Eclecticism in Andrew Heringer
Having graduated from UC Irvine in the summer of 2007, Heringer just launched his second West Coast tour in the beginning of January, which will see him travel from San Diego all the way up to Seattle over the next two months, including a stop this Friday at UCI’s Anthill Pub.
After coming out with three self-released solo albums while a student at UCI, where the singer-songwriter produced laid-back folk-rock tunes with his acoustic guitar, Heringer has now taken his sound to the next level with his new incarnation, the Andrew Heringer Band, a unique amalgam of folk, rock, jazz and funk, which Heringer labels as “fock junk.”
As a youth, Heringer’s initial interest in music began during his early years in private school where students were required to play violin. However, his days spent by the stereo listening to early ’90s rock and music from his parents’ collection, such as Tom Petty and James Taylor. led him to switch to another stringed instrument, the guitar.
As Heringer recounted, “I remember telling my grandma I wanted a guitar and she gave me a guitar. From that point, I just learned every song I could and started writing my own songs when I was probably 11 or 12 years old.”
Despite playing in high school bands as well as in classical symphonies, it wasn’t until college where Heringer began to take music seriously and met UCI music major Eric Frank.
After meeting each other in the Mesa Court dorms, they began to collaborate and started producing home recordings together, using ProTools while borrowing microphones from Ross Whitney, the director of the UCI Arts Media Center.
“My first album was literally just [Eric] and I fooling around and recording in VDC,” Heringer said.
In addition to recording in the dorms, it was at UCI where Heringer honed his ability to play live. On Thursday afternoons, Heringer and Frank would play acoustic shows together on campus at Cornerstone Caf (now Starbucks) with Heringer playing guitar and singing while Frank played percussion.
Yet, it wasn’t until after college that Heringer decided to expand his sound, enlisting five other musicians to form what is now the Andrew Heringer Band, including Frank (who’s also in LINKS, an indie-rock outfit) as well as another former UCI student, Max Haymer, both of whom played guitar and piano, respectively, on the band’s first self-released album, “The Paradise Sessions,” which features several re-workings of Heringer’s earlier solo material.
“We literally set up in the studio and played. We just wanted to capture the feel of the band,” Heringer said of recording the album, which is named after the studio in which the album was recorded, Paradise Studios.
Transitioning to a full band setting gave Heringer the chance to begin anew and take his songs in a new direction with his band mates, whose eclectic styles of playing, including jazz and gospel, naturally poured into the songs.
“It was giving us a starting point. The reason we picked the songs we did to record is because some of them changed drastically energy- wise from previous recordings. We really wanted to get a documentation of what everything sounded like now and what this band brings to these songs,” Heringer explained.
While making music with the band might be Heringer’s focus, his undergraduate experience as a drama major in stage production by directing musical theater allowed him to take advantage of the cross-disciplinary aspect of music and theater, as he now uses aspects of his theater education to help with his songwriting.
“Things like directing make you learn how to shape something dramatically. I see that in my songwriting, especially when I’m working with the band. How do we build a song to make it entertaining and how do we give it the arc where it reaches the climax? Also, I wrote some soundtracks for plays at Irvine and for a couple plays I sat on the side of the stage and played during the play itself to give it a live soundtrack,” Heringer said.
Also, his theater experience not only allowed him the opportunities to be an actor, but to translate those skills into mastering the art of performing on-stage and delivering entertaining shows for his audiences, with the hopes of building a strong fan base on the West Coast.
“I see so many musicians who don’t know how to be a presence on-stage and to be a storyteller. This is why I wanted to do theater,” Heringer said.
Although Heringer isn’t exactly a solo artist anymore now that the band contributes as a whole musically, he still believes in the importance of leaving his imprint as a singer-songwriter, referring to his folk idols Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie.
“I try to hold myself to a standard with lyrics and melodies. There’s a simplicity to the songwriting and the storytelling that I really enjoy,” Heringer said.
The Andrew Heringer Band performs this Friday at the Anthill Pub at 9 p.m.