On Saturday 31st July I had the pleasure of watching Jack J Hutchinson perform a blistering set at Just Push Play Festival, a charity event run by Lee Graham to raise money for St Nicholas Hospice Care.
We met up just after he had performed and had a chance to meet his fans, pose for a few pictures and grab a coffee.
So Jack this is a bit of a mad and busy weekend, well 3 days for you this week, you’re pretty busy?
Yeah we’re playing 3 festivals over the weekend, and after not doing anything for such a long time it’s like being thrown in at the deep end. We did Savfest last night in Coalville, we’ve got Just Push Play today and we’ve got Wildfire tomorrow, it’s a hell of a drive after tonights show!
Are you going to leave here and go straight up to Scotland for Wildfire?
No, we’re going to do half the journey tonight and then the rest tomorrow.
So Jack what’s it actually like to get back out there after having no gigs and not seeing all these people?
It’s quite emotional to play in front people again, we’ve kept busy in terms of doing other song writing and recording and we’ve done live streams and that sort of stuff. The live streams are kinda strange because there’s no one actually there in front of you to feed off, as a band it’s that interaction with the audience so without them there it feels a little bit insular, it’s been great to see people getting into it again and letting loose after a long time of not being able to.
I understand the whole audience thing as I went to my first live gig for 18 months last week and hearing the first notes from the guitar during soundcheck was an amazing feeling.
It’s the energy that you get, I love going to gigs and I miss watching bands, that camaraderie that you get from being in an audience and all collectively enjoying this moment in time, I definitely miss that. I think that the thing about doing festivals is that I can do my thing and then watch the other bands. Like today you’ve got The Nile Deltas, Those Damn Crows later, Bad Touch and Gorilla Riot who we just bumped into backstage. There’s so many great bands playing today and it’s quite a special event really and it’s all for a good cause.
I don’t think I’ve actually seen any of these bands playing today live before, just heard them on Spotify!
The proof is in the pudding isn’t it actually because we’ve had 18 months where people can get away with just releasing studio recordings and now they’ve got to deliver all this stuff live.
So Jack you’ve got your new album ‘The Hammer Falls’ coming out soon, isn’t it due for release around Halloween time?
So what we announced was that it was coming out at Halloween but then me in my great wisdom decided to write some extra songs, so we went back in the studio added to the album and dropped a song and re-recorded another song. So partly because of that and because there’s a 7-month turnaround on vinyl manufacturing we’ve pushed it back to January now, although we haven’t made an official announcement on that. We’ve got a single coming out on Halloween which will lead into the album. Straight To Hell is coming out in October.
I heard that earlier during your set and that’s a great song.Yeah I’m amazed I remembered all the lyrics! I’m looking forward to that coming out. We shot a music video with Ignite Productions UK for the single that’s coming out in January called Halo, we just played that today as well. It’s exciting, it’s a slight delay, but what’s 3 months, I’d prefer to release the album that is the best that I can do rather than just put something out.
Well it’s not like you’re not going to be seen or heard from until the album comes out as you’ve got the tour coming up October, November time anyway.
Yeah we’ve more dates that we are going to announce in February and March next year so it’s kinda like a two part tour.
Or is it a 3 part tour Jack as didn’t you do some dates in early 2020?
Yeah it’s like some postponed dates from like 18 months ago, it’s just crazy I’m going to be like 40 by the time this tour finishes, it’s nuts.
So with all the lockdowns and the fact that you’ve had all this time do you think that you’ve had the chance to write a better album than you would have otherwise if you had been touring?I think it’s definitely made us write a better album because I’ve not been able to do anything else, I’ve just been able to song write. My previous records I’ve written all my records in the midst of doing loads of dates, I’ve been a live act really more that anything for 6 or 7 years. I’ve written songs through necessity in hotel rooms like Justified I wrote that in Russia when I went on tour to Russia, I wrote that at like 2am, which is cool but then it’s also nice to have a bit of space. I’m not that great at taking holidays and it forced me to take a bit of a break last year thinking about my sound and work on my singing. I’m singing in a different way on the new album.
Is it true to say that the new album has a bit of a heavier sound and feel to it? More rock to it compared to the last album?
I’ve always been a heavy rocker at heart and when I was in bands when I was younger I used to play Maiden and I even used to play Pantera but I became known for being an acoustic blues act and that was never really what I did. I kinda loved doing that for a bit and started out doing a run of blues shows and that ended up being 3 years of acoustic blues but really I wanted to get my Marshall stack out and my Les Paul and rock! I do love blues music and that’s probably at the heart of what I do really. You know what I’ve tried to do with the new record is take things in a different direction. I know every band says that about their new album but for me I genuinely feel that I’ve pushed things to the limit. There’s a track on the new album called ‘What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger’, which is the final track on the record and which is an 8-minute Iron Maiden thing that goes all over the place that I’m really proud of.
On the subject of the album you did a Kickstarter campaign which turned out to be a massive, massive success, Is this something that surprised you?
