Have you heard the one about the ’90s rock singer and the failed presidential assassin? It may sound like the set-up of a bad joke, but it’s exactly what happened when Eve 6 frontman Max Collins connected with John Hinckley, Jr. for an interview earlier this month.
Collins and Hinckley spoke during a three-way call organized by Input Mag that focused on Hinckley’s music career, which he has been publicly pursuing since 2020. Collins, who reached out to Hinckley on Twitter about working together in October 2021, explained how Hinckley’s songs were “deeply resonant to me.”
“They’re simple songs. It’s language-of-the-heart stuff, but it’s deeply, deeply resonant to me personally,” Collins said. “I find myself relating to them and considering my own dark nights of the soul and sort of clinging to this aspirational notion of hope. And I feel like that’s what John does in his writing.”
Back in 1981, Hinckley shot Ronald Regan and critically wounded press secretary James Brady while attempting to impress Jodie Foster. He spent 35 years in a Washington, DC psychiatric facility after being found not guilty by reason of insanity, and on June 15th, he became free of court restrictions for the first time since his 1981 arrest.
Prior to that, however, a judge granted Hinckley permission to release his music, artwork, and writings under his own name. In response to Collins’ evaluation of his music, Hinckley told Input, “Anyone who’s heard my songs knows that they are trying to be kind of upbeat and inspirational, because when I listen to bands like Nirvana or something like that, where there’s just so much angst going on in the song, I really don’t want to hear that too much. ’Cause that just kind of brings me down.”
Hinckley went on to explain that he started writing music sometime in his teenage years after teaching himself to play guitar and named Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea as “probably [his] all-time favorite album” before opening up about his planned (and sold-out) concert at Brooklyn’s Market Hotel being canceled by the venue.
“I agree with them to the extent that America right now is kind of scary with all the mass shootings going on and everything,” he said. “You know, I watch the news like everybody else. I know what’s going on. And I was speaking to the promoter on a regular basis about security for the concert. I wasn’t taking it lightly by any means.”
Read the rest of Collins’ chat with Hinckley here.