ERIK SCOTT
And The Earth Bleeds
(Eski Music)

 

Bass ace and multi-instrumentalist Erik Scott is one among a few select rock musicians who made a successful foray into the world of experimental jazz-rock and even borrows from what some dare to still call New Age. Erik Scott’s 2014 CD, And The Earth Bleeds is filled with such a wide range of instrumental and pop/rock vocal music, it will make your head spin. Erik’s 2011 CD, Other Planets was an instrumental music classic, although on And The Earth Bleeds he blends in several vocal tracks amid his instrumental excursions. Erik Scott’s sonically adventurous bass work on And The Earth Bleeds continues to amaze, while some of the instrumental tracks feature special sounding instruments such as pedal steel guitar. Commenting on the unique sound of his new album, Erik explains, ‘Bleeds differs from Other Planets in the strong use of the medieval violin, the Scottish / Celtic melodies, and the use of vocals on some tracks. I continued to go for cool sounds on the electric bass, especially on the melodic lines, but the 'outer space' vibe is less, I think.’ Drawing on an expansive sonic palate, Erik Scott cites Pink Floyd, Ennio Morricone and Michael Manring among his influences yet the sound on And The Earth Bleeds is also quite unusual and personal. As he did on Other Planets, Scott masterfully blends in a wide range of sonic electronic effects that he uses, in his words, ‘to enhance the otherworldliness of the music.’ Erik Scott’s music history includes time in the bands of Alice Cooper, Flo & Eddie and the group Sonia Dada. Erik Scott's musical legacy continues to flourish with the superb contemporary fusion sound of And The Earth Bleeds. www.ErikScottBass.com


mwe3.com presents an interview with
ERIK SCOTT


mwe3
: Where are you from originally and where do you live now and what do you like best about it? Also what are your other favorite cities and countries to visit?

Erik Scott: Born in Milwaukee Wisconsin, I was an Air Force child, as my father flew the earliest jet planes. I’ve spent half of my adult life either in Northern Illinois/Chicago or in California; first in LA, then Northern California, which is a wonderful place to live. I find foreign cities and countries always have a certain fascination, at least in the short term. The UK has a certain eccentric and comfortable vibe, and Australia is always fun, and you know what? I enjoy visiting all the countries of Europe and Japan.

mwe3: How would you compare your new album And The Earth Bleeds with your 2011 CD Other Planets as for one thing there’s more vocal tracks added to the instrumental tracks on the new album. Did you set out to make a more eclectic album that combined more genres this time? That said, the instrumental tracks are brilliant on your new album.

Erik Scott: The music of Other Planets is very spacey atmospheric, and using the steel guitar of John Pirruccello in combination with the fretless bass really accented that vibe... spaceeeyyyy! Like going to the planetarium. However, early in the writing process for “Earth Bleeds”, I was writing melodies that had a real Celtic/Scottish vibe, so I found Shira Kammen and her medieval violin, the veille. When she kicks into the Scottish reel parts on “Battle For Neverland”, it’s not real spacey, it’s real lively. And it got me thinking “gypsy”, and I reworked a Spanish melody and we recorded “Gypsy Mother”. To top it off, I added Steve Eisen’s English whistle and Irish flute, John Pirrucello’s mandolin, and while still atmospheric as heck, we were no longer whirling around Jupiter.

Also, on the And The Earth Bleeds CD, I gave more of the melodic opportunities to these other unusual instruments, while on Other Planets, I played so many of the ideas on the electric bass. I used different right hand techniques, different upper register phrasing, and I used echoes and delays normally not used on bass, all to give the Other Planets collection a creative mood and vibe.

I was also exploring to see how many cool sounds I could make on the electric bass. Many listeners commented on the cool and unusual guitar sounds on the album, yet all those sounds were made on the electric bass.

Electric guitar appears only twice on Other Planets... in "Bassque Revolution", and in the first part of the title cut.

But you know, I did not plan on any of this. The way I worked on this project was, there was no plan. For marketing purposes, I suppose there should have been, but there wasn’t. I knew it was coming out mightily diverse, but that probably reflects my career. When you work with artists as diverse as Alice Cooper, Pops Staples, Flo & Eddie, and Sonia Dada... Sonia Dada combined black and white musicians with backgrounds in rock, gospel, R&B, psychedelic jam bands, jazz, and folk, and I think some of these collisions of musical cultures has influenced the unconventionality of my solo work.

I wrote some words when I thought that maybe the music alone wasn’t saying all everything that I wanted to say.

mwe3: And The Earth Bleeds features you recording with a number of musicians in other cities. Can you shed some light on how the album was recorded? Was it mainly done over the internet with the musicians recording their parts in different cities and how did that process go?

Erik Scott: No, it was not done over the internet. Only in two cases was I not in the room recording any guest musicians:

Ana maria Botero’s voice was recorded, by her partner in the band RottViolent, Pablo Andres, in Bogota Columbia. I sent the lyrics and guide vocal, and she sang it... and very beautifully. And Steve Eisen’s English Whistle on “Run” was recorded in Chicago by long time pal Chris Cameron, because I couldn’t make the trip. Those were the only two instances I wasn’t doing the recording.

