tisdag 7 december 2010

Intervju med Eric Martin i Mr Big!

För en en tid sedan hade jag det stora nöjet att få ringa upp Mr Bigs sångare Eric Martin. Personligen var jag aldrig något fan av bandet som så, men herr Martin har haft en intressant karriär och personligen lever jag för alla dessa fantastiska samtal jag får föra med diverse rockstjärnor.
Samtalet kom att vara i prick en timme och bjöd på mängder av skratt. Nedan berättar Eric om senaste plattan med Mr Big, återföreningen, hans audition för Van Halen, arbetet med Kevin Shirley, varför Elvis Costello skrek "Piss off!" till honom, mötet med Bon Scott mm.

Man kan väl lugnt säga att det var Eric som skötte snacket...

Hey Eric, it´s Niclas from Sweden! How are you?

Eric Martin: NICLAAAAAAAS! (in a high pitched scream) I love your name! How am I? I´ve had like a couple of cups of coffee, as you can tell and I´m actually e-mailing Paul Gilbert as we speak. Subject: Gilbert travels! The guy´s been out… I think he was in Germany the other day. He´s promoting and playing gigs with his solo album. That guy puts out like five or six solo albums a year. He´s got a new one called “Fuzz universe”. I don´t know. He´s on the road and he´s playing like six shows in a row and then days off for travel. Like driving 10-12 hours to the next gig. Yeah man, that guys a glutton for rock!

Keeping himself busy! Where are you exactly? In LA?

EM: Oh hells no! Billy, Pat and Paul… they don´t live together in the band house anymore, they live in LA and I live outside of San Francisco in a community called Marin county. That´s the way it´s been our whole Mr Big life and so be it, man.

I thought I´d start off with the new album and then go a bit into your history, if that works?

EM: I don´t know! We´ll see if it works. (laughs) Let´s see what comes out of my Mr Big mouth. Have you heard the album?

Parts of it, yeah!

EM: Yeah, it always sounds good on a laptop. (laughs)

Yeah, I hate that stuff and that´s the boring thing with promo records these days, that it´s all digital. You never get a real cd anymore. I want the real thing! I don´t want to listen to it on my computer. It´s not the same thing.

EM: No, it´s not the same thing! Like, people send me demos and they do it the digital way and they go “What do you think?” and immediately I go “Where´s the bottom end?”, because there´s no bottom end! (laughs). I just wrote Kevin Shirley, our producer, yesterday. I just got home from England a couple of days ago. I was doing some press with Billy and a little performance, but I didn´t have the record. I´ve got the same thing that you do and a bunch of our demos and at this point the demos sound better. I just want the record! What am I, just a singer? (laughs)

What´s it like being back together? What has changed since you broke up?

EM: Nobody´s throwing chairs, no blood is being spilled, no mood swings, nobody´s on the rag, nobody´s pointing fingers, nobody´s putting their heart on their sleeves and the fans can all see it. None of that shit´s there anymore! There was a guy from Sweden I was just talking to about an hour ago and after I talked to him about the whole record, he goes “Well, have you talked about your problems that you had in the band or did you sweep it under the rug?” and I just said “Hey man, after 13 or 14 years, I´m not gonna rehash!” you know. When the band broke up a long time ago, I had like major problems. It was like a domino effect. The band breaks up, wife leaves me, parents pass away a couple of years later, I don´t have a career, I don´t have anything and yeah, I pointed fingers and I blamed everybody else and I didn´t blame myself. I went to a couple of… well, my first therapist, let´s call him a bartender, and then I went to a couple of others and then years go by. That´s what happened, man. After five years go by, you kind of lose the taste for hate, you know. Then ten years go by and you´re like “What the fuck was all the fuss about?”. Then here it is 12 or 13 years later and you finally get the courage up to call your bass player, who you all these years thought hated you and you call him up and he goes “Hey, man! I´ve been thinking about you!”. There´s no need to be therapy sessioned anymore. I think we all had lost a little respect for each other. It wasn´t about how cool we jelled together as musicians and on stage. When the audience saw this amazing spark on stage, that´s how we felt too and we lost it. We lost it because of all the other bullshit. The management problems, song writing publishing problems, the “I don´t like the way you grind your teeth on the fork when you eat because I´m with 24 fucking hours a day” problems.

