Singer, Song Writer Eric Himan Tells Me Why “You First” | Interview with Accidental Bear

by Accidental Bear
Look what I caught in my dream catcher, Eric Himan. While watching his stellar performance at the El Rio here in San Francisco last month I got pulled into a story he told during his introduction for his new song “You First”. He puts into words something that I have scratch my head over before but was not able to but into a coherent sentence. I have  followed Eric’s career blossom for years now and always impressed by his laid back (charming) demeanor and how approachable he is, no pretension. He breathes passion into his music and gives you an inside look at his personal thoughts. I say, Eric “Thanks for sharing!” I catch up with Eric and cover a large variety of topics; puppies, pride, tornadoes, new album, secrets and being happily partnered. Happy reading, thanks for taking the time to play with us here at Accidental Bear Eric.
 “I started writing music and lyrics because I felt that no one was telling my story with their music. I have had the opportunity to speak my thoughts and I think that is the most vulnerable thing in life you can do. You can tell people what you like and don’t like but when you let them into how you think and why, you share yourself in a major way. I am lucky to be a part of many friendships and can’t wait to see what is next in store.” – Eric Himan

Q & A:

A B: Ok, let’s start with a warm up question. What does pride mean to you? You can attach gay to the front of it or just leave it alone as all-encompassing pride.

Eric Himan: To me, Pride (gay or otherwise) is about celebrating being a part of a community. In a way, I feel it is a gift to have a commonality with a group of people like the LGBT community. Pride celebrations are a way to show the numbers that are out there to those who didn’t think there were that many of us:).

A B: You are coming back from a break? What did you keep yourself busy with on our down time? Day dreaming? Wii, writing a novel, eating potato chips?

Eric: I did have some downtime but I am a one man army when it comes to my career, so that time was spent booking, doing publicity, working radio, and filming parts for a music video (for “Dust”!). When I am not doing all that, I like to sleep and spend time with my 4-year-old doggie, Duncan, and my brand new puppy, 6 month old, Buster. Potato Chips are my weakness though.

A B: Are you constantly writing songs in your head unintentionally? 

Eric: I am. I feel my best songwriting happens when I am not trying to write or push myself into writing. Those are the moments I run to the piano/computer/pen and paper to get it out of my head. 

A B: You are just wrapping up your tour with Namoli Brennet. What was a highlight of the tour or something unbelievable that happened, good or bad?

Eric: The highlight was definitely being able to share the stage with my friend, Namoli. I am such an admirer of hers and getting to sing and play with her every night of the tour was a treat. The hardest part was being away from my family when the tornadoes came through Tulsa and I wasn’t there with my family. I am def not a fan of living in Tulsa because of the tornadoes, but not knowing how they were doing during it, scared me.

A B:  I am very interested in your, “You First” song and the message that backs it. As one that may step back and prays someone else goes first. It is really point of view I have never heard discussed. Tell me about the concept behind You First

Eric: I wrote You First on an airplane Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. I was flying to Tucson to finish recording my new cd with Namoli (whose studio is in Tucson) and it was the week after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot at a Safeway not too far from where we were going to record. I was also listening to Arlo Guthrie on a CD talk about his father, the amazing Woody Guthrie. He said, “there is a price to be paid for being a leader”. I felt all these things come together and decided right then and there on the plane to spill it out. The message was to say that when you stand up to make you voice heard, you also make yourself a target. Many times, we tend to stay on the sideline waiting for some leader to stand up when we possess that power ourselves. I make myself a target, but sometimes standing up for what you believe is more important.

A B: What does your summer looks like? Playing any festivals that I should drive a 1,000 miles or so to see?

Eric: I am all over the place (right now I am writing this from Kitchener, Ontario up in Canada where I play Kitchener’s tri-Pride tomorrow). I will be in Columbus, OH, Albuquerque, NM, the Outer Banks, NC, then in July over to the northeast with shows in PA, NYC, and MA. August has me in Chicago for North Halsted Market Days. Booking some dates also in the midwest then too. If you were to drive, I would head to the Chicago show. I will have a four piece rock band with me ready to make some noise on the streets of Chi-town.

A B: On your new album you have brought in the mastering talents of Chris Bellman (Ani DiFranco, Alanis Morissette, Elton John). You totally hold your own in that group. Have you worked with Chris Bellman in the past? 

Eric: This was the first time working with Chris and he did an amazing job. He has mastered many of my favorite, influential albums and having him work on my disc, was extra special.  

A B:  What would your response be if someone called you a sex symbol?

Eric: I def. appreciate the compliment when it comes up but I honestly don’t know what to do with that. I never seek out that kind of attention and sometimes surprised when it comes up.  I think if I thought about it too much, I would get even shyer than I can be already. 

A B: As a kid did you have positive role models? How do they differ from your role models of today?

Eric: I think my role models growing up were a lot of strong women. I lost my mother at a very young age and I think that might have something to do with that. Positive role models growing up were women like Ani DiFranco, Patty Griffin, and Janis Joplin. As I’ve gotten older my role models have become my grandmother Grace, my partner, and my close friends. I’ve learned so much from those surrounding me.  I am lucky to have them in my life to take after:).

A B: You are happily partnered and 2 dogs (right?) Your thoughts on gay marriage, gay adoption and the term civil union opposed to married.

Eric: I am very happily partnered and definitely want the full benefits of marriage (including a proper wedding!). Gay adoption has to be the biggest hot button for me because I can’t understand why some children are denied parents who will love them and want them. Civil unions are a great start, but if we are going to start the conversation of gay marriage, let’s not just talk about it during election years.

A B: Anybody you would love to share the stage with or record with?

Eric: There are SOOO many people I would love to record with/share the stage. There is something about Natalie Merchant and her music that makes me want to nominate her first! Of course, Ani DiFranco, Beth Hart, and Sia would be fun to work with.

A B: So, gay pride month is just around the corner. Will you be parading around the streets wrapped in nothing but a gay flag?

Eric: I am a tad bit more subtle than that.ha. I am happy to represent my brand of music at the festivals.

A B: Tell, me where you hope this next album takes you?

Eric: I hope this next album opens up more opportunities for me to tour to places I haven’t played yet, building up the audiences I already (and thankfully!) have in many cities, travel to Europe to tour, and have a chance to fulfill my dream of working with those I admire (which I already have done working with Namoli).

A B: Tell me (us) an Eric Himan original secret or confession.

Eric: I wanted to go to puppetry school and be an actor when I was younger. I always had an interest in doing them but never the right time to try.

A B: In the next year what should we expect from you?

Eric: You should expect to hear some of the songs from the new CD on the radio, in TV, and movies. I will also be releasing a live DVD from my Tulsa CD Release Party concert (with a string quartet!!). 

More on Eric:

CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN!

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