Interview: Probably the last interview of Danny Hutchens co-founder of Athens, Georgia, legends Bloodkin

Credit: Michael Weintrop

This interview was to have been an an exploration of Bloodkin’s legacy and renewed artistic drive but it is now also tragically part obituary for co-founder Danny Hutchens.

This is so much more than a normal Americana UK interview as Danny Hutchens, co-founder of Athens, Georgia, legends Bloodkin, passed away on 10th May in hospital following a stroke at the tragically young age of 56. Americana UK’s Martin Johnson interviewed Danny Hutchens and his lifelong friend and fellow Bloodkin co-founder Eric Carter to discuss the release of Bloodkin’s new record ‘Black Market Tango’, which is also possibly their best record in their long career, and their long history as one of Athens’ most legendary and influential bands. In the interview, you get a sense of the real friendship at the creative heart of Bloodkin with the sense of fun around Eric Carter’s love of tea and Danny Hutchens gives a glimpse of his own creative soul where life and art are one in what is probably his last interview. The interview also includes quite a few poignant moments as the two lifelong friends talk about their future plans. If you haven’t heard of Bloodkin but are a fan of The Drive-By Truckers, Jerry Joseph and Widespread Panic then you need to listen to them as they have influenced all those artists and the new record is as good a place to start as any. If you are already a fan, then you will appreciate what a loss Danny Hutchens sudden death is to all those listeners who value truly heartfelt and honest music that reflects all aspects of American music.

Americana UK has included Bloodkin’s band statement on the passing of Danny Hutchens as a preface to the interview:-

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our brother in music, Bloodkin co-founder Daniel Hutchens. Danny died in Athens, GA on Sunday, May 9th surrounded by family and friends after suffering a massive stroke.  Words can not express our grief over the loss of Danny or the love we had for him.  His influence in our lives, the lives of his fans and the greater music community will live far beyond his brief but beautiful time on this earth. As one of his generation’s most prolific and soulful songwriters, his words will resonate as a rock ‘n’ roll poet for generations to come.

Friends since early childhood and bandmates for over 35 years, Bloodkin co-founder Eric Carter refers to their friendship and partnership as, “A combination of brothers and an old married couple. And through all the ups and downs, our first priority was our baby, Bloodkin. When we cut through the excess and the bullshit, it was always about the damn song and we got a LOT of them. THAT was our thing and I’ll never find something like that again.”

Danny’s longtime music collaborator and close friend David Barbe shared, “It is with feelings beyond sadness that I face the passing of Daniel Hutchens.  This is an extremely painful loss for the music community, and his friends and family. Danny was a brilliant, but underappreciated, artist. The people who make the music knew, though.  A musician’s musician. An artist’s artist. Danny’s voice was sweet and soulful.  His songs were honest, came from the heart, and connected with people in a way that made his fans feel like they really knew Danny and that he knew them.  He poured himself into his creativity to the point that the line between the artist and the art was indistinguishable. Danny was one of my closest friends and musical comrades; a kind, generous soul who had love in his heart for everyone he encountered and was universally loved in return by everyone who knew him.  I am struggling to process the void of not having him in my life. I am grateful to have had him for as long as we did and am honored to have been a part of his musical journey.”   

Dave Schools of Widespread Panic said, “And just like that life ends. I was lucky to have known Danny for so long and working with him was an honor I’ll always treasure. I can’t begin to describe the many lives he touched. Listen to the man’s work. And to quote Danny after a particularly potent take of a song in the studio: ‘You’re welcome humans.’ “

The vanguard of the Athens, GA music scene, The Flagpole Magazine once said of Danny, “Singer/songwriter Daniel Hutchens’ soul-inflected vocals and his knack for moving lyrics are as powerful as ever. [His lyrics explore] the idea that love survives separation, the feeling that friendship is stronger than the miles, physical and spiritual, that divide us.”  

AQUARIUM DRUNKARD has written of Danny, “I put his catalog right up there with the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Alejandro Escovedo and Steve Earle in terms of truly capturing the nuances of humanity, both the light and the dark, in song… [Hutchens] is a national treasure.”

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the thoughts and prayers from the many lives that he touched with the soul of his music and passion of his spirit. Throw on your favorite Bloodkin album and play it WAY TOO LOUD!

