By day, singer/songwriter Ethan Hulse works at the high-school ministry and leads Sunday worship at the Mission Viejo Mariners Church. By night, you'll find him in OC coffee shops toting an acoustic guitar, playing original music thar evokes a smoother, cheered-up Rhett Miller. If you're lucky, he'll throw in an R. Kelly cover. With a new EP and a backing band behind him, Hulse is poised to take the next step in his music career.
OC Weekly: Is the whole "Christian rock" tag something you try to avoid?
Ethan Hulse performs with Danny White at Detroit Bar, www.detroitbar.com. Every Mon., 9 p.m. Through June 27. Free. 21+.
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Ethan Hulse: I suppose I do. I've always been under the impression that "Christian" makes a better noun than it does an adjective. There is no need for Christians to keep making distinctions of what is "Christian" and what is not. Being a Christian is something that I am, not something I do.
The Rapture turned out to be a hoax. Relieved or disappointed?
Hoax? I heard it just got moved to October.
Can you talk about the concept behind your new EP, I Don't Feel Simple?
The title is about finding life to be different than what you expected it to be. We spend our lives trying and trying to get to a place where life is suddenly easier, but it never seems to work that way. At least, it hasn't for me yet. And so the sentiment behind these songs is somewhere settled in that tension.
You said on Twitter that you "may or may not have closed your 5/25 show at Detroit Bar with a very special song." What song was it?
Ah, geez. Well, that was a little joke actually. I may have a secret love for R. Kelly's music, and there was a bit of an ironic cover done that night. And yes, it was special. That is all I will say.
You list AA Bondy as an influence and are excited for the new Bon Iver album. What is it about those artists that draws you to them?
New "indie" music is kind of ingrained in earthy folk sound and feel these days, and I'm a huge fan of that. I don't want to just hear someone sing something; I want to know that they mean it. So the "less is more" concept becomes very important to me. I get stoked on little blemishes and mistakes in songs here and there that add character and feel to a record.
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You've hit the OC coffee-shop scene pretty hard. What is the next step for you?
Well, I'm hoping to have a more established band here soon and to keep playing local shows with a bit more intention behind them than just some friends at a coffee shop. I'd love to keep doing music for a long time, so the next steps are aimed that way for me. I hope that the EP will be a springboard into doing a full-length at some point within the next year. I have the songs; it's just about finding the right timing for it. I'm genuinely excited about the music, and my opportunities are wide open.
This column appeared in print as "Minister of Folk."