It sounds like a marriage! The same kind of problems!

EM: Exactly! Here´s 13, 14 years later and you would think would you get a new girl, but there had to be some kind of spark at the beginning. I don´t wanna keep going on this marriage analogy, but you´re right. I could go on forever and pain this fucking amazing picture and write a whole song for you. I contacted Billy and it was a total olive branch in a way. I contacted him and said “Hey, I´ve been missing you too and wondering what you´ve been up to.”. Long story short, my son was interested in playing the bass and he was five and he´s gonna be six in a minute, tomorrow actually. He wanted to play the bass guitar and he saw this funky old bass that I had on the wall collecting dust and he goes “I´d like to have a little bass for me daddy!” and I said “We´ll see what we can do!” and I called up Billy and asked him if Yamaha made such a thing. He said “No, we don´t!” and he goes “On my travels I´ll look into it!” and that was it. It was an e-mail and a phone call and it was more like “I don´t want nothing from you Billy, I just wanna reach out and say I´m here and I´m not afraid to talk to you anymore. I just wanna be your friend! I don´t really care about the music!”. Really, I didn´t. I just had this thing going in the back of my head, “Fuck man, I had a lot of friends, except Billy Sheehan! I wanna try and get him back in my life!”. So for their last birthday, I have twins, and Dylan wanted to play the bass and it didn´t come for his birthday, he didn´t find anything. Then a couple of days before Christmas, this huge box comes and it´s a bass guitar. A little custom made thing. He didn´t do it through Yamaha, he did it himself. He got a bass, tore the guts out of it, made it all sound different, left handed and all that and then it came with an instructional video. So at Christmas time, my son´s plunking away on the bass and I´m hearing Billy Sheehan´s voice describe the fundamentals on how you play bass guitar. My wife and I were opening our gifts and I hear Billy Sheehan in the room, like he´s in the fucking room! Anyway, I e-mailed him and told him how funny that was and we got to talk and talked once a week or something and he said, and this is totally ironic too because I had seen Pat Torpey last December before that, two years ago, and he was playing drums behind Richie Kotzen and I was on tour as well in Italy and we had found ourselves playing the same festival and we got to talk. I said “It would be great to get the band back together!”. Long story short, Billy says “I´m gonna go see Paul at the House of Blues, so maybe I´ll talk to him a little bit and pick his brain.”. So he goes to see Paul Gilbert and opening the show is Richie Kotzen (laughs) with Pat Torpey. It´s like one gigantic soap opera! There were like a 1000 to 1100 people at the House of Blues and Paul´s doing really good and at the end Paul goes “I´d like to invite a few friends up!” and there´s Billy, Pat and then Richie came up too and they play “30 days in the hole”, which is a song that we covered at one time. The crowd… and it didn´t say it in the newspapers the next day, but this is how it felt in the headlines “Crowd goes wild! Mr Big back! Where´s Eric?”, you know. Paul, when he was playing up on stage with everybody, he kind of looked over and he imagined me singing instead of Richie and the next day he kind of called us all and said “Let´s get back together!”. We had a conference call and then we all got together and we had dinner at Paul´s house. Me and Pat met like in this parking lot when we were walking up to Paul´s house and Billy and Paul are there and we open the door and I look at the guys and I look at Pat and go “Fuck, did we shrink?”.We had a nice laugh and I didn´t feel intimidated anymore and I felt awesome. A couple of days later we were writing songs… no wait, we rehearsed and started jamming on some stuff, but nothing went on the new album, we were just jamming. Then we came up with this idea of “Let´s do a tour!” and that´s all! In the back of my mind I went “God, I´m not gonna be satisfied with a tour and a t-shirt! I wanna make an album!”. Paul was like “Let´s make this fun and let´s not have a reason to fucking beat each other up!” and I went “Hear, hear! I´m all about that!”, as cliché as it may sound. I kept my Mr Big mouth shut and nobody else picked up a chair and everything was good.

Cool! For this album, how much stuff did you come up with? Just those songs on the album or a bunch of stuff? Was the energy just flowing or was it hard coming up with stuff?

EM: On this new album?


