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BLUES PLAYER

"John Squire and Jimmy Page were my first two major influences. Both are really melodic players." - Jack Hutchinson

Posted: May 13, 2024
When I was younger I was extremely confident about what I could achieve. I had a lot of plaudits for my guitar playing, but actually I was more confident in the quality of my songwriting.

Photo by: Rob Blackham

Personal growth is a process of both understanding yourself and pushing yourself to reach your highest potential. It means always asking yourself who you are becoming and how you plan to get there.

  • Personal growth is achieved when you understand the stages to personal development. They begin with the following:
  • Self-Awareness: Understanding one’s own strengths, weaknesses, emotions, values, and motivations
  • Skill Development: Enhancing one’s abilities, knowledge, and expertise to improve personal and professional performance.
  • Goal Setting: Establishing clear, achievable, and meaningful objectives for personal and professional growth.

Personal growth is especially applicable to those diligently working in the music industry. Often the above reflects what is missing from those that are not moving to the next level of their music career. Therefore, they start to compromise on quality, and lower their expectations.

When I interview an artist, I ask them questions that involve development and personal growth. It provides insight as to the longevity of the artist. The insight is crucial to understanding the mindset of the artist.

It was an easy decision to interview Jack Hutchinson. The following help to determine my decision:

  1. Jack is a powerhouse on the guitar. His inclination to perform at a high level is unrivaled. There is an authentic sound to his voice, that compliments his style.
  2. One of his recent releases is called "Love Is the Law". It captures his personal growth and resilience.

Is this all I need to know about an artist to invite him/her to an interview? No, not at all. However, they were “striking” elements that stood about Jack Hutchinson. Therefore, it was imperative that we found out more.

INTERVIEW WITH JACK HUTCHINSON AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

Guitar Thrills: Hello Jack. Thank you for taking the time to interview with me today. I must mention that I am very impressed with your music. Which reflects your work ethic. How do you determine personal growth and resilience?

Jack: The music industry is a tough environment and it takes a lot of resilience to keep going. This is my tenth year of releasing music and being on the road, and I’ve certainly experienced lots of ups and downs over that period. But having the mindset to keep bouncing back and learning from those experiences has, I think, made me stronger.

One thing I’ve learnt is that comparing yourself to others is a road to nowhere. You can only be the best version of yourself at that particular moment in time. That to me results in personal growth as you are constantly working on becoming a better person, both on a professional and personal level. It’s also something to always be striving for – if I ever said “I no longer need to grow” I’d be lying to myself.

Guitar Thrills: What are some of the stages for you in your personal development as an artist?

Jack: On my first couple of albums I was chasing this idea of ‘success’, whether that be chart positions, or bigger and better gigs than my peers. That was a really toxic way of living, and actually frequently put me in a really negative mindset. I came to realize that rather than looking outward and I guess worrying about what other people thought, I needed to focus on what made me happy. Which was the creative act of songwriting and expressing my emotions that way. Once I stopped worrying about what everyone else was up to, I became more focused…and I think the music became better.

Guitar: Are you able to determine when you need to more work in a specific area? What are some of the identifying signs that a project is not quite acceptable to you?

Jack: As an artist I think it’s easy to feel like you need to run at 100 miles an hour and if you switch off for just one day you will miss out on opportunities or lose momentum in what you are doing. But it’s the recovery that is most important. I try to think of it a bit like a gym workout, whereby it’s great to bench press your hefty weights, but you need to then recover from that activity in order for it to have the best impact.

Music is a bit like that. I’ve learnt to take a day or two to reflect after a tour has finished, or an album has been released. I ask myself what worked and what didn’t, but also how do I feel emotionally about the project. That’s a bigger question in many ways, but is important to take on board going forwards, because at the end of the day this should be a positive experience. If it isn’t, then you need to make changes. 

Guitar Thrills: There are books, and consultants on personal growth and development. Do you take advantage of those types of resources?

Jack: About four years ago I was in a really dark place mentally, which was related to losing my father to Alzheimer’s. I just couldn’t get my head round the fact that this massive presence in my life, who had been so supportive of my music career, was no longer around. I unfortunately did a really stereotypical thing of losing myself in alcohol which only exacerbated things. I remember being sat in a hotel room in the Czech Republic after a gig with a bottle of whisky thinking ‘what’s the point in all of this?’. I guess that was a bit of changing point for me and I then started to make significant changes, including getting sober. I lost a few friends along the way who didn’t like the fact I’d given up the booze, but looking back if they couldn’t handle that it was better to remove them from my life anyway.

I started to read a lot of books by ex Special Forces soldiers who discussed post traumatic stress disorder following their experiences in war. A really important book for me was Jason Fox’s ‘Battle Scars’, which helped me start to make sense of some of the feelings I was experiencing. It taught me a lot of things, but crucially gave me the courage to simply start talking to my closest friends about what I was going through. As soon as I opened up, that process of rebuilding the way I thought about life began. I actually named my new album ‘Battles’ after Jason’s book as it had such a big impact and probably saved me from a very dark path.

Guitar Thrills: Every great artist has stages of development. The basics are usually when you are first learning who you are as an artist, and getting your mindset prepared for the long hall of a fragile career. What were your thoughts as you started your music career?

