Interview by Scott Preston
Eric McFadden is an American guitarist, vocalist and songwriter from San Francisco Bay Area, California, at times described as “an authentic old-west troubadour and an absolutely wicked 6-string maestro.”
Reviews note McFadden’s guitar virtuosity, distinctly melodic songwriting and “rich, deep” vocal tone. His recordings and performances are cross genre and his lyrics are often characteristically dark with an interest in the macabre side of life and love.
He spent his formative years in Albuquerque, NM, receiving lessons from Stanton Hirsch among others. During his mid-teens, he moved to Syracuse, NY where he acquired a considerable amount of knowledge in jazz guitar techniques. McFadden has also spent time in Spain studying flamenco techniques and in interviews has expressed interest in Gypsy music.
He played in a number of influential bands in the Albuquerque area, most notably the Angry Babies, a punk rock/heavy metal three piece band that toured lightly along the west coast and released three albums in limited runs.
Other credits include two years as guitarist and mandolinist for George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars. In 2004 he joined Stockholm Syndrome with bassist Dave Schools (Widespread Panic) and drummer Wally Ingram (Sheryl Crow, Jackson Browne). Currently he is touring with his band the Eric McFadden Trio (with Bernie Worrell).
Cincy Groove: How did you hook up with Bernie Worrell?
Eric McFadden: Well I started playing with P Funk in 2000. We were off the road and George Clinton called me and asked if I could come and do a session in L.A. We were just sitting around getting some things together, and I played something and Bernie said “I heard that!” So he came up to me and something to the effect of how we were on the same level. So we pretty much hit it off and Bernie ended up doing a couple shows with P Funk during my last stint with them. We would keep running into each other and finally we said “Lets stop talking about doing something together and lets just do it” So we did. Bernie really adds a new dimension to EMT’s sound. Its really an honor and a privilege to have Bernie Worrell playing with us. Bernie is really one of those unsung heroes. People who are really paying attention know of course who Bernie is, he really is one of those people who are well known and unknown at the same time. I mean everyone knows of George Clinton and Boosty Collins, Bernie’s name should be as recognizable as George and Bootsy.
Cincy Groove: How many groups do you play with right now?
Eric McFadden: Not as many as used to. One of the things I tried to cut back on was the number of bands I play in (laughing). Right now I have the Trio (Eric McFadden Trio), thats the primary band. Of course there’s Stockholm Syndrome even though we take a lot of long hiatus’ , we still plan on getting back together early next year for some stuff. Then theres the Legendary Sons of Crack Daniels, which is really a duo consisting of myself and Pat McDonald.
Cincy Groove: I understand you are also working on a new solo cd.
Eric McFadden: I just finished the solo cd. The new Eric McFadden Trio cd also just came out a few weeks ago. Bernie is featured on a song on the cd, as is Mike Watt.
Cincy Groove: Are you working on any other projects?
Eric McFadden: I’m working on some things with Boots Riley from The Coup. I played on The Coup’s last record so he and I are throwing around some ideas. People who I have worked with in the past, I will probably get back together with to work on some stuff, Les Claypool, Reverend Horton Heat. One of my favorite guitar players of all time is Nels Cline. We have played together a few times, but we have had this idea for a band we want to put together for a few years now. I’m hoping when the time is right that will come to fruition.
Cincy Groove: How many shows do you play in a year?
Eric McFadden: Somewhere between 200 – 250 shows a year. I probably have been doing that since 200 – 2001. Before that my touring schedule wasn’t as rigorous.
Cincy Groove: What do you do when your not playing music?
Eric McFadden: Playing music does take up a vast majority of my time. Then there’s writing songs, recording the songs, then sometimes you have to rehearse, but we don’t get to carried away with that. I guess my hobby outside of music would be video. Whether its acting, directing, editing. Before music took over I was really into painting and drawing. But as soon as I got my first guitar that fell by the wayside.
Cincy Groove: What was the name of the first “serious” band you were in?
Eric McFadden: I guess the name of the first band that got real serious was Angry Babies. That was the first band that did a recording and that went out and tried to do things in a semi-professional manner. I mean we were all still young and stupid. We weren’t entirely stupid, we did have some moments of brilliance.
Cincy Groove: Do you remember the first album you ever bought?
Eric McFadden: I remember I bought two albums used, one was Jimi Hendrix – Band of Gypsys and the other was Derek and Dominos – Layla. I would save up my money so at the end of every month I could go out and buy a new record. Lots of my favorite records I would just steal from my parents because they had some pretty good stuff. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dylan, Led Zeppelin. I think I made my mom buy me a KISS album pretty early on as well.
Cincy Groove: You have obviously been playing long enough to know what it was like before the internet. How do you feel about the whole internet/music situation?
Eric McFadden: Things have changed drastically. Even though I have had to embrace it and integrate it into how I do things, I still favor the way things were. There is on the other hand something wonderful about being able to access all of these new bands. People have more of an opportunity to get their music out there. I’m still old school in many aspects, I like to go to the store and buy the record. To have my own copy of the record is something special. Think about when you were a kid and you bought that big record and opened it up, you looked at the pictures read the words. For myself I just have to have my own copy of something instead of just downloading it.
Eric McFadden Trio:
Eric McFadden – vocals, guitar
James Whiton – bass
Doug Port – drums
Upcoming Eric McFadden Trio tour dates:
For complete show details visit http://www.ericmcfaddentrio.com
Oct 8 Ram’s Head Tavern Annapolis, MD EMT w/ Special guests Bernie Worrell and DJ Logic!!
Oct 9 Castaways Ithaca, NY EMT+1 w/ special guest Bernie Worrell.
Oct 10 The Cutting Room New York City, NY EMT+1 w/ special guest Bernie Worrell
Oct 11 SWCC Rock & Run Philadelphia, PA EMT+1 w/ special gueat Bernie Worrell.
Oct 13 MoogFest – Hammerstein Ballroom New York City, NY – Playing w/ Bernie Worrell as he receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Moog synthesizer company at Moogfest.
Oct 24 Café DuNord San Francisco, CA
Oct 31 Santa Cruz Halloween Ball at the Portuguese Hall Santa Cruz, CA – EMT opens for Fishbone!!
Dec 6 Kuumbwa Jazz Center Santa Cruz, CA – 2 sets!! 7:30pm acoustic set and 9:30pm electric set