Sue Bonzell:                 My guest today is Eric Van Houten. He has over a million streams on his new song and a new album coming out in January. This is Up N Country. I’m your host Sue Bonzell. It’s all powered by vLiveCast. Let’s go meet Eric Van Houten.

                                    He has toured with Kelsea Ballerini, Chris Young and Jake Owen, and has over a million streams on his new song, Kiss Her. I am excited to introduce you to Eric Van Houten. Hey Eric. How’s it going?

Eric Van Houten:          Hey, how are you Sue? Doing great.

Sue Bonzell:                 I’m doing great too. I am so excited to see you. Now, where are you calling in from today?

Eric Van Houten:          At my house in Nashville. We’re back home right now.

Sue Bonzell:                 Back home in Nashville. So were you out on the road for a little bit?

Eric Van Houten:          We started getting back a little bit here and there, but we’re spending a lot of time in the studio right now. So we’re staying put in Nashville for a bit, which has been great.

Sue Bonzell:                 Okay, good. I mentioned you’ve been out on tour in the past with Kelsea Ballerini and Jake Owen and Old Dominion. Who else do I have on my list? Kip Moore and Michael Ray. That’s a lot of big names. Who was your favorite? Which was your favorite tour?

Eric Van Houten:          You’re going to ask that. I don’t know it’s tough because we’ve done a lot of one-offs with a lot of those artists and then some of them we’ve done multiple dates with. It’s always fun to get out there with your friends. So some of the people that I don’t know as well, you just meet and just getting to know each other, it’s fun. But guys like Michael Ray and Kip, when you hang out with them back home, it’s a lot cooler to get out on the road with those guys.

Sue Bonzell:                 Oh totally. They’re your buddies. I want to know, any good stories from what’s happening behind the scenes? What’s going on? What’s going on that we don’t know about?

Eric Van Houten:          You guys will be the first to get the update. We got a full record coming out in January, which will be awesome. We’ve been hard at work with that with my producer and publisher, Chris Distefano. He’s an animal and it’s been a lot of fun working with him and seeing how he operates. He’s done it for a lot of people that everybody knows and listens to. Producing records for Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan, and Chris Young. Having him in my corner has been lot of fun to be a part of.

Sue Bonzell:                 That’s fantastic.

Eric Van Houten:          It’s been really cool.

Sue Bonzell:                 And that’s coming out in January, you said?

Eric Van Houten:          Yeah, January 14th. It’s pretty wild.

Sue Bonzell:                 I’m assuming there’s going to be some kind of big release party or something, right?

Eric Van Houten:          Yeah. I was born and raised up in Buffalo, New York, so the weekend that it comes out we’re doing a three night show at a place called Forbes Theater, which will be really cool.

                                    We’re doing three nights there and then we’ll come back home to Nashville and probably do something here, too, the following week. We just haven’t figured that out yet, but I’m sure there’ll be a big party here too.

Sue Bonzell:                 Okay. Well, I can’t wait for that for sure.

Eric Van Houten:          You’ll have to come in.

Sue Bonzell:                 Now my friend, you have some very impressive tattoos. How many hours do you think you have invested?

Eric Van Houten:          I consider them all one now because they’re all attached to each other. But, gosh, I’ve probably been under the needle, if you will, for probably over a whole day.

Sue Bonzell:                 Wow.

Eric Van Houten:          All added up, probably 30 hours, 40 hours.

Sue Bonzell:                 Wow. Which one was the worst one? Where you’re like, “Okay, that was not fun.”

Eric Van Houten:          I actually have one on my right side. It was probably the most painful. I thought the neck was really bad, but then once I got the… that was the worst. The right side was the worst for sure.

Sue Bonzell:                 Did you have to take a break and have a sip of beer or something like that?

Eric Van Houten:          I wanted to, but my tattoo artist is… she’s a dope person and told me, basically, you’re going to suck it up and do it. So I didn’t get a chance to move, basically.

Sue Bonzell:                 Well, you keep going back so she’s doing something right.

Eric Van Houten:          Yeah, they’re addicting, I guess.

Sue Bonzell:                 I’ve heard that. I don’t have any tattoos. You’re taking my share and they look great. So you’re good to go.

Eric Van Houten:          I got it for the most of us.

Sue Bonzell:                 So now a lot of ladies watching the show. The ladies want to know, my friend, are you single?

Eric Van Houten:          I am not.

Sue Bonzell:                 Not single. Okay. All right. He’s off the market ladies. So not available.

Eric Van Houten:          Off the market ladies. Not available.

Sue Bonzell:                 But you can still go to his shows and admire from afar. Right?

