Eric Hunker released his album “Beautiful Endings” back in October. I have to say, the 16 tracks were a bit intimidating when I first saw it, but once I listened to them all, I can get behind this. Each song is a different story and plays off the emotions of each other. There are some albums that you skip through and some you listen to from start to finish. This is a start to finish collection of emotions and stories that will pull you in from the beginning.
From the first line of “grace” the beauty of his voice is evident. It draws in the listener and brings them along on the ride.
Photo Credit: Nolan Blair
“Lucky Enough” is one of those songs that hits deep. It is explained that it can be a love song and a loss song, so take it for what it means to you. It have a beauty in the words that pulls out all the emotions. “Never Be Alone” and “Last Dance” hit a sore spot for me. As the artist explains, these are about a relationship that is coming to an end, and he can see it. Having been there myself, I can really feel every note in these.
As he sings about all the Beautiful Endings of life, he puts a positive spin on things. An ending does not always equate to a negative or a disaster. Sometimes an ending can truly be beautiful and what is needed in that moment.
We got to ask Eric some questions to get to know him and his music.
What's your musical inspiration?
My musical inspiration is really all over the place. I grew up listening to the “Oldies” radio station. I loved Jim Croce, The Beatles, and the Kingston Trio. The first music I really “chose” was punk and ska. A family friend showed me The Bouncing Souls and Catch-22 around the same time. For the next ten years I was listening to Bad Religion, Streetlight Manifesto and bands that played with a ton of energy. That’s when I started writing music.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound has changed over the years. I used to describe it as Indie-Folk or Singer-Songwriter Pop. The longer I’ve lived in Texas and Oklahoma (12+ years now) the more Americana shows up in my music. I think the most accurate is something like Indie-Folk/Americana now.
You combine genres and influences to create your own unique sound. Where did the genre bending come from?
When you grow up listening to Folk, Punk, and Ska it feels natural to bend genres a little bit. One of the most exciting things about songwriting is the chance to try out new sounds. I think my next album is going to sound drastically different from this one. And, frankly, I hope it does. I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m sure it won’t fit squarely in one genre.
What can fans expect at your shows?
I love to tell stories. I like for the show to feel comfortable and intimate. My favorite shows feel that way, so that’s what I try to provide. I want to be able to see people’s faces and reactions to songs. I want it to feel like we’re hanging out in someone’s living room.
Where did this positive outlook on life come from? It’s so hard to find the positive in the world right now?
I feel incredibly lucky to have been born with a relatively balanced default mood. I wake up every day with the ability to feel joy and I try not to take that for granted. If every day of my life has the potential to be a good day - which is not the case for everyone - I feel like it’s my responsibility to bring that reality to life. I really do believe that if I lost everything I had today but still had my health and my family, I’d be okay. As long as I can spend time with good people and write more songs, life is good.
Which song of yours do you feel has the deepest meaning on this release? Is there a specific lyric that you hope people take to heart?
I think the title track, “Beautiful Endings,” probably has the deepest meaning for me. It’s the epitome of the message I’m trying to put out there. The chorus starts “I could live my life a thousand times. I’d choose to love you knowing the price I would pay. Every day, I would choose beautiful endings.” That line is the whole album in a nutshell. Just because something ended doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth your while. Love is worth it, even when it ends. Even when it hurts.
What is your favorite song to perform?
Lately I’ve had a lot of fun with the song “Don’t Make Me Regret It.” It’s written in a little bit of a funky time signature and I think it takes people by surprise. When the band is locked in, it has such a fun groove and bounce to it. I can see people start to move without even thinking.
What would you be doing right now if it wasn’t for your musical career?
Even if I didn’t have a career in music, I’d still be writing songs. It’s just a part of the way I process my thoughts. It’s part of the way I exist in the world. Aside from music? I honestly think I’d be through hiking the Appalachian Trail. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time. I’ll do it at some point. I just have to figure out the timing. If I had to pursue another career, I’d probably still choose a job that allows me to travel. I’ve got a wandering soul and it’s hard to imagine taming that.
