Sometimes you hear an artist and immediately know they’ve got it.
Whatever “it” is, Jutt Huffman has it and he has it in spades.
With his latest single, “Today We Drink”, Jutt dives head first into the weekend or at least to the tailend of a hardworking day where a celebration is sometimes needed.
And here at Amplify the Noise were thrilled to dive into a conversation with Jutt to discuss music, AC/DC, and what happens when a world class opera singer grabs you by the throat.
ATN: First, thank you for taking the time to answer the questions Jutt! We greatly appreciate it.
JUTT: Hey thank you for the support and the opportunity to talk about what’s been going on. That means a lot to me.
ATN: For people who are new to Jutt Huffman, how would you describe your music?
JUTT: Well, it’s hard for me to describe my music because I really like music to speak for itself. Also, I feel like my music is always evolving and it would be a novel to try to pinpoint it. But I can focus on my upcoming album and tell you that it is as country as it gets with a rock ‘n’ roll mix of reggae and bluegrass. That is hard to imagine right?!?
ATN: Having listened to your 2015, Jutt LP, it’s not hard to imagine at all.
JUTT: With a Nashville singer/songwriter foundation and a talented free spirit production with my friends at Saxman Studios we really let the songs record themselves! Each song on this upcoming album is well-written, melodic, catchy, and unique yet familiar. The 12 songs on this album take you through a journey of love, heartbreak, partying, ramblin’, dreams, freedom, and taking it easy.
It’s an album about the life of a rolling stone and being an outcast to the “normal” life that most people were taught to live. You can feel the ups and downs, the highs and lows, everything from recklessness, risk-taking and vulnerability of a struggling country singer as well as the laid back, living the dream, can’t believe this is reality side of a hard working artist. I will always be a music fan before I am a music creator and I really encourage anyone reading this to check out the tunes and make your own opinion!
Listen to “Bring the Sunshine”
ATN: Who or what inspired you to enter the music world?
JUTT: I think I was just born into the music world. (laughs) It has always been here and is the only world I know. A world without music sounds like hell. As far as becoming a full time professional country artist it seems like there have always been arrows pointing the way. I sang karaoke at the VFW when I was real little and got a huge rush from it. Sometime in elementary school I played recorder and alto recorder and ended up with a picture in the newspaper performing to a big crowd. I played clarinet for a few years in middle school and then the real magic happened, I bought my first guitar! My dad paid for half but made me get a job picking weeds and cleaning up trash for half the summer to buy a black squire stratocaster. I grew up listening to him play and he taught me strumming hand rhythm, 12 bar blues and a few of the main chords.
Then I became obsessed with it and would spend hours a day trying to perfect playing guitar and still do. When I started performing at open mics I had met Heidi from the band Acoustic Edge based out of Ohio and she told me that I would love Nashville and should move there. A few months later I was doing one of my first gigs in Columbus, OH and I ran into Gary’s mom from the Rascal Flatts and she said the same thing that I would do great in Nashville. Next thing you know at my day job, a position opened up in Nashville and I was moving there. After about 6 months of moving to Nashville and gigging more than ever, my day job fired me because I was slacking at work and playing gigs all night. That was in 2012 and I’ve been performing full time ever since!
ATN: What is your creative process like?
JUTT: My creative process is all over the place. I’m definitely not afraid to try new things and get wild, but what I have stayed consistent with for years is writing. Any ideas that come to me I write them down and store them in my notes. This is everything from hooks, lines, weird words that rhyme, melodies, guitar riffs, new band name ideas, album names, concept album ideas, spoof ideas. Anyone that knows me well has seen me stop whatever I’m doing randomly to write or record whatever random idea comes along.
When it comes to writing a song my creative process mostly starts with a clever hook, or a solid line or two with a melody. Often when you co-write in Nashville you come in with a guitar progression and some good hooks and see what happens. Lately though I’ve been writing solo and I’ve been realizing the songs I do solo are my favorites!
ATN: After releasing your debut album, Jutt LP, you took a hiatus from music to work on your writing and producing skills; what was the biggest lesson you took away from your break?
JUTT: Well I didn’t take a hiatus from music, I just took a hiatus from releasing singles or albums. I was still doing 200-300 shows a year, writing, producing and really honing in on my craft. but the biggest lesson of those years was to TRUST THE STRUGGLE. Make a plan and stick to it.
After my first album, I realized I had a lot of work to do as a singer, songwriter, entertainer, producer, guitarist to be on the level that I know I’m capable of. I told myself that I’m not releasing anything that I wouldn’t be happy putting on vinyl. The Jutt LP was me not knowing what I was doing but doing it anyway and was a huge learning experience! It is my time capsule of a struggling artist trying to find his voice. I’ve recorded tons of songs since that record but none of them were polished enough for the standard that I set for myself during the hiatus until now!
ATN: Now that you’re back with your latest single, “Today We Drink” how has fan reactions been to your return and the new song?
JUTT: As much as I would have loved to release “Today We Drink” years ago, it just wasn’t ready, but now it is! My fans have been putting out enormous energy! I know I’ve had a lot of people rooting for me and wanting me to succeed but it is wild to have so many people from all over the country and the world share what I’m doing with their networks. It verifies that my grassroots, under the radar, gig hustling approach to a music career is paying off. It has been nothing but positive energy and excitement and I’m so pumped to be releasing all these other songs. And the best part is I am confident that these other tracks will have just as much or even more momentum and positive feedback!
ATN: “Today We Drink” is an infectious track, was there something specific that inspired the lyrics?
