Q: How did you get interested in music?
A: I was always interested in music. When I was a kid, I played the French horn, but I always kind of had this desire to play the guitar. It took me a while to get the courage up to do it. I was like, 21 (and in) my last year of college. And then it all went crazy from there.
Q: Who are your influences?
A: There were a lot of bands, especially I think around here. (Harrisburg-born) Jeffrey Gaines ... was the one who prompted me to get a guitar. I always loved listening to him. I went to see him a Gullifty's ... as soon as I turned 21. I went up and was like, “That must be amazing to do what you do ... I'd love to play the guitar.” He said, “Do you have one?” And I said, “No.” And he said, “Well, you'll need to get a guitar.” I had a handful of lessons when I first started. I looked like an octopus while I was trying to put everything together. Then, I just went out on my own from there reading tablature and magazines… and just picking it up by ear.
Q: Did you have to switch gears from what you were studying in college?
A: In college, I was a poli-sci major. As soon as I picked up the guitar ... I was like, “This is what I want to do.” I enjoyed studying political science, too. But by graduation time, I knew that I did not want to go to law school. But then I still had to pay off student loans. I didn't really pursue (music) in public until my mid-20s. But I kept playing the whole entire time and kept plugging away at jobs.
Q: Do you remember your first performance?
A: I remember my first open mike. That was my 25th birthday. I promised myself I would go an play in public. I had been going out and just kind of sitting by myself at the back of a bar or club where bands were playing, and I just kind of (watched) what they were doing. The first time I picked up a guitar and played in public, I sat on a chair. I crossed my legs. I looked like a turtle — I'm kind of like hunched over the guitar. They kept telling me to sing into the microphone. I went home and didn't sing again for a while. That was so crazy scary. I had started making some friends who also played, and they were really instrumental in helping me get my confidence. (Music) is my favorite thing to do. It's my top priority. There's nothing better than stepping out and singing for people.
Q: Do you write your own songs?
A: Writing (is what) I started doing long before I started performing in public and long before I had any real command of a guitar. The words are my very favorite part of a song. I love them. The words come so much more easily for me when I'm writing them down in that short format versus when I have to speak like this. It is kind of a visceral process. Something happens or even a memory of something and I'll sit down and noodle around on the guitar and see what ... sounds like that feeling. I typically have the mood and the theme of a song in mind before I sit down (to write).
Q: What is your sound/musical style?
A: I'm always really surprised by the different responses I get as far as what my style is. I just put out a CD, and I had it crowd reviewed so I could kind of get an idea of what people thought. People classified it as country. I think it's interesting because that's not how I would think of it. I would say singer/songwriter, rock, kind of poppy (and) country all rolled into one. Although, (the genres) are so close anymore. I think a lot of it comes from arrangements, too. When I arranged the songs on the album they have a whole lot more of a pop influence. I did (the (CD) through a Kickstarter project. We celebrated the successful Kickstarter project in April, and I released the CD in May.
Q: Can you talk about your latest album?
A: I released (an album) previously and right after that I took a road trip across the United States. I hopped in my truck and was lucky enough to have two months off … so I drove from place to place. It was just such an amazing experience. I started kind of writing about the road trip right after I got home. I recorded the (title track “Siren”) and shortly thereafter I was diagnosed (with) vocal (cord) nodules. I couldn't sing. The day before I went to record (the single) I couldn't speak. My voice was just fried. I'm always amazed how well that song turned out. Then, I had to take off for over a year and I had to go for speech therapy.
Q: Didn't Adele suffer from those, too?
A: John Mayer had them, too. A bunch of people have had them. If you have a world-class surgeon at your fingertips, you can go that route. I think the most important thing for me was going through the speech therapy and then singing lessons and just being uber-aware for speech patterns. Even the pitch of your voice can have an impact on it. I do a huge range cover tunes when I'm playing at gigs, and I sing like those people. That's forcing your vocal chords to do all kinds of crazy acrobatics ... and it really puts a strain on your voice. One of the things I learned to do is to kind of group some of the heavier songs together.
Q: Where do you play in the area?
A: Lebanon ... has kind of become my home away from home. (In York, I play) Bistro 19. I've played at 4B's (Restaurant and Tavern). In the Harrisburg area (I play) Appalachian Brewing Co. and the Midtown Scholar Bookstore. (I also played) the Women's Show (at the York Expo Center). I had a great time, and I loved working with everyone at (WYCR-FM) The Peak.
Contact Erin McCracken at 717-771-2051.
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