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Home Interviews/Concerts Interviews ERIC MCFADDEN : "I need to play. It's medicine...it's church" (interview, 2009)

ERIC MCFADDEN : "I need to play. It's medicine...it's church" (interview, 2009)

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Eric McFadden

Stoner, rock, (voodoo-)blues, funk, gypsy... Guitarist, singer and songwriter Eric McFadden's shows various sides according to his numeros projects and works, sometimes with no less than great figures such as Eric Burdon, George Clinton or Joe Strummer. Delicate Thing, released early in 2009 with the Eric McFadden Trio, demonstrates his heaviest side. Interview with a genuine and unpredictable artiste.

POIN-POIN - To start with, the routine questions : when and how did you decide to play the guitar / sing ? Who are your major influences ? (etc.)
ERIC MCFADDEN -  I began to play guitar around the age of 10 or 11 years of age. My 5th grade school teacher taught me a song by The Beatles and then my father showed me a few things. My parents had a rather diverse record collection, so I would spend a lot of time listening to records as a kid. Some of my earlier influences include, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, John Lee Hooker, Jimi Hendrix, Beethoven, Paco DeLucia, The Clash, etc. Later I listened to Tom Waits, Django Riehndhardt, Mahuvisnu, John McLaughlin, Funkadelic, Bad Brains, Sly Stone, Miles Davis, Hank Williams, Mr Bungle, The Gerraldine Fibbers, Nick Cave, Pixies, The Residents, Nels Cline, Johnny Cash, The Minutemen, PJ Harvey, etc. There is a lot of good music available if you are willing to search for it. Though, most of it cannot be found through mainstream channels, it seems.

Eric McFadden Trio - Delicate ThingFor an absolute beginner in the colorfull world of Eric McFadden, would you agree to describe the Eric McFadden Trio as a kind of encounter between Faith No More, Queens of The Stone Age and Living Colour ?
Well, I do enjoy and respect the formentioned bands and could find certain similarities between their appraoch and mine, I'm sure. Though I do believe we sound distinctly different from those bands. It would be fair to say that fans of Queens of the Stone Age or Faith no more might like EMT as much as would fans of The Clash, Hendrix or Black Sabbath might, but we don't really sound like any of those bands. Though we have been influenced by plethra of different musicians over the years, I suppose the objective is to ultimetly find your own sound, find your own expression. That is a never ending road...and that's a good thing.

What’s the state of mind behind the EMT ? I guess you don’t just consider it as your heaviest side, compared to your solo works.
EMT is my power Trio and allows me to rock. I need to rock, though I love ballads and symphonies as well. However, you will still hear a pretty wide range of influence in EMT's sound. You will hear some blues, gypsy, punk or classical in there, perhaps. I don't believe in limiting myself in those ways. I just want to have a good time.

Do you write specifically for the EMT or do you chose for which projet you will use a song once it is written ?
I just write songs and think about where they are going to live when the time comes.

A few words about James Whiton and Jeff Cohen, whom my loud-speakers will remember for a long time...
Eric McFadden Trio
James Whiton is a bass phenomenon. We met in Albuquerque, New Mexico. One day I was playing a show in Seattle and James had seen a poster for the show. He contacted me and I asked him to come and do the gig with me. That was about 7 years ago and we are still doing it. One of the great things about James is that no mater what I come up with, he can do it. He is also a rather creative force on his own.
I have known Jeff Cohen even longer. He played with my old band, Angry Babies for a while. We have been good friends, but in and out of touch over the years. He is an Animal on the drums. He did a great job on the latest record.
My other very good friend, Paulo Baldi, who played drums on our previous release, Joy of Suffering, plays on a couple tracks on the new record as well. Paulo has also been touring with Cake and Les Claypool over the last several years. Bernie Worrell (P-Funk, Talking heads) and Mike Watt (Minutemen, Stooges) also appear on the new record. Extraordinary people and musicians.

You worked / recorded / toured with a lot of artists. Why not concentrate more on your own music ?
I do prefer to spend my time concentrating on my own music, but I also enjoy playing with other people. and sometimes that leads to other discoveries or opportunities. Plus, I have to eat, and playing my own music doesn't always pay the bills.

Don’t you fear that taking part in so many works multiplies the opportunity to be exposed to the public but, at the same time, makes it hard to know who is Eric McFadden : is he the solo artist from the moving Let’s Die Forever... Together ? A kind of mercenary ready to play each time he’s got an opportunity ? The "inventor of the voodoo-blues", as said in a press bio ? A clown ? An alien ?
Eric Burdon - Eric McFadden
I am a musician, performer and a songwriter among other things, but certainly not a mercenary. I don't follow any strict or limiting criteria or doctrine which dictates that I must only pursue certain musical avenues. I do that which compels me. I enjoy playing with a variety of different musicians and exploring various types of music and experimenting with different ways fusing these styles together. Playing with George Clinton & P-Funk or Eric Burdon [see photo - copyright Mary G Photography] for example, where great learning experiences. You don't learn anything by not taking chances and not trying new things. Perhaps it is detrimental to my career that I have numerous projects of such varying styles, but for better or for worse I have to be true to myself. I am everything and anything you want me to be. All or none of the above. But, I need to play. It's medicine...it's church.

