There aren’t many true nomads making meaningful music left in our society, but up and coming country singer-songwriter Erik Shicotte appears to be one of them.
Wisconsin native and down-to-earth artist, Shicotte was born out of musical diversity. His first guitar came when he was in eighth grade, and naturally, cover songs were the go-to. Slowly but surely, he grew into his creativity, and started to develop his own unique melodies and lyrics.
“I write so people can feel it,” Shicotte says. “I take a lot of pride in keeping genuine to my own damn humor and existence. I myself can’t write anything I don’t know, see, feel or believe in. I draw from my experiences and imagination within interpretation.”
Shicotte’s debut EP, Miss’ry Pacific, which is set to drop July 16th, begins with crackling satellite radio and a fun, upbeat guitar riff-kick drum pairing. Perfectly mended with the track, Shicotte’s honey-like voice slips into the song. He sings of the trains he is so used to, calling out to the rails as though they’re family, much like the songwriting troubadours before him.
“The songs on this album take me back to the moments when I wrote them,” Shicotte says. “My intent is that they can take the listener someplace that means something too.”
As a traveling ironworker, Shicotte is accustomed to rust, steel, and bending immovable objects to his own design. As he describes, trains and railroads are often at his work-locations, and his talent beckons for that imagery to be written down. The title song “Miss’ry Pacific”, written in a hotel room at such a location, echoes back to the romance of his job.
Though excited about his new adventures within his music, Shicotte cannot and will not forget his roots as a nomad. “And that freight train, gonna put my soul to rest”, the song finishes. “That old freight train, freight train, freight train”.
We were able to track down Shicotte to fire some questions his way about the album and much more.
So you’ve got your new EP, Miss’ry Pacific, set to drop 7/16. How did this project come together, and what was the overall vision behind it?
These songs were written well before the thought of making an EP was in mind. Two of them had previously been recorded with a good buddy of mine in his living room, and my manager figured they oughta be recorded again with session players and such. Knowing that, we started plotting the rest and picking tunes of mine that we thought oughta get some rhythm behind. The vision became something we could use as a relatively well rounded introduction to how I write and how I sound.
You mentioned the EP was recorded in multiple locations, and you had wrangled several songwriters together. Was that a difficult process, and what made you want to pursue the project this way?
Didn’t have to wrangle any extra songwriters, but I sure did need musicians. Managed to wrangle Aaron Goodrich into it and he really took on producing the band. He did a damn fine job and had damn fine players too. They curated some incredible sounds, given the fact that I could never be there and lacked the experience to direct them. I remain very impressed and pleased, and am awfully excited to get a chance to buy ’em all a drink sometime.
It was slow and clunky getting the little bits and pieces narrowed down sometimes, but overall it wasn’t all that unpleasant of an experience. It was just time to pursue something, I’ve been writing for long enough and hearing enough feedback from friends and folks that I needed to get something done, and I also was fortunate to have the right people, Ash Seiter and my manager Brit DiMattia, on board to push the snowball down the hill.
While it may be like picking a favorite child, is there a song or two in particular that means the most to you, or that you’re most excited for folks to hear?
Being that a lot of my closest friends work for the railroad or take as keen of an interest in trains as I do, “Miss’ry” is definitely one I’m excited for them cats to hear. That song is basically just a piece of my dreams- freight is always runnin’ through my brain, and I always imagine these scenes from the stories and old footage/photos some of my old head friends retain, so the whole thing just fell outta me while I was running around the southwest taking photos and counting cars. I hope and have an inkling that they can see, hear, and feel the spirit of that in this tune.
What do you hope people will take away from this EP?
I honestly just hope some folks hear something that they enjoy, ain’t trying to say nothing with it, other than tell a 24-minute story about who I am. My experiences can only be truly clear to me, but I do reckon there are some themes that do resonate with others, and that if they do ring for folks, they ring somber or sweet.
I see you’re a traveling ironworker as well. Would you say that influences and inspires your songwriting as well? And if so, how?
I’d say it does, it definitely gives me a chance to process my lyrical brain more, and it also provides plenty of material to put to paper. Songs about hotel rooms, written in hotel rooms. A lot of the stuff snakin’ round my head recently has been about workin’ these jobs and there’s at least a handful of feelings/fables ready to flesh themselves out.
Speaking of your songwriting: do you have a more rigid, structured process, or is it more sporadic and off the cuff?
It’s far more sporadic than it is structured. I’m getting closer to being able to tap the vein on demand, but inspiration is much more a situational thing for me than it is a process. Some of these songs wrote themselves in 15 minutes, some took a year start to finish.
What are one or two pinnacle moments for you as an artist?
Back in the cover band days, I got to play some decent shows and some defining moments, and one of those instances was hearing a big crowd, maybe 5,000 or so, sing along for the first time. Had to be back in 2014 or so, but I still remember the hot muggy night, we were opening for Gary Allen and we wound up getting a longer set than we bargained for, but we had the material to do it. We played our asses off, sweating to death, but having that many people engaging with us at once was a feeling like no other. It showed me more of the world I’ve been aiming to be a part of, and I’ve stayed interested to this day.
Do you have any light touring or gigs booked post-release that folks can catch you at?
Got one locked in so far, High Watt with Mike and the Moonpies on September 17th, and everything else remains a little up in the air as we come back from COVID. That being said, I’m definitely planning on getting out there as much as the life will let me.