By Kaylia Cornett
Many Eastern students are continually on the look out for new music, listening for hip new artists and blazing beats they can stream through their headphones. We keep our music at our fingertips, iPods are our musical arsenal – we’re constantly in search of the ‘next big thing.’And, that is just what multi-talented singer/songwriter Trent Hancock is on his way to becoming. With a soulful voice and genuine lyrics, it’s no wonder he’s breaking out nationally with his solo debut EP (extended play) “Ghostbird.” Hancock’s rising status and musical talent are sure to catapult him into a great career.
The up-and-coming musician is currently living in Brooklyn, after having lived in San Diego where he got his start playing at venues near Pacific Beach. Presently, Hancock is wrapping up a summer tour with artists Ernie Halter and Tony Lucca; on August 24 the trio rolled into nearby Nashville for a performance at 3rd and Lindsley.
Hancock took a few minutes out of his tour schedule to talk with me about being on the road, the inspiration behind his Ghostbird and what he’s learned along the way.
KC: How have you been today?
TH: I’ve been good.
KC: Well, I’m just going to (jump right in) because I don’t want to take up too much of your time. So, where did your desire to play music come from?
KC: Oh, is that a difficult (one to answer)?
TH: (Laughs) I mean, yeah.I started playing music when I was seven. I came downstairs for Christmas morning and saw a piano that was actually for my sister, but I thought it was mine (laughs) .and I just kind of took it over and started playing songs by ear. Not anything super intense, but just little songs, and my parents started giving me piano lessons. So, I don’t know where that came from really, it just was in there, I think.
KC: OK, so how long have you actually been playing professionally then?
TH: I started, really playing professionally right out of college as soon as I graduated. I had been playing a few cover shows in San Diego, just around the beaches, Pacific Beach, mainly. From that I was able to get other shows and started to put together this little circuit of shows, and was able to support myself with music full-term eventually. So, it was probably around 2006.
KC: Well, this kind of ties into that, how hard is it being an up-and-coming musician. I know you’re really starting to get your name out there nationally now, which is really awesome.
TH: Yeah, the hardest part, I’d say, is balancing work and music. Because in the beginning stages, obviously you’re not making enough money to really support yourself. So, most people, you know, they have a bartending job (Hancock did) or some kind of job that allows them the freedom to pursue music, it’s not really conducive to have a 9 to 5 when you need to be touring.
KC: So, you’ve released an EP titled “Ghostbird,” what was the inspiration behind that?
TH: The song was inspired by the concept of leaving. I had a friend that was leaving to go pursue music in Europe. I was leaving shortly thereafter to move to New York, and just the feeling that you get when you leave. It’s the feeling of excitement and despair at the same time. You know, you’re excited to go on a new adventure, but you’re also sad to be leaving friends behind. And, you don’t want the ones that you love to forget about you, and, you’re kind of saying the same thing, that I’m not going to forget about you. It’s inspired by that moment, where you make a decision to make a move.
KC: So, you embarked on a cross-country drive, playing anything from open mics to touring New York City, what did you get out of that experience?
TH: Well, I think one thing that I learned was, I mean, I’ve always known that I love traveling, and that kind of solidified the idea that this is what I’m meant to do. Before that, I had never been on my own tour. I took two weeks and went to a lot of different cities and I didn’t have gigs scheduled at each of these places. I just kind of went around, I have friends in a lot of different cities, we’ve done jam sessions and things like that, but just the feeling and the excitement of it, just really (helped me) make up my mind that this is what I need to be doing.
KC: So, you’ve also collaborated with producers Mikal Blue and Andrew Williams, who have worked with Colbie Calliat, Five For Fighting and OneRepublic. How has that helped your career and what have you learned from them?
TH: The obvious part of it, I guess, when you work with someone who has a good reputation, it’s never going to hurt (laughs). It’s just a great resume builder. But, aside from that, working with people of that caliber, of that level, really makes you a better musician, a better artist. When you surround yourself with great people, I think you do great things. So, it really helps my recording and my song writing I think. And, I’m really proud of the new album.