EM: Well, we did this 2009 tour and now we were playing together on stage and when we got together… I mean, fuck! I had this other project that I was doing, this Japanese pop song project. It was a God send four years ago, but I didn´t have shit and I was doing the same thing Paul was doing, travelling around in a van with four Italian guys that didn´t speak any English, playing gigs all over fucking Europe for like, peanuts, and this project came on my lap, singing Japanese pop songs. I don´t know if you´ve heard what I was doing, but it was completely different than Mr Big. It sold petty good and it´s the last album in a trilogy or something and a Christmas album. Long story short, it got in the way of me writing songs for Mr Big. I was doing that and trying to write for Mr Big as well. So Billy, Pat and Paul got together a lot more than I got together with them. I did go down a couple of times to meet Paul and do like we used to. He would write some music and the I would write some lyrics and melodies to it and make a song. Make a baby! (laughs). On this one it was a little bit more difficult. I brought like nine songs in, Pat brought like 25 fucking songs! Everybody brought a bunch of songs. For the longest time, when the band broke up, I didn´t have any more reasons to write Mr Big style songs anymore. That´s what I missed the most about being in Mr Big, I loved the outlet that I could write something cool like a rock song or even a corky kind of song too. I don´t like one dimensional bands. I mean, I do love AC/DC and there are a few like that, the one dimensional sound, and I do like it, but I do like bands with versatility. You´ve gotta establish yourself and get a sound and then you play around with it a little bit. I do like that to an extent, but a long story short, we finally did get in a room and our pre production was hardly anything. I mean, our pre production was in the studio and we basically got on the floor and wrote charts out and the lyrics and Billy would say “What if it went like this?” and somebody said “What if it went like that?”, hence the “What if?” and that´s kind of how that started. Back in the day we used to say that all the time. It was to better a song or to better something, a positive thing, because if nobody said “What if?”, we would probably still have that fucking stupid PC computer or no computers. We´d have an abacus! The same thing with the songs. I would bring a song in and I´d go “I love this song!” and they´d go “Nah, it doesn´t kill me!”, which was another classic, but if somebody said “What if?”, you know. So our pre production was hardly anything and Kevin Shirley goes “You guys put your money where your mouth is, I´ve been hearing. I´ve been hearing about your influences for years. You guys talk a good game, but you don´t… you know, Eric might have some soul kind of sound in his voice but all the blues rock music that you´ve been digging over the years, Free, Spooky Tooth and Cactus, all the bands you fucking dig and you´ve been talking how much they´ve influenced you, your sound has hints of it but it´s not that sound!”. We went “Yeah, what´s your point?” and Kevin goes “I want to create this record for you and how it started out.”. After it got going, it sounded awesome. It sounded pretty edgy and bluesy, but then it was also fucking scary because I´m an old workhorse and the way I´ve done it over the years is that I go in, I do my guide vocals like a pace car and then the band always goes “Yeah yeah, we know when the verse and chorus is! Go read the paper!” (laughs). I used to hate making records because I would sit there reading the paper for two weeks and I´d watch these guys have fun and rock out and play live and I´d go “God, I wanna do that!”, but the other producers and even the band would say “You´re getting in the way of my chops!” or something. And I always used to go “Here´s a thought! I´m singing a guide vocal, why not keep it? Maybe there´s a gem?”. I mean, “To be with you” was like that. I sang it once and then it was my fault because the producer goes “Man, that was brilliant!” and I thought, since the band had two weeks in the studio I would go “no, no, no, let´s fuck it up a little bit!” so I could get a little more studio time. Most of the time they´d let me sing it like 80 times and they´d always take like the first or fourth take, some of the time. But Kevin was the complete opposite. He said “Do the guide vocal!” and it sounded great. I go in there and I crank it out and the band goes “We know where the verse, chorus and bridge section is. We don´t need you!” and Kevin goes “No, no he´s in there and none of you guys are gonna do overdubs, you´re just gonna play!” and we were like “What?”. In the beginning I was “Wow, this is cool!” but after singing for a couple of weeks, no breaks, and just like Frank Sinatra with the orchestras. There was no splicing tapes of fixing it in Pro Tools bullshit, you´d have to do it over again and he was the King and he would say “Ok guys, you 30 people in the orchestra, we have to do it again because some oboe player chipped his tooth and messed it up!” and they would have to do it all over again including Frankie. That´s what I had to do and even when the band would go “That´s awesome! That was a great take!” and I would say “Hey guys, my voice kind of hurts.” And Kevin would say “Well, let´s take a break and let´s do it again.” And the band was like “We don´t wanna do it again!” and he would go “Well, you´ve gotta do it again! We´re not going to another studio and have him sing another song.”. It became really weird. It was like “Get in the box and I´m gonna close the box and you can´t get out until you´re done!” (laughs). It´s funny I´m telling you this, but I went to… we mixed the album in Malibu and let me tell you about Malibu!

