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New Artist of the Week: Erik Shicotte

By Amanda Wicks

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Wisconsin native Erik Shicotte lives a double life of sorts.

By day, he's an industrious ironworker who journeys across the States building fire training towers. By night, he pulls out the guitar he carries with him and pens outlaw country-inflected songs that capture the toil - and churning locomotion - of his travels.

Shicotte has shared a new music video for the title track off his forthcoming EP Miss'ry Pacific. It's premiering exclusively with Holler - watch below. In the visual, Shicotte shows off the 'Big Iron' tattoo that lines his knuckles and plays his guitar in a train depot.

“The 'Miss'ry' video was a blast to make, in spite of the heat. I'm in heaven wandering around rolling stock and weedy rails, and the audio at the beginning was from an actual revenue train that passed by on a nearby active freight line”, Shicotte told Holler. “The addition of some retro footage generously provided through my good buddy Dan really helped to tie the visuals of the video to the scenes playing in my head when I wrote the song.”

Against a driving beat and train-like harmonica, Shicotte sings about begging a ride with a freight train to escape his current circumstances. "Hear that big, loud whistle scream/ There goes another west-bound train without me/ Tagging along", he sings in his remarkable baritone.

Shicotte spoke with Holler about his Wisconsin upbringing, the variety of music he heard there, which spanned country, hip-hop and heavy metal, and the duet he hopes to one day do with Kacy & Clayton's Kacy Lee Anderson.

Where are you from and has that influenced the type of artist you are?
Just a little north west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Being from the Dairy State has definitely been a large part of my development as an artist - from the varied music scenes to the midwestern guilt.

People listen to a hell of a lot of different kinds of music here, and when I used to play in cover bands, "variety" was absolutely the correct moniker. Shit, polka bands are still in demand for christ sake. Now I'm awfully set in my ways and wants, but it's taught me to be open and aware of the other sounds floatin' around in the dairy air.

Speaking of influences, what were you listening to growing up?
My folks raised me on Fleetwood Mac, Creedence, Patsy, Cash and The Weavers. I started fallin' through delta blues, southern rock, outlaw country and hair metal as I entered high school. Of course, I still tried to grind awkwardly to Lil Jon at homecoming, but I definitely requested Skynyrd at Junior Prom.

Did you ever want to do something other than music?
As a youngun' I had dreams of being a railroad engineer, as most boys do, and as 18 approached, I was set to enter the Industrial Design program at UW-Stout. Neither of those ever happened, but I have gotten to run a bonafide freight train and every so often I still try to draw.

Are you more creative when you’re happy or when you’re sad?
I am far more creative when I'm sad. Inspiration comes from both, but it flows a hell of a lot easier when I'm a hurtin' unit. The thoughts and feelings generally come down harder in the bleaker hours, which makes them easier to focus on and process. In the better times I find myself much more pleasantly aloof.

What drives you the most?
My 2008 Toyota4runner. Mileage, sunrises, shitty dive bars, Hamm's, hurt, love and endless strings of freight cars.

In general which comes first for you, the title or the song?
The song comes first almost 99% of the time. Occasionally I don't even bother naming them myself and let someone else come up with it.

Who would be your dream collaboration?
Kacy Lee Anderson. I’d love to cozy up to that gorgeous warble of hers on something sad and sweet.

What’s next?
I don’t get to claim to know, but in an ideal world it looks a lot like getting out and playing again, making a full length record, throwing more buildings together, and the ever present bands of steel heading over the horizon.

Miss'ry Pacific is out July 16.