Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (https://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
JJH: Hairy. There’s a lot of hair going on in my band, whether it be beards or mohawks…or in my case Farrah Fawcett in an alternative, hellish dimension. But in terms of the music…a mix between Sabbath, Zep and more Sabbath.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
JJH: I grew up in Burnley in the north west, which in the late 1990s was a hotbed for bands that all wanted to sound and look like Oasis. I had a massive poster of Robert Plant on my wall and had painted Zoso on the amp my dad bought me for my 16th birthday. So I didn’t necessarily fit in. I used to get Wonderwall shouted out a lot at gigs, whilst I was standing there with a twin neck SG playing Stairway to Heaven and wearing flares. So I felt a little out of time.
Oddly, last year I decided to do a cover of Wonderwall, which was a bit of a dig at all those people who used to give me stick. But it got loads of radio play…maybe I did it too well! I had to listen to Neil Young’s Weld for a solid week afterwards just to cleanse myself.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
JJH: I consider myself a songwriter more than anything else, so what inspires me is simply my life, whether that be certain experiences, emotions or dreams of what is yet to come. That’s probably why I’ve never been interested in co-writing songs – it just wouldn’t seem real in terms of my lived experience, which would make it difficult to then sing night after night.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
JJH: To be honest I’ve probably already achieved them. I’ve always just wanted to be honest and write material that I’m genuinely proud of. Three solo albums in and I think they are all great records. That is enough for me…I’m not interested in getting a top 40 record.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
JJH: Getting a top 40 record…I’m joking, but obviously being on the Earache Records New Wave Of Rock N Roll album and it getting in the official charts was amazing. I owe that label a lot, and it has been nice to work with them on the digital release of my new album ‘The Hammer Falls’.
There have been so many highlights across the last 5 years, but my headline tour of Brazil will stay with me forever. I recorded my track ‘World On Fire’ whilst out there, which was also a magical experience. Other than that, meeting my heroes through gigging has been incredible. Jimmy Page was the highlight.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
JJH: I was quite an early adopter of social media and have always enjoyed spreading the word via those platforms. But I think a big mistake a lot of bands make is to stick a promoted post on Facebook and expect 300 people to show up at their gigs. I think the live experience is still key, and word of mouth still holds sway across the board.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
JJH: We are currently on an 8 date tour of the UK, which will be my last shows here for a while. A highlight will be the album launch at O2 Academy Islington. We will be playing the new album in full for the first time, which will be a great test for the band.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
JJH: I’m a big vinyl fan, and always try to release my music on that platform. But similarly I recognise the power of digital platforms to reach new audiences. One thing that blows my mind is how much music is now released globally on a daily basis. I suppose the issue with that is there is no filter, so it’s tricky deciphering the good from the bad until you actually hear it.
It’s been well documented how little artists get from platforms like Spotify. To put it bluntly, they are thieving bastards. But in terms of a promotional platform, it’s a fantastic development. I remember driving round record companies across London with the cassette of my first band’s demo, then getting chased by the police for fly posting a bus station in Manchester. Tagging someone in a tweet is far simpler, and less likely to get you locked up.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
JJH: I get asked this question a fair bit and it changes all the time. Right now, it’s Better Days by Smith / Kotzen. Such a killer riff and superb vocals. It’s a tour van favourite. But in terms of an all time favourite…it’s tricky. Perhaps War Pigs… or possibly Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling In Love.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
JJH: It’s probably too on the nose to say people who lie. But honesty can sometimes be a bit amiss, which is something I’ve encountered a lot over the years. But I’ve just learnt to keep a close circle around me who I can actually trust. Another thing that bugs me is what I’d refer to as ‘targeted artistic development’, whereby a musician starts writing material because they think it will make them famous. I cannot fucking stand it. Just write something that means something to you – not because you think it will get played on the radio. I can hear it in the songs, because they all sound the same.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
JJH: I’m currently working on the tour schedule for the next 12-18 months. As I mentioned earlier, after this short tour we may not do many UK dates for a while. The plan is actually to head to America in the summer, before Europe in the autumn. And a return trip to Brazil is also on the cards.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
JJH: I’m all over socials and more info can be found at www.jackjhutchinsonmusic.com
Jack J Hutchinson links:
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