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Feb. 17, 2022

Interview with Eric Krasno

We had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Krasno over Zoom video!

The idea of “losing yourself” may seem negative, but to Grammy-award winning guitarist Eric Krasno, the phrase has a deeper meaning.

Featuring head-nodding handclaps, horns from...

We had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Krasno over Zoom video!

The idea of “losing yourself” may seem negative, but to Grammy-award winning guitarist Eric Krasno, the phrase has a deeper meaning.

Featuring head-nodding handclaps, horns from Jazz Mafia, and a funkified bass line drive, Krasno’s new single “Lost Myself”. Featured on his new solo album, ‘Always’ is filled with songs like “Lost Myself,” which consecrate, commend, and celebrates the permanence of family.

On ‘Always’ – across ten tracks with inimitable instrumentation, eloquent songcraft, and raw honesty – the Soulive and Lettuce co-founder, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and two-time GRAMMY® Award-winning songwriter-producer defines himself as not only an artist, but also as a husband, father, and man. “Lost Myself” follows the release of recent singles like “Silence,” about the emotional havoc that a lack of communication can wreak on the human psyche, and “Alone Together,” about the beauty that can be created between two people in solitude.

Something of a musical journeyman, Krasno’s extensive catalog comprises three solo albums, four Lettuce albums, twelve Soulive albums, and production and/or songwriting for Norah Jones, Robert Randolph, Pretty Lights, Talib Kweli, 50 Cent, Aaron Neville, and Allen Stone. As a dynamic performer, he’s shared stages with Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, and The Roots. Out of seven nominations, he picked up two GRAMMY® Awards for his role as a songwriter and guitarist on Tedeschi Trucks Band’s ‘Revelator’ and guitarist on Derek Trucks Band’s ‘Already Free.’

But as the Global Pandemic changed the world’s plans, he found himself thinking a lot and writing just as much. At the suggestion of old Lettuce bandmate Adam Deitch, he connected with musician and producer Otis McDonald and collaborated on a version of Bob Dylan’s “The Man In Me,” a song that had taken on a deeper significance for Krasno in recent years.

Recording first virtually and then at the Bay Area’s legendary Hyde Street Studios, famous for 2Pac, Grateful Dead, and Digital Underground, Krasno and McDonald tapped into a shared spirit as co-producers, ultimately forming Eric Krasno & The Assembly with Otis on bass, Wil Blades on keys and organ, Curtis Kelly on drums, and James VIII on guitar and vocals.

In the end, Krasno welcomes everyone to be a part of his family on ‘Always

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3 (1m 57s): Hello. It is Adam. Welcome back to bringing it backwards at podcasts we're both legendary and rising artists tell their own personal stories of how they achieved stardom. On this episode, we had a chance to hang out with Eric Krasno of multiple projects. He was in lettuce and so live. He's got a solar thing going he's produced for a number of artists. He's got a couple of Grammy awards set, I believe seven Grammy nominations, but we hear his whole backstory of how he got into music. Started playing bass and guitar. Around 13 years old, went to a guitar camp. We talk about his time at Berkeley and that's where lettuce formed, starting soul live and the longevity of that band and all the milestones that they had accomplished over the years, opening up for the wrong stones to all of Eric's production credits and songwriting credits and all about his new record. 3 (2m 48s): He just released a solo album called always. You can watch the interview with Eric and myself on our Facebook page and YouTube channel at bringing it backwards. It'd be rad if you subscribe to our channel like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and tick-tock at bringing back pod. And if you're listening to this on Spotify or apple music, please hook us up with a follow and a five star review though. It means so much to us. 4 (3m 13s): I appreciate your support. If you follow and subscribe to our podcasts, wherever you listen to pod, 3 (3m 19s): We're bringing it backwards with Eric Krasno. Yeah. So this is about you in your kind of origin story and music. And we'll talk about the new record that comes out tomorrow. 5 (3m 29s): Great, great. Sweet. 3 (3m 31s): I don't know. What's funny is I just interviewed, do you know Brad BARR is? 5 (3m 36s): Yeah, he's a good friend. Yeah. I was 3 (3m 38s): Going to say, I thought so. Cause we were talking and I asked him, he's got a new record out. It's like all guitar driven, just, just him on guitar. Really. And I was asking him, you know, kind of what the milestones were in his career with the slip. And he was like playing in New York city with lettuce. That was like the first thing he said, I was like, oh, that's so funny. 5 (3m 57s): Nice, nice. Yeah. I've known Brad since we were like 13 years old, I think. Oh yeah. Yeah. I met him. I met or maybe 14. It was at this thing called national guitar summer workshop. It was like this, it was like guitar camp is what we called it. And he was like, he was one of the first, like really young guitar players that I met that were, and also his brother came up and like jammed with us. I was like totally amazed by them. Like the brother do and got to play with them a lot over the years, you know, in various formations. And I love his guitar music too. 5 (4m 38s): His first guitar record, he had like, whatever, 10 years, 15 years ago or something I used to, it was actually, it got stuck in my old car. It was the old, but I was like, happy about it. I was like, I used to listen to it constantly. That's so funny. I love Brad what a great guy. And actually when they did like a reunion, the slippery union show a year or two, like right before the pandemic, I think I sat in with them up in San Francisco. 3 (5m 8s): Oh, you did? That's so awesome. Yeah, it was. You just kinda mentioned, he's like, oh, let us blah, blah, blah. And then, and I didn't put it all together until like an hour ago. I'm like, wait a minute. I should have brought this up. So I figured I'd bring it up. Yeah. I just assume that you guys met because you went to Berkeley, right? Yeah, 5 (5m 24s): Yeah. Yeah. Although I don't know if we went there at the same time, but we were friends even way before that, but then there was so many different kind of intertwining connections with him. So like we, we met early on, but then just stayed friends, you know, over the years from so many different connections throughout the years, but yeah, 3 (5m 45s): That's amazing. Well, real quick, where were you born and raised? 