In May of 2015, Olympia, WA’s singer-songwriter Ethan Tucker released his last studio album Misunderstood, a 14-track record produced by Beastie Boy’s Mario C., featuring a guest appearance by Michael Franti.
Ethan first showed up on our radar back in October of 2009 when we published a live video of him performing “Morning Time.” The video was captured by Josh Heinrichs, whom Ethan was sharing the stage with that night. It turns out, that published video was the first time Ethan Tucker’s music had been documented by a media source. In November of 2010 he released his debut album, Lost Between.
We drove out to meet with the Olympia, WA native in his hometown to get a better understanding of who Ethan Tucker is. We came to learn that he’s a self-taught vocalist and musician. Through his own passion, charisma and persistence, he created opportunities for himself that included working with Michael Franti, be-friending actor/comedian Craig Robinson, being featured on NBC’s The Voice as well as being picked up by Silverback Music Management that has lead to collaborative affairs with Slightly Stoopid.
Tucker even released a hometown beer called Cool Kids Kulsch with O Town Brewing. Tucker describes the beer as “Not quite a lager, but a light beer with a hint of citrus. Like a less thick version of a Blue Moon.” It’s only available in the summer in his hometown. No matter where his music or fame may take him, Olympia, WA will always remain his home.
Understanding Ethan Tucker: Calling Olympia, WA Home
Ethan was born in Olympia as a baby before moving to Montana. When his parents divorced, his mom moved to Sun Valley, ID and his dad moved back to Olympia, WA. So growing up, Ethan would spend the summers in Olympia while going to school in Idaho. Sun Valley is a small town of a few thousand people that isn’t uncommon to visitors such as Bruce Willis to Lebron James. But if there was anywhere in the world that Ethan would call home, it would be Olympia, WA.
He tells The Pier: “Olympia, WA to me is the epicenter of the Pacific Northwest. Oly is the Capital of Washington State and sits almost exactly halfway between Seattle, WA and Portland, OR. It’s cool man. Its like a melting pot. You have a mix of people — You have super liberal hippies, you have super business type, because it’s the state capital, so you have the political people, and state people, state workers etc. Then you have the gangsters and hustlers too. But its just this chill town where everyone gets along. I dig it, its a funky spot.”
He’s a humble, hometown artist with raw talent of someone who burst on to the scene with his laid back soulful jazzy songwriting, and infectious vocals. One thing you might not know about Ethan is that he is not professionally trained whatsoever. So what you’re listening to in his records Lost Between and Misunderstood is someone projecting self-taught, raw emotion over songs with little vocal guidance as he explains to The Pier that he didn’t take any vocal lessons until he caught on with NBC’s The Voice in 2016.
[Related: Ethan Tucker Performs On NBC’s The Voice]
During that time, he was assigned a vocal coach to which Ethan tells The Pier: “The first vocal lesson I ever had, I didn’t even sing. She had me sit on my back and told me to focus on my breathing. It was just all breathing. I found myself paying more attention to my breathing and making sure that I have full lungs”
With a new album expected in 2018, Ethan Tucker is putting an exclamation-point on his 2015 record, Misunderstood, with the music video for “Never Be.” Directed by Garret Laver, the video had been shelved for more than a year with inspiration coming from the phrase “I’ll Never Be Fooled Again.” Ethan Explains: “The song is about believing the facade that some people put on in a relationship before exposing their true colors.”
Watch: Ethan Tucker – “Never Be”
Understanding Ethan Tucker: Working on New Music
Ethan has recently worked with Toko Tasi on the 2017 Jungle Josh produced “Rockstar” (Remix) to which he was also featured in the music video for the song. Tucker collaborated with Slightly Stoopid and was featured on a version of Stoopid’s “Prophet” with a guitar solo that didn’t make the album cut on Meanwhile… Back At The Lab. Ethan is known to join to Stoopid on stage for songs “Ain’t Gotta Lot of Money,” and “Baby I like It.”
When it comes to his own material, Ethan is experimenting with newer material that includes funk and pop in the vain of Bruno Mars meets Maroon 5 and Ben Harper. As mentioned inside our 2018 Most Anticipated Albums feature, Ethan Tells The Pier he plans to release a 10-13 track record of songs that fit together in telling the strongest story. He’s worked in production with Jungle Josh, Dru Decaro and Max Watters.
In writing and singing on his newer material, he has taken the vocal lessons from The Voice in addition to that of Dru Decaro and Andy Cooper. Those two, Ethan points out, have been working him in the studio in helping him better recognize the different notes to hit in vocal harmony, a training of the ear that has been new to the otherwise self-taught, raw talent.
Ethan tells The Pier his thoughts toward the records theme, saying: “I have been throwing around a few ideas back and forth the one I keep coming back to is ‘Phoenix’ it is the title of one of the tracks but I like the idea of a bird that continually grows by burning down and then rising from its own ashes.” Ethan continues, sharing: “This record I’ve been experimenting with blending more electronic sounds of drums and synths with my signature blend of acoustic and electric guitar. There are so many sonic layers that most people have never heard from me before and it’s taking my music to another level.”
Ethan is someone who has created his own opportunities through his own hustle that has led him to working with a slew of respected artists. With a combination of raw talent, poetic charisma and a persistent hustle, he’s found himself in the room with Mario C., Michael Franti, Slightly Stoopid, Jungle Josh, Toko Tasi, to creating his own hometown beer and befriending Craig Robinson at one of his own shows. He’s a very organic artist who establishes organically authentic relationships. Like his hometown of the Pacific Northwest, his music has some fun night life funk, gloomy blues to soulful jazz and bright spots of pop and classic rock.
Ethan Tucker is the vocal battle cry of Olympia, WA, showered in the soul of it’s Pacific Northwest culture.
Ethan Tucker Website
Ethan Tucker Facebook
Article By: Mike Patti
Photos By: Eric Schoep
Watch: Toko Tasi – “Rock Star” (Remix) [ft. Ethan Tucker]