Eric's one of
the busiest melodic rock keyboard players and has worked with Ted Poley (Danger
Danger), Steve Grimmett (Grim Reaper), David Readman (Pink Cream 69), American
Angel and Lec Zorn.
His work with
Takara, featuring Jeff Scott Soto (Journey, Talisman) and Bob Daisley (Ozzy
Osborne) was reissued in 2007 and this year has seen collaborations with Tony
Mills and the China Blue album.
What are you
currently up to?
Hey Jason! Right now I am up to my ears in press for the new China Blue album,
as well as promotion for the Ramos/Hugo album we put out a few weeks back. It's
I'm also working
with Pete Newdeck on songs for the new Steve Grimmett record, and writing new
songs for the next David Readman solo release. Finally, Iím working on this
great Savage Paradise album with Mario Parga & Tony Martin (Black Sabbath)!
There's a lot happening, and you can always check out the latest on my website
What does it
feel like to finally get the China Blue album released and how did you get Tony
Mills on vocals?
It is so great to finally see this album get packaged and ready to ship! Itís
been a long road, Iíve really paid my dues these past few years and this record
is the crowning achievement!
As for Tony, we
were very fortunate to get him! He knew we were looking for a great AOR singer
to round out this killer line-up, and contacted us. Tony is such a great guy and
has an awesome sense of humour!
I stayed at his
house last year and he got me hooked on British comedies like The Black Adder!
Some say that his work on this album is the best of his career. He really kicks
some serious ass.
Could you take us through the China Blue album?
What Do You Need but Love - I originally wrote this with Jeff Scott Soto in
mind, but he kindly declined as he already had too much material for his new
record. We retooled it and Tony performs does this subtle, mysterious vocal
phrasing that soon goes full throttle!
The "outro" of the
song came to me in a dream - I woke up at 4 AM, demo'd this part out in the
studio and went back to bed. I'm so glad I got up...This song defines the album
and captures everybody at his best.
I Feel Like Dying - I never really heard Tonyís work prior to him contacting us.
I checked out his work with Shy and was seriously blown away! I was so excited
that I wrote this song in two days with him in mind, and this was the first song
he worked on with us. He returned this amazing track, and I knew he was the guy.
Fabrizio did some production on these first four songs he really helped this
arrangement in particular.
Changing Ways - Michael Riesenbeck presented the initial idea, but it needed
work so I filled it up with keys - a LOT of them! Zane Petersenís drums and gave
it more of a Separate Ways feel, which was totally unexpected and people seem to
love it. It's the only song I took a keyboard solo on - I had to do it on
Michael's song, as it felt self-indulgent to do it on my own! : )
So Wrong - I used to endorse the Williams Keytar, a guitar that frets with keys
instead of a neck. I wrote this song to demonstrate all the cool features of
this instrument. I play the guitar lines in the verses on the Williams Keytar.
Tony put down this killer layer of harmonies in the breakdowns, giving them a
wildly British, Yes-type feel! It's one of my favourite things that I've ever
written and Tony truly shines on it.
Don't Be a Stranger - I wrote this in the 80ís with the original incarnation of
China Blue. Tony made it his own and wrote new lyrics, and asked me to add a
bridge. Don't Be a Stranger is something I always say to friends, instead of
saying goodbye. Tony fleshed it out with this whole new meaning! Doug Odell
plays some great bass lines in this one. The song brings back happy memories.
Crimes - the intro again comes from that original incarnation of the band. So
does the primary riff, which appears in both Crimes and Passions - theyíre
companion pieces, like bookends. I wanted to sequence the album that way but
everyone wants the 'singlesĒ at the top of the record.
This song is a bit
on the prog side; I thought Iíd use it on a Vox Tempus record until the band
went on hiatus. We got some amazing performances out of Josh on this one. Ron
Smith also contributed heavily in pulling this one together - that whole guitar
breakdown is Ronny & Bob Specht (both from Xenon) weaving this amazing tapestry.
I canít play any guitar at all, so having these amazing guitarists who
compliment each other is a real blessing for me.
Passions - again, the companion piece to Crimes. It was a piano piece I wrote in
1988. Phil Vincent wrote the lyrics for this during the same period as Crimes -
again, itís great to have guys who will stretch the boundaries and try something
like this. Pete Newdeck & I worked out a drum part so we could do this with the
full band. Ronny Smith plays acoustic guitar and all these subtle guitar parts,
and then Josh adds his own layer on top of that. And we call it art. : )
Movin' On - I wrote this for a girl that I had finally had enough of. Tony
called it Movin On. And I was.
Twilight of Destiny - the title track, an instrumental that I wrote to showcase
the original bass player - he did such a great solo on this. Sadly we had a
falling out, and it gave me a chance to let Josh stretch out a bit. Itís a sad,
Lost - another idea that started with Michael Riesenbeck. Again it needed some
structure, and when I get a challenge like that I fill it out with lots of
interesting keyboard parts! Phil Vincent wrote the words and Ronny does this
Zeppelin-esque guitar layer. I love the way JK Northup mixed this one; he nailed
it the first time and validated my trust that he could carry out our vision.
