Eric Sardinas Interview

February 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

Eric Sardinas has UK dates at the end of March and beginning of April and is touring the 'Sticks and Stones' album. Interviewed for Blues in Britain by Moray Stuart; photo by Al Stuart.

Your new album Sticks And Stones is the second outing under the Big Motor name: are you sticking with that trio going forward and for touring this year?

Yes. I want to acknowledge the energy of the band; it’s something that I want to bring to the forefront of the sound, to have the guys be the contributing cradle that holds the new songs. Even though there’s been a changing of the guard on drums [Chris Frazier taking over from Patrick Caccia] that’s still that expectation that I have: it’s the powerhouse. I believe in the family!

I understand you’re with a new label too?

I was with Steve Vai’s Favored Nations for the last album, but I’m with Mascot Records group now. It’s all good: everybody’s on the same page and feeling good about the music. I’m excited about the way the album came out personally. My concern about the songs was about the way the energy was going to be captured; that energy being captured was the focal point of what we were doing and I think that we got lucky. I think the mission was accomplished as far as capturing that. The way we approach things in the studio is always live tracking, that can get lost if you break it up; if you break it up the first thing to go is the magic.

Where did you record the album?

In Los Angeles: we laid down the tracks at The Steakhouse in Burbank, finished it at the Wyman studios also in Burbank and did the mastering in Hollywood at Stephen Marsh: I call it the Bermuda Triangle!

There’s an interesting mix of the roots of blues with a more rock feel on the album.

We played a little bit with the tonality of each song. I didn’t want to have a uniform sound throughout the whole record, so we kinda played with it a little bit, to have some different sounds instead of having that guitar wide open through the whole thing. But the essence was there, I just wanted the songs to be captured.

I was hearing influences of bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Stones, Blackfoot?

Ha! Blackfoot, nice, where’d you pull that out from? Love that!

And the album shows you have a powerful front-man’s voice, quite Dave Lee Roth in places.

Thanks, it’s considered singing by some people and it’s the best I got! I sing from the heart, I know there ain’t no wrong way to sing, I do my best. I definitely have something to say when I write a song. There’s no tricks; for anyone who knows what we do, I’ve never tried to be anything I’m not, but I do try to reach a different place and go further than the last record, both song writing-wise and energy-wise and I hope that I accomplish that goal. I was pretty stoked on moving forward from the last album.

A good example of that roots / rock blend you have is the segue of the almost acoustic “Ratchet Blues” to “Behind The 8” a fast, SRV-like instrumental.

When you bring Stevie up that’s something that makes me real proud! To write an instrumental in the blues spectrum and it having something to say without words is pretty tough. That’s something I always reach for, that kind of energy; whether its Scuttlebutting or Little Wing, every instrumental is kind of a challenge for me, being free of vocals.

Tell us a bit about what got you started out in music.

There was a lot of music in our house, my mom always had music on. My first concert was Elvis when I was six years old; second one though was the Osmonds, so that screwed it up, kinda. One step forward, two steps back!

So was it the Elvis concert that inspired you to start playing?

To be honest way before that I was shaking my diapers to Ray Charles and Tom Jones and Wild Cherry; whatever else kind of funk, soul and blues was playing in my house. I had this thing with Elvis, always had that little leg shake thing and my diapers would fall off. So it started like that. I think my diapers still fall off. [laughter]

You’ve had some fairly stellar guests on earlier records: Hubert Sumlin, Johnny Winter, Honeyboy Edwards..

Everything I’ve ever done has been a gift; as far as being able to have those musical experiences, unexpected, backstage, or onstage, those are incredible things. Being able to befriend people, some of whom are now no longer are with us, I’ve been lucky. There’s a lot of doors that are closing as far as the legends are concerned, some are still living, but a lot have gone even in my time so I hold all those experiences very dear. It’s an honour for me to have worked with anyone of that nature: Honeyboy is like the last of that first generation, you can’t say anything about him other than ‘He was there, he was there for real!’ I recorded with Homesick James, but I haven’t put it out on wax because he passed before we could finish it.

I understand you are actually left handed but taught yourself to play right handed?

The thing was, I was given a regular guitar, and although I didn’t take any lessons I was always being corrected on the way to hold it so I just had to figure it out. It ended up working out in a way; because I didn’t have the speed in my right wrist as a fly picker that really pushed me into getting the speed as a finger picker, and because I’m faster with my left the attack with the slide is a little bit different too. Its that organic stuff that you cant really explain.

That’s a lovely guitar, do you only ever play on resonator guitars?

Yeah, just electrified dobros, with different tunings: I’ve always used resonators. I love hollow bodies and I have a bunch of different guitars but my love of the blues and of playing acoustic slide made me want to take this instrument out of context. Electrifying an acoustic isn’t anything new but taking it out of the box is really something I wanted to do. To keep the integrity intact, but push it. So I don’t feel limited by it at all.

You certainly wouldn’t think the solo on “Behind The 8” was on the same guitar as “County Line”. I see rather than use glass or steel that you use a brass slide, why is that?

Ah, the ‘preaching pipe’? Glass breaks on me; I appreciate a nice, old-school wine or whisky bottle glass slide, there’s nothing wrong with a glass slide, but they break and they chip. I had a piece of brass pipe and, being soft as it is, it got really shaped and worn down through the heat and the friction to the point where it got tapered up. The thing about brass is that when it gets chipped up thats what gives you the sauce, gives you the romance on the strings [demonstrates by running slide over strings]. So every little divot gives you more inflection. Glass has got such a different approach, certain people can make that slide sound good; me, I can tell its not my vehicle, I need something a little more rustic! And the brass warms up to my hand and feels like an extension of me.

From what I’ve seen of your very intense live performances I can see how you might break a glass slide! Are you still setting fire to your guitar or is that a rare event?

It happens when it happens; it’s really not a gimmick. If it happens it’ll happen spontaneously, no pun intended!

You have some pretty intensive touring in Europe in the autumn, although no UK dates announced yet?

Yeah, we start in Spain, go to Italy and then we got quite a run through Germany, it’s almost a month’s worth of dates there. I think we might have some UK shows, which would be great; it can’t be soon enough to come back here. I understand the Astoria’s gone now? That’s such a bummer, it’s like losing the Fillmore for you guys. And the Mean Fiddler, I’ve played there too, low ceilings, that was great. I loved that place, and they put a station on top! A lot of history gone, I’m just glad I got to play there.

And the new record is out in August?

End of the month I think. We worked hard on it; it’s been a while since the last release and we’ve been through a lot of changes and we’ve taken a lot of hits, which is why I entitled the album Sticks And Stones. I’m proud of the songs and I think the band is rising from the ashes and I know we’re ready to go. As soon as we get out on the road we’re gone, like a diesel engine baby, you can’t shut it off!

Find the UK and European tour dates on Eric's web site.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email

Leave a Comment

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam. There may be a delay in your comment appearing online - we have to approve it.