How are you, I hope both of you, your families and friends are all OK and coping with the challenges of COVID?

Eric Carter (EC): At the start of all this the young kids didn’t think they could get it. There were all sorts of craziness down in Florida with spring-break kids and all that.

Danny Hutchens (DH): That is still going on.

EC I’m being safe, you know, and this is not good for the mental health I don’t think. When all this started, I thought of having to stay in and everything was right in my wheelhouse, you know, but it can wear on you for sure, but I have been as safe as possible. I’ve had my first shot, so I have one more shot in about a week.

DH: Me too.

Were you able to use any of the COVID downtime productively, were there any benefits coming out of it?

DH: For me, it was very fortunate circumstances because I had just started this project at home which was kind of digging through the old cassette tapes and notebooks and finding all the old songs. I didn’t know what kind of a project I was getting in to and if I hadn’t been holed up in the house for so much time I would never have got anywhere near finishing it.

EC: It certainly wasn’t a waste of time. It varies from day to day, some days the smallest interactions with other people can seem such a big deal as this drags on, and some days I feel productive and kind of right with the world, and other days it is just like despair, haha. Having that much time it is easy to get things in your head like existential dread, and things like that. Then I can go to a store and have a small interaction with the lady at the store and it changes the mood completely. It is just a day-to-day thing, some days are remarkably similar but little different things pop up here and there.

And this is the time you are releasing your new album, ‘Black Market Tango’, haha.

EC: The last time we released an album there was this kind of economic crash in 2008/2009, so for this one there is a plague.

DH: If we released them a little more often I think our odds would increase, or maybe that would work the other way. Better to have it out, I think.

Did it feel good to finally get ‘Black Market Tango’ out?

EC: It was a sense of relief to get it out. This time two years ago we were actually working on it, so it has kind of been done for a while but there is always lots of little things and processes that delay things. It is a strange time to be putting out music but people are still doing it.

Credit: Adam Davila
People always need music.

EC: Yeah, that’s right, that is the essential thing that I think people have discovered that things you have taken for granted because they are just there all the time are important.

DH: There has been a lot of creativity in terms of how people have got their music out to their fans, you have seen lots of interesting things people have come up with such as streaming. It has forced people to think a little bit differently.

EC: I think these kinds of events when they happen, there is always something positive that comes out of them, you know. With the creative types in the arts,  they have to do what they do, no matter what the challenges they will find a way to do it one way or another. Especially the kids, they can do these amazing things just from their bedrooms, haha.

You didn’t have to record your new album, did you? It is 12 or 13 years since your last album of new stuff and it is 8 years since your box set compilation. Why did you feel the need to go through the pain of recording a new album, what made you want to do that?

DH: I wish we had made like 7 since the last album. It is something I have done seriously since I was a little kid and got hold of a cassette recorder. I have been obsessed with it, to me, it is just like a part of life. I also think it is good that I have some other people who kind of pull in the other direction and kind of balance me out a little bit so I’m not wearing myself too thin in the studio or something. But man, I do just love it, I really love the process of making a record and I love being in the studio, even if I am not the one making the record, I will enjoy just watching the process.

How many songs did you have ready when you started to pull the new record together? It is like an old-style double album and has a lot of songs anyway.

DH: We were trying to write some new things together, and we did, so it was kind of in-process as we went into the studio. We didn’t just bring in a selection of previously written songs, you know, there are one or two older things on there but the real thrust of it was that we were writing new things together at the time.

In terms of the songwriting process, what comes first, is it the guitar, is it the lyrics or does it just depend on the moment? How do you work together to write songs?

EC: That kind of depends. In this case, Danny’s always had many, many lyrics, and a lot of music too, and like just being at home using my phone and whatever I was collecting the music and I could start hearing things on how I may want it to sound if it was recorded. I try to think how would a band do this, what would it sound like with everybody on it. You never actually know that though until you are actually in there doing it because everybody has their own tastes and personalities. That is where a lot of the fun is, you know, seeing what other people are playing to it. Sometimes I will have the music, I don’t really write a lot of lyrics though I may have some big ideas but I can give something to Danny and go what do you think of this and he might go I have something that is perfect for that. It is like putting together little puzzles.

