Featured Interview – Eric Gales

image“My style is compiled of a lot of different variants and particles from all across the board. All different styles, genres and everything. I listened to everybody coming up and it’s apparent. I think what is the ultimate goal of an artist is for an average person that knows nothing about music to figure out within a few notes who you are.”

“I’ve always been told by my brother Eugene ‘why get an imitation when you can go a few rows down in the record store and buy the real thing?’ I think it’s all about cementing your own DNA on your style to where at the end of your legacy, or at the end of making your legacy, you are able to let a listener be able to know who you are not by telling them who you are, but they be able to know ‘man that’s Eric Gales.’ Just naturally what comes to me is what comes out. There is no pre-preparation or whatever. When it hits my soul I try to answer it when I can, the best I can and it seems to come out alright.”

Eric Gales is the emotive explosive genius of modern Blues guitar. A deep and sensitive artist, Eric channels his ancestors and presses every last drop of himself into his guitar, his singing and his artistic production. A vibrant and inventive talent, Eric has had a long career for a relatively young man. A child prodigy who learned his craft from Gospel music and Old Time-y Blues at the feet of his 2 older brothers, Eric became a voracious guitar student. Playing left handed and being endlessly inventive, Eric is often compared to Jimi Hendrix although unlike Hendrix, Eric strings his guitar with the low strings on the bottom a la Albert King. Eric says of the well worn Hendrix comparison: “Having my name and his name in the same sentence is the highest compliment in the world. But, at the same time I’m not trying to be the next Jimi Hendrix, I’m trying to be the first Eric Gales.” This rings true in Eric’s unique blend of Blues, Rock, Funk, Jazz and R&B.

Eric Gales has lived hard throughout his career. Having succumbed to substance abuse, Eric is proudly 5 years sober. In spite of his struggles, Eric has continued to be prolific in recorded output and tireless in his annual touring schedule. Eric has catapulted his career into the super-star realm over the past 10 years . Poised to release in January 2022 his 3rd major breakthrough album in the past decade, I Want My
imageCrown finds Eric collaborating with his reunited friend Joe Bonamassa and taking his artistic vision into new heights of personal expression. The work for I Want My Crown started literally the day after the George Floyd murder shocked the nation and the world.

“It was an experience that we all didn’t expect to happen. The George Floyd thing, that’s what I mean we didn’t expect to happen. It happened the day before we began to start writing for this record. Unfortunately the material in this record came about from the death of a man, the world saw it for themselves. It enabled me to dive a little bit more deeper into self and speak from a perspective, from my angle. What makes me anything different than him? As I began to chat about this to Joe and Josh (Smith, ace guitarist and co-producer of the record), raw and unnerved emotion came out of me, and Joe furiously scribbled down notes about it all. It just fueled the whole thing. And fury, you know you watch that and you don’t get angry, I don’t know what’s wrong with you, you know what I mean. So that just fueled a lot of things.”

“So we turned that into a 13 song record with 3 vignettes. It was a way that I saw that made sense to be able to speak to the masses and to have a conversation with people that hear this record. I didn’t want to come off where I was preaching or forcefully trying to tell somebody. Sometimes you just talk to them, most of the time that works unless they just ain’t listening. And it fueled an amazing record of material that is based and surrounded by my life and things encountered within it. Everything is not so dreadful, it’s a really positive message I have to say. And the songs and the vocal work is top tier level man. When it came time to sing, I had to take breaks between vocals to cry and let it out. I was sharing my experiences as a Black man, and my private struggles. This is me letting the world know what I’ve been through.”

“Recording that record, man, we all laid the tracks down as a band. Reese Wynans on keys and I’m in there and it’s a real moment. I’m right across from Reese and we looking at each other in the eyes, every song. The history behind him with Delbert McClinton and Stevie Ray and the whole thing. The whole band, it wasn’t forced, the whole band was in tears after every song, I’m talking about it was a real serious moment, man.”

image“We tracked and then began to do overdubs. Quite a bit of the solos that were done and everything that was played was done all at one time. The majority of the record was roll as we go. It’s kind of the first time that I’ve recorded that way. It captures an energy that is a little different than overdubbing everything. I’m very pleased. It was high emotion with everybody, you could feel it walking into the room. Not an anger sort of thing, but they were all involved in a record by an artist that is very passionate about what he is talking about. Everybody put everything they had into it. I think this is gonna be the record of the decade.”

Having both been child prodigies, Eric and Joe met when they were both just starting out and then fell out of touch. It was a 2019 Blues cruise performance in which Bonamassa called Eric up to sit in for an epic guitar summit that rekindled their relationship.

