Interview: Kevin Hammond
Thu, 15 Oct 2009 08:52:47
As they say, it's never too early for Christmas.
Kevin Hammond laughs, "Recently, I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music. I love Burl Ives. He has a Christmas album from a long time ago that I've been spinning and, of course, there's Sinatra."
Kevin's forthcoming A&M/Octone debut is the perfect gift for any time of year though. With a soulful delivery and a keen pop sensibility, Kevin creates undeniable folk rock that begs for repeat listens. Blending Eric Hutchinson's understated theatricality and Jack Johnson's bluesy heart, Kevin's got a sound all his own.
While on the road with Kate Voegele, Kevin spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about his music and so much more in this exclusive interview.
What's the story behind "Broken Down?"
Two of my really good friends, Rob and Amy, were dating. It was about three years ago, and Rob got in a motorcycle accident and died. When I went to the funeral, Amy was hugging me, and it was really sad. So I wrote "Broken Down" about the whole situation. The lyrics are really vivid to me still.
When you write songs, do they typically happen in one sitting or does it take a few drafts?
They usually just come out. I've written some of my songs in five or ten minutes. The better songs come out really fast. "Broken Down," "The Way You Move" and "How I Thought It Would Be" all were like that. "Breaking My Heart" was really fast. I think that I wrote that song in about half an hour.
Do you normally start writing on guitar?
Yeah, but I have a lot of songs that I've written on piano as well. I met my producer and he heard my acoustic songs first. So he wanted to do some demos of them right away. We did demos of those and the piano songs got left behind. We've been focusing so much on my acoustic songs that there hasn't been any time to pull out my piano songs. I'll probably put them on future albums.
Are you speaking differently through each instrument?
Yeah, sometimes…I think the two styles are different. I have a different style when I play the piano than when I play the acoustic. The songs that I write on piano end up sounding more beautiful and melodic. The guitar songs sound more poppy. Depending on how the tracks are being produced, you could make the piano songs sound just as poppy.
Would you say the lyrics all derive from personal experience?
It's kind of weird, because I wonder that myself sometimes [Laughs]. It's usually the case where I'll write a bunch of songs in a couple weeks and then I won't write for about a month. All of a sudden, I'll like I have to write a song and a bunch of songs will come out again. I see things, hear things and have all of this information in my mind, and it wants to come out. Then it comes out really fast in different ways. It is personal stuff and experiences I've been through, but I don't sit and think about those things; it just comes out really quickly. I don't even know how to explain it [Laughs].
What was it like doing your duet with Kate Voegele?
It was fun. We came up with a lot of similar melodies and harmonies. The album's almost finished, but because I'm on tour right now, we're going to finish it after I'm done with the tour.
Did you instantly click creatively?
Yeah, I think if we worked together more, we'd come up with some cool stuff. She's pretty busy, and I'm pretty busy.
What's next for you? Do you feel like L.A.'s a good launch pad?
Maybe I'll become a dancer [Laughs]. Nah, I actually think I write better in Wisconsin. L.A. is not the best place to write. Wisconsin isn't necessarily quieter. In LA it's about people trying to make money off of you. In Wisconsin, you write because it's fun and you love music. In L.A., people want you to write a hit song, and it's all about the money. I'm not really into that as much. When there's nothing interfering, you write songs that will make money [Laughs].