Home > Around Town > Rock n' roll Sasquatch
Rock n' roll Sasquatch
Kevin Hambrick's new sleeve, new tricks
By EA Poorman
Fort Wayne Reader
Every great once in a while you come across a singer/songwriter that just gets it. He or she knows all the tricks. They've written the songs that make you hum along. Their songs make you feel instantly at ease. They're recognizable not because of influences they wear proudly on their sleeve, but because the song is indelibly them. You get that artist's essence in the chords they play and the words they sing. In my world, guys like John Lennon, Ray Davies, Bob Dylan and Neil Young are in that category. Locally, there's a guy that's been putting stellar songs out consistently for years now. That guy is Kevin Hambrick and he continues his winning streak with the excellent Turtle Wagon. In between writing probably another two or three excellent albums Kevin took some time to talk to me about what's been going on in his world.
So, Turtle Wagon? "Turtle Wagon is a new album that came about bit by bit. For years I've said that I was gonna release Sugar Coated Scribbles, an album that has been done for about 5 years or so. That album and a lot of my catalog will be released in the near future on iTunes. So it was time for something fresh, and that's when Turtle Wagon fell into place. My wife said that Turtle Wagon should be my band where I write childrens' songs. We'll see about that down the road, who knows?”
Hambrick continues: “I recorded it like most of my other albums in the basement with one mic. However, I had the pleasure of having Mark Hutchins record 'New Year's Eve' his style. I've always loved his recordings and songs, so when he agreed to record a tune for me I was a happy fella. Also, 'Aaron's Song' was recorded by my friend Phil Arbogast. Phil has a great studio and ear for tones and recording. Additional musicians on the album were drums by Kevin Hockaday on ‘New Year's Eve’ and Ebow by Mark Hutchins on 'True'. They both did an excellent job. Otherwise, everything else you hear is yours truly, ‘Sasquatch’".
Fort Wayne's own Rock 'n Roll Sasquatch. Self-proclaimed. He lives up to the title in songwriting skills and facial hair. Hambrick not only puts out music under his own name, but also under his band The Orange Opera. Being the nosy curmudgeon that I am, I had to ask if there was a difference between writing for a 'band' and writing for a project that is only going to have your name on it. Kevin? "I think the only way it's approached different is whether someone else is doing the recording. I used to kind of write piano tunes that were more geared for the Orange Opera but now I think I'm to the point where if it's a song I like, that works...piano or no piano." Have piano, will write....differently or not.
So, being the 'music journalist' that I am, I have to ask all those stock questions. You know, "What's your favorite color?" "Who's your favorite uncle on Full House? "Do you believe in reincarnation?" "What was the last commercial that made you cry?" You know, the stock stuff. But I like to dig a little deeper. Like, tell me about some of these songs you've written for Turtle Wagon? "'Blanket Of Assassins' is a little interesting story. Basically I've had so many back injuries and injections over the last couple of years I was desperate for something to write about, so I decided to read most of the instructions that were given to me for physical rehab and returning to work. Then I just threw a couple other lines in here and there and presto, a song about a herniated disc.”
Hambrick explainss that the song 'True' was inspired by going back over stuff that was said to him by musicians and friends that he respects and others that he’s met along the fun journeys in the past years. “It got me to look back and question some of those discussions on music, touring, labels and etc. Am I happy with where I'm at in music? Did I achieve enough to not have regrets? Should I just take up quilting and quit music? You know, stuff like that. But that song also takes on a different feeling for me too. My stepdad passed away almost a year ago and a lot of the lyrics bring out that whole emotion to me, even though I had written the song quite awhile before that."
Life has a way of making it into what we do creatively. Sometimes we know, sometimes it just ends up there. The best songwriters take life's ups and downs and turn it into something we can invest our hearts into. Something we can relate to. Kevin Hambrick has succeeded in that nearly every time he's given us a gift encoded on a CD.
Another change for Kevin came in the form of a son named Van Riggins Hambrick (such a cool rock 'n roll name, too). I'm curious: how does becoming a dad affect the rock 'n roll thought process? Is it no big deal? Or is it having to re-learn the process? "That definitely changes some things. First off, Van Riggins Hambrick rules my planet. He's hilarious and a cool little man. But yes, I don't seem to have the same energy to go record at 4 in the morning and stuff like that. I do come up with some little kids songs for him and I find myself singing some children’s show songs that I never thought I would sing, but what can I say, they're catchy." The coolest dad rock around, I would say. The Jeff Tweedy/Kevin Hambrick Daycare Tour. Think about it, guys.
While we're talking shows, is anything on the horizon? Maybe pack up a paisley bus and get all Partridge Family? "As far as hitting the road touring, I don't see that too soon. Also, I've pretty much lost or broke even in the making money game on the road. There's a big part of me that misses those amazing experiences of playing with great bands and just having all those funny tour stories while traveling with your band. But again, maybe the future shall hold more touring when it's right."
Let's just say, hypothetically, if Hambrick was to tour, who would he be touring with? Who's got his back? Would his buds in the Orange Opera hit the road with him? "If I would hit the road it would most definitely be with those Orange Opera guys. We're still alive as a band but just don't go play every kind of show like we did in the past. But yes, we all still chat and play." That's what I wanted to hear.
Anything new brewing already? Cause I know guys like Hambrick have songs stored away for rainy days and dry spells alike. "Well, another album would be nice to get in the works when it's right. Like I said, the whole Hambrick catalog at some point will be on iTunes, thanks to Wes Wingate from Home Tone Records. He's always dug my tunes and wanted to make it a goal to get all of my stuff on mp3 and to spread the word. Very cool of him I must say. Also, I'd still love to do a whole album with Mark Hutchins. That guy just writes so many good songs. I still would like to someday record another album with my brother Stu. Our last one was recorded 19 years ago, way too long."
The whole Hambrick catalog available digitally at some point? A brothers Hambrick reunion album? A Hambrick and Hutchins full-on collaboration record? And a Tweedy/Hambrick Daycare Tour? It all sounds too good to be true (especially that last one), but when the Rock 'n Roll Sasquatch says it to be, I believe him. Also, believe this: Turtle Wagon is one of the great ones. Kevin Hambrick is one of the great ones. Check them both out at kevinhambrick.com