‘John Coltrane In Nagasaki’ is a full-on track. What came first, Daniel’s lyrics or Eric’s music?

DH: The lyrics came from me watching a John Coltrane documentary and later on in his career like on his last tour he insisted on playing Nagasaki because he had a notion that with his music he was going to be able to repair the molecules that were in the atmosphere and were damaged when this bomb was dropped. It was kind of nutty but it was also kind of one of the coolest things I have ever seen and it was the idea that this was his intent with his music. Eric just happened to have this piece of music at the time and it became that song.

How much of an influence has Coltrane been as a musician?

DH: I love him. We don’t play jazz it is not exactly our style of music, we are rockers, but it is something that I can really appreciate. He is one of my favourite jazz musicians in history, and I am not saying that because I am an expert or anything because I am not, but I have always liked his music.

I think Coltrane was just a musician and he transcended genres. Even in the jazz world, he was pretty unique in his ability to tap into that emotion, spirituality or whatever it was.

EC: That is what the good ones can do, you know, they have a very unique voice in the universe. They have found their spots and can just do their thing. I am not a jazz expert either by any means, but a lot of that older stuff is really alive and there is a lot of blues infused in it and I have always liked that combination of playing. I can’t play jazz technically per se but I can understand the approach and the working within the other things that are going on, you know. There are a lot of things I really like but I couldn’t really pick a lot of things out because I am not well versed in jazz. Like when I hear something I can go that is Miles Davis or that is Dizzy Gillespie. There is a radio station here in Athens that on Friday and Saturday nights they like to play jazz from midnight till four in the morning or whatever, and I will put that on and just let it go with little stories leading into the songs, who it was and who the musicians were and that is kind of interesting. I have always liked listening to it like that but I have never collected jazz records or anything.

DH: I also think it is about, whatever the medium, the life of the artist and their story and reading a biography. It interests me a lot and it can be a sculptor, painter or anything and it is just like the person’s life and attitude as applied to their art is just something that fascinates me.

Credit: Flournoy Holmes
How did you compile ‘Black Market Tango’ and make it the album it is rather than just a random collection of songs?

DH: For me, quite honestly, that’s where it comes into a team sport, I really believe that. For me, it is very important that you have a good team around you. If it was just me in the studio, I think I would never be finished because I would just get tangled in my own thoughts, haha, it is great to just be able to bounce ideas of others. That is when it really comes together for me, having a team of people who can really hunt it down.

EC:  That is kind of a hard thing to put your finger on, what makes it work as an album rather than just a random collection of songs. Once you are in there doing it going song by song, if it is going well, then hopefully it will start creating a sort of a mood and capture certain things that were going on in a certain period of time. Before I forget, there is David Barbie who is like another member of the band and he has been doing our records for a very long time and he understands us. The way it works is I can reference certain things and sounds, I can’t do things technically, I can’t turn the knobs or engineer anything but I can talk to him about these things and he knows what I am talking about and we can create these things. As it goes along, hopefully, it forms into something, oh this is a nice mood piece and I have always thought in terms of albums not the way people seem to listen to music now which is a lot more fragmented when you pick your favourite songs and you make your playlists. I still think albums, what is going to be on side 1, how are we going to make it different when you turn the record over and side 2 has kind of a different mood.

DH: Me too. I don’t know whether it is just our age or whatever but it has always fascinated me, the album.

EC: I think it is definitely our age.

DH: I think it is the whole story like a book versus a chapter of a book, but you are right, people digest their music differently these days.

EC: I have done the same thing, you know. When I listen to music now it is kind of sporadic like that because with Spotify it is like making your own mixtapes which you did when you were a kid, except it is now much more standard. If I feel like hearing music and  I don’t know what I want to hear specifically I can just put my collection on shuffle and get whatever. Occasionally, I will say let’s find a record and just listen to it like you used to listen to a record, song 1 to song 10. When I pick up a book I don’t start reading at chapter 5.

DH: That’s the same man, it was really fun when I got the record and just to actually play it like vinyl, it was a blast man, that was the first time I got to hear the new record that way.

EC: I was the same because when you are making it you are listening to different mixes and stuff, you are not hearing it like you would if you were sitting down and really listening. It is nice to hear it straight through, and hey this is what they had in mind.

