Daniel Hutchens of Bloodkin recently released his third solo venture “The Beautiful Vicious Cycle of Life” on April 22. He spoke with the Red & Black about his latest album, the upcoming Caledonia release show on May 7 and his long career in the Athens music scene.
Red & Black: You’ve had an impressively long career in the Athens music scene with Bloodkin and your solo ventures. What is it like being a longtime artist in the Athens scene?
Daniel Hutchens: The good thing about it and the reason that I’ve stayed here is that it feels like a community, like the music community here is really supportive and nurturing. It’s like I just know, having friends that live other places and play music or are involved in the arts in general, that it can be more competitive and cutthroat. I’ve just never felt that here. If your amp blows up, it’s like there’s ten people ready to help you. People just seem to genuinely root for each other and that’s always been the thing about Athens, to me, and probably the reason that I have made it my home.
R&B: Would you say that Athens has influenced your latest album?
D.H.: Absolutely. First of all, living here, recording in Chase Park Transduction. It’s David Barbe’s studio and we’ve been making records there since the ‘90s. When we first started this project, Dave Schools initiated the project and produced the record. The idea originally was that we were going to record this in San Francisco, which would have been fun, but he came here, because he lives around the San Francisco area these days, and he came here when we were just going to do some demos. So the first few days we were in the studio here, people just kept stopping by and playing a little bit on the tracks and we were just like, “Man, we’re not going anywhere.” Why would we leave? So, Athens is a big part of what I do. It’s always an influence.
R&B: What made you want to go into the solo realm?
D.H.: For me, it’s just when I get ready to make a record or when the opportunity comes up to make a record. That’s something that I love to do. Bloodkin is a strange animal, it’s just basically Eric Carter and I. He’s been my partner since we were little kids. It’s just one of those things that happens casually, you don’t really push it. Basically, Bloodkin wasn’t ready to make a record. The timing wasn’t right and so it’s just how it organically happened. Bloodkin’s still together, we still play and all that stuff, but it just wasn’t time for us to make a record. I was getting kind of a back vault of songs and I was just ready to record them.
R&B: For new listeners, could you tell us a little about the album?
D.H.: Well, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll record, which is what I do. It’s a full on, rock band kind of record. Within that context, it’s probably a little more song-oriented and just more sonically textured. For example, a Bloodkin record is more guitar-slinging, and I love that very much, but that’s not what this is. But nobody is going to listen to this and be hearing things drastically different from my normal sound.
R&B: Were there any major themes or inspirations behind this album?
D.H.: Lyrically, it’s just about endings and beginnings. I was in a relationship that was kind of coming to an end and you know, I think it was kind of inspired by that. Some things with my mother also, suffering with dementia and I was just seeing some things in life that were cycles or circles. Like how things come to an end. But at the same time I have two young kids and you see the beginnings of things too. If there’s a theme, that’s it.
R&B: Your album release show is on May 7at Caledonia. Are you excited to play there?
D.H.: I am. You know, we were just kind of knocking around ideas about where to do this. I was talking to David Barbe, whose studio we recorded at, and he’s my longtime producer. He didn’t technically produce this record, Dave Schools did, but Barbe was involved and he always is, he’s a pretty big part of the team. But anyway, he had just seen a few shows at the Caledonia and he was like, “Man, it’s the best sounding room in town right now.” They have really upped the ante on the sound system. It’s something different, it’s a little smaller. Bloodkin usually plays either the [Georgia] Theatre or the 40 Watt, and so we thought this would be something kind of different and a little more intimate, but in a room that sounds really good these days.
R&B: For an artist starting in Athens, do you have any advice?
D.H.: The thing that always struck me was to find people that you genuinely like. Don’t settle for working with people who are not being straight with you or are unreliable. Sometimes somebody can be a really good musician but they’re hard to deal with, and that’s just taking a detour and ultimately not worth it. It’s just about the people you work with, like pretty much anything in life. Once again, that’s the great thing about Athens because it seems to be a magnet for a lot of really creative people but also goodhearted. I’ve met so many good people through the music scene of Athens and it’s a big part of it for me.