Guitar legend Eric Gales is back with his fourth studio record under the Mascot Label Group stable.
Do you want the blues? â€œUnfortunately you have to go through some things to be freeâ€, says Memphis-born Eric Gales. Widely regarded as one of the best guitarists in the world by his peers Eric Gales has a long list of admirers including the likes of Joe Bonamassa, Dave Navarro, Mark Tremonti and his Godfather Carlos Santana, to name but a few.
Last month Eric Gales released his incredible new studio album Middle Of The Road. National Rock Review recently caught up with Gales to talk about his latest offering, his work with Supersonic Blues Machine and his plans for the rest of 2017.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review, we really appreciate it.
So we’ve got some questions about your new album Middle Of The Road, which was released very recently. Firstly, I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the album and the inspiration behind it?
Eric: Well this album is a whole new vision, whole new eyesight, more clarity, no drugs, no alcohol, no nothing, you know – a whole new serene person. I just decided to write about experiences in life that I’ve been through and you know play about it.
NRR: I know a lot of the tracks on the record are deeply personal, I was just wondering to what extent do you find songwriting to be therapeutic?
Eric: It’s very therapeutic. I mean when at the end of the song someone is crying, or myself maybe shedding tears because it’s just that deep and emotional that it just reaches really down far to a source that touches the soul.
NRR: I believe that you worked with producer Fabrizio Grossi on this record. What was it like working with Fabrizio and what did he bring to the table?
Eric: It was great man, the guy had some very interesting ideas. The most fascinating part about him is he allows the artist to come out with whatever that the artist may have and he just pulls it out enough to make it be fluid coming across on the computer or coming out of the speakers. He did a fantastic job and I give a thumbs up to everybody that was involved.
NRR: I know on the record you’ve got a whole raft of guests including the likes of Gary Clark Jr, Lauryn Hill, Lance Lopez, Eugene Gales, you’ve got your wife on there, you’ve got Raphael Sadiq. I was just wondering did you have those artists in mind from the beginning with the record, did you write particular songs with them in mind or did it just come together organically?
Eric: Not really, it just kind of moulded into that, you know what I mean. It just kind of came to the surface, and the songs just kind of stylistically wind up being modelled perfectly for the people that I had making guest appearances on it. Again, I think it was a great decision, and the people that I chose to add to the spice of this record and they all brought something really nice to the table.
NRR: Speaking of the guests there, I know you’ve got Gary Clark Jr playing on “Boogie Man”. I was just wondering what made you choose that particular song for the record?
Eric: I’ve been a fan of Freddie King for a while, and you know I got turned on to “Boogie Man” and I’m a huge fan of the original version and it just made me go into the inspiration booth and that’s just what came out. You know I think that inspiration is truly how it should be imaged through your eyesight of what and how it effects and impacts you. So I think that was a great rendition that came out and I’m very pleased with it.
NRR: Speaking of Fabrizio Grossi and his band Supersonic Blues Machine, I know that you’ve connected with that group as well. You’ve been out in India doing some shows with them I believe. I was just wondering what was it like playing with those guys and what was it like performing in India?
Eric: Oh man, we had a wonderful time, that was my first show with them, and we have more shows coming up. It was amazing, I look forward to the journey with those guys and it’s just one big family that we’ve come together with and I assume that there is going to be a whole lot more to come from that.
NRR: Obviously, I know you just mentioned there that you are going to be out doing some more shows with Supersonic Blues Machine. I know that you are playing at the Ramblinâ€™ Man Fair over here in the UK in the summer. I was just wondering do you have any plans to do a full UK or European tour in support of your new album?
Eric: Yes, it’s coming up in about a week, it’s being finalised right now, but the end of May and the first and second week of June, we will be 100% with my band supporting Middle Of The Road doing a UK run. So it will be up on the website really soon, so we are coming, we are on our way.
NRR: Well, we can’t wait for that, it’s been a while since you’ve been out here. The last time I actually saw you perform wasn’t actually in the UK, I saw you out on the road in St Louis at the Fox Theatre on the Experience Hendrix tour, I saw you play that night. I was just wondering what was it like being out on the road with all those guys, all those amazing guitarists performing every evening?
Eric: Man, it’s very exhilarating, it’s like a highlight to be out with comrades of your own and you know everybody checking everything in at the door and coming together to come up with one common goal to support a guy that meant a whole lot to each and every one of us. Just being out with that bunch of guys is amazing, you know what I mean, it’s a real nice thing. I wish everybody great out there on the road right now. I’m just out here highly pushing my new record and my hats off to them.
NRR: I was just wondering do you have a particular favourite Hendrix track that you enjoyed performing when you were out on that run?
Eric: “Foxy Lady” is really nice. We have a really time doing “Foxy Lady” when we do that out on the Hendrix Tour.
NRR: I’ve seen so many people speak so highly of you as a player, you are widely regarded by so many of your peers, including the likes of Bonamassa, Santana and Tremonti as one of the best guitarists in the world. How does that make you feel as an artist?
Eric: It’s very gratifying to hear things like that man, it just lets me know that all of the hard work and years that I’ve put into the craft and just holding on and continuing to progress and learn new things, and just trying to stay focussed and survive through what I’ve been through. You know that’s very satisfying to hear.
NRR: Speaking of Santana there, I know you performed with him at Woodstock in ’94. Obviously, Santana has that history with Woodstock going back to ’69. I was just wondering what was it like playing with him that day and playing in front of all of those hundreds of thousands of people?
Eric: It was amazing man, to get the phone call from him, first of all, was one of the highlights of my life and I never will forget it. It was amazing then, and it’s still amazing now and to be part of my Godfather. We connected again last year and you know it’s just great to reconnect with him. It was beautiful man, it was beautiful, it’s a once in a lifetime thing.
NRR: I read a statement regarding this album, it said that “now I feel the most free I’ve ever been in my life, even more so than when I was a kid”. I was just wondering if you could elaborate on that a little?
Eric: I just went through a lot of things in life and now I don’t have any of that ailing me anymore, so now I feel really free, basically to sum up in short.
NRR: In terms of your own musical taste and the types of stuff you listen to at home. What’s the one album in your collection that you couldn’t live without?
Eric: Man it couldn’t be just one, there’s got to be everything man, I like listening to everything. I like all kinds of stuff. I like John Legend, I like John Mayer, Robert Randolph, Derek Trucks. Everybody man, everybody.
NRR: What else do you have in store for the rest of this year?
Eric: Just a bunch of touring man, maybe a bunch of dates with Beth Hart is coming up I believe. Some Supersonic stuff, my own stuff and who knows man a lot more other stuff, it’s just getting started. The fire is being built up really good, there’s a lot that’s coming up this year, so just look out for it.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. I really appreciate it. I can’ wait to see you over here in the summer and good luck with everything that you’ve got going on with the record. I hope it works out really well for you.
Eric: Thank you for having me man, I appreciate it, thank you so much.
The new album from Eric Gales, Middle Of The Road is out now via Mascot Label Group/Provogue.
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