DH: It is also just like the actual vinyl thing. It was just a blast from the past.

EC: This record is definitely made for vinyl, that was the idea initially anyway.

DH: Yeah.

EC: The last time we did a record CDs were more of the thing and vinyl was more of an afterthought as it was more of a bonus to make a few vinyl things, but this was the opposite it was like this is going to be a record and the CD was a kind of an afterthought.

DH: That is very true.

To be fair vinyl is on the up and if people choose to buy physical music it is going to be predominantly vinyl.

EC: It is the same thing with books, I would rather have books rather than a collection on my iPad, I like to hold a book.

Some people have said ‘Black Market Tango’ could be your best album. Do you feel that?

EC: I am very proud of this record, and a few people who have heard it have said it is the best thing you have done.

DH: In my opinion, it is the closest to a bullseye that we have come as a whole record all the way through.

EC: Me too, me too.

DH: Maybe I am too close to it.

EC: You can have a bias but if I can back off from that and step back a little bit and listen to it, this is a good piece of work and I like it as a double album, that may not be the thing now but I can’t believe they have put out a double album, they haven’t put out a record in twelve years so here’s two, haha.

DH: You know a double album is no different to a seventy-minute CD. It is just the format and it is really cool to me, I like it and I like the word album.

How come ‘Black Market Tango’ has ended up on Jerry Joseph’s label Cosmo Sex School Records?

DH: It was because they are friends of ours and they have a team together who have just done a great job with this last record. They offered to do it, and we all thought it was a great idea and they are very good at what they do.

EC: As opposed to just randomly selling it out of the back of the truck or something, haha.

DH: Haha.

EC: It is best to have people who know what they are doing, to place a record and put it where people can get it.

Jerry’s own latest record, ‘The Beautiful Madness’, has been incredibly successful, hasn’t it?

EC: It is his biggest record. That is just how things happen sometimes, you have things lined up and they just work. We have known Jerry for a long time and we really like him, he is a good friend.

The Athens music scene is a bit different from other city music scenes in that there is no identifiable Athens sound but there has been and continues to be, a massive amount of quality music produced in the city.

DH: It is a college town and it has always drawn a lot of musicians, like Eric and I came here from a small town in West Virginia, and we figured out that people come to these sort of places from small towns from all over the place. You find your like-minded people. There are all kinds of music in Athens and it was more about a community of people who supported each other.

EC: I think that was happening a lot maybe around the mid-’80s or so. A lot of these smaller college towns were where a lot of things were kind of happening, college radio for example, and Athens was kind of a random choice and there a couple of towns like this that we could have ended up at, it just happened to be this one.

DH: What is it like in England, is it safe to go over there now?

It is getting better and the vaccine roll-out is making a massive difference but I think it will be the autumn before we real start to see live music subject to no further increases in infections and what have you. There is a nervousness about letting visitors in and the government is looking to manage it through a traffic light system for different countries.

DH: So we don’t need to come there yet because they won’t let us in, haha.

Not till the autumn.

DH: Haha, same old story of my entire life, haha.

EC: They can still listen to the record over there though.

Jerry’s record did well over here, he got good press and he got airplay and he did mention Bloodkin so you never know.

EC: I think he may be going back over in a few months.

DH: He is always going somewhere.

He has a bit of a following in the UK and he isn’t shy about mentioning who he likes and admires.

EC: He is not shy, not shy at all, haha.

DH: Haha. He just needs to open up a little bit once in a while, haha.

EC: Have you interviewed Jerry?

I interviewed him a while back, and he was very open and very genuine about his life, music and his likes and dislikes.

DH: Absolutely.

EC: He is what he is, you know. You like him or you don’t.  He has his own thing man, he has done it long enough. I think this is true of anybody, when you start doing your thing you are always trying to copy your heroes or whatever, and if you keep at it hopefully, eventually, you develop your own thing and Jerry definitely has got that.

You had a steel player this time on the record, someone who has played with an up and coming band called the Drive-by Truckers. How did that influence the sound?

DH: Yeah, John Neff and he has played with several bands and he has played with us on and off for years and years. He is a good friend of ours and a great musician, he is always a plus. If he is in the band it is a good thing.

EC: He is the best musician in the band.

