Q&A: Robby Hecht

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Nashville-based singer-songwriter Robby Hecht recently released Last Of The Long Days, and album that CMT called a “mellow and beautiful effort.” We recently spoke with Hecht about the album and his experiences busking in Paris.

Tell us a bit about The Last of the Long Days. Is there an overall theme to the album?

I don’t know if there is. Late Last Night was written over ten years and this one was only a couple of years. It’s definitely an album of long songs more than the last. They are not all love songs, but it’s more of a positive album I think. I tried to make something a little more upbeat. I wrote a lot of the songs a couple of months before we started recording.

“Pot Of Gold” seemed to have a different tone than the rest of the album.

When I wrote “Pot Of Gold” I was trying to write a hit country song. It had different words than it does now. It used to have a couple of lines referencing “Boot Scoot Boogie” and “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” At some point I decided to reclaim it for myself and make it a little more down to earth.

Is that where “singing a country tune” and referencing Hank Williams comes in?

Yeah! “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” was pretty hot then.

You have a Townes Van Zandt cover, “If I Needed You.” Have you always been a Townes fan or was this a song you heard recently?

I’ve been a fan of Townes, but I had never heard that song before. I wanted to do a duet with Jill [Andrews], but I hadn’t written one. I really wanted to feature her on something and Lex [Price, producer] actually brought that song out when we were talking about what cover to do. It was us wanting to put a cover on the record and wanting to put a duet on the record. I loved the song and I found out that everybody in the world had heard it. Jill already knew the song and I thought it turned out great.

What was your songwriting approach to the album? Was it different than the last album?

All of the songs on the album were songs that I wrote while living in Nashville. A lot of the stuff on the earlier record, Late Last Night, was from as far back as 1999. I’ve been in Nashville since 2005 so maybe there was a little bit of Nashville that got in there. I wrote a lot of the songs in my fiancé’s closet. I had a little desk in there. I sat down and tried to write songs that would record well on an album and with a band. I was trying to write some songs that weren’t just a guitar and me. I also wanted the record to be a little more upbeat so I sat down with Garageband and recorded demos. We actually ended up using one of the rough harmonies on, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.”

What influences or experiences went into this record?

I started writing “The Reckoning Of Us” in 2005 and I finished it in 2008. That was one that I had written the chorus, but had no idea what it was really about. I wrote all of the verses and then dumped those verses. I wrote even more verses and dumped those verses. Then I saw a couple of people having a difficult time in a relationship and all of the sudden I understood what the song was about. I started writing the song “Thirty” right around when I turned thirty and finished it about three weeks before I turned thirty-one. “Time And Again” I co-wrote with Lex and was different sounding than the rest of the record I think. It definitely had that cool Lex melody going on and I was about to write words to it.

Was the instrumentation arrangement on the album your idea?

Most of the production was Lex. I wanted to have one harmony singer and I wanted it to be Jill. I somehow talked her into coming into Nashville for two days. Also, I really wanted to have some cello.

When you listen back to the record, what do you envision?

When I look at the record I see all of the stages that I’ve been through with different songs, where I was, and what I was feeling at the time. It’s cool to see the experience and the creative process come together. I also keep this map that my friend Amy and I made when were trying to sequence the record. It has this line that flat lines for a second then it goes up, way down, and up again. The record was supposed to follow the line on the map. It’s the romantic comedy sequence.

You moved to Paris after you graduated from college. What made you want to do that and how did it influence your music?

My friend Pat and I decided that we needed to get out of here. I went to school in Madison, Wisconsin and I think part of it, I found out later, was the girl that he ended up marrying was overseas in France. We went to France and ended up spending most of our time outside of Paris in a town in this little town. I actually met my fiancé there. We weren’t together at the time, but happened to move to Nashville at the same time. We would take trips into Paris and I would set up on a bridge near Hotel De Ville. It was weird playing my own American songs in Paris. I was a little bit of a strange bird sitting on a bridge playing my music.

How did you decide that you wanted to be a singer-songwriter?

I always loved to sing. When I was a little kid I used to sing all of the time and always had a love for singer-songwriter music. I never really knew what I wanted to do until I was in that period between high school and college. I don’t remember what day exactly, but there was a point that I just decided that I wanted to be a songwriter. I kind of based my guitar playing on what I learned in the 5th grade, which was six chords. I used that in tandem with the Internet in college to teach myself how to play the guitar. That was the first thing I really used the Internet for.

Did you write a lot during college?

I did. I wrote a lot of really, really bad songs looking back. I don’t know if it is real when someone writes their first song and it’s a huge hit, but for me I had to write a hundred terrible songs until I had something that I was ready to play and was relevant to my life.

Is your songwriting more methodical now?

I’ve slowed down a little. I take it really slowly now and sometimes it takes a day, sometimes it takes three years like a couple of songs on the record. I just try to be really patient with it and let it make sense. Sometimes you have an idea and you don’t know what it means until later in your life when you’ve found what the song is about.

Does most of your writing come from personal experience?

All of it is either personal experience or second hand experience. Whether it was seeing what somebody had gone through or seeing something and feeling like I needed to write about it.

What’s next for you?

I’ve actually already made an acoustic EP with six more songs called, Evergreen. At some point I want to put that out as well as trying to do more co-writing. Keeping with the writing and recording.

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