5 (5m 49s): I was randomly, I was born in Florida, but I didn't live there at all, but I grew up like in Connecticut, so I was about 13 and then I moved around a lot. I was at, I went to high school in Vermont, in Putney, Vermont. I went to like an kind of a pretty alternative artsy school. And then I spent some time in Boston at Berkeley and then I transferred to Hampshire college, Massachusetts. So I, I would, it's easiest just to say the Northeast other than Boston for awhile. And then pretty much my whole adult life in New York city. I moved there in the end of 99 and was there until 2000, 19, so 20 years. 5 (6m 31s): And then I moved to LA. So I've been in LA since 2019. 3 (6m 36s): Okay. Wow. Well knowing that you, you met Brad at 1300 at this guitar camp, I'm assuming you obviously knew guitar at that point, but what was the first instrument you learned how to play? And 5 (6m 48s): It was actually bass was the first instrument. Like my dad got me a base for Christmas, either 12 or 13. I know. So I, when I went to that guitar camp, I could barely play. My brother was mad, an older brother who was a musician guitarist and piano player and still is. But at that time and he had bands at that time. That was partly why I wanted to play. I wanted to like hang with my older brother's friends and they were jamming in the basement and I wanted to be included, you know? And he went to this guitar camp and my dad kind of just like, was like, will they let you go to time off here? 3 (7m 24s): Both 5 (7m 26s): My parents were divorced. So like my dad was kind of single daddy at the time, which now I totally understand it in a whole different light, but yeah. And I could, I was just learning a few chords at the time, but that summer, and being around Brad and a lot of these other guitarists that were way ahead of me was so good for me. Cause it just kind of like thrust me into it. So that was a really important time for me because like I went from like a few cowboy chords to like actually learning my way around the instrument. 3 (7m 58s): Wow. And from, from there, like getting out of, you know, that summer at this guitar camp, did you go home and now you got some knowledge under your belt. Like, are you starting a band at this point? Are you still knew? 5 (8m 10s): I mean, I was trying to start bands for a very long time and really, and then I went away to school in Vermont and I was practicing a lot playing mostly by myself. And then I went to the summer program at Berkeley, which was when I was 15 going on 16. I turned 16 that summer, I think. And that's where I met Adam Deitch and Adam Smirnoff, all the lettuce guys. And that was a huge turning point for me to see other guys my age that were like as passionate about music. And that were just like so advanced. I mean, I was learning so much from being around them, but it was inspiring to like see other guys cause in my hometown or even at my school, like there was other musicians there, but not that, not guys that were like so obsessed with it the way I was and to meet these guys. 5 (9m 5s): And they were so much further along than me too. And it, it, it, it really kicked me in the butt to like start practicing more. And it also just opened my eyes to so much music that I hadn't necessarily heard, like, and I was into like funk and jazz and things like that, but hadn't like gone down the rabbit hole and it was cool. Cause a lot of it, Ryan Zoidis all the lettuce guys kind of came together that summer and brought different records to like a collective kind of mind. So we, we, I was all into Herbie, Hancock and thrust and in that era of Herbie Hancock, but I was also into like psychedelic music, grateful, dead pink Floyd. 5 (9m 46s): And Adam was like earth, wind and fire. And we were all in a James Brown, but then Ryan Zoidis was brought the tower of power. And so we all had like different things that we, and we would just sit there and listen to music for hours and hours on end and hang out and jam. And they had, it was like a little practice room in the Berkeley dorm there. And we would just spend all night cause like people would sign it out in the daytime, but no one, like after, like we would just go there all night, you know, it was not that wasn't even on the sheet, you know what I mean? So we'd get like the last one and like type then we would just hang in there the whole night. You know, 3 (10m 24s): That's amazing when you went to the Berkeley, the camp before going there, that you said that's when you met the guys, 5 (10m 31s): That's when I met the guys, that's pretty much the time period that I'm, that I'm like speaking up. And then we all, we all decided that we would go there two years later, we were all the same age. I think Adam Smirnoff was like a year older. So he started earlier, but we all were like, okay, we're going to come back. And we're going to form a band when we get here two years later, of course, then I left after a semester and then everyone kind of splintered off. But we all, the funny thing is I, I, the greatest thing about Berkeley for me, it was just the connection to this day. I mean, I only took a handful of classes there, but it was really about the connections that I got to make there. 5 (11m 11s): And the people like I'm still working with so many of the people that I met in that short time period. 3 (11m 17s): Yeah. That's, what's amazing about hearing stories from that school because once you kind of get your, you know, get your crew of people around you and get your band and your garden going and having some success, it's like, isn't that the whole like end goal of graduating from there anyway. Yeah. 5 (11m 34s): Yeah. You sent me not that many people graduate. It's pretty, it's kinda rare that people go for years there, but you know, it's not necessarily about that. I mean it music, you know how it, unless you're, unless you're setting out to be a educator and educator, which is also an amazing path, you know, there's, I'm not, there's no knock in that, but if you're, if you're trying to be a performer or a songwriter or whatever you want to, you know, and artists, the people aren't really asking you to show your degree when you get to the studio or, you know, so it's really, it's really about the connections. And, you know, it was a different time period too. Like it's so interesting going back, I've gone back and done some master classes there and stuff. 