Someone who can say they have played alongside the likes of Joe Strummer, George Clinton, Eric Burdon, Stephen Perkins, Bo Diddley, Bonnie Raitt, Stewart Copeland, Pink, Keb Mo’ & Ron Wood to name only some, can at the very least be called versatile much less incredibly talented and sought after. Such is one Eric McFadden, six-string virtuoso, song writer extraordinaire, traveling man and possibly the best guitar player you may not know you have heard. I had the chance to get Eric to answer some questions, he is currently on tour making new friends, blowing away audiences and causing I am sure more than a few people to say “Well now I know I suck at playing guitar…”
Tell us about your current projects
I’ll start with T.E.N. which is a power trio consisting of Thomas Pridgeon, Norwood Fisher and myself. Thomas was the drummer for The Mars Volta when they received a Grammy and is currently also drumming for Suicidal Tendencies. Norwood is the co-founder and bassist for Fishbone. T.E.N. has a new album recorded and we are getting ready release the album this Fall. Producing & managing the project is delphine de St. Paër from phYne Entertainment. I have also been doing a lot with Jane’s Addiction drummer, Stephen Perkins and other talented characters including Corey Glover and Doug Wimbish (Living Clolour), Mike Dillon (Garage A Troi) and more. Nels Cline (Wilco) and I have been speaking of putting together a project for years now. I’m hoping that transpires someday.
What is the different sense of satisfaction you get from being a guitar player in someone else’s band compared to playing songs that you wrote?
Naturally, I am most fulfilled when I’m doing my own thing, but that’s not to say that I haven’t very much enjoyed being a sideman for other artists. Touring with George Clinton/P-Funk was a great pleasure and learning experience, as was working with Eric Burdon & The Animals. When I’m doing my own material there is, of course, going to be a deeper, more personal, connection with the music since it is my own creation. However, I feel that I put everything I have into my playing regardless of who I’m performing with, and I’ve had transcendent moments doing both. I do my best to make a point of playing with people I like.
How much time of the year do you spend on the road?
That fluctuates a bit, but I can easily say that it is a majority of the time. There have been years where 9 or 10 months of it was spent on the road, doing up to 250 shows at times. Lately, it hasn’t been quite as hectic, but I manage to stay rather busy.
A lot of your songs seem to have almost an old time carnivale/circus feel what is your influences in song writing?
My songwriting influences would start with the Beatles and Stones. Led Zeppelin was also big for me. From there, there have been many others ranging from John Lee Hooker and Bob Dylan to David Bowie and Black Sabbath. Queen, Bad Brains, The Clash etc. But in the last half of my life I’ve been very impacted by the songwriting of such people as Tom Waits, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Leonard Cohen, Frank Black and Pat mAcdonald.
The carnival / circus influence comes largely from sources outside of music. For example, my friend the late RK Sloane was a great painter, who’s art had great baring on what I did. The little clown people living in my head have have a enormous influence on my work. I’ve always had interest in the circus. The Beatles song “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”, blew my mind early on. Kurt Weill as well.
What is you take on the current music industry landscape with so many people doing things like crowd funding and not looking for a major label record deal, do you find it easier to be an independent artist today compared to say 10 or even 5 years ago?
Times have changed and so has the game, so one must adapt and be flexible. Typically, the artist has been taken advantage of my the major labels. The music industry can’t exist without musicians, yet we are often the last to get paid. We are often at the bottom of the totem pole we created. I like the model of such crowd funding entities as Pledge music and Kickstarter because it takes a lot of power away from the the record labels and mongers, and puts it in the hands of the people. The true value in being independent, and the DIY model is that you have the freedom to do whatever you please, and to maintain artistic integrity, which is worth a great deal. Not to say there aren’t examples of major label artists who have done so as well. I’d say that the new technology, and crowd funding does make it easier for an independent artist to get their music out there. but there is a lot for people to filter through. A lot of saturation. A big issue is that many people are stealing music, and this hurts the musicians, who have to pay to make the music as well as make a living.
If you could put together your ultimate band with any musicians either alive or dead who would they be?
That’s a pretty tough one. There are so many great players, especially when you include the dead ones! There are far more dead people then living. My drummers might be John Bonham and Terry Bozzio, or perhaps Michael Jerome. Wally Ingram on percussion. On bass, Paul McCartney and Charles Mingus. No, Mingus is too mean. He might punch me in the face for playing a wrong chord. Maybe John Paul Jones? Jaco Pastorious?
On keys, Bernie Worrell, on guitar, along with myself might be Jimi Hendrix and Jim Campiliongo. Django Reinhardt might add an interesting flavor. On vocals, Freddie Mercury, Mike Patton and Pj Harvey. Oh, and George Harrison and Joe Strummer on vox and guitar. Gotta have Willie Nelson in there somewhere. I just want to hang out with him! The Kronos string quartet would make an excellent addition, and maybe we’ll let Miles blow the horn. The band just keeps getting bigger. Now that’s a pretty fucked up combination of players. What a beautiful thing that would be.
Keep an eye out in your town as I am sure Eric will at some point be stopping by and if so do yourself a favor and experience some magic. Tour dates, music and all things Eric Mcfadden can be found here www.ericmcfadden.com