Eric Sardinas, an American blues rock slide guitarist, singer and songwriter, chats with Kevin Cooper about his most embarrassing moments, not taking his grandmothers advice, his latest album Boomerang and his current tour of the UK
Eric Sardinas is an American blues-rock slide guitarist, singer and songwriter who was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is noted for his use of the electric resonator guitar and his live performances. He has in the past set his guitar alight on stage and during a show in 2000 in Sydney, Sardinas suffered third degree burns to his left wrist.
Currently touring the UK he took some time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.
Hi Eric, how are you?
I’m just fine Kevin, how are you doing tonight?
I am very well thank you and let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.
It’s my pleasure and thank you for the interview.
And just how is life treating you at the moment?
Life is good. It’s a new year and everything is ready to roll. I’m just about ready to hit the ground running (laughter).
I have to ask, how is your leg now, is all well?
Thanks for asking and let me say that all is fine now; I am all nuts and bolts just like Evil Knievel (laughter).
I had started to think that you, Axl (Rose) and Dave (Grohl) were starting a trend where all lead singers had to perform whilst sitting down (laughter).
(Laughter) well, that’s a nice thought but let me tell you, you will never see me sitting down unless I am playing acoustic guitar (laughter).
Before we move on I have to ask, did you ever get any of your stolen guitars back?
It’s funny you ask that, I was just thinking about that the other day. I have to say that I got them all back but man, it was close. They almost vanished into the Bermuda Triangle. They had disappeared and they were off the map. However, I managed to pull a few strings and it was just a matter of luck that they came back. Now I have trackers in all of my guitar cases so no matter where they are I can look them up on the app and I know instantly where they are. I most certainly don’t want to go through that again. Touch wood, I have been very lucky throughout my career and with all of the travelling, so let me tell you it is a pretty bad feeling when everything vanishes like that.
Right, let’s talk about your latest studio album Boomerang. I have been playing it now for the past few weeks and I have to say that I think that it is a fantastic piece of work.
Well thank you so much, I am glad that you like it.
Are you happy with it?
I am, I really am. I take a lot of pride in all of my albums being recorded very honestly and having something to say. I think that this album incorporates both sides of the coin.
I have heard that you always record onto analogue tape first. Is that true?
Yes I do. Every one of my previous albums and CD’s have been recorded on analogue tape. For me, tape gives you a whole warmer feeling than that which you get from CD.
As a vinyl collector myself, I see that your last four albums have also been released on vinyl. Is that something that you are passionate about?
Yes it is, very much so. I love the warmth that you get from vinyl. I have five gramophones here in the house together with a huge collection of vinyl albums; everything from Robert Johnson to early traditional pre-war delta blues. You could say that I am a vinyl junkie (laughter). So where do you get your vinyl from?
The biggest percentage of my albums have come from Clearwater over in Florida.
Really, that’s my home state so make sure that you leave some for me (laughter). Joking aside, if it is at all possible make sure that you stay out of Miami my friend. I’m sure that you know what I am talking about, because it can be dangerous (laughter).
You know that favourite tracks change like the weather. However, for me there are three tracks which stand out on the album; Morning Glory, If You Don’t Love Me and How Many More Years.
I appreciate that, thank you very much.
Can you give me some of the back story to those specific tracks?
Okay, here goes. Morning Glory to me is the inspiration that I received spiritually from going to the Zian Christian Church revivals and to me the message is clear. It is very gospel, but I took it into a darker place. I like to keep it nice and clean with the steel guitar.
As far as How Many More Years I enjoy that song just because when a song sits on the one like that, then it’s all about the story. It’s all about the angst behind it and where you can go with it, and the rise and fall of the energy of the song. The energy between the story and the music itself has got to have that organic energy that takes you on a ride even though it is sitting in a certain place; it takes you on a ride right up until the end. I guess that is kind of the story within itself which is reflected in the temperature of the song in the way that it goes up and down. That is pretty much what a good song is all about.
And then If You Don’t Love Me, which to me is like any song that I write in a romantic and heartbroken way. I personally feel a lot of freedom on that song and it is a lot of fun to play. I think that the complexities within the simplicity of it make it a great song.
Would you say that it is your best work to date?
I look at each one of my albums as being like a stepping stone in my life; they are like a photograph of where I am as a musician, where I am at inspirationally, and hopefully I am moving both my music and myself forward. I don’t know if I am moving forward or if the music is moving forward (laughter). Sometimes it feels like a runaway train but I do take all of my recordings very seriously. What I can say is that I stand by my releases. For me it is about keeping it fresh; I never play the same song the same way twice. The songs on the latest album are from the heart and are all songs that mean something to me at that time. I can look back on previous albums and know exactly where I was and also where I am now.
You changed from playing the guitar left handed to right handed. What was the reason for that?
I don’t read music and so I learn songs by ear and I am naturally a leftie. I never took guitar lessons and as I say I learn everything by ear. I kept on being told that I was playing the guitar the wrong way and so I started playing it upside down, but I switched it over to the right hand side because that was the way that it was strung up. For a long time I thought that I was destined to remain a leftie who played the guitar upside down. It was a very difficult time for me. However, as it was all by ear and feel, I just remembered what I did and as a result my dominant hand is on the fret board and I have to say that helps me out. I’ve got ten fingers and I use them all (laughter).
You recently joined Jazzhaus Records, is that a good fit?
I have always wanted to be in a position where I could make some smaller quarterly releases and I was approached by Jazzhaus Records to do just that and so we came together in that way. They are a great label, very honest and yes, at this moment in time everything seems to be working very well.