5 (12m 16s): And you know, when I was there, you had to wait in line and to sign up, to get into the studio. And there was like this huge list and you and Mo was prioritized for the recording majors. Cause I always wanted to learn about production and recording. You know, that was the thing. And now, you know, like laptops are everywhere and recording devices, there's a million studios and most people are honestly recording in their rooms or in wherever. So it's a different world there now. And it's exciting, man. I went and did like some, some really cool stuff there and all the students are so advanced when they're recording and they're producing, I did the same thing at university of Miami and I was just blown away, you know, cause we, we were playing with each other, but we didn't have the ability to like make records in our room. 5 (13m 6s): You know what I mean? And then you have all these musicians like living in the same hall and they're all collaborating and recording and mixing over here and adding, this is such an interesting evolution, how people are creating music now. It's crazy. 3 (13m 20s): Yeah. I like you said, if you have a laptop and like a USB mic, you can kind of put something to, 5 (13m 27s): You can make great records like that now. Really? 3 (13m 30s): Yeah. It's mind-blowing, especially with the pandemic happening, everyone was like, okay, I gotta go grab a set-up or grab a few things and kind of go that way. So 5 (13m 39s): Yeah, I'm I certainly changed my whole setup during that time. I mean, the re the new record that that is coming out right now was, was all made during the pandemic. Pretty much mostly, you know, I worked with Otis McDonald, the producer, and we did it 90% of it remote, where I worked in my studio and he worked in his studio and we just sent everything back and forth. And then eventually started using this program pedal where we would do it simultaneously and be able to see each other and record in both of our environments, which was also cool. Cause, you know, I have all my pedals, my guitars, my preamps, everything, how I want it. He has his drum sounds and all that stuff dialed. 5 (14m 22s): So it was like, Better than going to a studio because we had our own really comfortable setups, you know, and I could sit in my pajamas and do the vocals like, you know, and so it was actually such a cool way to record in this real weird silver lining because I wouldn't have done it that way, but we found a really cool rhythm in, in working and we're both engineers. 5 (15m 17s): So like, we didn't need to, like, we didn't need anyone else. You know what I mean? So we, the two of us made this entire record remotely and then he mixed it and mastered it, you know? And I, I could sit here in my studio, on my speakers and while he's mixing and mastering it and I could see him and move the faders, if I wanted to and be like, Hey, what about this? What about it was incredible. I could not have imagined making records that way even 10 years ago, but definitely not 20. Yeah. 3 (15m 45s): Wow. Yeah, because back then you had to know the big boards and all the big equipment. I mean, you still probably do if you're recording in like a major studio, but like the fact that you can record a whole record in your house and do it over essentially over a computer like this. 5 (16m 0s): Yeah. And you know, in a lot of this emulation stuff like universal audio and they're like doing it so well that, you know, cause back in the day it was hard to access like a need console or an SSL console to actually get time working on them was, was hard to come by. Now you can have these plugins that are really kind of amazing and you can sit here and tweak it forever. You know what I mean at your house? I think there's good and bad too. I was just talking to someone about that, that like in certain cases, having too many options can have you like scratching your head and, and can kind of like keep you from the goal. But, but I think if you're using it the right way, it's amazing. 3 (16m 40s): I would imagine it could get to the point where you're because you have time right now in your head, especially during the pandemic, you have time and if you have the plugins and you know what you're doing, you can almost, do you ever find yourself like over-producing or like having to go back and be like, okay, let's just hear this from, to getting in and take all these things 5 (16m 59s): I have gone through that. I think what was nice about working with Otis on this record was I, it freed me up to just be a little bit more about the performance and less about the technical stuff. And then when we would start doing the more like my new technical stuff, it's nice to, it was nice to like work with another person, especially someone like him, who I love his years, you know? Cause we get, we got through things a little quicker, I think, than like I've done stuff. My last project, I did a prep project called telescope and it was just me and another producer, but I would do a lot of tweaking just sitting here, you know, there was a nice like me, Joe and I Otis and I would like set up sessions, like go on pedal at 2:00 PM tomorrow. 5 (17m 45s): And we'll, we'll like just knock it out, this mix, you know? And we, we had a nice flow that kind of like if we spent too much time on one thing, we would like nudge each other, like, okay, we're good. Let's not too far. So I think we had a good, yes, I've been through that. But I think with this record also we both were of the mindset. Like let's get good sounds as we're recording and not rely too much on like plugins after the fact. So we both were like in that mindset, a lot of my guitar sounds that you hear on the record or just what I recorded. I didn't like add a lot of plugins. So the guitars, he did some stuff with the mixing and EQs, but it wasn't, we, we both are, are pretty particular about how our stuff sounds as it's happening. 5 (18m 37s): And I think that's something that has, has helped, you know, as, as the technology has gotten better, you know, your home recording can sound really good on like the front end, you know, whereas like in the early days of digital recording, there was, I felt like I had to tweak everything so much to sound warmer, you know, or to sound better. So I think that's like something that I've learned over time too from producing other artists is like, make it sound right when you're making it. Don't, don't say we'll fix it in the mix. Cause that, that never works. 