Q & A with Eric
Wow! Thanks so much for all the great questions! I love them! Here we go:
"Is it hard being so musically awesome all the time? Could you play something untalented for a little while so we can all catch up…." - Nicklaus Lego
Ok, I just couldn’t resist starting with this one- I thought it was really funny! Although I may work hard to make great music, I’m sure it does not come as a surprise to you that I have loads of incredibly crappy songs filling up my hard drives here. Unless I die soon and some weirdo decides they should be posted online, those terrible songs will remain (and should remain) a part of the past process. But this also relates to why I recently started blogging. I am realizing that there is so much more to reveal than the final project. I want to create somewhat of a learning community that sees the inside of the work in progress. I am discovering the importance of vulnerability in creating art. When I look back at the mentors or guides who have significantly impacted me, I realize that it is their honesty and vulnerability that became the gateway to a meaningful interaction. I hope that I can reveal a bit more of the dirt and grit that end up being the substructure to anything good that I have done. These blogs are part of that endeavor.
"Will you ever press the Travel series on vinyl?" - Will Clemmons
Thanks for your interest, Will. There have been a lot of inquiries. This series is owned by EMI/CMG, so it is not as much in my hands as the other albums.
"Also, what led you to create such an epic orchestral album for Awakened to the Sound?" - Will Clemmons
Boredom? Only half-kidding. I’m always digging for something new. When I hit bedrock in a certain area, instead of pulling out power machines and hurting myself, I start digging somewhere else. In this case, I started digging in the place where my journey began! In my early education, I studied classical music at Boston University and fell in love with orchestral music. However, after starting the band, I didn’t give myself the time to continue exploring. Doing an album that leaned heavily on classical techniques was a new (and old) venture for me!
"What are your top 5 plug ins? " - Ronell Drapeza
Hi, Ronell. Glad to hear that someone joins me on the more geeky side of things here!
Plugins I'm using a lot (not in any particular order):
- Anything from Sound Toys (this is cheating because this includes like 25 plugins)
- Ircam Flux Spat and Ircam Flux verb (Bob Katz got me into these)
- UAD EMT 140
- UAD Ocean Way Studios
- Waves CLA (1176)
(I'm sure this list will be different a few months from now. I'm currently into exploring depth and sound field techniques, so these lean toward that.)
"What are your favorite cities to play?" - Brock Pattison
Ha, that’s like asking which are your favorite children. They are all different and all have a wonderful and unique vibe to contribute. Honestly, what matters most is the comradery and excitement of whoever is there that night. It doesn't matter if it's a big city or a small town in the middle of nowhere. It's all about you guys...you make the show!
"How do you choose the themes of your albums? Is it what is musically interesting at the time? The travel series is my favorite due to its diversity and energy. Pages I had a had time enjoying at first due to its gentle nature. But your newest is more on an epic scale than you've ever done." - Anthony James Klassen
Great question, Anthony. I start with this strange combination of emotion and something I almost hear deep inside me. It is pure feeling. When I hear it and feel it, I have to translate it into something tangible. That feeling might lead me to the piano, or guitar, or some virtual instrument, or strings. Or it might just lead me to my notebook where I’ll write down a word or phrase. This starts the process of song-making. After song ideas start emerging, I start seeing a common theme between them. With the Travel series, the theme was established pretty early on. With Awakened to the Sound, the album was almost completely done before the actual album title was born. As far as the general “sound” that the album is going to convey, this is discovered early in the process too. Knowing where I am going dictates which instruments I will use and down to what microphones they will be recorded with.
"Your sound changes pretty significantly from album to album. Do you think this is more of a natural evolution (growth in ability/experience), change of passion, or a conscious choice to try new things? Obviously, it could be a mix or something else entirely. Or do you disagree with my premise? Love your music!" - Joey Kalan
This question is related to the previous one, so I will add few more thoughts to this subject. I used to think that maybe I should decide what kind of music to make, lest I have an incredibly weak strategy from a marketing standpoint. I quickly abandoned that notion when I realized I care more about the music and my freedom to create than I do about a marketing brand. The irony is that the diversity actually became a little bit of the Future of Forestry brand! People now know Future of Forestry as a musically diverse entity, and they expect the next album to be different. That’s fantastic! I can’t tell you how many artists out there are miserable because their fans want them to write their first album over and over and to keep playing the hit songs from that album day in and day out on tour. It’s like being trapped in time, frozen in the past. I consider myself very lucky to have a platform where I can make new and different music on every album. I owe it to my fans for their open-mindedness and eagerness for something different each time.
"Are you planning on adding any awesome merch to your store? Love the music and keep up the awesome work!" - Dan Fredericks
Thank you, Dan, for making it possible for me to make a living doing music. And sure, lets make FOF stuff! Anything specific in mind? Maybe we can spice thing up and do FOF toothbrushes, FOF toilet paper, FOF erasers... I'm sure we can at least do a new shirt for the Christmas season this year. :)
"What are the different time signatures in "Chariots"?" - Jake Tatarian
Alright Jake, now we're really going to get into nerd zone together. What was I thinking when I wrote this song? I had to listen to this one a few times just now to figure it out…here’s how I hear it:
- Intro - 7/4
- Verses - 4/4
- Chorus - 7/4, 7/4, 6/4
- Bridge - 7/4 then 4/4
If anyone disagrees, I’m sure they are right. It kind of depends on how you feel like counting it and what you drank previously.
"What inspired the song Twilight?" - Katie Hofer
That is a long story to tell at another time…but, in short, it was a transition from a place of sadness and pain to healing. Twilight is the “in-between” place that is neither day or night. It was a time in my life when I was in a transition that left me feeling quite raw.
What was the inspiration behind the pots and pans drum kit for "so close, so far" ?" - Hannah Teoh
Hi, Hannah. Great to be in touch for so many years now! When you have a limited number of instruments in the studio or house, you start grabbing stuff that makes noise. The garage or kitchen is a prime place for this.
"Do you have a must-eat or drink as part of your diet to help your vocals?" - Hannah Teoh
I drink lots of water or herbal tea of any kind. Potato chips or anything greasy puts a nice sheen on vocals (and rids you of the munchies). I recently stopped having singers drink peppermint tea after recording the loudest mouth-smack noises I've ever heard! I found out later that peppermint tea (combined with dry Colorado air) can cause dryness. That was super funny, and I’m sure it was embarrassing for the singer. She was a great sport though.
"What are some of your favorite instruments (or instrumental passages) on your albums that you yourself did not perform - i.e. were contributed by other band members or guests?" - David Martin
Hi, Martin, I'm glad you appreciate the many talented artists who have played on my albums. Some that come to mind are drums, bass, guitar, strings, lap steel, pedal steel, brass, sarangi, and many more. One of my greatest passions is collaborating with others who can express through their craft and creativity. I have never done an album completely on my own.
"Other than creating music, what is something you're really passionate about?"- Shannon Bigelow
I love this question, Shannon, it might be my favorite. Sometimes people assume that if you are a musician, then that is all you are passionate about. That might have been true in my younger years, but now there is so much more to my life than music! My interests change every season, but lately, I’ve really been interested in personal growth and education (my second blog this year called "Growing or Dying" was centered on this). I’m learning new things about health, spirituality, science, teaching, and even music. Instead of doing what I’m comfortable and good at, I’m educating myself in other musical areas and deepening my experience. It has been so fun!
Well, guys, thanks again for taking the time to ask such great questions! I’ve saved a few of them for entire blog posts. I’m so grateful for this meaningful interaction.