You recorded the album ‘on the hoof’ so to speak because you simply couldn’t find any more time within the year. Did that help you at all?
The studio has a way of taking the freedom away if you are not approaching it the right way. It can very easily take away the magic and the mojo unless you know how to approach your music in the studio. So whenever we did manage to get some studio time we just let it roll. However, with the constant pressure of travelling and performing almost every night, it made it extremely difficult for us to actually get any studio time. Things became fraught at times; let me tell you (laughter). I have recently told myself that I don’t work, I play (laughter). It brings the best out of you. It is nice to strike it whilst it is hot, bring that magic home and not get suffocated by the possibilities of what you can do, what is expected of you and breaking things apart too much. Sometimes there are far too many cooks in the kitchen so I like to keep it direct, real and pure.
Are you already having thoughts on a new studio album? How far ahead are you thinking?
Yes I am, and in fact I am already in the process of gathering up the songs that I am considering worthy of being put onto a new release. It is a never ending process; I am either writing or playing a gig (laughter). Having managed to get some time off over the holidays it gave me an opportunity to cycle a lot of music that is coming together and everything I am pleased to say is starting to come into focus. It’s like getting out of a swimming pool; you need a minute to clear your eyes because for that brief moment everything is kind of foggy. You have to make sure that you clarify and get everything together before you get out of the pool. You have to remember to make sure that your shorts are on (laughter).
What was it that originally drew you to the blues?
I just think that my inspirations come from my family, who always had music playing throughout the household, plus having an older brother whose record collection I would raid on a regular basis when I would listen to Led Zeppelin, together with anything that was classic. My mom’s side of the coin was funk, Motown, Gospel, anything from Ray Charles to Wild Cherry (laughter). I was always very exposed to all kinds of soul and energy. That’s what took me upon this road that I have woven. In hindsight, my very first concert was to see Elvis Presley and my second was Muddy Waters so you can probably see why I was drawn to the blues (laughter).
Just in case the music didn’t take off, what was Plan B?
Well my grandmother always used to say to me ’don’t put all of your eggs in one basket’ but I tell you what, I put all of my eggs in one basket (laughter).
You are here touring the UK, are you pleased to be back here?
Very much so, it’s been way too long. I have been really looking forward to it. However, when I walk around London I am going to be very upset to see that The Astoria is not there anymore. That will be a bummer. However, there are a lot of things that change, like The Filmore East, there is so much history there; it’s a sad deal but I am glad that I managed to play those venues a handful of times. It’s not been that long since I was last in the UK but let me tell you, it is so good to be back.
What can we expect from the shows?
You can expect the unexpected (laughter). If you like the strength, the power and the energy of what the blues has given to me, because it has carried me as a life-force throughout my life and that’s where it comes from, then you are going to have a fantastic evening. We have something to say and we want to continue moving the music forward.
Do the UK audiences appreciate what it is that you are doing?
To be honest, I find that generally the music is integrated into the lives of everyone over there in the UK. It has always been a pleasure for me to play in the UK and everyone that comes to one of my shows is there because they love music as much as I do. That’s really what my goal is; to make the stage disappear, for everyone to be together, and for everyone to have a great time.
Would you say that the blues is currently in a good place?
I think that it is, I really do. I think that it has finally found its niche beyond where it always was for me and where it always has been historically. There are a lot of changes; incredible changes both for the better and for the worst, within the music industry but at the same time the blues will always be there. I think that it now stands and has its footing in the place where it should be, and that is front and centre.
What was the first record that you bought?
That would have been John Lee Hooker’s album Alone. I bought that with the money that I had earned from my paper route (laughter). And I bought it from the local used record store.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
The web of magical moments that I have had together with the love that I have for music. I have been so fortunate over my lifetime and it is so difficult to narrow all of that down to one moment. If I were to throw a blanket on it, there would just be a whole load of incredible opportunities and experiences that I have had throughout my travels musically.
Do you have an embarrassing moment that you can tell me about?
Embarrassing, you mean other than breaking my leg (laughter). Well did you know that I once got electrocuted on stage, and it was pretty bad let me tell you, you can’t let go of that microphone stand once it starts. I almost got my eyeball blown out of its socket (laughter). At least I have never said that I was in the wrong town (laughter). At one concert a few years ago now there was a massive rain storm, and there was mud everywhere. I jumped off the stage with my guitar on and slipped in a whole bunch of mud but the thing was that I kept playing. However, I have to tell you that I was covered in mud for the rest of the show (laughter). But it was kind of cool.
What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?
That was Hotel Vast Horizon by Chris Whitley.
Which single event has changes your life forever?
That would be owning my 1958 Cadillac (laughter). It is my pride and joy. I feel that my life gets changed forever on a constant basis which has to be a good thing. I am blessed to be in this life and everything that I do musically comes back to me full circle with the love of the people who love music as much as I do. So every single day changes my life.
On that note Eric let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me, it’s be great and I look forward to seeing you at The Robin 2. Take care and speak soon.
No problem Kevin, I sure appreciate your time. I love The Robin 2 and I will see you there. Bye for now.
TOUR DATES 2017
|Fri 20th||The Blues & Rock Festival Skegness|
|Mon 23rd||Boom Boom Club Sutton|
|Tue 24th||Iron Road Rock Bar Evesham|
|Wed 25th||Robin 2 Bilston|
|Thu 26th||Barnoldswick Arts Centre|
|Sat 28th||Arlington Arts Centre Newbury|
|Sun 29th||Giants Of Rock Festival Minehead|
Tickets are now on sale