Up Close With Eric Johnson:
Doug Morrissey Gets 10 Minutes With EJ To Talk About His Upcoming Album Up Close
Doug Morrissey: What inspired you to do an album like this with the help of guest vocalist?
Eric Johnson: I recorded all the vocals and I sang all of them. I didn’t think my voice was right though so I thought I’d bring in some other people.
DM: Have you ever worked with Johnny Lang before?
EJ: No, not on a recording but he had a gig in town and he said if I ever wanted to do something to call him. So he had the next day off and was nice enough to come down and record.
DM: I absolutely love your version of Electric Flag’s “Texas” with Steve Miller and Jimmie Vaughan.
EJ: Thank you, it was planned from the start. The blues track was always planned. I love that song and I grew up with it. I pretty much wore out that Electric Flag album as a child.
DM: Are there any guests on the album you haven’t worked with before in some capacity?
EJ: I never worked with Steve Miller or Johnny Lang. I did some work with Sonny Landreth on his album From the Reach. Everyone else I have worked with in some capacity.
DM: Your new song “Gem” has a beautiful melody. How did that come about? I ask because I know some guitar players who just noodle around for hours and then WHAM! They find what they were looking for. Does that fit you at all?
EJ: Well, yes but it just kind of comes to you. You know where it’s going. I start off by really just letting it do its thing and then you go in and you can color in all the spaces. You have to kind of just let it happen.
DM: Who wrote the lyrics on the songs? Was it a team effort or do you like to take control of that?
EJ: All except for “Brilliant Room” which Bill Maddox and I co-wrote the lyrics.
DM: I’ve read you enjoy meditating. Does that help you center yourself and your music?
EJ: Oh yeah, it helps your whole life. If you can stop and reflect and turn your mind off for a little while and get back to that source point. Back to square one. We are all kind of losing our orbit and it’s nice to just bring it back down to square one.
DM: You just came to Pittsburgh for the Experience Hendrix Tour on Oct 26. Is there anyone you really wanted to see play?
EJ: I wanted to see everyone. It’s a great time to play Jimi Hendrix tunes. Ya know, Steve Vai was great as was Johnny Lang. It was just a really great time.
DM: The first Hendrix song I ever tried to play was “Little Wing” and it nearly broke me as a human being. What was your first Hendrix song you learned to play?
EJ: What was it…ummm….probably Foxey Lady. That’s just great song.
DM: How is the Guitar Masters tour with Peppino D’Agostino and Andy McKee?
EJ: We’ve done one tour already on the east coast and it was really nice and went great. We are going to do another leg soon after the Hendrix tour.
DM: You never stop touring do you?
EJ: Well, after a few years I have to come out again kind of like Howard Hughes and knock down all the milk bottles and reemerge!
DM: Don’t forget those Kleenex boxes on your feet.
EJ: Yeah for sure!
DM: Did you ever think in your wildest dreams as a kid that you would be doing that kind of a tour under the heading Guitar Masters?
EJ: Oh no never. I never thought it would be like this. It’s really cool though to be here sharing the stage with these guys.
DM: One last question, if you could play with anyone in history who would it be?
EJ: Ummmm….Stevie Wonder. I’ve always been a huge fan and I would love to play with him. There are a lot of people because there are so many different styles of music I like. Stevie is a good place to start though!
Doug Morrissey-MuzikReviews.com Staff
November 7, 2010