It's been a rough road for Eric Hutchinson leading up to the release of the singer-songwriter's fifth studio album, "Modern Happiness," which debuts on Friday. As the musician recently revealed to Billboard, he was "burnt out" by the road and contemplating retirement after becoming frustrated by how some of his songs were being received. Thankfully, Hutchinson reconsidered this decision on the advice of his wife, and instead chose to take some time for himself in order to fall in love with music all over again. The results? Hutchinson has produced what may be his best album yet alongside his band The Believers. Ahead of his show at The Sinclair on Friday night, we caught up with Hutchinson to talk about the new record, returning to the Hub and the keys to happiness.
Eric Hutchinson talks 'Modern Happiness'
As an Emerson alum, you must be pretty excited to be back in Boston.
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Eric Hutchinson: I love Boston! I met my wife in Boston. I met many of my best friends in Boston. I got engaged in Boston. I love playing there. I feel like it was where I sort of came of age. Always excited to come back, and The Sinclair is a beautiful venue. Playing in Harvard Square is always fun, so I’m excited to be there.
Where do you like to go when you're in town?
Eric Hutchinson: I just love walking and Boston is such a walkable city, especially the time of year we’re going to be there. Fall in Boston is just the best. For me, the thing I tell people if you really want to experience the Boston culture, you got to go to Fenway Park. It’s just a little bit of everything.
You admitted to Billboard about being "burnt out" by the road leading up to the new record. How has your mindset changed heading into this tour?
Eric Hutchinson: Being at home and getting in a routine with my community has been really helpful to put my life and my job into perspective for me. I have trade that I do and a service that I can offer to people in the same way that a tailor can or a baker or a garbage man – anybody. Everyone is important to how society moves along. I feel like right now, my role is as a healer and as an entertainer and somebody who can lighten the load a little bit. What I’m looking forward to doing is making a moment that lasts and hopefully giving a little bit of joy and hope to whoever comes to the shows.
What musical influences did you draw from while working on "Modern Happiness"?
Eric Hutchinson: I really wanted to make a record that I would want to listen to. I think I got caught up in what other people wanted and what radio wanted. When I decided I wanted to make music, I just made a playlist of songs that I liked and songs that I felt I wanted to listen to when I was washing the dishes or having dinner or doing whatever. A big, big part of that was Michael Kiwanuka, who I think is just excellent. Specifically his album “Home Again,” I really connected with. Here’s a person with just a beautiful voice just telling stories with his guitar. I thought, “I know how to do that, I think.” But there were a lot of people: The Wood Brothers, Brandi Carlile, Alabama Shakes. I just felt like, “Oh, the only way to make music is for pop radio.” But I looked around and I thought, there are all kinds of people who are making modern music that has an organic heart to it.
What do you believe are the keys to happiness?
Eric Hutchinson: It’s definitely something I’ve spent a lot of time examining and thinking about. I don’t know if I have the answer, but I think balance is the most important part. For me, I like to think about life like a table. Maybe I’ve got my family leg and I’ve got my work leg and I’ve got my fantasy baseball leg. But every leg as to be as strong and as even. If one starts to get too intense or too short, the table’s going to wobble and be slanted. I spent a lot of my time trying to keep everything balanced as much as possible.