All Photos: Alan Mercer Assisted by Eric V. and Psymon Imagery
Eric Himan is an award-winning nationally touring soulful/folk/rock artist based in the Tulsa area. Eric's music has recently been featured on Sirius/XM's Coffeehouse radio station with his song, "Everything To You" and version of the Simply Red classic, "Holding Back the Years". Eric has shared the stage with Leon Russell, India.Arie, Edwin McCain, Karmin, and many more. Recently Eric and band performed at the Center of the Universe Festival with OneRepublic, OK GO, and Neon Trees. He has appeared in the The Advocate, Huffington Post, OUT, newspapers nationwide, won the Singer/Songwriter Awards in London and is endorsed by Fender Guitars.
Eric has come a long way in the years since his humble beginning entertaining crowds in colleges near his alma mater, Penn State University, but his love affair with the nomadic life began much earlier when he plucked his first guitar string or struck a chord. While Eric lives by the motto "Don't ask me where I'm from, ask me where I'm going," his past has much to do with the life he now pursues with great fervor. Growing up with a father in the military, Eric constantly relocated, shuffling through cities and states without enough time to put down serious roots. It wasn't until he attended Penn State University that he picked up a guitar and became a coffee shop crooner.
Eric released his debut CD and founded his own independent label, Thumbcrown Records. He quickly gained a "cult" following and broke from the idea of being a small-town act, for his unique sound that transgressed genres as he penned songs that dabbled in Blues, Folk, Pop, Blue Grass, Country, and Rock all served up with a pinch of wit and charm. His shows are not about theatrics and superstardom, instead, his shows are intimate and fans can't help but feel as though their best friend is onstage. Eric forges personal relationships with many of his fans with his disarming charm and approachability.
AM: Eric I know you recently opened a string of shows for Leon Russell. What was that like?
EH: Leon is amazing! I got that gig because of my drummer Brandon, who has been with Leon for seven years. Brandon played on the Elton John Tour. So anyway he told Leon about me and played my latest album, ‘Gracefully’ for him.
AM: I love that album!
EH: Oh thank you. So I started opening up for Leon last summer. It was a lot of fun.
AM: How did it compare being an opening act and doing your own headlining?
EH: When you are an opening act you are at the mercy of the headliners schedule. I’m going on tour with Ani DeFranco next. As an opening act it’s about you, but it’s not about you. The majority of the audience is there to see the headliner. If it’s my show, I don’t have to win anyone over like I do when it’s an audience who isn’t there to see me.
AM: Do you perform a different show as an opener?
EH: Yes I do.
AM: You have a lot of different styles of music in your own compositions.
EH: Yes, that is on purpose because I like a lot of different styles of music.
AM: What do you think of Country music?
EH: I’m fans of the people who are actually writing the songs.
AM: What was it like working with Patty Griffin?
EH: It was amazing.
AM: Did you ever see Robert Plant?
EH: No he wasn’t around but her audience would ask if Robert was there while she was performing. He is Rock Music Royalty. Not many people make it to that realm. People want to know that that presence is amongst them.
AM: What was it like meeting Patty Griffin?
EH: I met her after the show with her little dog. She made it a point to come up to me and tell me how much she enjoyed my show. I was petting the dog and thinking to myself, “This is Robert Plant’s dog.”
AM: I love how you are a fan of music too.
EH: Oh God, YES!
AM: You relate to your fans like that too right?
EH: Ani DeFranco is my idol. I hate to say I have one person at the top of the pyramid of many artists because I love many different artists for different reasons, but I’m not going to lie. She made such an impact on me as an artist.
AM: In what way?
EH: Lyrically for one. She focused my attention on things that I write about more in my own music and my guitar playing.
AM: Are you writing music for your next album?
EH: Yes I’m constantly writing. Brandon and Matt are writing with me for a trio project that is more in the Rock music vein. The songs are a little more musically complex. I’m working with the best musicians I have ever worked with in my career.
AM: You seem to stay busy and have a steady flow of work.
EH: I always have a steady flow because I do all my business myself. I know I’m the only one in my way. There’s a pressure to that but also an opportunity. I can work as much as I want to or as little as I want to.
AM: You work a lot.
EH: I work a lot because I can’t afford not to work a lot. I’ve been blessed with lots of opportunities.
AM: I like the way you pump out music.
EH: I do pump out music but I want to be consistent in a sound.
AM: Eric you are also known for being a gay rights activist. Are you a natural activist or is that a side effect of being a performer?
EH: I feel like at first I was talking about my personal experiences and it just opened up conversations. Once you’ve stared a conversation it’s so much easier to have other conversations.
AM: I like your song about Arizona.
EH: I guess I am a natural activist. You can’t tell me here is an injustice going on, write a song about it. It never works like that for me. It seems trite and forced. It has to personally piss me off. I was in Arizona at the time and it pissed me off.
AM: You recently started performing stand-up comedy. How did you get interested in that?
EH: I have always loved stand-up comedy, in fact, on my long drives when I am touring, it is easier to listen to stand-up comedy albums than music because it feels like someone is talking to you and keeps me more awake and alert. I have done a tiny bit of what you could call stand-up/storytelling in my shows but never without my guitar. That way, if I bombed with a joke, I could play a Journey song and everyone is back on my side, see how I did that?
AM: Is it harder than singing and playing in front of people?
EH: It is harder than singing and playing, and I wonder if that is because I am new at it, without the guitar, or it is because it is never the same audience. You could do EXACTLY the same set list for music and get a pretty equivalent reaction. You can do EXACTLY the same comedy set and get a completely different reaction.
AM: Is there more comedy in your future or even acting?
EH: I am not sure acting is my thing. I recently acted in a film by Steve Balderson, "Occupying Ed" that I love, and it was a lot of work for me to be somebody else. I feel stand-up isn't so far from being a songwriter because it is about being myself. I would LOVE to do more comedy. There is a challenge in writing bits that is different than writing songs. Very therapeutic in both though. Comedy is laughing at yourself, which might be hard for some serious singer/songwriters to do, and I was like that for quite some time.
AM: Have you always enjoyed cooking?
EH: I was never too interested in cooking to be honest until I bought my own house and had the time and money to take cooking classes. I was scared to cook for myself and others because I was afraid I would accidentally poison someone, ha. Once I started the classes, my fears dissolved and my creativity showed up in full force. I enjoyed driving recipes to what I thought would be good together. Now, I love to cook and show others just how they can do the same with my online cooking segments, TRIAL AND ERIC.
To learn more about Eric Himan visit his web site http://www.erichiman.com/