DH: All the guys in the band are great, and I’m not just saying that haha. It is a good band and it is kind of the same with all of the guys, we have played with them on and off through the years, and there were periods now and again when we weren’t playing with some guys, but it is like a group of friends and a community. This group of people always seem to come back together.

A question for you Danny, where do you get your literary skills from to write the lyrics you do?

DH: The thing is to really answer that question I have been interested in lyrics since I was a little kid and I don’t know exactly why that is. I have always read a lot as well and there was a lot of literature in there, and I remember the story I always tell people is that just after I learnt to read one of my older sisters gave me ‘Sergeant Pepper’s ‘ for my birthday like when I was five years old or something, and it had the lyrics on it and reading those lyrics from that record warped my life I think, haha. I loved the experience of that so much it became very important to me, not just the music but also the lyrics specifically. So maybe it is that.

Eric, your guitar playing, where did you get your original influences from?

EC: I was always very responsive to music even as a little kid. One of the first things I remember hearing was my mother’s copy of ‘Hot Rocks’ on 8 track, it was like the Rolling Stones’ greatest hits, and I remember hearing that at a very young age and probably like millions of other kids, those guitar notes to ‘Satisfaction’ made me think what is that sound? I was always drawn to that kind of stuff, there was always a lot of Motown on my mom’s side, Ray Charles as well, and there was AM radio and whatever that I would pick up randomly riding in the car. My dad had a lot of country music which I got to appreciate more and more as I got older. I started playing guitar when I was maybe 14 or 15 and Keith Richards was my favourite and he was like what Chuck Berry was to him. When you hear that and you start digging into these things you start finding out who they listened to and that leads to a lot of blues and random things with songwriters and that. I heard Bob Dylan at a very young age and that was a big thing for me too. He could write about lots of different things, you know, and you can combine that with good rock’n’roll music, they can actually go together. So those were the basics that got me started, and at my age, there was also the standard classic rock things like the Who, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, and I did kind of like that stuff but what stuck with me was something like the Rolling Stones with blues rock’n’roll and country based kind of stuff. There are also lots of things in music that rub off on you that you are not even aware of, you know.

Coming from Virginia you can’t help it I suppose.

DH: West Virginia, haha.

EC: That is true. You have a lot of that weird mountain music too.

DH: Yeah, it’s true.

You have made what is possibly your best record, you are with a label that cares about your music, what are you going to do to make the record the success it deserves to be?

DH: As soon as we can we need to go out and play some good shows, and remember how to do that, haha. We have to get it out to the people because I just miss it, man, I just really miss it. I think a lot of people also really miss it. The kind of band we are with real clubs and live music that is where it is.

EC: That is so true. I think we are in the early stages of having things in the works, everybody is getting vaccinated and all that stuff so we are going to start playing again. I mean, we haven’t in a year.

DH: Yeah, it has been a year.

EC: Then you remember that nobody has so then it’s OK.

DH: When you start playing you are going to be rusty but it is going to be so much fun, it is going to be so thrilling.

EC: I think people will forgive a few mistakes here and there, you know.

DH: Haha.

EC: We are a real rock’n’roll band so mistakes come with that kind of thing.

DH: If they want mistakes they have come to the right place. You can’t have perfection, it is about the feel.

EC: We are not Steely Dan, you know.

Don’t knock Steely Dan, while they did have a perfection they somehow avoid that sense of over perfection in the music. I don’t know how they managed to pull that off, haha.

EC: I wasn’t insulting Steely Dan, haha. Don’t get that twisted, haha. I don’t want a feud with Steely Dan, haha.

DH: Haha.

EC: I was reading an interview with one of the Steely Dan guys and he was talking about one of his favourite records ‘Hootenanny’ by The Replacements and that really surprised me as to one of his choices for one of his favourite albums because that is the opposite of Steely Dan in some ways.

DH: I think it was the guy who passed away recently, Walter Becker.

If I asked you to recommend some music to the UK readers to listen to now what would you recommend from the music you have enjoyed recently?

EC: I’m not sure I will be very good at answering this because there is so much music out there, but I’m not up very much on what the hot new things are.

It doesn’t matter, it is just what you have enjoyed recently.

