Multi instrumentalist Eric Long comes from the rare breed of singers whose voices you simply do not forget. His delivery is filled with the same characteristic conviction as artists like Joe Cocker and The Who’s Roger Daltrey, bringing refreshingly classic male soul and blues lines to a progressive Americana sound. Armed with two guitars, one of which is used for rootsy slide numbers, banjo, harmonica and the occasional dobro, Eric fills out his sound with a constant foot tapping that is characteristic in early country blues recordings.
Eric took the time to talk with us to weigh in on his recent work, travels, and pitch in a little advice on healthy creative habits.
Do Something Cool: Hey Eric, thank you for talking the time to chat with me. Can you share a little about yourself? Introduce who you are to the readers, and get me up to speed with where you're at in life.
Eric Long: My pleasure, glad we have a chance to catch up. Well, my name is Eric Long and I’m currently living in San Francisco trying to make it as a singer/songwriter while juggling classes at City College of San Francisco in Music/Music Recording and random other jobs and projects to keep me afloat. A lot of people don’t know this but San Francisco offers free city college to residents so I took advantage and jumped in this semester while working on putting out my second CD release under my name.
DSC: Lets talk about your first album. I have been listen to "Carousel" a lot lately. Loving it. I know you as this ramblin, travelin man on The West Coast, but this album feels almost like a love letter to home. Can you tell me about the experience of going back east to Pennsylvania to record this album?
EL: Carousel was an album that I released in 2015. It was my first time with a ton of studio time working with one of my best friends growing up in Pennsylvania, so me and a group of about 10 musicians from the Philadelphia area spent about a month tracking in a big warehouse where we had total creative freedom and where we worked at all hours of the day nonstop until the album was finished. It was a grind and I learned a ton. The album came out pretty polished and I am super proud to have it out in the world.
DSC: What can we expect from your next project?
EL: On this next album I’m excited to pull back a little and let the meat and bone of the songs show through a bit more as a solo artist: less instruments and more focus on me as a singer songwriter on guitar. It’s full of songs that I’ve written while traveling, a few from way back, a couple written while traveling through the Pacific Southwest in a Toyota Dolphin, another few from Central America, and 1 or 2 from my travels in Southeast Asia about a year ago. It’s crazy looking back at how many songs start to stack up while you’re on the road, and now that I’ve settled into San Francisco I’ve been working hard at solidifying those ideas and melodies into fuller songs which is a total other beast from chasing ideas out on the road. It’s calculated and requires decisiveness, balance and regularity which grounding down in the Bay Area has provided me. I’m thankful.
DSC: I really feel you on balance. It's important to let the creative mind breath and explore, and its another to harness that creative energy and turn it into something to share. It's this breath in, breath out balance of inspiration and production. Has finding that balance been a challenge for you?
EL: I think the most challenging part of balancing creative intake and output for me is steering clear of the mindset that we have to wait for inspiration to strike. It’s so easy to embrace the mindset of the starving artist stranded with writer’s block. What’s challenging and rewarding for me is doing the work anyways. Make yourself create something. Anything. Exercising that mentality on a regular and ongoing basis makes you better at whatever you do, and the reality is that we can always produce something. It’s that voice in our heads that tells us it’s not good enough that beats us down, but if we’re constantly aware of our surroundings and relationships both close and in passing, the songs will probably come up, and if the songs aren’t coming to you than there are a million other things that you can constantly be doing as a musician.
A big part of being a songwriter means you never stop looking for songs, and hopefully you never stop growing and learning and that’s what I’m trying to focus on at the moment. Hopefully in the wake of this next release I’ll be able to make it back out on the road in my 1992 Ford E250 Hightop Van to try and chase down another pile of songs.
DSC: Glad to hear you're gonna be back on the road soon! For now it sounds like SF is a great place to ground yourself and stay inspired while being surrounded with lots of productive energy.
EL: There are a lot of risk-takers in San Francisco that are doing everything that they can to see their dreams come to fruition while living in one of the most expensive cities in the US. Most of that go-getter mindset that I’ve seen has been in the tech world, but just being around people that are fighting to create something that holds value is really cool, and helps me to stay working towards what I think holds value which is my music.
DSC: Are you setting any goals for the rest of your time in SF? Or do you like to go with the flow and let intuiting guide you?
EL: I’ve always been pretty bad at following through with big goals. Once I adopt something I’m usually all-in. So with goals, if there are big things that I’ve told myself I’ll complete and they don’t get done I really start to beat myself up about it. I think small goals, things that we can gauge and see weekly growth in are great however because they break up the overwhelming nature of those bigger mountains that we’re trying to climb. My Dad has always told me that the best way to climb a mountain is step by step. If we’re only looking at the top we’ll trip and fall right from the start and will continue to do so the whole way to the top. It’s the small steps that I’m after because with those steps I know that I’ve done the work and that’s really fulfilling for me.
DSC: It's been humbling and educational as ever to talk to you my friend. Thanks again and keep on living.
EL: You too, brother. All the best.