Eric Hutchinson found that the best way to rekindle his enthusiasm for music was to get away from it for a bit.
The New York singer and songwriter releases his fifth album, Modern Happiness — whose "She Could Be The One" premieres below — on Oct. 5. And he doesn't mind making it known that it's a record he thought he might never make.
"Two years ago I thought I was just done with music," Hutchinson tells Billboard. "I was really burnt out. The road had taken its toll on me. I was jealous and frustrated with the songs that were popular. I just thought, 'I'm not gonna do this anymore.'" But with the good counsel his wife — who urged him not to announce a retirement — his therapist and psychiatrist, who are both thanked in Modern Happiness' credit, and some Prozac, Hutchinson found himself not only back but more ready to rock than he was before.
"I got f the road and just enjoyed listening to music in a way I hadn't in a long time," Hutchinson says. "I got to a place where I was like, 'I'm gonna make music the way I want to make it and do something I want to hear instead what I think someone else would want or what would work on the radio.'" He laughs as he recalls that, "The first thing I did was make the song titles really long, on purpose, so they wouldn't be for anybody else but me."
Working in the studio for the first time with his live band, the Believers, much Modern Happiness finds Hutchinson singing about just that, from the vantage point a recovering un-happy person. "I did find a good amount peace in kind just exorcising some the demons, if you will, the things that had been nagging at me," he says. "I came out it feeling like I got that out my system, some." The project also sent him back to material he had been "sort chasing, but not able to finish," including "She Could Be The One," which found "the right fit" in the studio with the Believers.
"It always had an old-fashioned-y Beatles vibe or something, and it seemed like it make sense with a live band," Hutchinson explains. "It really came alive in the studio. We found a groove. The drums got big. And I'm a huge Elvis Costello fan, so we found a nice, Elvisy kind vibe with the guitar and the (Farfisa) organ that just felt powerful. And it fit within the construct , 'What is modern happiness?' (The song) includes monogamy and being faithful and being true to yourself and all that stuff, so it seemed like the time was right for it."
Hutchinson — who's been releasing a new song each month prior to Modern Happiness' release, complete with behind-the-scenes footage and details — hits the road on Oct. 4 to support the album live, with dates booked into November. He and the Believers will be playing Modern Happiness in its entirety ("I thought that would be a cool way to go door to door and present this album," he says), and after thinking he was through with music Hutchinson is already contemplating what he'll do next.
"I've been working on other stuff, so, yeah, I think there will be more," he says. "I'm just trying to find a balance in my life. I'm a creative person, and I need many outlets, I think. So I like to think music now as part a balanced breakfast. It will always be part me. It's so important and informing to me in my life, and I want the music I make to reflect that. I don't want to feel like I NEED to make music; It has to be something I WANT to do."