I drove through Malibu two years ago actually.

EM: Well, let me tell you! Beautiful ocean, but lifestyles of the rich and famous? Nah, nah! Rude people that hasn´t washed their hair in three days! Kevin´s got this studio called The Cave and that´s where he did the Black Country Communion and Iron Maiden, Aersomith´s “Nine lives” and the Black Crowes, which kind of sold me on Kevin Shirley. Anyway, it´s a kind of house and he mixes in it and it´s a really nice house and I asked Kevin “Can I hang out here while you´re mixing this thing?” and he goes “Sure!”. I stayed there maybe because of the hopes that he could send me in and I could fix some shit on my vocals, but not a chance man. I was there for a week. I got to do a couple of overdubs and the band didn´t even know this, but because I sang background vocals on some stuff and on the background vocal track I added a couple of licks on the lead vocal and I look at Kevin Shirley and he goes “No, you´re not getting that in!” and I was like “C´mon!” and he was “No man, you´re back to your old tricks! I don´t want any bells or whistles, violins or tricks on this record! I want a raw rock and roll record from Mr Big and that´s what the fans want. They don´t want to hear this slick shit!” and I go “Well, what do you mean?”. Kevin says “You´ve already done it! You´ve done the slick rock record. After so many years you owe the fans something different instead of the same old same old.”. So there you go.

Who decided on Kevin Shirley? Did you approach him or did he approach you?

EM: I can´t remember the producers that were named before him, but they weren´t his caliber. I don´t know if it was from a friend of a friend. It´s so funny, but there´s a weird Journey connection. For years we were managed by Herbie Herbert, who managed Journey, and to me it is just a coincidence that Kevin was doing Journey at the same time and maybe someone at the studio said “Well, Mr Big is looking for a producer!”. Well, this is how we work man. After I do a record, I complain big time because I´m a singer and that´s what I do. I go “I don´t fucking wanna do anything for a long time!” but you gotta be careful for what you wish for, because four years ago, like I said, driving around in a van and I went “God, I need a break!” and I did. I got like five irons in the fire. It´s been hard, but it´s been great. That´s how Kevin is. He had a little time because the Journey guys wanted to take a little vacation and they´ve got the luxury. I think he had like two or three weeks and he goes “Yeah, I´d like to do the Mr Big record!” and let me tell you! I´m sure he took a pay cut. He wanted to do the band. Maybe… it could´ve been a Black Country Communion connection. I don´t really know Niclas. Billy´s a really good friend of Glenn Hughes´ and I know that Pat and Derek Sherinian might have a connection, you know. Maybe I should ask? (laughs) But our manager came to us and said that we were gonna have a conference call and all of a sudden this voice is on the other end. This South African/Australian English kind of voice came on, which I can´t even do. (laughs). Every time I think I can talk somebody else´s language, people are taking the piss out of me. I really got along with him great. I had like a really great report with him. Look, I made him laugh and that´s a huge fuel to my fire. I love that! We hit it off great and he´s not a push over. Back in the day I used to sway our producer. Everybody did! It was so funny back in the 90´s. Whoever was talking to the producer longer than anybody else, it was assumed “Oh, he wants to be turned up!”. This didn´t happen, but I can totally see Kevin Shirley with a flyswatter, smacking hands on the faders, you know.

It turned out to be a great combination. It´s good stuff!

EM: Right on! Look, Black Country Communion did their record in eight days and so did we. Our first album we did it like that. When I first heard Black Country, they were calling it a single and it was Glenn Hughes screaming away and then I listened to the whole record and it´s really good. It´s some energetic sound! Joe Bonamassa is on fire!