Jack: When I was younger I was extremely confident about what I could achieve. I had a lot of plaudits for my guitar playing, but actually I was more confident in the quality of my songwriting. I felt like that would always hold me in good stead for a sustainable career. Of course, as time progresses you then experience knock backs and so that confidence has been shattered numerous times along the way! But I’ve always felt like I’ve had a knack for writing catchy and emotive melody lines with good lyrics, and I’ve never really experienced writer’s block, so if an album or song ‘failed’ commercially I’d probably just think ‘well I’ve got another 50 that I’m working on…wait until you hear those!’.

Guitar Thrills: I believe you are succeeding in your personal growth. Is there something that you feel that you have not achieved yet? If so, what is it going to get you to that next level?

Jack: One thing I’ve been accused of is being so focused on my own career that I tend to disregard the feelings of the people that I work with. It’s definitely something I am still working on, and something I’ve tried to put into practice with my current band. I’m very driven and so if I ever feel like there’s an element that is negatively impacting things, I’ve tended to simply say ‘thank you and goodbye’ and move on. In my defense, I think that’s why I’m still on the road after 10 years, but over the last 3 or 4 years I’ve definitely tried to have more empathy and understanding with those that I work with.

Guitar Thrills: This is excellent feedback.

Guitar Thrills: Before getting into the music industry, who were some of your influences?

Jack: I’ve always been influenced by songwriters more than guitarists per se, so people like Neil Young, Pete Townsend, John Lennon, Noel Gallagher etc. But in terms of guitarists, John Squire and Jimmy Page were my first two major influences. Both are really melodic players who have the ability to tell a story with their playing, rather than it being about how many notes you can fit into a solo.

Guitar Thrills: Did you pattern your choices after those that you were inspired by? Also, did it work for you, or did you have to find your own way?

Jack: I’ve always loved reading books on how bands progressed through their careers, whether that be Led Zep, Aerosmith, The Who or whoever. But the industry we are contending with in 2024 is very different to back then. Social media has changed things dramatically, particularly for an artist like me who is operating without a record label. It has opened things up and allowed me to reach a fan base that 20 years ago I would have needed label backing to achieve. But it has also resulted in a kind of toxic situation whereby musicians are constantly ‘on’, relentlessly promoting themselves and trying to hook in people. Sometimes I have to stop and say I’m having a week off social media to focus on songwriting and guitar playing.

Guitar Thrills: What choices affect the way you perform, or write music? Are there specific things you consider before beginning a project?

Jack: I’ve always been keen to avoid repeating myself. I felt with my first album ‘Paint No Fiction’ I covered that whole southern rock vibe, and it really captured the Black Crowes and Blackberry Smoke influence on my writing. Then ‘The Hammer Falls’ went down the heavy, Black Sabbath root. My most recent album I was aiming for a contemporary Hard Rock vibe, similar to Slash and Myles Kennedy. The one thing I haven’t achieved is a purely acoustic roots album. We’ll see whether that’s what the next album holds!

In terms of projects as a whole, I’ve been very lucky to work with some amazing musicians along the way, but I feel my current lineup featuring Phil Wilson and Charlie Rachael Kay has been eye opening in terms of expanding the album tracks live. They really do take things to another level.

Guitar Thrills: When you start kicking around chords, or notes for a new song, what is your favorite “go to” guitar?

Jack: I’m probably best known for playing a Les Paul live, but I tend to track guitars in the studio on my Fender Telecaster. It’s got a DiMarzio Twang King neck pickup which just really bites, and it holds the lower tunings on tracks like ‘Days Are Gone’ and ‘Bullets’ which is a whole step down really well. But I actually tend to initially write on my battered up old Tanglewood acoustic. I’ve had that guitar for 20 years and it was the instrument I used when I first moved London back in 2006 when I was out at jam nights most nights of the week. It’s certainly lived a life and has cigarette burns, cracks in the headstock from drunken shenanigans in Soho etc! I think those memories are almost housed in the wood of the guitar which resonates when I play it and feeds into the songwriting process.

Guitar Thrills: How do you feel about endorsing brands? Does the brand have to be a right fit before you endorse it, or does gifting affect your brand choice?

Jack: I’ve been really careful who I work with and endorse over the years because I’m quite particular over which instruments and gear I use. I’ve been offered a few things in terms of amps where I’ve had to be honest and say I’ll probably not use it as I use Victory Amps and they are a perfect fit for me. I’ve been very lucky to develop friendships with some amazing people, and Scott Kaye at BMF Effects has given me some incredible pedals to use in the studio and live. His pedals are second to none and it’s always great to hook up with him when I’m over in LA and see what new pedals he is working on.

Guitar Thrills: I know you have released a song called “Bullets”. Can you tell us more about what was involved in producing it? Have you received feedback from your fans yet?

Jack: My producer Josiah Manning introduced me to the Winery Dogs early on in the pre-production phase of the album recording, and I wanted to create something similar with almost relentless riffs and in your face vocals. It was funny one because I sang that track in maybe one or two takes. It was very quick, but one of my favorite tracks on the album. There’s a lot of venom in those lyrics about people who manipulate and use you for their own gains. It’s one of my favorite tracks to belt out live. There’s three minutes of personal growth right there!

Guitar Thrills: I want to congratulate you on your continued success. I hope to set up another day and time to chat with you.

Jack: It’s been a pleasure chatting!




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