3 (19m 13s): And even finding the sound of what you want it to sound like on your amp going instead of being like, okay, I'm going to record this in and then we're going to go find the plugin that we want. And then you're probably almost spending more time trying to test and screw around that way then doing exactly what you don't want to do going in. 5 (19m 31s): Yeah. And you'll get lost in it at that point. I mean, the other thing is that getting the right sound as you're creating inspires the performance to be better obviously. And I think, you know, that's something that people think about more so in the live setting, but like, it's like, you know, getting it, if my guitar sounds right in my hand and my, my headphones sound right or in a perfect world, I don't even have headphones on it. It's I'm going to play so much better and I'm going to sing better, you know, 3 (20m 3s): T to rewind here just a little bit, I'm curious with going to Berkeley, and you said you, you were out after, what one semester was that when lettuce started to like really kind of take off or like, or was that the, 5 (20m 18s): No, we were like playing gigs in like basements and dorms and occasional like clubs opening for people. But then when then I went to Hampshire college, cause that was my freshman year. So then I went to Hampshire, but we, and it was only two hours away from Boston. So I would book shows for lettuce out there at Hampshire college. And we would play at the college and the local club that way. So it was only, and then sometimes in Boston, but, and then, you know, by the end of college, the guys in the band all got other gigs, like Ryan was in a band called rustic overtones. Adam dive started playing drums with average white band actually, which was crazy because they were our heroes. 5 (20m 58s): And then, yeah. And then soul I've formed the ant my senior year of college. So then soul live really is what took off and we got signed and toured the world opened for the stones. And like, I mean, it's a whole crazy, that's a whole story in itself. But then years after that, it was like, Hey, let's get lettuce back together. You know, or really during that I'd say was, we we'd play a gig here, a gig there when I was off the road and then we'd open for solo live on certain occasions. And then eventually, you know, fast forward way later than other guys, the other guys in lettuce, you know, died shit then became the drummer for Schofield who was a friend of soul life, you know? 5 (21m 46s): And then he ended up sitting here with lettuce that I love this drummer. And then our guitarist Schmidt, Adam Smirnoff ended up on tour with Robert Randolph, this like the two thousands. Cause we were all friends, you know? And then 3 (22m 1s): I had a chance to chat with him before. 5 (22m 3s): Yeah. Yeah. I love right. I mean, Rob, I mean, I played on all of his, a lot of his early stuff and yeah, I wrote for him and wrote records songs for him. And, but you know, when lettuce around 2012 or 13, the other guys were kind of like, Hey, we want to make this our main thing. And at that point I was doing so live and I was producing a lot more at that time. And then I was also doing stuff with Tedeschi trucks, band when I wasn't with soul alive. So I was that I kind of bowed out from the touring side cause they were all like, Hey, we want to make this like our job and let all of our little, our sideman gangs go. 5 (22m 43s): So when they made that decision, I was like, Hey, you know, I'm not ready to like do 150 shows with lettuce, with all the other things I'm doing. So you, you, I love you. And they were still best friends, but they started. So they went on touring without me at that point. And I still play with them on occasion, but I'm not part of the, like a touring entity anymore. Got it. 3 (23m 8s): Okay. Well, so, okay. So, so lives started and that's obviously what really took off and what I've, what I've seen is like that the record was just kind of the first one, right? Was that just like out of a jam session? 5 (23m 21s): The, the sulfur soul I record. Yeah. Well, there's an EAP called get down, which was our first time ever getting together. It was like, we actually, I actually like showed up and they had a recording rig. We were like rehearsing these tunes and we recorded it. And you know, back in those days it was like, let's make a demo CD, you know, and then that CD kind of became an album, but it, and then we eventually used that we got our actually we made another record called turn it out, which was a LP. Oh yeah. Turn it out was a little later. That was maybe like six months later. We're not some of the same songs. I think some of the things that are for sure. 5 (24m 2s): And then we got signed to blue note shortly after that. And then all the next few albums were with blue note records and capital. And then we signed with Concord and did a few like stacks conquered and we did a couple of records there. And then we started our own label in like 2008 or nine. And then we put out a handful of records in, 3 (24m 27s): You've put a bunch of records with so alive, wait, like 12 albums or something. 5 (24m 31s): Yeah. I think it's yeah. 12 or 13, maybe a wow. 3 (24m 35s): Well it's finding the Bluenote was that, I mean, obviously a huge moment because they're a part of a major 5 (24m 47s): That was like, the dream is like, that was like the, that was like the end goal, you know, was like, if we can get signed up. Got it. That's it. You know, and at that time there was a lot of cool stuff going on. There was a cool scene with blue note and we did a lot of blue note tours, you know, cause like Midecky Martin and wood was Bluenote and Scofield was verb. And I think he was, he had done Bluenote too. And Charlie hunter and Carl Denson. And there was like a whole like scene of people on blue note. And we just loved the people there. Like it was a great, that was a great time period. And Nora Jones had just signed with them and she was a friend of ours and there was just like, and there was like money in the record business, you know what a world advances and you sold records and you actually like made money from records and from touring, you know, and then that drastically changed. 5 (25m 42s): But yeah, I mean for an instrumental band to get support like that, like I think about that nowadays and it's like, it's so different. And there was a lot of, I don't know if we valued it as much as I would now, you know, of course we spent a lot of money to make records, which now I kind of laugh at like thinking about how much we spent to make the doing something album. It was like insane. You know, how we were spending so much on studios and thousands of dollars, hundreds of our advance, our budgets were so crazy. Now people make records for like one day. The one, like what we spent on one day of that record would make like two albums, you know? 5 (26m 27s): Yeah, it's crazy. But we also sold a lot of records and you know, we had tourists. I mean, it was crazy. We were going to, we were going all over the world and it was a beautiful thing. You know, we had a huge following in Japan as a result, which was just kind of crazy timing. I try to think about that now, because now like you, you, you battle it out on the road and slowly try to build your following. Where we, first time we ever went to Japan, we were selling thousands of tickets, which was like, which I don't even know if that could happen again. I mean, with the, for pop artists, it's different, but for like a technically like an instrumental funk trio, you know, we kind of like hit at a certain time period. 