Eric Himan doesn’t need to show pride by looking like the Color Wheel. His music speaks for itself: “I was not raised the way you were,” he fiercely spouts on his latest album, “and, yes, I’m glad.” On “Resonate,” his sixth studio album, the tat-covered troubadour, who recently scored a Logo nomination for “Brink of Fame: Music Artist,” tackles our celeb obsessions, dealing with the narrow-minded and familial turmoil. His goal: To resonate. Duh.
You’ve said ‘Resonate’ is your most life-changing album. Why?
It’s been life-changing because I wanted to make a CD that really said my opinion about things. … I kind of wanted to talk about my future and whether it be my opinions on gays in the military, which is in the ‘Protest Song,’ or my opinion on celebrities and how our society focuses so heavily on it to the point where even I was getting sucked in.
You don’t follow Britney Spears anymore?
I mean, it got to a point where it was like, I couldn’t not follow these artists and not follow everything because no matter where I turned, no matter what TV station I was watching, I’m still somehow keeping up with it – whether I want to or not. I don’t know; I think that’s what’s different about it. I talk about really personal things, like my dad’s relationship with my sister, and … my relationship with my own family on ‘Until the Road Unwinds.’ Sometimes when you put things out there like that, you’re really vulnerable, and I think that has the opportunity to open – funny enough – open doors, which the song is called ‘Open the Door.’
You’ve always been pretty personal in your music. Why do you feel it’s important for songwriters to write so candidly, rather than more generic songs?
Because there’s something real about it – and there’s something true, and I think people, funny enough, as I use this word again, resonate with things that are real. People wanna hear your story, and for people to make up stories or to write just for the sake of writing art, I think, that’s the one thing I learned from the artists that I listen to, like Patty Griffin and Ani DiFranco, is tell your story – because you never know whose life you’re gonna impact. I played Omaha two (or) three weeks ago and I played that song about my dad and my sister called ‘Open the Door,’ and it’s basically about my sister trying to gain my dad’s attention back after he kind of found a new family. … I talked about it for a second on stage and played the song, and this kid came up to me and said, ‘Hey, I’m sitting here with my sister and I wanted you to know that she loves this song, ’cause she feels the exact same way.’ So, ya know, that’s the coolest thing. I’m not just talking about, ‘I’m gay, you’re gay;’ it’s like experiences and impacting people that I never thought I’d impact. And that’s what’s cool about writing music from the heart – because people just get it.
You’re resonating with them!
I am! (Laughs)
‘Protest Song’ is such a fierce song, and you’re obviously pissed off in it.
It’s just a protest song. I was wondering if I should label it that, but I thought that’s pretty much what it is – it’s a modern-day protest song against something very particular, and those are the people who show up to events they don’t really have to be at. It’s not like they were invited to sit there and preach a message that has absolutely nothing to do with the event.
Is there sort of a specific event that triggered this song?
I was playing Pride events and I’d show up and I’d have to be escorted through idiots – like people picketing, all these hateful messages. I remember walking through … and seeing all these very passive people just holding these signs as if someone just kind of walked over and gave it to them and said like, ‘Hey, I gotta go to the bathroom, hold this.’ It was kind of like that. They’re holding these very aggressive, angry signs and I thought it was just ironic to see someone so passive holding something so aggressive. … Their heart’s not even in to it. (Laughs) I was like, ‘If you’re gonna bring a damn sign like that, at least act like you’re holding it!’
In the gay community, you’re obviously recognized for your music, but you’ve also been seen as a sexy symbol –
I just don’t view myself like that. I don’t know who would.
How does it make you feel? Do you have people swooning over you at concerts?
I get a lot of messages from people who are like, ‘You’re hot as hell!’ ‘I have a man crush on you!’ … At first I was a little, like, weirded out by it, because I don’t see myself like that and I was like, ‘Well, what about what I was doing? What about my playing? What about my voice?’ I work really hard (to) be a better musician, so it’s just funny to me; I’m not trying to be like a better sex symbol. It makes me feel that all this work that I do and all the traveling hasn’t really wrecked my appearance yet – so I guess that’s good.
Now, I was reading a Gay.com article not too long ago, and if being a sex symbol doesn’t do anything for your ego, then how about comparisons to God and a black woman, as the reporter referred to you as?
I’m sure it came from the right place, but (laughs) when I was reading it, I was like, ‘What the hell?’
I don’t think I’ve ever compared anybody to God.
I haven’t either – except God.
For Pride, will you dress in rainbow colors?
Um, probably not (laughs). I think that our whole community is over the rainbow. I live in Tulsa, Okla., and I work with a group called Oklahomans for Equality. And they have their own symbol, which is kind of like a circle with an equal sign that’s kind of attached to make it look like a Q. So, it’s a really cool design and they’re not big on the rainbow either, because – I don’t know – I think it’s such a symbol and it has such a stigma to it that it’s neat for people to kind of see different symbols, I guess.
Do you just have tattoos on your arms?
I have one on my chest. It’s a bee. Like the insect, not the letter.
Will we be able to see that at Pride?
If I show you. (Laughs)
If it’s really hot out, maybe?
I’m sure I won’t be wearing anything that dips down that low.
I’m sure nobody will mind if you just take your shirt off.
Yeah – I would mind. People would be like, ‘What is he doing?’ I haven’t figured a way to do it where it’s not this overtly sexual, like ‘here comes another one,’ like he-has-to-take-his-clothes-off-in-order-to-get-some-attention person. If I can do it in an artistic way, I would. Not in like a, ‘Hey, over here (way)!’
4 p.m. May 31
Borders, 3140 Lohr Road, Ann Arbor
4-4:30 p.m. June 1
Main Stage, Ferndale