Eric Van Houten:          Exactly. Buy some merch, hang out, listen to some music, at least say “what’s up?” That’s good enough.

Sue Bonzell:                 Of course. Everybody’s a potential new friend at some point, right?

Eric Van Houten:          Of course. Exactly.

Sue Bonzell:                 So now you have a-

Eric Van Houten:          I love it. That’s funny.

Sue Bonzell:                 So you have a little bit of a rock and roll background? What’s your musical background, where you came from?

Eric Van Houten:          My first concert, I was 11 years old and my brother took me to see Poison and Ratt. 80s hair metal.

Sue Bonzell:                 Nice.

Eric Van Houten:          I think my second concert was Mötley Crüe and then Kid Rock and the list of rock and roll music just kept going on: Bob Seger, Allman Brothers. I don’t know, I just always loved listening to the classic rock stuff at the family parties that we’d have. And my whole dad’s side of the family would play a lot of guitar and stuff at family functions. That was the song style that they would pick would be ’70s, ’60s, ’80s rock and roll.

Sue Bonzell:                 That’s good music, right?

Eric Van Houten:          Just stuck with me. It’s literally the best. People still listen to it so I think they did something right.

Sue Bonzell:                 They’re definitely doing something right. So how did you get into country music?

Eric Van Houten:          My mom’s side of the family. My mom always loves listening to all the women of country, the Shania Twains, the Rebas and all the old school ladies. And she listened to a lot of the… When Kenny Chesneys just started coming in. We just grew up with both ends of the spectrum in our household, so it was a little bit of a blend, which was great.

                                    And then, I don’t know, just got an offer to do a couple country songs opening up for a new act that was coming through town into Buffalo when I was there. We just took the gig and fell in love with the crowd and the fan base that was there that night and realized that all the songs that I was writing fit almost the Keith Urban mold of what country music was. It all just transitioned nicely. And here I am.

Sue Bonzell:                 And here you are, just singing country and I’m loving it. So what was the first musical instrument that you learned how to play? And how old were you?

Eric Van Houten:          I was 11. I picked up the guitar and just never put it down, I guess.

Sue Bonzell:                 You sleep with it next to you?

Eric Van Houten:          Yeah. Sits with me at the dinner table.

Sue Bonzell:                 Okay. So how would you describe your fans?

Eric Van Houten:          Very diverse, because I feel like I get a lot of the rock and roll crowd that love that rock and roll kick you in the face kind of concert, because that’s kind of what we do. But then I feel like we also have a little bit of that anthemic, almost like worship Christian sound. And then there’s obviously the country storytelling lyrics that we have behind every song. So it’s a wide range of an audience and I love it.

Sue Bonzell:                 And will we hear that wide range on the new album as well? Or is it pretty traditional country or a little bit of everything?

Eric Van Houten:          I mean, we might not even label this country with what we’re doing.

Sue Bonzell:                 Interesting.

Eric Van Houten:          And all over the board, which I love. The first couple of songs will like adhere to those country listeners and then the next couple will be belonging in arena somewhere, and then the next couple you should get ready to head bang and rock and roll.

Sue Bonzell:                 It’s like a little bit of a little roller coaster adventure. A little musical roller coaster for everybody.

Eric Van Houten:          Yeah, exactly. That’s the plan.

Sue Bonzell:                 And you know, those were always fun.

Eric Van Houten:          Yeah. It was kind of unintentional, but the way we’ve just been going like song by song as we see fit, like if we really like one song we’ll go in and we’ll record it and then what’ll happen is we’ll record it specifically for just the way we think that song should sound not necessarily what the whole record sounds like.

                                    So it’s put us in this awesome lane of one song really feels like it should be this, and so we’ll record it like that, and then we’ll go and listen to the other song and be like, wow, they don’t sound anything like each other. But it’s been cool.

Sue Bonzell:                 I like that. I mean, I like that idea because it’s being true to what the song, how it’s best going to be portrayed. It doesn’t have to match anything. It just has to be what it is.

Eric Van Houten:          Yeah, exactly.

Sue Bonzell:                 I love that.

Eric Van Houten:          Let each song have its own life kind of.

Sue Bonzell:                 What is the hardest part about being a country musician?

Eric Van Houten:          All of it. It’s not as awesome as most people… I mean it is. Obviously it’s amazing because I wouldn’t change this life for anything. But it’s definitely one of those things where you have to really want it. You have to work hard and once the hard work pays off and you get the break, that’s just where it all begins, really. The hard work that is.

                                    You can’t slow down at all because if you start getting stagnant…. I feel like, me and my manager always talk about this. The idea of always being in motion no matter what it is. If you don’t have songs out, maybe record an acoustic video or do something where there’s content and forward movement being had.

