When author Nicholas Sparks (the writer behind romance novel "The Notebook") asked JD Eicher to write a soundtrack for a new book in 2016, the singer-songwriter knew this would be a big step in his career. Eicher’s song “Two By Two”, inspired by Sparks' book of the same name, is now a crowd favorite at his concerts and he hasn't looked back since. The musician will be playing an intimate “house concert” in Sterling Heights on December 4, and he tells Metromode about his latest album and current tour.
Q: Tell us about "The Middle Distance", what’s behind this latest album and how has your music changed over the years?
A:The Middle Distance is definitely my most personal record, inspired by a desire to simplify and get back to a diary-style approach to songwriting. And it was a big shift in my creative process, as I recorded all of it in my home studio. In other words, I worked in my pajamas a lot! Of all my records, this one sounds most like how I'd hoped, or imagined, it might sound.
Q: You’re currently touring the Midwest and soon to head to Nashville, how is the road treating you so far?
A: Great! People have been coming out and I'm feeling very comfortable and at home on stage. It's been a great season of encouragement for me, and I'm grateful to be connecting with so many new folks.
Q: You’re about to play a house concert, why choose that style of performance?
A: The Sterling Heights show is a house concert with my singer-songwriter friend, Steve Everett. We both know the hosts, who have been extremely supportive of our careers over the years. I love house concerts because they are intimate and allow for a more real connection between audience and artist. You get to hang and chat with attendees, and it's usually a more comfortable environment than a typical venue. Hosts arrange their living room like a small concert venue—add chairs, turn everything to face the musician—and there's typically a mingle period before the show, along with an intermission. The concept always seems strange to first-timers, but it always makes sense once you go to one. I'm a big fan of the house show.
Q: What’s your experience with the music culture in Sterling Heights?
A: I have played many times in greater Detroit, and I've found a growing following of music-lovers. I feel like the area is very supportive of the arts, and while I've not played right in Sterling Heights, I'm optimistic that I'll experience a similar attitude there.
Q: What's the hardest part of what you do?
Being away from my wife and daughter. I've become very intentional about daily FaceTime calls and limiting my time away.
Q: What's the most memorable reaction from a fan or audience you've had so far?
A: At a full-band show a few years ago, a couple got up in front of the stage with their backs to us and started fist pumping at the seated audience, I think trying to get them all up to dance. It wasn't really that kind of song though, and I started laughing. I laughed through the whole bridge of the song, I barely got the final chorus out. It was encouraging that they were that into it, it was just a strange way to show it.