by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
It blows my mind that some musicians can just pick up an instrument in their late 20s or early 30s, and within a few years play close to the level of Jack Johnson. But that’s just one thing that makes singer-songwriter and guitarist Earl Henrichon so cool. The rockdad, who fronts Hartford, Conn.-based band The POSSM, picked up his signature instrument far past his adolescent years, but strums and sings like he was born to do just that.
And he’s not only a proficient guitarist but a damn good vocalist. Just listen to his gravelly tones on covers like The Pixies’ ‘Where is My Mind’ and originals like “Her” and you’ll agree.
Not that he has a lot of time to sing and play. In 2020, Earl, who’s also a high school PE teacher and surfer, wrote one of our favorite essays on balancing work, music, and life with his wife Jane and now 8-year-old daughter.
We recently caught up with Earl to talk about his return to the stage, the upcoming HartBeat Music Festival on September 18, and parenting an 8-year-old in 2021.
Rockmommy: Hey Earl! How’s it going in 2021?
Earl Henrichon: It is going ok! I think our ‘new normal is going to be fewer shows than we were playing before the pandemic, and at the moment, only outdoors. We are all vaccinated and feel totally safe, but just decided to stick with the outdoor shows since those are so fun anyway. We are going to save more time for family, practicing and recording new songs, and try and appreciate each show and look forward to it, rather than pack the schedule and feel overwhelmed. We just started practicing in the last month or so, and are enjoying getting back together and hanging out and making music together again.
Rockmommy: Did you write a lot of new music between March 2020 and April 2021? How did the band stay connected?
Earl Henrichon: We actually didn’t write all that much original music during that time. Pretty much every member of the band contributes original music, and I think each member may have been creative during that time but not a lot of it was material for the band. I actually think that is pretty healthy, the band is its own thing, but having other outlets for creative energy I think lessens the opportunity for burnout. That isn’t to say we don’t have new material, because we do, and a lot of it we are really psyched about, but it isn’t the amount of material you would have assumed would come from that amount of time. But there was a Pandemic, so there was that…
Rockmommy: You and the lead guitarist are dads! What’s it like sharing your music with your respective daughters?
Earl Henrichon: Hell yeah we are, it is fricking awesome! Having another dad makes the vibe of it for me really great, a couple of old men like us care about things like getting the kids together to play (and it is awesome for them as well), and I think it is healthy for the younger guys in the band to hang out with the kids and get a family vibe. Our band is very much about community and family anyway, so this just makes it obvious about the things that are important to us.
This summer our kids will be at any show that isn’t at night, and that will be awesome. We are playing Hike to the Mic on my daughter’s birthday, so it will be a party for the kids. Stuff like that makes playing music even more fun for me. [Lead guitarist] Craig and I can complain about bedtime stalling antics while the other guys have to pretend that even for one second that this is something they find interesting.
Rockmommy: What are you doing to stay balanced, between being a teacher, musician and co-founder of the HartBeat Festival?
Earl Henrichon: Well, to be clear I am not the lone founder of the HartBeat festival, our former bass player Tony Koos was integral about approaching Riverfront about working together on something and this is what was born from that. And working with Riverfront Recapture is amazing, they get behind most of our ideas about the community vibe of the festival. But balance and happiness is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I teach health so it is on my mind quite a bit about how to best maximize my time so I can have energy and also get relaxing time in.
I could talk about this topic a lot, since it is a passion of mine, but the short story is that I am at once a physical person who loves to be active and at times an introvert who needs to recharge my batteries with lots of time with my family and at home. So since I know that about myself, there are just things I don’t spend a lot of time doing, like going out and having drinks with friends on a regular basis. I prioritize things I love to do that make me feel good such as surfing, playing ultimate frisbee, disc golf, music etc… and will try to work in time with friends doing that stuff and then spend the rest of my time with my family so that I get that recharge time and feel that family connection that is important to me.
I am also not a late-night guy. I want to be curled up on the couch with my wife watching Netflix and going to bed at a decent hour so I can feel good.
Rockmommy: What advice do you have to rockin’ dads out there who want to find the right balance between work, play, and family time?
Earl Henrichon: It is one of the large questions in many of our lives, and for musicians who have late-night schedules it can be even harder. My advice is not to play too many really late-night gigs. It is hard to say no to things, but the alternative is burnout and exhaustion. I think the idea of that sort of thing is sort of old school, I have found many people feel just like I do, and I try adjust many of our shows to be at reasonable hours, and I think that is part of why we were able to get people to come hang out with us, because we could get them in bed by 10:30 and they could still have a fun night.
I find exercise to be very therapeutic and stress relieving, but the days of hitting the weight room hard are sort of over for me, so finding other avenues to play and actually get out and run around are meaningful to my physical and mental health. I’ve gotten into chasing down frisbees with a group of people in Hartford at lunch time when I am on break, and it gives me an opportunity to get out and run at full speed, which doesn’t exist that much in adult life the way it does for kids. It makes me feel alive to get to compete a bit, break a sweat and get some sun.
I am not someone who will just go for a run, so finding times to actually play and get exercise at the same time are huge for me. I do Wim Hoff breathing in the morning before my shower and use the waking up app (meditation) when I am feeling stressed. I also have become a fan of mastering mobility stretches on YouTube so when I have a free 20 minutes, I can get my old man body some much needed stretching in.
I also try to use social media sparingly, I keep all notifications off on my phone so I can try to use it when I want as opposed to when my phone tells me to get my eyeballs on screen so someone can make advertising money. That is easier now for me, since the brand of our band is built a bit, I needed to spend more time when we were starting, so that is a balance as well.
I also try to give other bands and musicians love when I am online, and that tends to get returned when others feel like you are looking out for them. We maybe don’t have the following we could potentially have online as a result, but in the end is that really the most important thing? I try to stop and think a lot about what makes me happy, and then I just try to make sure that that thing is happening in my life enough to meet my needs. And if it isn’t, I think about how to adjust my schedule to make it happen. I know that sounds simplistic, but many of the best moments in my life are pretty simple and I want to make sure I get as many of them as I can.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and cofounder of Rockmommy.