5 (27m 10s): And so, and it was a beautiful thing, you know, we had so much fun and in, but it was strange because we would do that. Then we come back to the states and we'd be playing like, you know, bars, you know, and, and carrying our own gear again and back in the van. So it was like this weird, like dream, you know, we'd come back. We'd be like, wait a second. Okay. No, now we're like New Hampshire at a bar, but yeah. I mean, we had a very interesting career in that way. Cause like, like 2002, for example, we opened for the rolling stones and we would play like these arenas with them one night. And then the next day we, the next day we'd be at like the Irish pub, you know, Lexington, you know, the next day we'd be like in New York playing or headlining Irving Plaza. 5 (27m 57s): We had our, our like day to day was so unique because it was like, we can be playing a jazz club one day or an arena the next day and a jam band festival the next day. So it was an interesting time for sure. 3 (28m 14s): Yeah. Well, and then w a month was that like your full gig for a number of years. Okay. And then you started what writing for other people. I'm kind of branching out of that at one point. 5 (28m 26s): Yeah. Well, I guess I should say that like at the end, my book, right before soul alive, formed, and lettuce was like kind of falling apart. That's when I started really Kind of focusing on production. 5 (30m 8s): And like, I kind of like hack went into a mind frame of like, I want to be a producer. I'd always played a little bit, everything, bass guitar, a little bit of keys. I was an engineer. I knew how to eat. So I was like, oh, maybe this is for me. At the time I lived with a guy named Jeff Bhasker. Who's like a very, very successful producer now, but we had a little studio in our house and we were like doing our little productions and R and B and hip hop. And so it was kind of a parallel existence to soul live. Like while Sola was happening. I was also doing that. And like me and Adam Deitch had a production partnership and we're selling beats to people. 5 (30m 48s): Like we started like some of the early stuff with Todd had quality. And we eventually like got to do some G unit and 50 cent when he was really popping and records for exhibit and did a remix for Snoop Dogg. And we were working with Interscope on a lot of stuff. But at that point they were very different worlds. Like, like they like soul live existed here. And then the, my producer world, there was, there was no Instagram. You couldn't like, look me up and like, know that. So a lot of like the producer world, they didn't know I was in a band, you know? So like sometimes there'd be sessions and I'd have to be like, oh, I've got to, I'm leaving. And they're like, what are you doing? I'm out, I'm in a band we're touring. They're like what? You know, it was like very different, very different worlds. 5 (31m 32s): And sometimes they would collide, but it was, it was a different time. I think, I feel like now there's like being diverse and you, because of the social media you get, you can like see into someone's world and you can kinda like, get it back then. There were, it was, it was a little different. So it was hard for me to maintain the two, but eventually I kind of slowed. So like we slowed down the soul live like around 2008 maybe. And I started like doing more, focusing more on production. And, but at that time, the record industry started to completely die. 5 (32m 12s): So it's like all the like, like cool placements we got in the early two thousands that like, you know, paid us really well. And I was like, oh man, if I just like, keep doing that and really focus on that, I'll be in great shape. But then like 2008, 2009, all the, the record advances and the labels went away. So that was when it was like, okay, let's form our own label. And I started getting more into songwriting and then eventually it was like, maybe, maybe I just need to make my own records. You know what I mean? And do it myself. But during that time, I also started my own label. I signed partnered with Sony and with Roundhill music started a label, signed the band, London souls, Nigel hall, put out a solo record, put out a few other projects. 5 (33m 6s): So I did my hand at that. But again, the record industry at that time was so hard to navigate and to run a label was, was tough. So, you know, all of that to say that like, by 2012, I decided to just really, cause I had been doing all this writing and producer driven people and I was like, you know what? I just might as well start singing myself, you know? So I was like, oh, I was writing 3 (33m 31s): The first time you sang was really was in to that starting in 2012. 5 (33m 34s): Yeah. I mean, I would write, I wrote a lot of the songs, like when soul I've had singers, I would write the songs, you know, or I would co-write the songs depending, you know, and lyrically, I mean, musically was collaborative, but, and then I still like a lot of the Niger songs in the Nigel's record are songs. I demoed myself, but he was such a great singer. I was like, man, you should just sing these. And then when I made my record blood from a stone, my initial concept was like, I was writing all these songs, but I'd also, you know, maybe I could get all these different singers to be on my record. So like I went in and demo it, all the songs and the guy that I was writing with the time Dave gutter was like, Hey man, you should just sing these and why are we waiting around for other singers? 