KC: So, I know that you are currently on tour . How has that been going for you?
TH: It’s been great. But, yeah, being on tour with Tony Lucca and Ernie Halter.they’re both really professional and they’ve got a lot of experience touring. They’re great singers and musicians, so I’ve been learning a lot from them, and they’ve got a great draw at all the places we’ve been going. We’ve been playing to packed houses everywhere. It’s been great to be able to perform in front of a lot of people and the reaction has been great, been selling a lot of CDs and getting a lot of e-mails, so we’re hopefully building a little fan base across the country.
KC: Good.so, where has been your favorite place to perform at so far?
TH: Well, San Francisco, we had an amazing crowd there, people (were) really into it. Everywhere, like I said, everywhere has been pretty packed, but the most enthusiastic crowds so far have probably been San Francisco, St. Louis and Chicago, and also there was a random one that we had in a place called Marshfield, Wisconsin, which it’s in the middle of nowhere, it’s like a town hall styled place, and that show went really well too, so that was pretty fun.
KC: So, what would you say are probably some of your more immediate musical goals?
TH: Just to keep building this fan base, stay on tour. Eventually, well, right now I’m just touring solo, just playing by myself, but eventually I’d like to be touring with an entire band because that really.when you hear the CD it’s produced with a full band, so I really want to give people that experience, but people like both and I like doing both. But, I’d like to get to the point where I can actually fund having an entire band on the road.
KC: So, who is someone that you would love to tour with, work with, anyone specific?
TH: A lot of different people. There is a guy named Jimmy Gnecco, who is the lead singer of a band called “Ours”. I’ve been a huge fan of his and his band for a long time. I actually took voice lessons from his voice instructor in New York and as far as singers go, he is one of my idols. I’d love to go on tour with him. I’m also a huge fan of Regina Spektor, kind of on the opposite end, if anything blew up, I’d love to be an opener for her. Jason Mraz, I’m a big fan of his, he’s got the San Diego thing. Yeah, I’ve got a large wish list (laughs).
KC: Well, you never know.someday, it’ll happen.
TH: Yeah (laughs). I’m also excited,
I do have another tour coming up with Brendan James and Jason Reeves that I think is going to be great.
KC: Yeah, so is that going to be right after your current tour?
TH: Yeah, it’s back to back. I think I have about a week or two weeks off, and then I go right back out.
KC: How is it being away from your family for this long?
TH: Well, I mean, living in New York, my family all lives in Arizona so, I’m used to being away. It’s funny, I just moved to New York about nine months ago and I’ve been traveling so much that I’ve only lived there for about five of those months. So, it’s kind of.I don’t know, it’s not bad, it’s great. It must mean I’m doing something right. Obviously I’d love to spend more time getting to know New York and being there, but New York isn’t going anywhere.
KC: OK, so what’s some advice that you would give to musicians out there who are trying to get their starts as singer/songwriters?
TH: I would say, don’t get discouraged. It’s really easy to be discouraged, and also I’ve found a new inspiration in collaborating with other musicians. I did a lot of that for this last record. I worked with three or four different musicians, friends of mine, just writing songs together, because it’s easy to just get stuck in your own style and you get repetitive when you’re just by yourself. But, when you’re writing with someone else, it adds another element to it, you can get a lot more creative. You have somebody to bounce ideas off of.
KC: So, how did you actually get your start as a musician?
TH: As far as getting a start and really taking it seriously and wanting to pursue it.that probably happened at a place called The Tiki at Pacific Beach, a little dive bar. The owner, Dave Miller, we became really good friends and he gave me my own night, Tuesday nights there, where I could play every single Tuesday, no matter what. It was guaranteed. And, I would play those nights for four hours every time, and that’s really where it all started. Playing that long, it develops everything, your guitar playing, your voice, it just gets it in shape for playing music, and for playing to crowds of drunk people and people who are not necessarily there to hear music, it’s interesting to try and win those people over. It gets you good at reading a crowd and really feeling out the vibe. I got a lot of experience from that.
KC: Well, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and I wish you the best of luck on your tour and your future career.
TH: Well, no problem. Thank you.