About the art work? Who came up with the idea of a flying pig?

EM: Pat actually! Pat and Billy come up with these really crazy album covers. Our first album was a hat and a shoe, the second album was a train coming out of a train station and “Hey man”, which I always thought was our best album cover, with the straw man driving the car. Pat saw this pig and I think he messed it up too because… we saw this pig with wings and people have said it before, “Yeah, when pigs fly!”.

Kind of like “When hell freezes over!”.

EM: Right! I think he looked at it and we´d always go “What if?” because we always say it and Pat found this thing and the he photo shopped it and put some wings on it. At the time we laughed at it and then the laughter went away and we got our art director involved, this guy Larry Freemantle, who´s done album covers for us in the past. I said to Larry “It´s gotta be like Leonardo Da Vinci with the notebooks and drawings!”. I mean, Leonardo came up with some sort of flying machine way before the Wright brothers or whoever. So I thought it would be kind of clever to have something like that, like blueprints and ink spots and have this pig that has wings. When I first saw it and I know I´m gonna fuck the whole record up, but I put my finger over part of the B and it looks like it says Mr Pig. (laughs) Now the band´s gonna go “You broke the band up again!”. Anyway, it´s just kind of fun.

Yeah! I´ve got some stuff about the old days that I found interesting. Your band Kid Courage, I read that you opened up for AC/DC on their first tour of the US.

EM: That´s right! Their first tour in America. I didn´t play the whole tour obviously. I played two shows at a place called The Old Waldorf in San Francisco. There´s a site and I found it a couple of years ago and it had a list of every gig and it said Kid Courage, but it said Waldorf. Now all the people that I´ve told a million times about opening up for AC/DC, have moved away or they´ve died. But yeah, I did! This Kid Courage band was like The Rolling Stones meet The Tubes. Really weird and kind of odd. We wore suits on stage, kind of like English suits. We kind of looked like The Beatles but we played like The Stones. But the classic for me was… the woman that snapped this picture, she passed away years ago and I wish I had gotten the picture from her, but I´m playing pool backstage with Bon Scott. I didn´t even know AC/DC that much. It was their first tour and when I first heard their music I thought it was kind of punk rock sounding. Their first album and “The jack” was amazing! So here´s Bon playing pool. “Éllo Eric! Really great to meet you man!” and he wasn´t drunk or anything, but he had painted on jeans, no shirt and he was like my height at the time. He was probably older than me but he was kind of a short fellow and he said “Ok Eric, we´ll take this up after the show!” and then he leans up against the pool table, kind of like a stretch or something. At the time I used to open up for a lot of international acts that would come into town. I opened up for Brand X with Phil Collins on drums and Iggy Pop and David Bowie playing keyboards. I would look at these people and I would study them and watch the way they acted or listen to what they talked about on stage or watch their moments. Kind of like emulating them or studying them on how to be a rock star. So here´s Bon Scott stretching and I´m kind of stretching too and all of a sudden Angus gets up on the pool table and he gets on his (Bon´s) shoulders and Angus´got this guitar with no fucking wire on it and I´d never seen one before. I always thought he played “It´s a long way to the top”, but I don´t think… was that on the first album or was it “Problem child”?

Well, there are the Australian releases and the American releases. In Europe it´s on “High voltage” from 1975.

EC: Yeah, the one where he´s wearing the school boy thing on the cover?


EC: Well, he was playing and you could hear it out in the house and I was like “Holy shit!”. It was amazing! “Hey, it´s called wireless!” and I go “What? Oh I get it, less of a wire…!” and he goes “See you later!” and he walks him in and I was like “Holy shit, what an amazing band!”. It was like time bandits, man. Angus is tiny and there´s Bon and they´re just coming in and the crowd went instant wild. I mean, we warmed them up, but we didn´t warm them up. We kind of slapped them in the face to wake up and AC/DC comes out and the crowd had never seen AC/DC before. There was no MTV! We didn´t get any footage from them overseas and here they come up on stage and the water came to a boil fast. It was fun to do that. That was a big time in my life.


EM: Another thing, and I know you´ve gotta go.