EC: I still go back to a lot of my staples, you know. I will also hear a song from a TV show and with this little Shazam app on my phone I can go who is that, and it will be somebody I have never heard of, it is just some song that struck me a certain way. There are a lot of random things like that.

DH: I know you have listened to one of our friends Jerry Joseph because of the streams and stuff. And actually, I got to play with him and he is actually the only band I have played with during this whole thing and we did a couple of shows. Eric Martinez has just sent me the record he has been working on. I have been watching some of our friends making some great music and using the time pretty wisely. That is pretty cool to see.

EC: Martinez has a great setup for that, he has a home studio behind his house and he records things and he has sent me things and I will add a guitar to it and send it back. Modern technology.

DH: Absolutely. I have been watching a good bit of Todd Snider’s stuff, his streams, and that has been the way I have received music for a while.

EC: I had no idea what Facebook Live was until all this stuff started, I never paid any attention to what that was on the computer. Have you listened to the new record?

I have listened to it a few times but I am still finding my way, you have to really listen to a record to fully appreciate it.

EC: That is one of the cool things about music, it will grow on you in a particular way. In this day and age, everything is so like instant and you have to get some kind of hook pretty quick to draw them in.

DH: That is true.

EC: I think this record will do that.

The songs are certainly there.

DH: I do feel good about it.

Do you think that the name of the band, Bloodkin, has ever been a problem in getting your music to its rightful audience?

DH: The thing about it is that band names are such a strange thing to me, such a tricky thing. You should have a name that represents you and it never does, it can’t. Bloodkin at the time seemed to work, and I think it still does, but over the years people have sometimes seen it as some kind of heavy metal band or a misinterpretation of that. At this time man, I just put that in the category of something I can’t worry about because I can’t affect that. We tried to change it one time but people still called us Bloodkin so it just didn’t matter, haha.

EC: This is true, haha. A couple of the reviews I have read mentioned that name and if you could hear them say it it would be that name, haha. For me, the name Bloodkin is just like family but it has the word blood in it so.

DH: That is right.

EC: It never really occurred to me until people started saying that sounds like a heavy metal band. I had never thought of that. It is like Jethro Tull can sound like a heavy metal band, haha.

DH: It is a name, it is what it is.

EC: At the time when you are just trying to come up with a name, what everybody does is come up with stupid joke names and you have notebooks full of those, and you have to settle on something and Danny came out with I got it, haha.

It’s Danny’s fault then.

DH: Yeah, my fault, haha.

EC: We were like, OK, that will work, that will work.

DH: We were just sick of looking for a name.

EC: We are definitely not a heavy metal band, haha.

DH: Where has Eric gone?

I think he is probably making a cup of tea. Danny, you and Eric have been friends for years. How long has it been?

DH: Since we were little kids, about 8 or 9 years old, so it is what is 46 years or so. Basically, it has been my whole life I have been around him more than anyone else probably.

EC: I think I was 7 when I met Danny I was in this old town down the street from him, and he is a little older than me, and I met him through another friend of ours and the first time it was here is this new kid but then we started discovering we have common interests like comic books, baseball cards or whatever, and it kind of went from there. As we got older we were sharing music with each other and turned him on to something, you know. Getting into our mid-teens it was what can we do, we like listening to all this stuff, can we start doing it? When you have known each other that long it is like kind of a weird marriage type thing after a while. We don’t live together anymore and we have our different lives but there is that weird connection there.

DH: And speaking of the band name it is kind of partially where it comes from because a lot of people who didn’t know us thought we really were brothers because we have been around each other so long it is kind of a natural assumption. There is this strange thing and I think honestly, sometimes I think Eric it is hard for you and I to get a distance from it to see what it really is. Not many people have a friendship or a partnership last that long.

It has also been a very creative partnership as well as a friendship and you have managed to maintain a level of creativity over the years that not many other partnerships have managed.

EC: Exactly, it is like being in jail, haha.

DH: And with the band, we figured out fairly early on that other guys would leave the band as life happens but it seemed like ridiculous that we would break up, what does that mean? So it was like a cycle, find another drummer and then over another period of time for me, music just became a lifestyle. The first time we went to New Orleans and saw the people who just live there, 80 or 90 year old guys, and this wasn’t a career like, this was their life. It is like some people go to church and that is kind of what it felt like for us. So that is why we stay around, what are we going to do if we break up? Haha.

