The Herald, Sharon, Pa.


March 13, 2014

Anxieties all in day’s work for returning musician

HERMITAGE — Rick Hornyak considers himself someone who lives in the moment.

Unfortunately, it also means the musician has trouble seeing the big picture.

“My wife tells me that, when it rains, I can’t remember it being sunny and, when it’s sunny, I can’t remember when it rained,” said the former Mercer County man, who is returning to the area for a few shows.

Hornyak, 38, has always written songs about what he has gone through in life – past efforts have touched on quitting cigarettes, leaving what you know to try something else, and love – and his battles with hypochondria, anxiety and depression are starting to work their way into his catalog.

“I tend to write about how I feel inside, which is why I think people can relate to my songs,” said Hornyak, of Austin, Texas.

Currently between albums, Hornyak said his anxieties surfaced during the promotion of his last one, “Marigold,” released in 2012.

Because he invested a lot of money into its recording, he devoted a sizable sum to its promotion, only to learn that he probably plugged in the marketing machine later than he should have.

“There was some pressure on myself because I spent a lot of money making this record,” the Reynolds High School graduate said.

In the end, the effort worked to the good. “Marigold” scored radio play and reviews in the U.S. and Europe, and he has almost sold out of his copies, he said.

That result has helped him learn to appreciate and look forward to the positive things in life, instead of dwelling on the negatives, he said.

“I tend to want to step into the dark side, a little bit,” he said, talking Wednesday from a borrowed car on his way to the Hudson Valley of New York. “As I get older, I don’t want that to dictate how I live my life or let it take over my world.”

A new song, “Brand New Day,” which is on his performance set list, reflects his newfound desire not to dwell on the dark side. In it, he sings, “Wake up your face and take on a brand new day.”

Hornyak is thinking about recording studios for a “Marigold” follow-up, but hasn’t set definite recording plans. He’s working on songs, which is why he was on Interstate 80. He was going to visit David Rowley, a good friend from his Acoustic Rooster days, for relaxation and songwriting.

“Hopefully, we can come up with some new music or finish some songs that are in the stuck stage,” Hornyak said.

It’s been 11 years since Hornyak, formerly of Fredonia and Perry and Delaware townships, moved to Texas. He finds that he has three main pockets of fans. The obvious ones are in the Mercer County area and Austin. The third: Wisconsin.

While in Austin, he played in a band called the Dealers and, through that band, he made friends with cheeseheads who continue to put him up for two weeks a year.

Could a fourth pocket be developing?

Hornyak speaks of his music as “Americana” or “American roots music,” akin to the non-electronic sides of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. That music has struck a chord in an unlikely place – the Netherlands and Belgium.

“They really dig American roots music,” he said.

Songs from “Marigold” were played there, as well as Germany, Norway and France, and Hornyak recorded radio station promotional spots that also aired in the Old World.

Social media has allowed him to monitor his acceptance overseas, and make playing in Europe a goal, he said.

But, no matter where his music takes him, Hornyak knows to where he must return.

“This will always be my real home,” he said of Mercer County, “because of the people I know who have known me for 20, 25 years, since I was a little kid. But, I’ve been in Austin long enough that I talk about Austin how it used to be.”

Hornyak plays at 7 p.m. Tuesday at North Country Brewing, Slippery Rock; 7 p.m. March 22 in the Buhl Farm park Casino, Hermitage; and 7 p.m. March 23 in the OK Corral, Stoneboro.

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