No, I don´t have to go! I love these stories!

EC: Well, another classic time was me opening for Iggy Pop and I´m backstage and Iggy is there and… well, anyway, Elvis Costello comes into this little circle of people and at the time “Alison” had just hit the radio and “The angels wanna wear my red shoes” and I remember the guitar player of Kid Courage was saying “Why can´t you sing like this guy?”. I sang really high and it was always “Baby, baby!” (in a high pitched voice) all the time and he goes “I want like words and character. Like Elvis Costello!”. So I´m trying to find out what this Elvis Costello character is all about and Iggy goes “Elvis, how are you doing? I´m James!”. You know, James Osterberg. I was so pleased that “wow, he´s using his real name!” and then he goes “Elvis, this is Eric Martin! This kid is opening for me tonight and they´re called Kid Courage and I was like “Hey, how are you doing?”. It was amazing! I´m bookended by two really great characters and then Iggy goes “I´m gonna go to the little boys room and I´ll be right back.” And I look over to Elvis and I go “Hey man, I gotta tell you ‘Angels wanna wear my red shoes’, I love that song!” and I´m trying to explain to him about my guitar player wanting me to be like him and Elvis cuts me off midstream and he goes “Fuck off!”. He goes “Piss off, mate!” and he turns around and starts talking to other people. I´m hunched over, I spit and I´m drooling, my tounge´s sticking out of my mouth and everybody´s looking at me and I´m going “Holy shit! Elvis Costello just told me to piss off!” all the while a big, huge red fucking streak is going up my face. Anyway, I felt like I did the right thing doing that.

Nice one! I also read somewhere that you actually auditioned for Van Halen. Is that true?

EM: Well, I was asked to… I was being produced by this guy Danny Kortchmar in 1987 (I think Eric means 1985.). We were recording in this studio called Record One and on one side is everybody who played on the Don Henley record (Building the perfect beast), with Danny Kortchmar producing. Just everybody who´s everybody is on Don Henley´s record and then next door, a little studio paid by Capitol Records, Danny Kortchmar is doing double duty and producing me, with this guy Greg Ladanyi. God rest his soul, he just passed away recently, and everybody from the Don Henley camp, who seemed they were taking a break from the “Building the perfect beast” album, to do my record, cocaine and all. (laughs). A lot of drugs and booze and they´re all doing my record. Kooch, who lives in New York City, we finished that record and Kooch was a really good friend of Steve Jordan´s and Steve I hung out with a lot making that record. The three of us hung a lot in those days and at that time, Steve Jordan was the drummer for the David Letterman Show and in the middle of 85, Eddie Van Halen was on as a guest and playing with the band. So Jordan and Kooch are all hanging out with Eddie Van Halen and Kooch goes “Hey, I´ve got this album that I have to play for you man! This kid is an amazing singer! You´re looking for a singer since Dave Lee Roth quit blah blah blah, here it is!”. Long story longer, I´m in this funky part of town in San Francisco, the whole bad sitcom and rats in the cellar (laughs) and the telephone rings. First it´s the answering machine, because I wasn´t home. I was probably painting the house that day. He goes “I gotta tell you man, I love your voice, but I hate your record!”, that´s what he said and he goes on “I absolutely fucking hate your record. I guy like you shouldn´t be in this fucking band!”, but it was my solo record, so it was like “Oh, man that´s… funky.”. Then he said “Well, I want you to come to LA and I want to give you an audition. I want to meet you!. And then he goes “I´ll call back!”. So, he calls back and this is 85 plus no one is going to believe me that Eddie Van Halen is calling me plus he doesn´t like to be called Eddie and I was told a million times in the conversation, “I don´t like to be called Eddie! Cease and desist with that shit!”. He was kidding around in the beginning and said “Call me Edward!”. Well I took a taperecorder out with those suction cup things and I put it on the telephone and he calls back, because he tells me he´s calling back on Friday night and I´m talking to him and he goes “Hey dude, I really like your voice and I want you to come audition for the band!” and I´m like “Oh my God, this is amazing! I can´t believe it!”. Later on I listen to the tape and here´s Eddie Van Halen in a dark voice and here´s me “Oh my God!” (in a high pitched voice). So I was going down to LA. Me and Neal Schon were going. We did a movie soundtrack and we were going down to see the movie premiere. We´re in the airport and guess who´s in the airport? Sammy Hagar! This is a fucking true story! I´ll even send you the picture because somebody snapped a picture. Sammy goes “Where are you guys going?” and Neal says “Well, we´re doing this premiere and Eric´s gonna go talk to Eddie Van Halen!” and I go “Yeah, I don´t know what´s going on.”. First of all, I´m talking but I´m stuttering and stammering. Even though I´m friends with Neal Schon, I´m still starstruck and Sammy Hagar is a friend and even to this day I´m a friend, but I get intimidated easily by rock stars. Anyway, Sammy goes “Man, I just got back from talking to that dude and I got the gig! I got the gig!” and I go “Did you audition?” and he goes “Fuck that audition! I don´t need to audition! I got the gig! I´ve known the Van Halen guys for a long time.”. I used to read Creem Magazine and I go “Man, didn´t you guys use to fight?” and Sammy goes “We never fought! We would say bad shit, but…”. It´s like Sammy and David always badmouthing each other in a magazine and he goes “No, I never had a problem with Edward!” and I went “Oh, he´s got the gig! He´s already calling him Edward.” (laughs). Anyway, I just thought of that at the top of my head. So I go down to LA and we go to the premiere and we have a good time. It´s raining and I don´t know what it was… I´m talking to Eddie Van Halen on the phone and he goes “Go up Coldwater Canyon blah blah blah.” And I also my friend Zeke Clark, who worked for me for years, got his big break and went off to be Eddie Van Halen´s guitar tech. I thought “My God, everything´s perfect!”. Anyway, Eddie says “I´m gonna give you Zeke and he´ll give you directions.”. I go “Hey man, what´s going on? Is he in a good mood?” and he goes “Yeah man, he´s kind of scattered right now, but come down!”. It was weird. The way he talked on the phone. Let me tell you man, for weeks before I went down to LA, I was like “Oh my God! I might be in Van Halen. And David Lee Roth? I can´t do that on stage!” and I´m totally freaking myself out. I bragged about it to my girlfriend and my friends and I´m going “ I might be the Van Halen singer! Oh my God!” and then when I actually go down to LA, I´m pissing myself. So I chickened out. I completely chickened out.


