"Once I got away," Joey Hebdo said, "I just personally exploded." Hebdo doesn't mean his life went up in flames during his West Coast odyssey. The Columbus singer-songwriter underwent explosive artistic and personal growth, and he has his new album Prosciutto to show for it.
"Once I got away," Joey Hebdo said, "I just personally exploded."
Hebdo doesn't mean his life went up in flames during his West Coast odyssey. The Columbus singer-songwriter underwent explosive artistic and personal growth, and he has his new album Prosciutto to show for it.
Hebdo grew up here and started his music career at Ohio University early this decade. Over the years, his band Gypsy Caravan changed their name to Blackcoin and moved back to Columbus. In 2007, the patchouli-scented rockers relocated to Los Angeles, looking not to escape Ohio but to see the world.
Out West, the band fell apart quickly. Hebdo began working as a downtown delivery guy and rented an El Salvadoran family's back room in South Central. It was his first experience in "the ghetto," and he never felt freer or safer.
"It was just like a cell block. There was no way anyone could find me," Hebdo said. "I loved it."
Hebdo did a lot of exploring. Beach walks, museum trips and neighborhood excursions sent his mind racing. He was also spending a lot of time in his room with the guitar, often drowsily letting his creations slip through the cracks of his memory.
That changed the day he bought a digital voice recorder.
"I set it down on the bed, and I hit record, and I just started playing, and songs just started spilling out," Hebdo said. "Seven of the songs that are on Prosciutto were all written in one day."
Hebdo continued to write and refine his new music: airy folk-pop unencumbered by the divergent creativity and crowded sonic space that dragged down Blackcoin. After nine months, he moved in with a friend in San Francisco. Hebdo's "extreme artist" roommate helped him create the stenciled logo that adorns Hebdo's new CD and T-shirts. Then he moved to Portland, a city that reminded him a lot of his hometown.
"Within one week it hit me: I've got to go back to Columbus," Hebdo said. "I got what I need."
So he traveled back down the coast, met his dad in L.A. and drove with him back to Ohio, arriving Halloween night 2008. He spent his winter in Athens, recording in short bursts at 3 Elliott Studio, and emerged with an album unlike anything he'd created. He's been calling it "adventure folk."
"It can go wherever," Hebdo said. And it does, from whispery ballads to stomping rockers to string-laden serenades to jugband ditties with Sufjan Stevens horns. Lyrically, Prosciutto is imprinted with exploration too. The title track's call to arms: "Let's break our watches and forget about time."
Since finishing Prosciutto, Hebdo has continued the travel theme, commuting to work as a zipline tour guide for Hocking Hills Canopy Tours and playing out in Columbus as much as possible during the zipline off-season. He's playing two shows this weekend - one with his four-piece band, another solo.
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