5 (34m 19s): Just, just finish this record. Like, and so I did, but then it was like, okay, I got to go out and tour and really learn how to sing, you know? Cause I had always just so then that was a process, you know, and over those next few years, I really like tried to hone it in. And, and also in that process of like going out and touring as, as with my band started figuring out like what I wanted to sing and, you know, cause when you're producing other people, it's like, you can kind of go on into all these different worlds and I love that about producing, but then when you're kind of trying to be an artist, there's a, it's a different, different thing. You know, you have to sing the songs every night and you have to like own it. 5 (35m 1s): So I think I figured that out over time or started figuring it out, which kind of evolved into what I'm doing now with the new record and with my new band. And so yeah, I mean, it's been a crazy process to get here, but I I'm thankful for like every piece of it. I mean, cause it's helped inform all, all that I'm doing now. 3 (35m 28s): Yeah. I'm curious to know about the, you know, singing for the, like when you just said, okay, I'm just going to sing the songs now. Were you nervous at all? Or where did it all like cut? Like you've been in this industry for a long time. You had a lot of credit and you've done all these things. Like w w did you have any nervousness of somebody being like, oh, what do you sing that like, I, I mean, was it, 5 (35m 53s): I w I was like catatonic. Yeah. I mean, you can't even describe it as well. The thing was like being in the studio, I was comfortable. It was really when I had to go out and do it live, I was like, holy shit, do I like, am I going to really do this? The other thing was in the studio, I was also like just doing it in whatever key felt right on guitar. Cause you know, I didn't know that I was going to be the singer. So like, if you listen to blood from the stone, I'm like really stretching outside of my vibe. And like, because I didn't know what my vibe was, you know? And so I think with this new record, it's like, oh, okay, there, here's my zone. You know, this is where, well, this is where I can live. 5 (36m 34s): And like have a, in have character that's unique to me instead of me trying to do something else. So I, it, you know, I still love that record cause I think there's great songs and I think there's great music. I, I don't know if the singing performance is where I'd want it to be if I could do it again, but there w I wouldn't have been there. It wouldn't have, the evolution wouldn't have happened without that record. So, but yes, to answer your question so nervous and I still am, I'm more confident now. And my band now, everybody sings great, which is such a cool thing. And I've always been really into harmonies, you know, whether it's like, like starting out with like vocal harmonies, but also like guitar, like multiple people, harmony, not just chords, like, like two guitars when two guitarists harmonized, I love that. 5 (37m 27s): Cause like the different vibratos and the way they blend famous, you know, obviously rooted in vocals, you know, like I grew up around so much like Crosby stills and Nash and temptations and you know, like across the map harmony. So my new band, the assembly, it's like everybody's saying, and it's really a theme to the, to the band is like just vocals are like everything. 3 (37m 55s): Wow. That's, that's, that's interesting. Cause you said like you didn't even start really singing until 2012 and now you're, it's kind of the, the, the focal point of, 5 (38m 6s): Yeah. I mean, I still play a lot of guitar, So I should, I shouldn't say that it's all singing, but it's, it's, you know, that when this singing happens, it's very full, you know, and I, they, maybe that is because I've, I'm still like, not as confident as I would be with my own voice, but it's also just cause like I have such great singers in my band. I want to hear them sing all the time. 3 (38m 32s): When did you start working on this record? Was it, I mean, talked about mixing and doing everything kind of over zoom. So, or you use pedal I think is what you said, but when did this, did this all begin when the pandemic started? Or like where were you when that happened and how that affect your career? Obviously? 5 (38m 50s): Well, basically when lockdown happened, I started being like, okay, I'm sitting in the studio, I'm started kind of pulling up a, some of my old songs that I'd never finished and started writing down, like, okay, what would I want to do for my next record? I thought about making an acoustic record and you know, it was just jotting down ideas. And during that, I'm basically met Otis McDonald. Who's the producer on my record and kind of my co-pilot on the project. And we met on like Instagram through will blades. Who's now my keyboard player and Adam D there was a few of my friends, Adam Deitch, too, who were accepted in, Hey, you got to check this guy out. 5 (39m 33s): He he's a producer. He make beats, he sings he's plays all these instruments. You guys are like kindred spirits, you know? So initially it was like, you guys would just be friends, you know? And we started and we were instantly, it was like kind of weird because there were so many parallels in our universes. And the biggest one at the moment being that my, my wife was pregnant with a boy and he had a one-year old boy. So like, it was a lot of our conversations were like, okay, you know, about fatherhood or studio life and musician, life and touring versus studio. And you know, all the things we had so much in common. And then we, and also, I, he, I just loved what he was doing with his production and his video stuff. 5 (40m 17s): So I just was asking him a lot of questions. Hey, talk me through this. And he showed me a lot of cool technical stuff. And then in that process, he was like, Hey, I'm doing this compilation for a charity. I'd love to work with you on a song. And I was like, oh, great. Any ideas? And he was like, well, we're doing covers mostly, but whatever you want. And I was just kind of put down a demo of this Bob Dylan tune, man, and me and I sent him like, just like a click track with acoustic guitar and a vocal. And he sent me back this like amazing production with drums and keys and background vocals. And it just sounded unbelievable. So you did that with what I sent you. 5 (40m 57s): And I was like, this is amazing. Let's finish it. So I added my guitar, added some more vocals, we finished it. And then I was like, Hey man, what about doing more stuff this way? Like, this is easy. I'm in my studio, you're in yours. Neither of us have shit to do. My chores are all canceled. So I sent him, the next song was the song called silence. And he did this, crushed it with that one. And then we started being just, it evolved, like not just the music, but also our, the process, you know, like, how are we going to do this? And well, first it was like, and then it was paddle where I could hear it on my speakers and we could send audio back and forth and we could communicate at the same time and that we just caught, caught in this flow. 5 (41m 46s): That was awesome. You know? And it still sounded really live. You know, it didn't sound like we were sitting on a laptop and I was like, okay, this is the next album. You know, it was originally like, oh, let's do a couple of tracks. And then it was like, no, this is, this is an album. So from there, you know, also he introduced me to Curtis Kelly, who was a drummer and producer that lives here who was kind of like his protege of sorts. And then I we've been working with an artist that I've been producing and working with James the eighth. And they're both like in their twenties and like just amazing people and great musicians. And then will, the keyboard player was kind of the connection between us two. 5 (42m 30s): So when we started like theorizing about how to play it live, the band was just like obvious. You know, Curtis Curtis lives down the street from me and you got in link with him. He loves soul. I've got a da, you know, he loves your stuff. He's a great singer. And James, I knew James, but James and Curtis didn't know each other, which is funny because now they're best friends and make music together, like every day. So, so like our little crew came together in this really cool, like natural way. And I just decided to call it the assembly. Our first gig ever was playing red rocks, which was like, oh, my amazing opportunity. 