Take Me as I Am - this was a last minute addition, we did this on Joshís final
day in LA last December. D.C. Cooper originally wanted the track for his new
record, but then he got busy with the new Silent Force. We needed one more track
for the album, and everyone came together to knock this out over the holidays -
it was finished in about ten days. Thanks guys.
A Last Goodbye - a moody instrumental piece that I wrote in 1992. Itís very
personalÖI was visiting a girl in my hometown, and on our last night together we
stayed up all night. I flew to LA once the sun came up...it was tragically
romantic. This song captures a moment, and Joshís magic really brought it to
Passions (Reprise) - is a bonus track for the overseas markets. I was listening
to Joshís work on the original version of this track, and I uncovered these
extra layers he did that that reminded me Journeyís more experimental work on
Dream After Dream. I cut and paste the arrangement and Tonyís vocal passages
over a moody string backdrop. This song and the last one are definitely 'Josh
Donít be a Stranger (Acoustic) - another bonus track for the overseas markets.
Ronny Smith suggested we try this, and Iím like 'man if you want to take a crack
at it, go ahead!Ē Itís the stripped down campfire version, and includes a bonus
verse from Tony that didnít make it on the original version. Ronny did
everything over Dougís bass track, and I recorded a more organic piano to go
with it. Itís a breath of fresh air.
What have been the live highlights for you this year? How did the Graham
Bonnet & Taz Taylor Band European tour go?
The tour with Graham was really amazing, as much from a personal level as it was
professional. It was a challenge to master Grahamís classic tracks, and playing
them in front of crowds of devoted fans is something I wonít soon forget.
Eastern Europe was something I wonít soon forget! Graham & I shared some
difficult experiences during that tour, and found we have a lot in common. We
still get together from time to time just to chat over pizza. I have a huge
respect for the man.
I also got to play some shows this year with American Angel, Ted Poley and Eric
Martin. They are all great guys that Iíve been privileged to work with from time
o time, and itís
fun to fly around the country and do shows with these guys! There is video of
these performances up on You Tube, and on my site at
How do you view
the current music scene? Have you seen an upswing in interest over the past
couple of years in melodic/hard rock?
Weíve experienced a resurgence on multiple levels. With advertisers now
targeting 'ourĒ generation, weíre seeing more rock and metal songs on TV
commercials and in marketing.
Weíre also seeing
exclusive deals with retailers - so Wal-Mart is not only carrying the new AC/DC
album but also AC/DC t-shirts, dog toys, etc. I didnít make that up! Add to this
the popularity of Guitar Hero, Rock Band, etc. which all focus on classic rock -
and the kids love it! Everybody wants to be a guitar hero now, and letís face it
that means the 70ís & 80ís.
You have satellite
radio dedicating entire channels to our music, as well as Internet radio and
classic concerts on cable TV. And now weíre finding many classic influences in
todayís music. Kids just want to rock out!
This has brought
many of the old school artists out of retirement for reunion albums and festival
dates. And their new albums are quickly accompanied by releases from newer
artists in the genre. Itís a domino effect and if we support it, it can become
You also have the Vox Tempus album getting a full release via Angel Milk
Records in December. How did you hook-up with them and why do you think this
album has had such a tough time in getting a proper full release?
This album is cursed, I swear! I just heard this morning that itís now being
pushed back till January! It makes me crazy. The album never received a proper
release when it first came out in 2004 - the sound is incredible but it was
The label owner
Andy Bramhall is a huge fan of the band and signed us a little over a year ago.
Weíre thrilled that Angelmilk offered to give the record a second life, so it
will finally get exposure to the international markets. It will come out soon,
it is done and packaged and just waiting for the label to wrap it all up.
Youíve played on many albums through the years. What were have been the
highlights and how much input composition wise do you have in the albums you've
In the beginning, I used to receive lots of very specific guidelines and would
follow them closely. But by now most bands have heard my work, and they know
that a little bit of freedom goes a long way.
I can experiment
with new ideas to make the songs really special, ideas that will compliment the
song and not take over. I still get guidelines sometimes and Iím happy to follow
them. I do most of this work from my home studio, which is a great environment
for trying out new things. A good example is the recent Tony Mills record, Vital
Designs. It is heavy and stronger than a lot of stuff out there, and the
keyboards have gotten some great reviews.
If you could join any band which one(s) would it be and why?
You know, up until a year or two ago I would have said I would love to join
Journey. I have looked up to that band all my life, but in recent years I really
got to the see the inner workings. So now Iím not so sure. I love playing with
classic artists and will continue doing so. But Iíd love to put together my own
group of star players and make great music together. Thatís where the idea for
China Blue came from, and I hope we can do more of that.
What do you like doing with your spare time outside of music?
Interviews! HAHAHA I really donít have much spare time. I have a wife and two
kids and they require a lot of my attention. Other than that, I just love doing
what I do. Last month I took a complete vacation from it for a week, and I
REALLY missed it.
Message for your fans...
Thanks for your continued support! Please check out the new China Blue album
Twilight of Destiny at
www.chinabluemusic.com. And stayed tuned for the latest at
November 2008 Jason Ritchie.
All rights reserved.
|Print this page in printer-friendly format
|Tell a friend about this page