To which extent do you think this various collaborations fuels your solo work ?
A lot of inspiration can come from collaborating with other people. Especially people who's work I respect and admire. Working with these people can help pull things out of yourself that you otherwise may not have known was there. Some of my favorite collaborations have been with Pat MacDonald, Paula O'Rourke, Joe Strummer and Jerry Joseph, among others.

Let’s dream... Who are the artists (dead or alive : this is a dream...) you would love to play with ?
Tom Waits, Willie Nelson, Duke Ellington, PJ Harvey, Amanda Palmer, Madonna, Miles Davis, Django Reinhardt, Jimi Hendrix.

Your music often "swings" between very dark moods – but always with a tiny light somewhere – and very joyfull moments – but always with a gloom casted on it (which the title of the previuous EMT record, Joy of Suffering, summarizes in some way), as if yourself couldn’t be absolutely happy when you’re happy... neither absolutely desperate when you feel down. Does this reflects your personnality ?
Yes. I think you nailed it. Life is tragic and beautiful. If I didn't have my humor I don't know how I would get through it all. Without suffering you can't know true happiness.

What is the link between all your musical activities or, to put it another way, the thread of your work – if there’s one ?
I am.

What would you like people to feel when they listen to your music ?
Anything at all. as long as it makes them feel something.

You are what most would call a virtuose... but this is not always regarded as a quality (for the listener, I mean) when it comes to shredding.
No amount of technical skill or musical training is going to teach you how to feel. If you 'ain' got soul, you 'aint got nothing. I believe having knowledge of music and good technique is a good thing as long as you don't let it get in the way of the music. There are some snobs out there who believe that knowing how to play your instrument is a bad thing. Bullshit. Knowledge is a great a tool. But if there is no soul or feeling involved, then I'm not interested.

Do you hope to shake something in rock n’roll, like saying : "Hey ! Wake up ! There’s something more than you think !" ?
Yes. Not just with music, but with the world in general. There is a lot going on out there that people are oblivious to. People tend to let others do their thinking for them. Fuck living some mundane, prescribed existence. Like sheeple to the existential slaughter. A good deal of violence and intolerance stems from ignorance and fear, as we know. So anything that helps eliminate those things is beneficial to society. That is what art and music help do. It's a big world out there and I think people should make their best effort to understand it. I have a long ways to go, but I do my best. Eric McFadden - La Patrie guitar

I am sure that, among all your guitars, you have a favorite one (or two ?). Would you introduce her to us ?
I love my black 1933 Gibson L-10. I am also very into my Godin 5th Ave. Kingpin and LaPatrie Etude [photo]. My favorite solid body electric is my Asher ultratone.

How to remain genuine when you record quite often, often play on stage, play with a lot of different people and, I guess, still have to pay the bills – that’s to say when playing the guitar and singing is at the same time your job and your passion ? Don’t your fear to lose yourself sometimes ?
Of course it can be difficult at times, but it can be difficult for anyone. I try to remember how fortunate I am to do what I love to do, even when the injustices get me down. Music sustains me..it keeps me alive. I am grateful to have an outlet for my emotions. Over the last several years many of my songs became rather political because in the States we were dealing with the most corrupt and criminal administration our country had ever experienced. I cannot express how relieved I am the Bush is finally gone. With Obama, at least we have a chance...a bit of hope. But it is only the first step.

When will we see you again in France ? And under which name (solo, EMT... ?)
I will be in France in October or November. I'm not sure who will be with me yet, but it will be either Paula O'Rourke or James Whiton on bass and perhaps my friend Mato [Vilar] on drums.

And last : the "free speech space", where you can say abslolutely anything you want (above all if it is not politically correct !) :...
I want to say thank you to anyone and everyone who has supported me and my music and thanks for listening. keep rock alive! hell yes, motherfuckers !

Site officiel Eric McFadden Trio - MySpace Eric McFadden Trio
Site officiel Eric McFadden - MySpace Eric McFadden

Other reviews (in french) about Eric McFadden on poin-poin.com :
Concerts à Paris en 2006 et 2007
Let's Die Forever… Together
Delicate Thing

Mis à jour ( Lundi, 30 Mars 2009 09:07 )  

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