JUTT: Matt Marinchick and I wrote this song. Also born and raised in Ohio, Matt is one of my favorite people to write with and we both share a tenacious work ethic. The lyrics start out “I work my fingers to the bone, need to sit back and relax” and those lyrics couldn’t be more true for either of us. We wrote “Today We Drink” at the beginning of 2017 and we were both doing 4 hour performances on Broadway about 300 shows a year. That is tough to play an acoustic guitar and sing that often and I think Matt is now up to 360 shows a year. WILD! He’s definitely one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met!
Watch the video by Joseph Mikos for “Today We Drink”
JUTT continues: Usually when Matt and I write we get some really clever hooks but if I remember right we had a gig cancel and had a night off so we wrote this over a couple beers and just wanted to write a fun, simple, good timin’ drinking song about taking a break from work and gettin to throw a few back. The song turned out really fun and the recording turned out exactly how I envisioned it when we wrote it!
ATN: Your cover of “Thunderstruck” is great, what inspired you to cover it?
JUTT: (laughs) I love this story. It was maybe 2016, definitely in the winter time, and I was playing with my band to maybe 10 people at a honky tonk in Nashville and we were all drinking whiskey. One of the things I love doing at bars is taking requests, any genre, any artist, any song, and someone requested “Thunderstruck”. I definitely had a buzz because I would normally just say no way. (laughs). But I looked at the band and said can y’all play it and they started playing it so I started singing it, screaming it.
I later learned from Daniel Hendrick that the vocal style is an operatic technique called “vocal fry”. I think I was as shocked as the band and the crowd. I had NO CLUE that I could sing like that. A couple years later, I went in the studio to record some originals and at the end of the session we had about 10 minutes left and were celebrating by passing around a bottle of George Dickels I think, and Ryan Poole, the studio owner and sound engineer, said “anything else?” and it hit me right then to give “Thunderstruck” a try. We nailed it in one take with no click and that song went viral on Facebook and gained over a million views!
ATN: With the vocals for “Thunderstruck”, how hard (or easy) was it to get that Brian Johnson sound?
JUTT: Good question. It is rumored I was conceived at an AC/DC concert. (laughs) I’ve had two singing lessons in my life. One was in Pataskala, OH before I moved to Nashville and was focused on breathing from my belly. The second lesson was in San Diego, after I learned I could sing AC/DC. Daniel Hendrick, a legendary opera singer, heard me sing at a hotel and offered a free singing lesson so of course I said yes. This guy has the most powerful voice I’ve ever heard! So he had me start singing “Thunderstruck” and immediately grabbed me by my throat.
He looked me in the eye and said, “you have to make your throat smaller, if you keep singing like that you won’t have a voice in a year from now.” I felt violated. (laughs) At that time I really had to push hard to hit those notes and it did hurt unless I had hard liquor before singing. That one little technique he taught me has made a tremendous difference and now it is pretty effortless to sing and sound like that. I’m not sure if I could sing like Brian Johnson for hours a day though, I don’t know how the hell he did that!
ATN: What can fans expect from you this year?
JUTT: My next song is scheduled to be released before Memorial Day. It’s called “Freedom (That Feeling)”. I’m releasing a kick ass single about every two months until I drop the whole album! Although all the songs are tracked, I still haven’t come up with the name of this album. I’m considering “Freedom” or “Songs For Sale” and a few other names. It is a dream to have Drake White, Eric Church, Zac Brown, Dierks Bentley, Morgan Wallen or really any big time mainstream country artist cut some of my songs!
I’ve also started a trend called #HeyJutt where I have fans send me their song requests on whatever social media platform they choose and I make short videos covering the requests! What do you want to hear me cover?
Let Jutt know what cover you’d like him to do. Use the #HeyJutt at @JuttHuffman on Facebook and Instagram
SAME 3 QUESTIONS WE ALWAYS ASK
ATN: Artist / band that you feel is the most underrated and why?
JUTT: Well, if you would have asked me this a couple years ago I would have said Billy Strings or Charley Crockett but they are finally getting the recognition they deserve and will continue to get bigger. I think John Mayer is a living legend that does not get enough credit for all of the things he’s accomplished in his career so far. Absolute rolling stone, Mega talent! My buddy Will Jones is a singer/songwriter that just released his first single called “Sedona” and I think he could blow up in the coming years. He’s had a pub deal writing songs for a while, can shred on guitar, and has a heart warming 90’s country voice! Triple threat! Do yourself a favor and check him out!
ATN: Artist / band that you would like to collaborate with and why?
JUTT: Well I have a huge list of songwriters that I would like to collab with…Dean Dillion, Shane McAnally, Hillary Lindsey, Kat Higgins, Ashley Gorley, Ben Burgess, Jesse Frasure, Eric Church, Ernest Smith, Michael Hardy, John Osbourne. This list could go on for a while. But if we are going with #1 artist/band it would be Willie Nelson hands down would be the ultimate collab. He’s one of the best songwriters of all time, he’s seen it all, experienced it all, and has lived life in a similar way that I have been heading toward. Not to mention he may be the most underrated guitarist of all time!
ATN: Artist / band that you would like to tour with and why?
JUTT: I could say Garth Brooks, Morgan Wallen, Jason Aldean or Luke Combs but I would have to go with Zac Brown Band. Not only is ZBB one of my biggest influences but I love all of the charity stuff he puts together and how well he connects with the communities he interacts with. He’s been very grassroots. I really think that Zac’s fans would appreciate what I do as an artist and would turn into life-long fans of mine as well. I have taken in a lot of the energy that he brings to his studio and live performances and have put them into my own. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see me sharing a stage with Zac Brown Band and we can do another interview about the ride!
Thank you for the thoughtful questions and taking the time to learn more about this Crazy Dream of mine!
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