I have found, in being both the guest player, and the writing/producing artist, that you have to be there, in the room, connecting with the artist or players while it is happening. Otherwise I just don’t get what I want. I had very specific ideas of what I wanted another instrument to do.

Because I had done so much of the tracks myself... drum programming, keyboards, melodic and sometimes also a rhythmic bass, percussion, and the vocals on four songs... I had specific arrangements in mind by the time I was ready for another instrument to make their contribution.

Plus, being alone in the studio so much, I just love getting out and getting in the company of other musicians... it’s more fun.

The internet gives advantages, but there is still nothing better than musicians being in the same room making it happen.

mwe3: Tell us something about your gear setup at your studio in Northern California. What basses do you play now and how has your choice of basses changed over the years? What about other favorite guitars and keyboards that you use on the new CD?

Erik Scott: In my very own Tuna Salad Studios, I have a Macbook Pro with Pro Tools. I have a Roland XP 50, and a Korg Chrome keyboard setup, with an old MPC 60 drum machine. I always start by using a beat or sample I have programmed, and when I get something that I like, I will overdub a human drummer. Sometimes I use the human parts, and sometimes a combination of programmed and human.

My favorite basses are a ‘Frankensteined’ 1964 Fender Jazz bass, and a Pedulla fretless buzz bass from 1992. A Lakland bass also gets called on at times. The upper register bass melodies are often run through a Zoom 708II effects pedal, and I use a Demeter DI.

When recording the violin, percussion, vocal, or any other acoustic instrument, I’ve got a couple AKG mics which I run thru Neve modules. That’s about it. When I leave Tuna Salad to go record somebody in a different location, I take the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 audio interface, and my mac.

mwe3: The lead off cut is really a great introduction to the album. Can you tell us the story behind “Gypsy Mother And The Royal Bastard”? It’s just great. For example, what instruments are you playing on that track? It’s like Gypsy Prog Instrumental!

Erik Scott: About “Gypsy”: in my head, I started what seemed to me like a Spanish trumpet-type melody a couple years ago, playing it in the melodic range of the bass. And I developed it to a complete stage, but it just didn’t hit the spot. I always came back to it though, because I really liked playing the melody.

And then I had Shira over for another song and she played her veille.

So I rearranged the piece to include the violin... actually, the veille... I love saying medieval violin... ha!

The intro is given to the veille, with some synth strings accompanying. Then the rhythmic drums come in, and the fretless makes a statement. Then I go rhythmic and the violin takes it again... back and forth as the track builds, keeping the same melodic theme. I had the power riff next, which I loved, but for awhile I thought maybe it was too heavy for the album. But by then I had the title “Gypsy Mother And The Royal Bastard”, and I knew the heavy part belonged. I guess my rock roots had something to do with it.

I wrote and played the bridge, then strengthened the rhythm for a final violin verse. A haunting fade with the right sound on the Chrome, and we ride off into the sunset.

So to answer your question, the track just has programmed drums and percussion, the Pedulla fretless, the Korg Chrome synth, and Shira’s veille.

mwe3: It must have been great working with Flo & Eddie and Alice Cooper “back in the day”. Do you look back on that era 40 years ago and go wow? I was at that Christmas ‘74 show at the Troubadour and I was talking to the band so I might have met you there! Do you keep in touch with Howard and Mark and Alice these days? Do you miss that amazing mid ’70 scene in L.A.? Also your 1968 album with the group Food is well worth hearing! 46 years ago already!

Erik Scott: Well you just asked 18 questions! Ha! But seriously, you were at that 1974 show? How cool is that! It must have been cool in the audience, as the buzz went around: ”Alice Cooper is here with Keith Moon... they gonna get up there?” I know I was buzzed in the band…the brand new kid from the midwest. Yeah? Alice and Keith Moon? Of The Who?” Yes, that era provides many memories and stories for sure.

And Mark and Howard, as Flo & Eddie and the Turtles... we went out with the Starship, Doobie Brothers, Steve Stills, and Fleetwood Mac most of 1975 and ’76, which was graduate school for this kid from Gurnee. I still talk with those guys. Alice is always comin’ thru on tours, Mark and Howard are summer tour-meisters with the legacy shows, and the internet has brought old buddies back into the picture.

You know about that 1968 Capital record by Food? Great Caesar’s Ghost, you are well informed.

mwe3: How are you approaching this new album, And The Earth Bleeds in terms of getting the word out? The U.S. is so huge that touring across the country is a real daunting task for an indy artist. Do you always write music and record new ideas in between albums? What kind of musical direction would you consider going in next?

Erik Scott: Touring is expensive, especially for independent artists, which is where I am now, but I’d really like to do some live things. It’s time, and I hope to get some guys together and do exactly that.

In the meanwhile, it’s one of the things the internet can help a bit with... getting the word out there about your music. Of course, there is soooo much music out there, it can be difficult to get your statement heard.

I’m thinking about doing a... well, I’m not gonna say, because maybe somebody else will try it before I get to do it. But I will try to do what I always try to do, something that is not exactly like everybody else is doing. Something with a twist, an unusual partnership of instruments or an unusual musical culture collision that combines elements in a way that hasn’t been overdone by others... and make some cool music.

Thanks to Erik Scott at www.ErikScottBass.com

 

 
   
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