If you asked him if he wanted to be in the music business, he would probably say no. That is what makes singer and songwriter Eric Himan different from all other musical performers. Honest enough to admit that music was an acquired hobby, Himan was not raised in any one place.
“Actually, I grew up all over the place because I was in the military. I wasn’t, my Dad was,” Himan said.
The heavily tattooed power house and his family settled, mostly, in Florida and Hawaii. He and his sister were raised by their father and their paternal grandparents after they lost their mother and sister in a car accident.
“My grandparents moved around with us until I was eighteen. It was a good childhood. I was very introverted, so I kept to myself, kept to my room. I tried to be the best academic and I was a goody too shoes. It was good considering what happened at the beginning with my mom and stuff. I was lucky that people could come into my life and help, like my grandparents,” he said.
Himan has nothing but fond memories of his life and of both of his parents. Even though he lost his mother at around the age of four, Himan admitted that he holds tightly to a unique memory of her that may or may not have really happened.
“I have one memory of my mother, but you know how memories are when sometimes you dream something and you think, because you have thought about it for so long, that maybe it was just a dream and not a real memory? I have this dream or memory of her giving me an ice cream sandwich out of the freezer. I don’t know if I imagined that and just made it a memory or it actually happened because I think I was three years old. Anything before four years old, I don’t really have a good grasp on. I have that so let’s say it’s a memory,” Himan said.
Himan’s father, who he described as being “very quirky and weird,” was the main force behind his music career. Being that his father is a musician himself, like any parent, he wanted him to follow in his footsteps.
“I didn’t have a passion for it then. My father just sort of pushed it on me. It was almost like why don’t you play this sport? Parents do that to you, they sort of push you and you do it,” said Himan. “When I turned 13, I remember a lot of the music that I was listening to had guitar in it, so all of a sudden it was like I made that connection. I was like, ‘I think I can do this’ and that’s when it took off. So, I had a good five years of why am I going this.”
There were mixed reviews in his family when it came to Himan’s career choice and the realistic longevity of being in the music business. “My dad’s side of my family approved of it. My mom’s side is very Doctor and Lawyer oriented. They thought that you should go to college, get your job and you stay in that job, it was very rooted in that,” said Himan.
Himan attended and earned a degree in Psychology from Penn State University, but went head first into the music industry.
“The idea of coming out of college and doing music full-time and not knowing where things are and it is not a very easy path. Sometimes people think there is so much risk involved, they are like, ‘you are never going to make it’. Only about 13 people out of a million make it. They forget that there are people who just begin and there’s Madonna,” Himan explained that there is a whole group of people in the middle like him who make a living through music. He may not be Madonna but he has been going this for a long time and has been able to support himself by doing music.
Himan is a successful artist as a solo act and has been for ten years now but he is also a member of a group. Eric and the Adams were established about two years ago after a chance meeting with two up and coming musicians.
“I met Angel and Jimmy, who play the drums and bass and who are brother and sister, while they were backing up someone else at open mic night. I randomly meet the woman they were playing with in Washington, DC on tour. She said, ‘I’m playing tonight, you should come out.’ So, I did and they were backing her up,” Himan said. “Right before that, I was trying to get a gig in Tulsa and the guy was like, ‘I love your stuff, but I need you to have a band on the weekend because it can’t be just you.’ It just seemed perfect. The three of us started playing and my songs started to evolve a little bit because of their style. I switched to electric guitar and it seemed like it wasn’t just me anymore, it was us. A lot of it started with me stuff, so we kept it Eric and the Adams, which is their last name. We put out a CD in December. It was just a five-song CD, but it is doing well.”
Eric and the Adams were, “like a side project that turned into an equal project.” A few times, he didn’t know what he was going to book for the group or book for himself. There is a big link between the two acts. “We still play some of my music and I wrote some of the music for Eric and the Adams. I try to keep them a little bit separate. If we were booked as Eric and the Adams people would go, oh I know exactly what to expect. I have tried, marketing wise, to kind of make that separation, but at the same time play some of the Eric and the Adams stuff by myself and then play some of my stuff with Eric and the Adams. I am still learning and it takes a while,” Himan said.
