I know two things about Eric Martin. One is, he is the singer/front man/vocal wonder that came into my consciousness with the advent of their eponymous record in the late eighties. Having been a musician/singer nearly all my life, I had managed to miss all of his San Francisco Bay Area musical catalogue until this band came along. It took a couple of other musicians–a one Billy Sheehan and a one Paul Gilbert–both of who occupied my immediate pursuits in bettering my guitar chops–to drag me along as a listener.
And I’m glad they did. When I first heard the song Had Enough, I knew this man would forever become a part of the vocal mosaic in my own life. A series of very fortunate events would allow me the chance to play with him–twice.
The other thing I know is, Eric seems to delight in answering my texts and emails. Such is why I write him and asked him if he’d consent to an “E Interview” about the writing process. I figured the man who wrote the stunningly successful To be With You might have all kinds of marshal arts katas, mumblings, meditations and dietary run-ups to the creative process.
Nonsense. As seems to be a consistent theme with many of my heroes, this idea of the “random chance” muse showing up on the creative campground without any firewood is starting to become a trend. Plus, he wasn’t having any of this “extensive examination of methods” from me. Not when he apparently is going to claim there is no creative El Dorado to examine. And Especially extensively.
So in effect, after letting me know I am apparently the only sentient being in his life that calibrates my correspondence to his itinerary (I know nothing), he manages to say something on the subject–all while saying he has little to say on the subject.
Rock stars . . .
First, because I actually have a horrible reputation for mentally-rolodexing even the more notable parts of my day/schedule, I must include–Eric’s passive redemption of my organizational reputation–even though it’s completely accidental:
Owed to G,
You always catch me in between gig’s don’t ya? Your’e the only one I know who actually know’s where I am and where I’m not. All my family and close friends call me or text me at 4 in morning when I’m in the Ukraine or just going to sleep in India . . . But not you RG. You pay attention.
Also, the calculatingly-clever “Owed” vs. “Ode” most likely hails back to this ridiculous and completely labor-intensive attack of banality on his hit song last year–not to mention my all-too-convenient comparison of him to BBC Sherlock thespian, Benedict Cumberbatch.
I did manage to simply ask him the general overview of the creative/writing/vocal processes that have set him so well, and has made his name synonymous with soulful/bluesy and melodically-based vocals. Thus:
Well let’s see here… There are reasons why I don’t teach classes on songwriting or have the patience to give vocal lessons…I’m just not good at it. For me to just give you the break down on song process would be boring. It changes all the time; Title, melody, riff, verse,bridge, chorus, wing, prayer. I have to be inspired I can’t just sit there with my guitar and say “OK rock star, lets make some magic.” Although my best stuff comes out under duress … Bad relationships, heartbreak, loss, loneliness or when I have a deadline. Every Mr. Big record was written with my back against the wall, Bad times equals good times..ha.
The vocal lesson thing is a totally different animal, I’m always searching for new methods , exercises, sore throat remedies and voodoo spells, it’s never ending.
Eric used to maintain a blog on his forum years ago. He’s actually quite an animated writer, who writes exactly like he talks. And he’s actually said more here than meets the eye (or. . . um, ear) if you truly thing about each little phrase, and chances are, if you’re reading this as a creative person yourself, you’ll take a certain validation for your own talents from it. Or some of it may seem very familiar with the idea that the true blues songs were written under the yoke of oppression.
And since another hero of mine , Glenn Kaiser postulates to my agreement that the majority of the Psalms written by David are forged in exactly this crucible, it makes sense. Even if I happen to believe that there was far more metaphysical reason for the psalms than say, Just Take My heart.
As these little”interviews” go along on this blog–some of them far more extensive than the friendly and slightly tongue-in-cheek response Eric gave me here, this Laissez-faire and free-market creative theme will most likely become the rule, as opposed to the exception. Which is a core charactersic in creation: stuff just manages to show up sometimes in shallow waters. But its origin can be quite deep.