If you could go open for any artist, who would it be?
Right now? Probably Noah Kahan. His energy is just out of this world. If not Noah, then Jordy Searcy. I love his songwriting and I think his fans would dig my music.
What first got you into music?
If you go look at my elementary school homework assignments, when I was asked to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up I pretty much always wrote something to do with music. Most of the time I wrote “drummer.” I don’t know exactly what lit the flame for me, but it’s always been there. As long as I can remember.
Do you have any hobbies outside of music?
Oh yeah. I love hiking, camping, cycling, and pretty much anything outdoors. I love to cook. I love to read. I love a good adventure. The less planned the better.
What is it about music that makes you feel passionate?
It’s a medium for human connection. At its core, that’s what makes it important to me. I love meeting people. I love seeing little glimpses of their hearts and minds. Music is just another way for humans to connect with each other. To see more of themselves in another person. That’s so rare and special. In my experience, music is the closest thing to real magic existing. Songs can lift you up. They can make you cry. They can motivate you to change your life or take a chance. Where else can you find that kind of impact?
What’s your favorite and least favorite part of being a musician?
My favorite part is hearing from people who were impacted by one of my songs. I get messages from time to time from folks all over the world. Sometimes it’s about how a song helped someone through a breakup. Or a song that someone played at a wedding. Literally today I received a message from a friend who was having a hard day and needed to escape. She put the song “Grace” on in her headphones and she said it totally turned her day around. That’s all I need to hear. That keeps me going.
My least favorite part? I wish it were just simpler. There are so many parts of being a musician that have nothing to do with music. Marketing yourself is exhausting and, at times, demeaning. But that’s part of what it means to be an independent musician. You take the good with the bad.
What’s the best piece of advice another musician has given you?
I’ve received a ton of good advice from other musicians. I’ve talked about some of them in other interviews. One I’ve never shared came from a teacher and friend of mine. He described the songwriting process as “spiritual archaeology.” He asked my to imagine that every song that will ever be written already exists. It’s our job, then, to uncover them. I loved that idea. That when we sit down to write a song, we’re not creating something from nothing. We’re actually just digging. Digging into our mind, our past, and our feelings to find the song that’s already there.
What’s your process for dealing with performance anxiety (if you do deal with that)?
I used to get really nervous about forgetting lyrics. The fear would end up manifesting in me forgetting lyrics because I was focusing on the possibility of exactly that happening. After a while something flipped for me. I think I realized that I just needed to trust myself more. Now, instead of trying to think of all the words, I just try to focus on getting into a state of flow. Locking in with the audience and the moment. Then just trusting the right words will come to me when I need them. Even if they don’t, I don’t freeze anymore. I’ll just make something up. That’s infinitely more entertaining than sheepishly mumbling through a verse I can’t quite remember.
What does your work aim to say?
My aim is just to tell the truth. The more honest I can be in my songwriting, the more people see themselves in my songs. Sometimes that’s vulnerable and hard to do. But it’s always worth it.
What is your dream project?
I’ve got a lot of dream projects. I think part of what keeps me so happy and motivated is the knowledge that there’s always a new dream on the horizon. One that I’ve been thinking about lately is flying up to a remote part of Alaska and recording a full stripped-down acoustic album in a cabin on a glacier. The opposite of this record. Barebones production and gritty songs. Keep your ears out for that one.
What are some artists you’re listening to right now?
Jordy Searcy, John Moreland, Zach Bryan, Dawes, The Brother Brothers, Noah Kahan, Wilderado, and Trousdale
What qualities make a good artist?
I just look for people who aren’t trying to be anyone else. Honesty and authenticity are what I look for in songwriting. If it feels like it was written by a Nashville songwriting house I just have a harder time connecting to it. Not that those songs aren’t good. They’re often stunning. The music industry just has a way of sterilizing the soul out of good songs.