It is widely known that many gay and lesbian artists tend to shy away from gender specific nouns and pronouns when they write and market their music. This is a far cry from their straight colleagues who create entire songs dedicated to having sexual relations with people of the opposite sex. Even the artist with the most open approach to their sexuality has made the knee jerk reaction of doing back into “the closet,” even Himan.
“I have to say, at first, I did shy away from it because it scared me. It scared me because you spend your whole life trying to get people to like you. In the gay community, you are almost set up, this is from ten years ago, but there were times when I felt that I was disappointing people,” said Himan. “Girls would come up to me and ask me out or it would go to that somehow and I was like, if I tell this girl who I am gay and that I am not interested then she is doing to be like, oh I don’t like you music either. It was irrational, but I did have that. At the time, your idea is just to reach everyone. You just want to do that, you want to be accepted.”
Finding inspiration for music is not that difficult for Himan. He uses his five senses and is inspired by events around him and in his life. “It is kind of strange. I started playing at Penn State and then going a lot of college stuff and that is a whole circuit in itself. It was almost like, ‘if you didn’t go to those colleges you wouldn’t know anything existed.’ In 2003, someone wrote a story about me in Instinct magazine and then all of a sudden, Out magazine and then all of a sudden I was in gay media like crazy,” Himan said.
“I felt like I wasn’t anything different from the other Lesbian singer/songwriters, in my mind. I was like, hey we are all playing music, and we are all equal. In their mind, other people were like, but you are a boy and boys play dance music. I tried to build that gap that people were thinking of. At first, it was a little confusing and now there are tons of guys out there that are like me in that world. It is pretty neat now to see now but in the beginning, I felt like the only one. In a way you have the idea that you are groundbreaking but you are so odd people don’t know what to do with you.” Himan’s music can be found at Barnes and Nobles, Borders, ITunes and Rhapsody.
His inspiration steams from everybody from Bonnie Defranco to Pearl Jam to Led Zeppelin to Billy Joel and Melissa Etheridge. “I draw my inspiration from, and I know this sounds a little cliché, but my life. You write about what you know. I draw a lot of inspiration from other artists,” said Himan.
As modest as he was, there was another reason why he analyzed other performers. Although he is a great performer now, he still learned through trial and error. “I learned so much from other artists because I was never formally taught how to play or sing but I learned from listening and imitating other artists and finding my own voice within that. I grew from that and just working on my voice to the point where I wasn’t cringing. When you are yelling in your bedroom when you are fifteen years old, sometimes you cringe. My Dad would used to come into my room and say Eric that’s enough, you are too loud and we can’t hear the TV,” Himan said.
Himan also has a few hobbies that he enjoys. He has recently started experimenting in the kitchen with cooking, something that his partner of five years would normally do. He is proud of the fact that he is now stable enough to do so. He would also not be opposed to working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) youths. “I was one of those kids who didn’t have role models or I didn’t choose the role models that would available to me,” said Himan.
It took him a long time to be able to find others like him and people who he could emulate. “I had to learn for a long time that just because I was gay didn’t mean I had to be a part of gay culture or whatever gay culture was spitting out at that moment,” Himan said. Now, Himan is looking to put out another solo, acoustic album and a full length label from Eric and the Adams. Like any creative process, it will take some time.
He always had acceptance and love in his family but others are not as fortunate as he was. If Himan had his way with the world, he would do away with the idea of hell and things being done to others out of the “fear of going to hell.”
“I feel that it is meant to control people and in many organized religions, it is meant to control people,” said Himan. “Sometimes it is used so much so in an abusive way. I lot of crap probably happens to a lot of people in this world because someone said to someone else that they were going to hell.
“I would play straight events, gay events and clubs, just anywhere I could play and then my audience, when I look out now, there are lesbians and gay men and straight people. It is very cool to see that you don’t just speak to one group. Regardless of who or what I am, I am still talking about emotions and everybody has emotions. Everyone breaks up with people and everyone has stories like that, I just choose to sing about them.”