A Chat With Country Entertainer Eric Neznick
You’ve seen him on the YouTube videos as the Hungry Cowboy and…what you haven’t?You must look! A few years ago I had a chat with Eric and it’s been online, but the wonders of the web was slated to be taken down. No! More need to hear him. So following the country music theme…tune in! And do go check his videos…sense of humor, check.
In the many levels of the music world it can take years to navigate. Many people we hear in passing also make their living in the music industry, and we all have influences. Eric Neznik cites his as “George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks. A lot of that has to do with the fact that those three were really hitting their stride when I was coming of age as a musician/music lover.”
Indeed if you like George Strait’s music take a listen to Eric Neznik. Songs like “Just About a Beer Ago” and “All I Need Is a Heart” are original and yet familiar.
Like many what we do is influenced by who we listen to but also in those around us. “My folks are my two biggest influences and supporters. They are two completely different people who both share a common goal of nurturing me and wishing for my every success. One of the songs on my upcoming album points directly toward the effect they have had on my life.”
From a small town area in Minnesota to Austin Texas to Nashville Tennessee and back to Austin, Eric has take his music towards where he wants to be. “There are elements (travel, relationships with bandmates, financial needs) that have played out somewhat differently than I might have originally expected, but so much of the knowledge that goes along with a life in music is learned on-the-fly.”
With any business one must constantly adapt, evaluate and adjust. The creative business is no different. “Honestly, I don’t really remember what the ‘old me’ expected simply because of the number of times my expectations have evolved.” Eric continues on “A person truly has to have a thick skin and an ability to adapt in order to have any shot at all in sticking things out in this silly business!”
Things DON’T always go as expected! But the high points can make the low ones worth it. A “‘high’ was the first time a band I was playing with had a chance to perform at WE-Fest, a huge country music and camping festival in Minnesota. I had been to the festival before as a fan, but now was overwhelmed with the fact that I was being given the opportunity to take that next step in my career by hopping up on that big stage. ”
This of course doesn’t happen overnight and the early movement is sometimes hard to see when it’s small steps. “Looking back, one of the turning points for me was a piano/vocal ballads concert I held in my hometown. Just out of high school, it was really the first project I created and operated on my own, in that I would be able to take the blame for its failure, and be able to go forward confidently in the event of its success. Luckily for me, it was the latter that occurred, and I took an amazing amount of satisfaction and ‘you can do this music thing’ vibe from that night.”
While there’s a long road behind to get to this point there’s still a long one ahead. While it’s true it takes a thick skin it takes talent too. With songs like “You Sure Can Run Through Mine” and “We All Go Home” Eric Neznik has the ability to perform a song but he’s also shown he can write original songs. “As in so many things, there is no substitute for experience when it comes to songwriting.”
As writers of any genre know it’s an oft repeated maxim when Eric says “Just write, write, write!” It takes doing it and with songwriting especially it is persisting that counts. “A person needs to break past the point where every effort leads to a feeling of “this isn’t any good” and realize that with every mediocre song crafted…progress is being made.”
Even after years of doing this it’s easy to doubt. “I still don’t think of myself as much of a songwriter, but I do know that the process has become much more enjoyable, my confidence as a writer has increased exponentially, and I am no longer afraid of getting in there with other writers. All of that is owed to just keeping the nose to the grindstone and plodding along.”
Today’s artists have a chance of a bigger stage than ever with social media but it still takes time. It still takes determination. “. I think the people who just continued to preach a mantra of, “Never give up!” have had the biggest impact on me. This business is a game of chances, and sometimes it takes a long time to find the right opportunity. Perseverance is such a key to lasting success in music.”
Eric continues on that thought “A good attitude, some talent, and a good work ethic are all great things…but if you long ago gave up because you were unwilling to persevere, all of the other attributes mean very little.” No matter what the goal this is core truth!
As an up and coming musician “I don’t do a lot of multi-week touring, as the base for that has dried up for artists at my level. So I am mostly a Thursday through Saturday kind of performer. Many of the shows I do are one-offs from Nashville, but often we’ll spend three to five days on the road before coming home.” This can mean time at home but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily time off.
The travel can add up. “When I’m on the road, it’s mostly travel in the morning and early afternoon, set-up and sound check at the venue in the late afternoon, a quick meal, the performance, tear-down, and then off to a motel for the night. The process is repeated until we get back to Music City.”
Eric adds “It certainly isn’t always the glamorous life people envision…but then again, I’m still struggling on the front end. While I can only imagine Keith Urban or Kenny Chesney’s careers are ridiculously busy…I have to at least believe they’re doing it in style!”
No matter where we are there’s usually another rung to grab unless one is at the top. As an up and coming artist keeping the progress going can leave the “what if” questions sometime. “What if you could work with anyone in music?”
Eric answers that with little hesitation. “On the country end, I would certainly enjoy working with King George. His is a career that has often been imitated, but will never be duplicated. I am in awe of the way his career has unfolded, and would even just like an opportunity to pick his brain a little.”
Of course not all inspiration comes from within our genre or chosen field. “I would love to work with Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon or David Pirner from Soul Asylum. Soul Asylum is a band from Minnesota that was a big influence on me when I was younger.”
“REO and S.A. were my two favorite bands growing up. REO because my older brother turned me on to them, and Soul Asylum because they were mostly doing their thing during my high school years.”
Good music is good music, whatever the label. Check out Eric Neznik’s music…it might be the best stuff you haven’t heard yet!