EM: Yeah, I know. I went down the road and then I went off the edge of the world. (laughs). Yeah, I totally didn´t go. Then I think I talked to Zeke and then there was another thing, I auditioned for Toto and I thought I was in the gig. I had the gig for a week, but Jeff Porcaro didn´t like me. Well, not that he didn´t like me, but he thought that I was too green. I thought I could sing the funk and the soul and I really felt like I could. I mean, I did a couple of records on Capitol that had this funk soul stuff and Steve Lukather played on my records and I definitely had an in, but anyway, long story short, I chickened out the Van Halen thing, I got kicked out of Toto and then Billy Sheehan called.(laughs).

Amazing stories! One final thing, do you know anything about dates in Sweden? Anything planned for Europe?

EM: The only thing I know is that we´ve got a Japan tour going. What a shock, what a shock! (laughs) Then Europe is right on the top of the wish list. That´s second! We did it sporadically on that last tour. We just picked dates… I mean, Switzerland got in there. I´m not saying anything bad about Switzerland. It was just so weird because it was during a strike, or something like that. I don´t know. So we played Switzerland and Germany. I was actually there within this year, when they had that gigantic volcano. I was there and I had to stay an extra two weeks in Italy, so what a bummer. Eating pasta and drinking wine. But, do we have any plans to go to Sweden? Absolutely! We don´t have any plans. (laughs)

You should play Sweden Rock Festival?

EM: You know what? We´re trying to get on some festivals.

Next summer is perfect. They´ve got Ozzy headlining and tons of bands.

EM: First of all you´ve got everybody and who wouldn´t want to come to Sweden. Oh man, I´ve got another phone call and I´m on a talking spree, but Niclas, I´ve got to say goodbye to you!

It´s cool! It´s been the funniest interview I´ve done in ages Eric, so I just want to wish you all the best with the album and hope to see you in Sweden soon!

EM: Thank you man! It was fun!