Those lucky enough to bag a VIP pass for Sunday’s Ramblin’ Man Fair can get up close and personal with one of the rising stars of the British blues scene.
Jack J Hutchinson caught up with HRH Mag ahead of a special acoustic show.
HRH Mag: Was latest long player Paint No Fiction the perfect opportunity to live your ultimate Blues dream?
JJH: There is a real mixed bag of musicians who have played on the album and part of my thinking behind that was that I wanted to work properly with the people I know from London’s blues scene. I go out and jam with so many different guys but I never get to record with them! I was like ‘well I’ve got a bunch of new tunes, there’s a bluesy slant to a lot of it, so do you guys want to come in and lay some stuff down?’. I had a couple of drummers who came in and did different songs and I got a violin player, a double bass player, several guitarists who I jam with and more. I suppose the only tricky thing with that is making a cohesive record. Or that’s what you’d imagine. Yes, I’ve got different guys on different songs but somehow it all fits together. These people are top level professionals and they have brought something extra to the songs. It has been a real joy doing it.
HRH Mag: You’ve self-released Paint No Fiction – are you actively looking for a record deal?
JJH: Up until now everything has been self-released and I have enjoyed that because I worked with labels a few years ago and it wasn’t all good – in many respects it is great being signed to a label but there are other things that come with that. The last two or three years I have been churning my own stuff out and I like the speed at which I can do that. You know bands that I listen to – bands from the late 60s and early 70s bands – would be churning out albums every six months. Look at Zeppelin at their peak. Eight or nine months would go by and then a new fucking record came out! I kind of like that like. I like to keep writing tunes and getting stuff out there. I get advice from guys saying we only just released the Boom Boom Brotherhood album and we need to promote that first. We have been. There’s room for more. I think I just need to strike a balance where one record is not overlapping the next album and I’m not accidentally trumping my own work!
HRH Mag: Why are you playing blues when you could be playing pop or indie and selling millions of records as the new Ed Sheeran? What is the attraction of the blues?
JJH: My roots in blues music go way back to when I was 15 or 16 and I got into bands like Led Zeppelin, Cream and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. I would look at the tunes that were on that first Fleetwood Mac album and there was a lot of stuff that referenced the old blues guys. It was the same with Zeppelin – I started getting into Jimmy Page and for a while I became obsessed with him. After a while you want to know how he has picked up those licks and that playing style so you immediately start tracing it back to people like Elmore James or Robert Johnson. BB King was a massive influence on Peter Green and so as a fan and as a musician you start listening to that stuff and you think ‘fucking hell’ this is the real deal!
HRH Mag: Have you always been a bluesman?
JJH: A lot of that music really resonated with me when I was a teenager and then I drifted away from it for a while. I was in a metal band for a bit and I did the whole folk singer songwriter thing but it never felt authentic to me. So when I was in my early 20s I started listening to those blues guys again and I got into another band that was more like Zeppelin – they had a classic rock feel based in the blues. I remembered that the blues was at the root of it all for me as a musician. I can still listen to blues any time, any day. Charlie Patton is my favourite blues artist. He is singing about the reality of modern day life and yet his songs were recorded almost a century ago! They still hit home and that – for me – is what’s really powerful about the blues.
HRH Mag: How can you resonate with an artist who passed away in the 1930s?
JJH: Of course I haven’t lived that life. I haven’t lived the life of Charlie Patton but that music still resonates with me because everybody has had moments in their life where they have suffered loss and they have been through shit. I know I have. I’m not going to sit here and moan about it but Charlie Patton and those artists gave me a gateway into songwriting. I thought that if I’m going to be out gigging these songs and singing them night after night then they need to be about things that are real to me just like they were real to Charlie. It was a lightbulb moment – songwriting is my thing and I love it. But it has to be real. I thought I have to be honest and I have to lay myself bare. And that’s the whole package.
HRH Mag: How do you mean?
JJH: The lyrics, the music, the vocals – everything is genuine. I was recording a session with the bass player from the Boom Boom Brotherhood at Universal and I was singing in a very different voice to how I sing now. He told me it sounded like I was impersonating somebody else. He reminded me that I was from the North West and told me to sing more authentically! I took the criticism on board. He got me singing in a raspier, gruntier, blokier tone and I thought ‘that’s it!’. I was trying too hard to be too delicate. It was very different to how I sing now. It was like unleashing the beast.
*Catch Jack J Hutchinson from 12.30pm on Sunday in the VIP area at Ramblin’ Man Fair.
*This feature originally appeared in Volume IV of HRH Mag – OUT NOW!