Pic by Anna Selle

INTERVIEW: KC based multi-instrumentalist Fritz Hutchison

Hi Fritz, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hello VENTS! Only slightly less sane than usual. Not too bad, all things considered.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Stationary”?

“Stationary” is an exercise in how far a single jazzy riff can be taken. I like songs that have instrumental hooks that are as important as the vocal ones, so this was an attempt to achieve that. The groove and overall feel were heavily inspired by Carol King and other early seventies east coast records, and this recording was the first completed by myself and Joel Nanos in the process of making this album. It really helped us build an identity for the rest of the album once we had this track to work around.

Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write this song?

I wrote the song very quickly as a deliberate attempt to break out of a spell of writer’s block. I wanted to be able to feel like I had completed something without agonizing for weeks, months, years, about an overcomplicated bridge like I usually do. So there’s only one extended form of chord changes for the whole tune, sort of like how Bob Dylan structures a lot of his songwriting, but about 6 fewer verses.

How was the filming process experience behind the video? Any fun stories to tell from behind the scenes?

Filming was a blast! Miki P (Mikala Petillo) is an incredibly versatile talent, and I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate on her on several musical projects in the recent past. Check out her band, Miki P and the Swallowtails. We basically set out to make a low-budget version of the “Hey Ya!” video. We filmed above an auto shop in the building I had lived in for many years right across the street from Element Studios, where the album was recorded. Using a household projector, we filmed multiple exposures of myself playing all the instruments, then projecting them over a “real” me over and over again until we had built a whole band’s worth of myself. Yay Narcissism! We tried to do minimal takes of each angle to move quickly and capture a natural feel to the performance, similar to how the instrumental takes on the track were built.

The single comes from your forthcoming album Wide Wild Acres – what’s the story behind the title?

The title of the album refers in a literal sense to the acreage my aunt and uncle live on outside of Plattsburg, Missouri. I’ve spent a lot of wonderful times there in my life, and I came up with the chorus of the song while walking in the woods there. Wide Wild Acres is meant also to convey the wonder of beholding the mystery of the life that awaits you, should you take the path into the unknown. Life is far more vast and mysterious and adventurous than we can ever know going in, so we have to get out there and see for ourselves what waits beyond the horizon and rise to meet the challenges that come with the beauty.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing and recording process was…. long. Some of these songs are nearly a decade old, and some of the recordings half of that. I’m a pretty slow writer. Sometimes I wait around a year to write a verse in 15 minutes. Many of these songs were built out of bits and pieces salvaged from other tunes that never quite took shape on their own. I think it’s important to try to write consistently for that reason because even if a whole song never comes from what you spend an afternoon polishing, some piece of that could turn out to be essential for completing an entirely different puzzle later on. Way later on.

What was it like to work with Joel Nanos and how did that relationship develop?

 Working with Joel is fantastic. I first worked with him as a member of the band She’s a Keeper. Making our record Sterlin with him in 2013 was actually how I found the apartment (and eventual film location) that I lived in for about 6 years. We’ve worked together on a ton of projects over the years since- more She’s a Keeper records, a couple of Mikala’s albums, and lots of hired-gun type scenarios. We’ve developed a pretty tight working relationship to the point where I can say “Psycho Motown Hoe-down” to describe a guitar tone I want and he doesn’t bat an eye. He’s got great quirky gear in his studio that really jump-starts my imagination when we work together.

How much did he get to influence the album?

Joel and I are pretty well on the same page when it comes to nerding out about early seventies sounds. His influence really came into play with achieving some of the authentic techniques of that era, but without the Tupperwares of cocaine. For example, the guitar solo in “Fortunate Flaws” is comprised of multiple takes stacked in a way that never would’ve occurred to me, because I thought it would be too sloppy sounding. It ended up sounding like the Rolling Stones! He also has a great ear for octave placement, and would often have me shift around the piano or guitar parts to clear space for each other.

What role (if any) does Kansas City play in your music?

Kansas City plays a huge part in my music mostly because I’ve always lived here. Most everyone I’ve had the honor of studying under or collaborating with extensively either lives here now or is also from the area originally. There’s a lot of amazing weirdos in this town, and lots to learn from them.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

The English language can be very fun and inspiring. I like to play with alliteration or try to work within the confines of certain vowel sounds and rhyme schemes. These sorts of limitations can force interesting combinations of words to come together simply because they sound right for the job. I feel like I only figure out what my songs are about after they’re done being written. It’s a fun moment to complete something then step back from it and think “Oh THAT’s what it is! huh.” That being said, some of the record is about family, some of it’s about time, some of it’s about boredom, and a lot of it is about confronting the fear of failure.

Any plans to hit the road? (After Covid-19)

Definitely! I love playing live and I’m super lucky to have a really killer band of KC ringers bringing my songs to life. We’re itching to hit the road once this mess is over, but unfortunately, we’re not able to make specific plans for that right now.

What else is happening in Fritz Hutchison’s world?

I recently became the foster father of three chickens. Their names are Falcon, Goose, and Flamingo, and they are the light of my life in these dark and troubled times.


About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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