’ve seen him live, I know now that I will never miss his Seattle shows again.
When you see him play live, you’ll understand why.
You can read some highlights of our conversation and listen to clips from the album below:
Hi Eric! How’s the tour going?
Good! I just left Palm Springs and I’m headed to Santa Barbara so, things are good!
I’d love to talk to you about the new record…what does it mean to you?
Yeah, well I think the new album – you know, the term “moving up living down” – it has a couple meanings to me. One of them is growing up and moving…I lived in Maryland; that’s where I grew up and where I made my first album and then right afterwards I moved to New York City. I’ve been living in New York and that’s where I wrote the new album. To me, the record is about growing up but also staying true to yourself. I’m really proud of the record, I think people are going to love it.
There’s one song on the album, “People I Know,” that you wrote in Portland right?
Yeah, that’s true! I was working on it there. A lot of times I’ll start a song and then I’m kind of compulsive with it. Then every time I see a keyboard or a guitar, I’ll keep writing it or finding it. When I was in Portland, I was at Kink radio and they had a really nice piano, so when I was doing soundcheck I was working through some of the stuff.
When you went in to record Moving Up Living Down, did you already have an idea of what you wanted it to sound like?
Yeah I think so – to me, a huge part of my music is rhythm and I got to work with two great producers that were big on rhythm and making sure those drums felt big. When I’m writing a song – if I’m not stomping my foot while I’m writing it, then I usually don’t think it’s a very good one and I get rid of it. I got to work with Mike [Elizondo] in LA and Martin [Terefe] in London and I’m really proud of how this album sounds.
Was there anything that you learned from making your last record that you brought with you into making this one?
I think more what I learned from touring a lot was that I loved getting to play my songs every night but there were points in my show where I was like, oh I wish we had a song like this, and then I was able to write a song like “The Basement” on the new album or I wish we had a song like that, and then I wrote a song like “Not There Yet.” So that’s what I was more excited about. I definitely had the live show in mind when I was working on the album, I thought: can people sing along with this stuff? Can people dance? Can people clap? …The best thing people tell me about the last album is, “it’s my feel-good music – I put it on to feel better,” and I definitely felt a responsibility to them on the new album because music is made to make people feel good.
One of the things I love about your music is how you keep it organic…
Yeah, I mean that’s what makes art – the feeling of a human being doing it…and a big part of being human is making mistakes and I think those mistakes need to end up in the recording to make it interesting. Today, everything is done on a computer and you’re able to edit everything and fix everything but that can sometimes take the soul out of some things. So to me, I want to capture something that is as soulful as possible and that feels real. That’s what my music is about.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Well there’s a song on my album called, “Breakdown More,” that’s actually about ten years old and I had kind of forgotten about it but my fans were really asking for it. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to go back there. I had a talk with Melissa Etheridge, who’s a friend of mine, and she said, “don’t listen when people say it’s bad, but always listen when they tell you it’s good.” So I went back and listened to that song again and had a chance to fall back in love with it. I put it on the album and it’s one of my favorites on there now.
What are some of your guilty pleasures?!
Well, I’ve got two off the top of my head…one is the show “Saved By The Bell.” I love it and they just started showing re-runs on MTV2 now which is great. I love that show, it just makes me feel good, I don’t know why but it just reminds me of growing up and watching it. The other one is that movie It’s Complicated… with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. I just love that movie, I can quote the whole thing and it actually takes place in Santa Barbara, which is where I’m headed right now and I think I’m gonna walk around and go look at the places where they shot the movie. I don’t know why, I got dragged to see it in the theater and I just loved it. I just have fun watching it!
Listen to some clips of Moving Up Living Down and let us know how you like it!