EC: If you ask me why we keep doing this then if I have a piece of music stuck in the back of my head it drives me crazy because it has to be out there somehow. It is like I need other people to play this and hopefully, they are people that I like and so it is like I will take it to the band and we will work it out. If someone says aren’t you too old to do what you do and I just say it is what I do. I have other jobs, obviously, you have to pay the bills but my only creative outlets, this is where it is at. When I was younger and you are trying to learn about all these things it is if I want to be creative what voice do I use, do I want to paint, do I want to write, I will try guitar and I will try this. The guitar just happened to be the thing that stuck, you know. I can write pieces of music, and occasionally some words and I have ideas for songs. I have always had that with Danny because we started out so young, that is just how it is.

DH: Sometimes, and not being too heavy about it, you can take it for granted as it is the way we play together and it is almost like we don’t have to talk about it. You know we don’t have anything else to compare it to either, you know what I am saying. I have been playing music with him so long, it is never going to be with anyone else, you know.

EC: Unless you get to live to 150, haha. You will have someone else to have a magical connection with. What are we going to do for our 50th anniversary?

You have to get there first.

EC: I have to remember to take things one day at a time.

Is Athens in a bit of a bubble as far as the rest of Georgia?

DH: Yeah, us and Atlanta.

EC: Yeah, we definitely are and I kind of forget that sometimes and it is on the news and I see what is going on in places that aren’t Athens, and it is like I forgot that people still think like that. You can get a little isolated with things like that.

DH: Athens and Atlanta are kind of their own little areas.

So I take it you have no plans to move from Athens?

DH: I don’t have any reason to leave but if something happened where we had to be somewhere else I don’t think it would affect us at all. Like our bass player lives in Savannah and there was a time when stuff like that would have been a really big deal if we are not next door to each other every day. Getting thrown out of bars together and stuff like that. If we lived somewhere else, that would be fine too, we would get together and do a project but I like it here and I just don’t have any real reason to move away from here.

EC: I think as you get older it gets harder to just move, you kind of get set in certain places. There are a lot of bands that have established themselves and they don’t all live in the same place. When it is time to go to work there are these things call airplanes or whatever.

The album cover for ‘Black Market Tango’ is very distinctive. Who designed it and how did it come about?

DH: The guy’s name is Flournoy Holmes and he has been doing album covers, and all kinds of art, for decades. He did ‘Eat A Peach’ the Allman Brothers record, and if you go on to his website Flournoy Holmes the amount of album covers he has done is stunning. Every genre and it kind of became his thing and he lives in Atlanta and he is friends with a lot of our friends and he has done album covers for friends of ours before and it just kind of worked out. I had run into him before we had started making the record and kind of hit it off with him a little bit, he is an interesting guy, he is a great artist.

It is a cover that you can’t ignore and it seemed to encapsulate the music in a way.

EC: It is definitely striking, it could be one of those things where it is a good thing you are noticing or it could be a love-hate kind of thing. I have heard a lot of people say they really like the cover.

DH: The thing about his art, and this cover in particular possibly because I have looked at this cover more than any other, is that every time you look at it you see something different. He has got all these strange little symbolisms, he does some really interesting stuff and I like that.

EC: There may be some coded message in there that we are not aware of, haha. Wait a minute, that doesn’t represent us. I hope there is none of that white power shit and symbols in there, haha.

DH: That would be a real bummer.

EC: I liked the possum, that was a nice touch.

Well guys I think that is about it. Eric, if this album makes any money are you going to buy yourself a proper tea kettle so you can make an authentic cup of tea?

EC: I will buy myself a tea kettle. That was a terrible way to open, making a cup of tea.

DH: I missed that part.

While we were waiting for you to join us Danny, Eric was making himself a cup of tea. There is only one way to make a cup of tea Danny, and that is with a kettle and boiling water.

EC: I told him that the way I make tea would be horrifying to him, and I was right.

DH: I think a kettle is in your future, haha. You need a big kettle project.

That could be a title for your next album.

EC: That’s it.

DH: I like it.

Bloodkin’s ‘Black Market Tango is out now on Cosmo Sex School Records

About Martin Johnson 118 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.

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