“He is a buddy of mine and been a buddy since 28 years ago when we first met. The trajectory of his life and his career, you know, he took the bull by the horns and rode it really well and still riding it real good. I have the highest respect that I could ever have for a friend of mine. Joe told me ‘you have no idea how long I’ve been waiting on you.’ Not necessarily to ask him to produce a record or whatever, but just simply be ready to take my life under control. He jumped into the deep end with me, I couldn’t have a better best friend. We have rekindled what that moment was when we first met each other 28 years ago now that I’ve got my life together. ”

“You know I get it, some need to stay away for their own safety because I was a demolition ball. Now that I have finally got some life on things, now the people that has been watching the trajectory are like ‘man, I just been waiting on you.’ As things happen I’m ready and open to receive everything that’s coming.”

This positive trajectory has been building. Starting with 2017’s rock solid Middle of the Road, Eric has been on a long positive trajectory. 2019’s The Bookends catalyzed Eric’s stardom with a fresh take on modern Funk-Rock. With his business partner and often song co-writer, wife LaDonna Gales by his side, Eric called in ace 90’s Rock producer Matt Wallace to realize his vision.

image“That record right there man, we got in and I just wanted to showcase the different influences and styles that I pull from and try to do it in a way that the songs gave light to that. I had a whole lot of fun with the producer Matt Wallace and my wife, LaDonna. The original producer that was to produce that record died right before pre-production and we got Matt. Matt, my man, my dude.”

“It was intense there too. There were moments that we sat in there and cried, man. The vocals and melodies and solos come out and he’d just sit there and shake his head and say ‘wow man.’ This is his words ‘in my lifetime I’ve never been so inspired by an artist.’ you know I don’t take things like that light heartedly. For someone who has worked with some of everybody to tell you that you have cemented a spot in their life forever, that they will never forget, is something you can go to bed at night and say ‘wow, that’s pretty deep.’”

“That whole record, man, we brought (bassist) MonoNeon on in, Aaron Haggerty on drums. The guest artists B. Slade, Beth Hart, Doyle Bramhall it was just amazing. I love that record. We still play tunes from that record now, and I think we will forever play songs from that record, it’s amazing. It went to #1 on Billboard, you know the charts, and shot up. The thing is I think that has been a whole trajectory of my career the last 10 years. And, I think the trajectory has gotten even more intense in the last 5 years because I made a decision to do some things different in life.”

“About 2 weeks ago I celebrated 5 years clean. That has been a major factor in all that is good that is happening in my life, I 100% believe that. I am just overjoyed when watching the process. Bookends is definitely a monumental milestone in that trudge of happy destiny in my career that is not gonna stop anytime soon if I have anything to do about it.”

Eric is a guitarist first and foremost. He is the heir apparent in the line of electric guitar masters staring with Guitar Slim moving into Buddy Guy, being mutated by Jimi Hendrix and then catalyzed by Stevie Ray Vaughn. But as is especially illustrated so well on his last three records, he is a thoughtful, astute and vulnerable songwriter. Songwriting is a collaborative commune for Eric, a group process which requires trust and friendship.

image“For me music is what comes up first and then you know the topic will come up later. I’ve always collaborated with writers. Where I feel that I may lack in, I know what I want to talk about but trying to put in the right song format is where I think I have done pretty good with pairing up with people that I respect and am very inspired by that help me come up with the songs. In October I’ll be 47 years old and my life has had its ups and downs and therein lies a hell of a batch of experiences to talk about that I think the listener can benefit from. In ways of inspiration, in ways of just knowing we are not exempt even though we are on a platform that the world sees us. Even as the average Jane and John Doe listens to the material that I do I want them to understand about things that can be very similar to what’s going on in their life. And I think that’s how you connect with the listener, is by them being able to connect with the topic in the song. It don’t come out the right way any other way, you know. I’m kind of stuck to it.”

Eric Gales is an appreciative man. Having journeyed down a long road, Eric is receiving the critical and commercial success he so richly deserves. Like so many, the COVID crisis hit him and his family hard. Eric and LaDonna both contracted the virus and were hospitalized. Unable to properly tour and share the remarkable music of The Bookends with the world, Eric had to work from home and feed his inspiration. He teased that he has an all acoustic double album in the can that will “blow minds” when it ever gets released. Now poised to launch his new record in the new year it seems like 2022 will be the year of Gales. Eric will be bringing his emotional playing and infectious music to us soon.

“Man, it (what he thinks of when he is playing) varies through a whole lot of different things. Sometimes it’s a insurmountable amount of pain that I’m thinking about and also it’s an insurmountable amount of joy. It toggles back and forth between the two. Thinking about my loved ones that’s passed away. I really and truly believe that they’re looking down and smiling and it immediately causes me to get emotional and that’s when tears come down my face.”

“The tears aren’t always from sadness, it’s actually more so from overwhelming joy. Joy that I am feeling from the caring, knowing how my life is now, that my mom and grandmom and mom and dad and brothers that has passed on are looking down and are very very proud that the baby boy in the family got his life together.”

Visit Eric’s website to see where you can catch him live soon at:https://www.ericgales.com/

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