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Bloodkin's Daniel Hutchens Talks Songwriting

Posted: Feb 08, 2009

Daniel Hutchens Discusses Songwriting

In this interview excerpt with Daniel Hutchens--on the eve of the release of Bloodkin's new CD Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again--he dicusses Bloodkin's songwriting. Yesterday I interviewed Hutchens' songwriting partner, Eric Carter, which will follow in the upcoming days.

JC: Songwriting has always been the cornerstone of Bloodkin's dynamic...the main force...

DH: For me, particularly the lyrics...that's the position I play on the team. If you were going to hire me to be in a band--I can play guitar, but you're not going to hire me to play guitar as a lead guitar player. I write the lyrics and I sing, but me singing a traditional classic is not going to knock your socks off. My singing is tied into my writing--that's what I do. The classic Bloodkin combination is basically I write the lyrics and Eric writes the riffs. Now, that overlaps--sometimes he writes some lyrics and I write some guitar, but that's generally how it works. Songs to me are the framework of it all.

JC: The songs always endure the longest...

DH: Yes, that's true. For example, when I write a song--or even if Eric has written the music and I write the lyrics--I always think of it as a sketch--a black and white sketch. Like me sitting there on acoustic guitar playing that song. Then going into the studio or going onstage with the band, and in particular Eric Carter--that's the color. That's the paint on top of the bare-boned sketches that brings it to life. A lot of times that's been our process in the studio. I'll spend a lot more time in the studio just hammering out the nuts and bolts...getting the structure of the songs together. Then Eric will come in and splash paint all over to bring it to life and make it this living, breathing rock and roll recording. Also, the rest of the band now too because it really has become collaborative to the point where it's hard for me to picture playing with anyone else now. Just like our bassist David Nickel...personality has so much to do with it...

JC: He's so laid back...

DH: Yeah, and every musician plays their personality. The way that we all fit together these days is great. There have been times in our history where we've had great musicians in the band, but a couple certain people didn't get along. It's such a pleasure when we go out on the road--it's my version of other people's poker night or a fishing trip with their buddies. These are the guys that I go hang out with--it's fun. We all get along. They're some of my best friends. At the same time--the music is happening. It all ties together.

JC: There are a lot of songs in the catalogue or you could say certain eras in the band's history where there was more focus on the song-craft itself.

DH: Absolutely...

JC: And now it's like a cauldron of sounds and songs...

DH: It all ties together. I still think the song comes first. Hopefully we're still playing really structurally sound songs. The band delivers them in a way I could never do myself. One of the interesting things is that going on right now is playing again with our drummer Aaron Phillips. You know--I've been working for a couple of years on this Bloodkin compilation of unreleased home and studio recordings and Aaron plays on the first song on the compilation which was around 1988. He plays on all six discs--not on every song, but he's on each of those discs. It's like coming full circle...

I'll stop there. More on Bloodkin dynamics, upcoming shows and future band intentions, as well as excerpts from the Eric Carter interview to soon follow later this week to coincide with more upcoming Bloodkin shows with The Drive By Truckers and the release of their new CD.

James Calemine

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