5 (43m 11s): My friends were like headlining red rocks. They were like, Hey man, come out and support with the new band. And they in a, so we got to do like 75 minutes set in a facade, out red rock for our first gig, which was, which was epic. It's on YouTube. You can check it out. But yeah. So that was like how we kicked it off. And then, you know, the album now is finally coming out and we're like hitting the road hard. We have a full, full us tour. It starts in February. Yeah. It's coming up in like a couple of weeks. I looked for a couple of weeks as our first leg of the tour. We start out in Colorado, we do all of California. And then the east coast story is like, may we started out in new Orleans there in jazz Fest and work our way up to New York city and Maine and Vermont. 5 (44m 2s): So yeah, we're like while also we're co co headlining with sun little who's was like a really great artist and friend of mine. So it's going to be a really fun few months, you know, it's, it's a crazy time to be touring. Right. But it was one of those things. Where would you, I just don't know what, you know, the album's coming out. 5 (46m 29s): We just got to push through and, and do it. And we're going to do it as safe as we can. And hopefully people won't be like scared to come out and buy tickets and all that. 3 (46m 40s): I mean, there's so many huge shows happening. Like, I mean, big tours. I think people are hopefully more apt to like go out and do stuff now. 5 (46m 49s): Yeah. I, I hope so. We're, we're excited to, to get out and play. I know that, 3 (46m 55s): I mean, aside from that red rock show, have you done any sort of touring at all? Since the, 5 (46m 60s): I wouldn't, I wouldn't call it touring, but we did a, like a festival called Halloween it's out in Florida. And then what else would we do? I feel like we've done like two or three festivals. And then we did like one club gig in Denver, like the night after red rocks. And then I've been doing some various other things I did, like, I have like an Oregon trio thing that I did at the blue note with Eric, Calvin, Eric Finland. And then I also musical director for like a few events that we do every year. I just did this one in new Orleans called the tipping point that I put it's a yearly fundraiser for two lane. 5 (47m 40s): So I put the band together and then we book the artists. We have like trombone shorty and Jackie green and Marcus king, and a bunch of great artists do that with us every year. And then I'm a part of the love rocks band, which is a similar type of event happens at beacon theater every year. And you know, we've had like Robert plant and the Keith Richards and Nora Jones and all these great artists join us. And the house band is like epic. It's Steve Gadd, Willie Sean Pelton, Paul Shaffer. So it's, I get to play. Those are like my really fun, big shows that I get to do every year when I'm not like, you know, trudging it out on the road with my band. 3 (48m 26s): Are you still producing for other people? 5 (48m 29s): People still doing, still doing a lot of production. It's been a little different with the pandemic in terms of like who and how and all that. But I produced a few things for an artist named Andy Frasco. Who's like blowing up right now and he's just like such a great guy. I produced some songs for mark Broussard's new project with that just came. It's like just coming out. I'm trying to think I'm producing James his record, which is not Abbott. We're putting a single out soon, but yeah, honestly, mostly focusing on my stuff. And then I also started a podcast of my own. Yeah. 3 (49m 6s): I was gonna 5 (49m 7s): Talk to you about that during the pandemic. So that like was another thing that I spent a lot of time on during lockdown and was just like a concept I'd wanted to develop for a long time. It was, I used to have a radio show, like every once in a while on a, on a serious exam. Oh, really? 3 (49m 28s): I've come from radio. That's how I got to doing this too. Yeah. 5 (49m 32s): So the thing with XM was that I would come on and it was mainly for playing music and like, I would create a playlist and then I would do interviews, but it wasn't a talk radio format. So it was like the, my interviews we'd like, get like how I'm rambling right now. Like, I'd get the artists just talking and then we'd have to slice it down to these tiny little things. So I always like these little 3 (49m 57s): Digestible 5 (49m 59s): And I had all the, I had like Derek trucks call in and pretty lights and Warren Haynes and Rob Miranda. I had all these cool guests, but like, it wasn't satisfying to have like 90 seconds at a time. Right. So, so anyway, I always was like, and then I guess at that time, podcasts were like just kind of a, a thing, at least in my world. And then so initially the concept was like, I was going to do like a show that was filmed. And the few that I did was right before the pandemic and I had Marcus king son, little guy named Mac airs and we, we filmed it did perform together and then talk, you know, but that format, once the pandemic hit, it was like, oh, well, people can't really come to your house and can't travel. 