Wreckless Eric tells us about his favorite music, towns & espressos of 2018
Wreckless Eric continues to make thoughtful, witty, heartfelt and very catchy music, some 40 years after the song that made his famous, "Whole Wide World." This year he released the wonderful Construction Time & Demolition, a meditation on ravages of time and "progress." You can stream the album below.
Living in the Catskills these days, Eric also stays busy on the road, and just returned from his first tour of New Zealand and Australia in nearly four decades. He's got UK dates in the spring and those are listed below.
We've been asking artists for their year-end lists all month, and Wreckless Eric was nice enough to send us his Top 10, though he notes, "as a pop musician it looks like I can only count to four. So 10 might be pushing it." If Eric had been be prog musician he might have at least gotten to six, but he writes a lot about the four he chose -- "Top Town," "Top Label," "Top Espresso" and "Top Opener" -- and it's a great read. Check it out below.
I just came back from touring in Australia and New Zealand. I haven’t been there since 1980. Back then, Sydney was the musical center of things but that’s all changed and now it’s Melbourne. In 1980 I was jaded, drunk and suffering from a year of constant touring, and Melbourne hardly made any impression on me. This time around I spent days there, wandered around and fell in love with the Victorian Colonial bungalows. I was fortunate to have Melbourne bands the Pink Tiles, the Girlatones, and Craig Dermody From Scott & Charlene’s Wedding open shows for me, and at one of the Melbourne shows a guy approached me and said ‘you won’t remember me but I once opened a show for you in London.’ It was Kim Salmon from the Surrealists and the Scientists. And Melbourne has a synthesizer library - you pay a yearly subscription and you can book the synth of your choice and work on stuff with your own laptop and software.
If it wasn’t so far away I’d move there in a heartbeat!
Top Record Label
My new favorite record label. A few years ago I found a record that may have been called The Belbury Tales by Ghostbox or it may have been Belbury Poly though I think I assumed in my mind that Belbury Poly was the caption on the black and magenta monochrome photo of a modern building on the album cover. The only other information on the front cover was the prominently displayed number 16. It looked and sounded like a library music record - stock, non-copyright background music for low budget documentaries. Except that there was something disquieting about the mix of electronic music and old folk melodies played on synthesizers. And an eerie short story on the inner sleeve written by someone who stumbles upon the town of Belbury. I love the record and it keeps surfacing in the chaos of this coming-back-home-from-endless- touring existence of mine, and every time it does I resolve to find out more about it, and somehow I never do. Until the other week. I put it into a search and within minutes I was on the Ghostbox website finding all manner of treasures. It’s a world that isn’t quite the world I grew up in, it’s the seventies, or it maybe the sixties or even the eighties, but it isn’t that world, it’s a parallel universe, and not a nostalgic universe - it never slips into parody or nostalgia - it’s just runs parallel. I imagine a lightweight, made for TV mystery and suspense movie starring Charlotte Rampling, a British country pub, nothing quaint, this is a much more knockabout, workaday British pub, where lecturers from the Belbury Polytechnic might hang out in their corduroy jackets and suede shoes - and there’s a portal into a Chaucerian nether world, a world of maypole and Morris dancing, ancient ritual and human sacrifice. Bad things happened once upon a time on the site of the Belbury Polytechnic and this music, the Ghostbox catalogue, is the inspiration and the soundtrack for the movie.
Supernatural, Hudson NY
The HiLo, Catskill NY
It’s the only vice I have left - I like to start the day with a couple of decent espressos. There are loads of coffee places these days but unfortunately most of them aren’t very good. Espresso is coffee in its pure form. Cream, sugar and those disgusting syrup concoctions so often disguise the taste of the filthy, rancid black liquid that a lot of people mistake for the taste of good coffee. It isn’t good, it’s poisonous- oily deposits from old coffee turn into a poison. I can often tell if a coffee place is serious by looking at the photos on Yelp reviews- bottles of syrup, expansive menus and too much baked goods are a giveaway. Or if the door opens to the sickly stench of vanilla I won’t even enter the place. I had a great single origin espresso at 303 in Trafalgar Street in Brighton while I was in the UK earlier this year -- in fact I had several over the course of a week. That place never disappoints. When I’m home in upstate New York I often drive over the Rip Van Winkle bridge to Supernatural in Hudson where the espresso is consistently the best of anywhere I’ve ever been in the world. And sometimes I just stroll down the hill to HiLo in Main Street, Catskill, the all-singing, all-dancing coffee hang, bar, restaurant, venue and exhibition space. There always something going on at the HiLo, they have a grand piano, and if you walk in at seven o’clock on a Monday morning you’ll be treated to a man playing a mellotron.
Top Opening Act
The Paranoid Style
Jammin’ Java, Vienna VA
The Paranoid Style covered a song of mine, "Duvet Fever," on their first album so I was predisposed to like them except that I went to see them play and I didn’t. I felt the approach was all wrong -- a catalog version of Ramones distorted guitar and a mediocre rhythm section. It was all a bit hysterical but I liked something about them so I asked them to open a show for me on the condition that they played an acoustic set with no drums. I discovered a side to them that I couldn’t have imagined with the Boss distortion pedal sludge. I told them they should play all their shows like that but no one listens to me.
Wreckless Eric - 2019 Tour Dates
MAY 02 LEEDS The Wardrobe
MAY 03 LIVERPOOL Royal Philharmonic
MAY 04 MANCHESTER The Ruby Lounge
MAY 07 NOTTINGHAM Trent Students Union
MAY 09 NEWCASTLE The Cluny
MAY 10 BRISTOL Fiddlers
MAY 17 LONDON 100 Club
MAY 18 BRIGHTON Patterns
MAY 24 EDINBURGH Voodoo Rooms
MAY 25 GLASGOW Oran Mor