                                    So I think the hardest thing is most likely not wanting to give up because I’m sure a lot of people in my industry do that all the time or want to do that, but just got to keep going.

Sue Bonzell:                 So what keeps you going? What motivates you when you get into those spaces?

Eric Van Houten:          That’s an amazing question. I think it’s just the fact that I love doing it. I love it. All aspects of it too. So, I’m more of a live show person, so I love performing live. So if there’s ever like a lull of a wave of like whatever, there’s always a show that I’ll play and be like, man, here it is. We’re back.

                                    But if they’re, like for example, 2020 went through a period of no shows, it was one of those scenarios of having to really dig down and say, “Okay, use this time to create the material that you can play live.” And obviously my parents love them. They believe in what I’m doing, which I think means the world that everybody whenever their parents say that they believe it. Let me move away from home, not go to college and chase a dream. Got to see it through, right?

Sue Bonzell:                 That’s fantastic. You’re lucky that you have that. And, I love that you said… when you are feeling that little lull or whatever, and you go to go do a performance. I’m like that with radio. There’d be some days when I’m like, I’m having a crappy day or whatever, I’m kind of in a bad mood, but you got to bring it because you’re an entertainer and that’s what you do. And as soon as you that it’s like, “Oh, you know what? I’m better. It’s good. I feel great. I’m doing what I love.” So I totally feel you on that.

Eric Van Houten:          Exactly. Amazing.

Sue Bonzell:                 So would you like to play a song for us?

Eric Van Houten:          Sure. I would love to. And make sure you guys can hear it all right. I got my headset on here. We’ll just do the song that currently got us going right now. This is Kiss Her. We’re excited to have 1.5 million streams in this thing independently. It’s pretty awesome to see an organic fan base growing something naturally. So This is Kiss Her goes like this. (singing)

Sue Bonzell:                 Nice. Awesome. Thank you for playing that. I love that song.

Eric Van Houten:          Thank you very much.

Sue Bonzell:                 And it’s great advice for guys that are dating. Good advice. Once in a while. Got to be the right thing.

Eric Van Houten:          Kind of what we wrote it for. That’s why we wrote it. We all needed some help in the room, so that’s been good.

Sue Bonzell:                 That’s fantastic. Thank you for doing that. I have one last question for you. Actually, I have two last questions for you.

Eric Van Houten:          Sure.

Sue Bonzell:                 Number one, if you could give advice to anybody coming into country music and wanting to make it a career, what would be your best advice?

Eric Van Houten:          Obviously, you got to work hard and be prepared to do that every day. But I think the most important thing is just to be ready. You never know when you’re going to get a call. So like be ready with music, have a bunch of songs ready to go to send to somebody if they ask you for them.

                                    Be ready if somebody tells you to get up on stage and play live. Be ready if you get to meet Kenny Chesney. Be ready to have a conversation with somebody like that as an adult and know what you’re ready to do. Be ready to do what it takes to make it no matter what time of day it pops up. Because sometimes in Nashville it might be 2:00 in the morning when you got to be prepared, and sometimes that’s just the way it is.

Sue Bonzell:                 I think that is fantastic advice. Because like you said, you never know when something might happen or you might meet somebody and you get thrown into a situation and there you are.

Eric Van Houten:          Exactly.

Sue Bonzell:                 Great advice. So one last question. We are here in the Wine Country and so do you like wine and what kind do you like if you like it?

Eric Van Houten:          I wish I could turn the camera around and show you my countertop that has about 35 bottles of wine, empty, ready to go to a recycling bin.

Sue Bonzell:                 I have a kindred spirit.

Eric Van Houten:          Very much a red wine fan. Yes, I’m a massive red wine fan. Anything [Calves], Pinots, Malbecs. I’m open to it all.

Sue Bonzell:                 Nice. He knows the varietals and everything. We are kindred spirits. Okay, good. This is good. We might have to meet at some point and share a glass and-

Eric Van Houten:          Absolutely.

Sue Bonzell:                 … do a little toast to your new album coming out.

Eric Van Houten:          Would love to out that way and play some shows in the Wine Country. That’s my favorite.

Sue Bonzell:                 We’d love to have you there.

Eric Van Houten:          I’m there.

Sue Bonzell:                 Okay, great. Well, thank you so much.

Eric Van Houten:          Thanks so much Sue, I appreciate you.

Sue Bonzell:                 You bet. Thanks for tuning in to Up N Country where we have new episodes every Tuesday. And be sure to visit for all of the episodes and information about out our VIP club, where you’re going to get exclusive backstage access. And if you’re on Instagram or TikTok, make sure to follow me, Sue Bonzell. I’ll see you next week. (singing)