I was really nervous about doing it. Part of the reason I did it was that I got halfway through finishing my album and expected that we’d be back on the road by January and no more gigs meant no more money and I was like I still need to raise money to finish things off. I was nervous because a lot of people had lost jobs and their incomes had decreased and I wondered if they were going to back it. I think we hit the target in like a day, which is pretty crazy. We ended up going about two grand over which has helped to pay for a video shoot with Ignite Productions UK and a radio plug to plug the singles to help the project reach more people.
Is this a thing that other upcoming and lesser known bands can look at and think we could use that approach?
A number of bands have tried this and have run Patreon schemes with variable success. We’ve all tried to just keep going in a really difficult moment so if Kickstarter is a way for a band to record an album then yes. One thing that I think it does as well is it highlights the shift away from the necessity for a band to have a label. The pandemic has been a bit of a leveller for bands where suddenly the bands that were playing Shepherds Bush Empire or the o2 couldn’t and they all just existed online. I thought that was a really interesting shift, so I’ll be interested to see how people move forward as artists as without a label you’ve got a greater freedom to make your own decisions. Obviously, that can go completely wrong and some people really do need a label to tell them these songs are rubbish or whatever.
The main reason I started doing the whole Excell Rocks thing with the trying to get bands names out there and the news, gig reviews, album reviews etc is because there are so many bands out there who have amazing music, but no-one seems to have heard about them. Have you found it hard to find new fans and reach new audiences?I think the pandemic helped me reach more people and, in a bizarre way it expanded my fanbase because I was in a situation where I was using the internet to communicate in ways I haven’t done before. It was a really exciting moment actually, where I ended up connecting with a lot of people I wouldn’t have done, in other countries as well. We got gig offers for tours of like Switzerland and France where we’ve never really toured before, I thought it was a real positive. I’d never used Zoom before and now it’s become my weekly thing! It’s about seeing how you can twist a negative into a positive and try and use it for your advantage.
What is your measure of being a successful artist?
I think it changes all the time and so 5 years ago what would have been successful would have been getting in a studio and recording something but every time you do anything you need to raise your game. Like when we went to Brazil and did a tour of Brazil that felt like a massive success as I’d never been to South America before and to play in front of that many fans was incredible. Right now, we’ve just had a top 10 with the NWOCR album, that feels like a success but you’re constantly trying to look at the next level. The next level of success for me would be getting back to touring because we’ve gone without it for so long so if we can get back out and have a sustained level of gigs that will feel like success.
How’s it going to feel in a few months time when your backstage ready for the first show of the tour?
Kind of similar to this weekend, you’re excited to be around all these cool people and chat about your favourite bands and all the positives that music can bring.
Obviously I must mention guitars and most of your guitars are what I would call standard looking guitars like the Les Pauls but then we have the WyldeAudio Warhammer, it looks amazing and is a bit of a beast so how did that come about?
I’m a big Zack Wylde fan and I brought that guitar last year in a sort of late night looking around on eBay mode. This guy had like 5 of these Zack Wylde guitars and I just like bid on it and got it. It was quite interesting breaking that news to my fiancé!
It looks like smoke and flames should come shooting out of it!
Yeah it’s a bit of a brash guitar. Most of my guitars are Les Pauls, I’ve got four of them now and they’re the ones I use in the studio. The WyldeAudio guitars are used more live as they pack more of a punch, they have EMG pickups which is the sort of thing you hear with Metallica, Pantera and the likes. And they look ridiculous which is what I like!
Who is your guilty pleasure who people probably wouldn’t thing you’d listen to?
I listen to a lot of folk music so the likes of John Martin and Nick Drake, the last thing you really want to listen to after a gig is Master of Puppets driving back in the car so some John Martin is nice to chill out to.
If Jack J Hutchinson was a drink, what would he be?
My favourite drink used to be a Bloody Mary but I’ve stopped drinking while recording the new album. I’ve been on a bit of a health kick so maybe Kefir. The answer I would have given for years is Jack Daniels as I used to drink that a lot.
Thanks for your time Jack it’s been an absolute pleasure.
Jack J Hutchinson is a London based guitarist and singer/songwriter. His most recent album ‘Who Feeds The Wolf?’ topped the Amazon Blues Chart and was Top 5 in the iTunes Blues Chart.
He also recently had a track featured on the Earache Records album ‘New Wave of Classic Rock: Vol 1’ which hit the dizzying heights of number 10 in the Official UK Album Chart.
His new album ‘The Hammer Falls’ is due out soon and his headlining tour for the album begins in October.
“Tough, immediate and rockin’. Hutchinson was born to sing soul and blues.” (Classic Rock Magazine)
“Growling vocals combine with raunch ‘n’ roll acoustic and electric guitars. It’s a heck of a debut and definitely a name to watch out for.” (Guitarist Magazine)
“One of the strongest debuts from a British artist this year.” (Planet Rock)
If you fancy having a listen to some of Jacks music then checkout Spotify or your preferred streaming platform or YouTube.
Alternatively if you want to catch him live then he will be touring the UK with Firekind in October/November of this very year and tickets are available now from the link below.
You can also buy Jack J Hutchinson merch from his own store or his upcoming single ‘Call of The Wild’ from the Eyesore merch store. Links below.