5 (50m 49s): So at first I was like, oh, well that's sucks. But then I was like, well, there's this thing called zoom, which was like new at the time. So I was like, okay, well, what if I, and then it dawned on me, wow. The heat, the list, the wishlist of artists that I had created in my mind, we're all sitting at home. You know what I mean? Like I, they, none of them were touring. So like the first like five or six episodes, I got like Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Questlove, and all these great people that, that you know, that I'm friends with, but would have been hard to get to do any other time that time. So I kind of just ran with it from there. And then as time went on, I just like, kind of just called all of my music friends and say, Hey, you want to do this? 5 (51m 33s): Let's talk about, you know, and then now all of a sudden it's like publicists and managers are like hitting us up to do it. It became a whole other beast, but I really it's really, it was just something for fun. That's all it ever was intended for. But yeah, I'm kind of taking a break from it right now. Cause I'm going on tour, but we're going to do season two, like season one, it was funny. Cause I didn't even know what I was doing. So I, we did 77 episodes cause I just kept going and going and going. And then I was like, wait, I need a break. So season two, won't be 77 episodes, but there's a break happening. 5 (52m 16s): I'm actually gonna do an episode. That's kind of with my producer Otis McDonald, that'll be based on the album and also on his project. But so we're doing that. But other than that, we're going to take a little break and I'm going to like reconvene probably like spring or summer and do some more episodes. 3 (52m 34s): That's cool. Yeah. That's, that's funny to hearing your story about podcasting because I've, that's kinda similar to how mine ended up overtaking. Cause I did, like I said, I did radio for 15 years. I was on stations in San Francisco and San Diego. And I was, I actually bef we started this at the end of 2018 and podcasting was kind of a thing and they were kind of talking about it and I pitched an idea to my program director and he kinda told me like, eh that's too. Like you basically told me like, no, that's not that that idea makes too much sense for the radio station. So we're not going to do it as like, oh, okay, well I want it then can you sign this piece of paper saying I own it. And they're like, yeah, sure. And then that the pandemic happens and like, no one's driving on their cars and the radio stations are tanking because no one's putting money into the advertising. 3 (53m 22s): And I'm just getting all these people that are sitting around, like you just said, are willing to talk to me. So I'm like, oh, well I'm going to do this instead. 5 (53m 29s): Yeah. That's great. I mean, and I love it. I mean, and now I'm now on the other side doing a lot of podcasts like this week and doing stuff for the record. And it's like, I, you know, I enjoy talking about music. I would do this regardless. You know what I mean? So I, I appreciate, I love podcast format and I listened to tons of podcasts. That's like, you know, it's like kind of how I got into the idea was, I think I discovered like the mark Marin podcast, which had been going on for years before I even found it. And then I, so like, I would just, just going back to a lot of old episodes and checking out, 3 (54m 8s): And a lot of the comedians kind of started it early, early, early on. And then it kind of evolved at that point. But yeah, though for our early ones, I listened to it. Yeah. We're all comedian based. Right. Like mark Marin, or trying to think of some other ones, but like, yeah. It was mainly just comedians that were doing it. Yeah. Yeah. But that's awesome. And I that's, I want, yeah, I wanted to talk to you about that podcasts. I think that's so rad. I was looking at some of the episodes that you did early on and that's cool that you can continue with that. 5 (54m 39s): Yeah. It's fun. It's like, it got a little overwhelming for a minute. And then I was because it was like, okay, I gotta do this every week, but you know, now, now I'm kinda just doing it as it comes and you know, we'll release it a little bit later, but yeah, w I mean, during the pandemic, it was great because it also, it was just like a chance to like catch up with, with friends. Cause it was like a reason to like talk to a bunch of friends and stuff. Because at that time we were all locked in our houses and it was like, and also I got to, you know, I had known a lot of these artists, but not necessarily been able to, or had the forum to be like, okay, tell me about like your first guitar or this or that, or working with miles Davis. 5 (55m 25s): Like John Scofield. I got to ask them all the like fanboy questions that I was like too nervous to ask, you know, when we were like, we're going together. So I got to like Norton nerd out and be a fan boy. Cause that's really, you know, every musician is a super fan. That's like why we get into it. So you get to talk to your heroes? 3 (55m 50s): Yes, definitely. Definitely. Are you bringing your one-year-old on the road with you or two to, 5 (55m 55s): He has come out for some stuff. Like he came out to actually, he was at the red rock show and he came out to the, the gig in Florida when we played the outdoor Fest. So he's hung out a little bit and he came to Hawaii. We just played, I did the gig in Hawaii and he came and like hung out for a bunch of music there. He loves music. He's like all about it. He plans, he's got his little drum kit put in a piano and he plays it all day long. 3 (56m 23s): That's that is awesome. That's those are two things that I've my son was attracted to as well during the pandemic. I'm like, we're going to get you an electric drum set. So we don't destroy the neighbor's ear. We have a keyboard that I need to get him lessons on the keyboard. He has a drummer drum teacher now that we're here in Nashville, which is awesome, but I haven't found a piano teacher willing to take on a five-year-old yet. So 5 (56m 46s): Yeah, looking into that for 3 (56m 49s): Sure. Well, Eric, thank you so much, man, for, for hanging out with me. I appreciate it. Yeah. I have one more quick question. I want to know if you have any advice for aspiring artists. 5 (57m 2s): You know, I think that the combination of like really hard work and real like honesty is what are like the two most important ingredients, you know? And I also think like that there's no right way to do it. So like as long as you're working really hard at your craft, try not to compare yourself to anyone, anyone else? I think one of the things that happens in the current landscape with like social media is that comparison can turn people away from being an artist. 5 (57m 44s): You know what I mean? Like, oh, this guy's too good, so good. I'll never be that. But you know, some of my favorite artists aren't like technically necessarily good. They're just true, you know, and real. So I think that in the modern age, it's all about real, you know, it's all about it and people know what's real. So it's, you know, I don't, it doesn't need to be polished. It just needs to be great. And you know, and great. Doesn't great. Just means you've put work into it. Put