Interview: Jack J Hutchinson
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I was a really shy teenager and didn’t really find it easy to communicate with other people. Although I’d been playing the guitar since the age of 11, it was quite formalistic and focused on classical playing. The big turning point was discovering Led Zeppelin when I was 14. It just blew the doors open. I found this way of expressing myself that wasn’t reliant on talking or looking people in the eye, and when I started gigging I just exploded on stage. It was a massive relief.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I really enjoy drawing. I’ve been a visual artist longer than I have a musician, and still find it a really positive activity to readjust my mentality when I come off the road. I also love horror movies, so will probably stick on a Hammer Horror film if I want to zone out.
I’d say both activities feed into my music, and I kind of liken guitar soloing to the abstract drawings I make. They are both created by losing yourself in the moment, with the end results somehow channeling a part of your inner self. It’s very rewarding.
And in terms of the horror movie stuff…there’s a lot of my lyrics that mention angels, devils and the usual heavy rock stuff…but with a personal twist.
How long has your band been around?
My current lineup features Lazarus Michaelides on bass and Felipe Amorim on drums, and we’ve been together for 4 years. I launched my solo project back in 2013 and went through various lineups before I found the right guys. When we play it’s like we are one musician…not three individuals.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m originally from Burnley in the north west. When I was a teenager Brit Pop was all the rage, and particularly Oasis. One of my mates attempted to buy Blur’s Country House…a big no no in my group of friends! It’s funny because a few reviews of my new album have mentioned the Oasis influence, mainly on the melodies, as though that’s a surprise. It makes me a laugh as when I was 15 I used to spend my weekends hanging out in Manchester listening to them with my mates, so unsurprisingly that northern attitude has seeped it.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
It’s all down to my parents haha!
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Probably my favourite show was actually just a few weeks ago when we launched my new album The Hammer Falls at O2 Islington. It was the culmination of 18 month hard work, including recording the album during the height of the pandemic, which wasn’t easy. There was a real sense of relief in that venue between us and the crowd, that we are “almost there” in terms of a return to normality after all the chaos.
Other than that, headlining a festival in Brazil j front of 8000 people is up there.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
The aforementioned O2 Islington is one my favourites. On my current tour I’ve also returned to several of my favourites, places and promoters that have been really good to work with over the course of my career. The Bullingdon in Oxford and promoter Penny Lee is one I absolutely love. She always looks after us and makes us this delicious pasta…which when you’ve been travelling for hours to get to a venue is very much welcomed.
A new venue for us that is fast becoming a fave is Nightrain in Bradford. Again, they treat you well and look after the bands that are playing there. Internationally, we’ve played a lot of fantastic venues across Spain, which is my favourite country to tour. We are returning there in September of this year and can’t wait.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I’d love to share the stage with Black Label Society, who have been a big influence on me over the years. Also, Slash and Myles Kennedy have had a big impact on my recent songwriting - I even nicked two song titles off them in Call Of The Wild and World On Fire! So I might have to drop them from the set. Haha. Other faves include the Black Crowes, Blackberry Smoke and of course Ozzy.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
There is no such thing as ‘making it’. When I was younger I thought this meant getting a record deal, but I’ve been there and actually the end result was me temporarily quitting music back in about 2008. Four years later I started again, but this time as a solo artist in control of all my content and touring decisions. It was the best move I’ve ever made, as it shifted my mindset from a target driven approach to a creative one. It freed me up to explore what I wanted, taking me on a journey across different genres and different bands, all of which has been so much fun.
It always makes me laugh how much emphasis people still place on signing a record deal. There’s really only a handful of proper labels who will actually benefit the bands they sign - the rest are bloodsucking leeches who couldn’t give a fuck about anything apart from their own
pockets. I’d much rather do it myself, retain my artistic integrity and not have some dickhead giving me their shit ideas on what to do all the time.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
When Neil Young is on stage don’t get distracted trying to chat a woman up. Focus on the music…I didn’t really discover this until I turned 30.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I Will Follow You is most meaningful song I’ve written. It’s a song I wrote about my dad as a way of dealing with the grief of him developing Alzheimer’s. It’s the most requested song I get at my shows, and often people speak to me about the impact of it after gigs. It’s a special one.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Well I Will Follow You is the most requested. In terms of the most fun to play live, on the current tour The Hammer Falls is my favourite. Great riffs, great vocals and a badass guitar solo. What more could you ask for?
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I write all the songs and then send the guys a Dropbox folder with them in. Usually it’s simply titled ‘New album demos’ and will have about 20 tracks in it. They then feedback on the ones they like best, and we get in a rehearsal space to start developing them into full band compositions.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, although I tend to steer away from political content. I’ve just never been that into writing about it…I save it for the tour van in between shows! I usually write about relationships, both good and bad. But it’s usually twisted into a positive message.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
That it will all be ok in the end.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Yes. Even with the best intentions, and no matter how much I love the guys in my band, we still end up winding each other up. Strangely it’s never ever about the music though, because we are always spot on about that. But just last week I lost my shit because my band and crew had eaten all the sandwiches back stage before I got a sniff. I think in those moments it’s fine to call someone a wanker. But then you hit the stage and everything is forgotten.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We will be touring the new album The Hammer Falls throughout 2022 and into 2023. The plan is to head to the US in the summer, followed by Europe and then back to the UK in the autumn. I really believe in this new album and want as many people as possible to hear it live.