Check out our interview with our good friend and awesome blues guitarist/songwriter Jack J Hutchinson! We spoke about his upcoming EP/DVD boxset, his upcoming tour and his new line-up!
Obviously we were going to see each other at Rockin’ the Bowl this year before the cancelation. Having said that, what do you think of the music scene at the minute?
I mean there’s a lot of bands that were on at Rockin’ the Bowl that I’ve seen at a lot of festivals in the last year or so so there are some great acts. A lot of guys that I’ve been on the same bill as that I really rate. Some great players. The biggest thing for me is songwriting really, bands that have good tunes, and there’s tonnes of great stuff. I like quite a variety of different music too, from blues to heavy rock and even acoustic folk stuff as well. We’re sort of overloaded with music at the minute which is cool!
You have the EP/boxset coming out next month, how did that come about?
Well, I released an album earlier on this year called ‘The Hammer Falls’ and during that process I was offered the opportunity to work with Kevin Shirley who’s produced some incredible artists: Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Joe Bonamasa, just loads of people. So I was kinda in the latter stages of mixing the last record when Kevin offered to do one or two songs. I had this idea of doing a remix of some of the tracks we were working on last year. So what you hear on this EP is alternate takes of some of the songs.
I think it’s quite interesting to compare them to the other versions on the album. And then there’s a brand new song on the EP as well. So that’s pretty cool!
A DVD isn’t something you see much in the underground scene these days, do you think bands are having to do more ‘out there’ merch to make more of a living?
Yeah I guess. I’ve always wanted to try and come up with new ideas in terms of the product that I put out there. When I put my album ‘Who Feeds the Wolf’ out I did it on a splattered red and black vinyl which seemed quite a unique thing at the time but everybody’s doing it now. I’m not insinuating that they’re doing it because I did it but…
I could have done this release as another multicoloured vinyl release. There are two reasons why I didn’t. One was because I wanted to try something different and I wanted to do something that was a two disc set, like the Rolling Stones ‘From the Vault’ boxset. Also I brought this Winery Dogs DVD a couple of years back that was pretty cool. Like a companion disc for the record. So that’s where the idea of it came for.
Another reason I didn’t want to do it on vinyl is because of the experience of the manufacturing of it over the last two years. It’s taking so long to do it. I was lucky with The Hammer Falls as I got a heads up about what was coming. I put my order in before the album was even fully recorded. I paid for the slot like 10 months prior. There was only like three songs that we still had to record but there was a risk in it. It could have gone completely, horribly wrong.
But for this release I wanted to get something out for the latter half of this year. Then the Kevin Shirley thing came about and I thought it was exciting and something just a bit different!
Is it touring for the foreseeable or are you writing again already?
I’m actually supposed to be going to Spain next month. It’ll be the first time I’ve really been over to Europe since the pandemic kicked off. So at the moment I’m just trying to work out all the visa stuff and all that. When I started playing guitar when I was like 14 I didn’t envision that it’d all just be admin at one stage in my career. It’s all I’ve really done this week.
So next month we’re headed out on tour. I’ve got a new band heading out with me later on in the year which is cool. This Brilliant bassist called Charlie Rachel Kay who’s joining. She’s the bassist for Ashley Sherlock. Then the drummer is Phil Wilson who’s played with tonnes of people: Elles Bailey, Sean Webster, Lawence Jones. It’s going to be exciting to take a new band out. I’ve had the same band now for almost four years. We work really well together and had some amazing experiences but they’re kinda moving on to do different projects.
Yeah, it’s exciting to be playing some new songs. And I have been writing a lot of material recently so we’ll have to see if any of it makes it into the setlist. I hope it will! It’ll be a real shift from the last tour where we were kinda doing stuff that we’d been playing for two or three years. Now’s the time to refresh it a bit!
Do you think it’ll have a bit of a different feel on stage with new members?
I don’t know, man. I’ve never been one to over-rehearse ahead of tours. I think you’ve got to allow things to organically develop. You’ve got to trust your players. The person who really needs to do their homework tends to be me, I’m a bit of a scatterbrain with all of this stuff. I move on from project to project quite quickly so I need to be reminded by my manager that I should be playing songs off the current album.
We’re looking at getting some rehearsals in at the end of this month, which is exciting in of itself. With bands you’ve got to foster a vibe with the people who are part of the band. Music is one element of it, but if people are miserable in the band they’re not going to play very well. I want every band I take out with me to enjoy it. This is rock’n’roll man, they should be going out and having a blast on tour, not moping and moaning about it.
The few support bands announced for it so far look sick. How would you say the environment of the NWOCR scene is?
Yeah, I mean I speak quite closely with Wes (my manager) on who to take out. I always see support slots, although I don’t really like using the word support, as an opportunity for the bands that come out with me to meet my audience and gain fans. But also I want bands to come out that are going to make it a pleasurable experience for me. I make sure I listen to the acts and I want a badass collection of bands on the tour. It means that before I go on stage I can go out and have fun and watch the bands myself.
We have a band that are doing a few of the dates, Firekind, they were the support act for my tour last year. They’re great, just really fun to have around. They make you laugh and that’s what you want. And obviously White Raven Down are a fucking incredible band too.