Artist > ERIC MCFADDEN
Credits: eric gillet
Thoughout his illustrious career, singer, songwriter and guitarist Eric McFadden has steadfastly rebuked the Sirens of commerce, instead heeding the fearless, uncompromising Muses inside his head. This all-consuming obsession helps explain the twisted trajectory of McFadden’s career. A veteran of celebrated west coast bands including Liar, Alien Lovestock, Angry Babies, IZM, Holy Smokes, Faraway Brothers, and the Eric McFadden Experience, McFadden has recorded three independently produced solo albums that are regarded as underground masterworks by fans and critics alike. On his 1996 solo debut "Who’s Laughing Now," McFadden unleashed his macabre carnival balladry and Spanish-inflected rock sensibilities on an unsuspecting public. In 1999 Eric released "Our revels now are ended" which features lush, orchestral arrangements using cello, violin and contrabass. His self-titled 2000 followup unfolds like a book of Latin poetry, full of musical passion and literate lyrical fire. McFadden’s 2003 recording, "Devil Moon," is a solo work in the best sense of the word -- an acoustic endeavor with Eric assisted by the occasional guest accompanist. Along with haunting original compositions like "On The Inside," "Bitter Endings" and "Don’t Make Me Explain," the disc features a brimstone-scented interpretation of the Beatles’ "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite."
McFadden’s elegantly sinister songs, raspy vocals and flamenco-rock guitar improvisations have helped make him a regional legend along America’s western seaboard. Lest you dismiss the preceding as rank hyperbole, consider the fact that McFadden has performed with the regal likes of Bo Diddley, blues troubadour Keb Mo’, prog-metalists Living Colour, Primus mastermind Les Claypool, Carla Bozulich, Widespread panic, The Reverend Horton Heat, Clah Frontman Joe Strummer and others. McFadden’s music was featured in a three-hour special produced by Bay Area Station KFJC 98.7. And during those rare moments when he’s not touring or performing, McFadden will regale you with stories from the road, like the time he sat on a bus in San Francisco with the late Joe Strummer, "having a great time drinking Johnny Walker, singing songs and talking shit."
McFadden attributes his voracious curiosity to a variety of factors, including an isolated New Mexico upbringing that inspired his insatiable wanderlust and his all-things-considered musical approach. Listen to any of McFadden’s recordings and you’ll detect echoes of Federici Fellini, Hank Williams, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Sergio Leone, Tom Waits, Black Sabbath, Funkadelic, Salvador Dali, Django Reinhardt, The Clash and Paco Pena, all filtered through McFadden’s haunted Southwestern soul and rust-caked baritone voice.
The guitarist insists his penchant for surreal themes are more nature than nurture. "Certain things just appeal to me -- you know, the dark side," McFadden says. "We all are born with a certain sense of the world, and we all have inclinations towards certain things. For me, it’s always been the unknown, the mysterious. A lot of people regard the dark side of themselves as something to fear, a bad thing, when in fact it’s not. It’s just there, and it’s a part of everything."
Eric’s unique creative approach has attracted a fanatical following. As the San Francisco Bay Guardian accurately noted, Eric is "considered by many (Bay Area) musicians to be something of a god." The San Francisco Weekly wrote that Eric "manipulates both guitar and mandolin with a strength, precision and fluidity rarely found in the rock world." A similarly besotted Zero magazine opined, "Watching Mr. McFadden is a grand reminder of the joy that can be experienced witnessing personal excellence."
George Clinton would surely agree. The Parliament/Funkadelic pioneer was so impressed by McFadden, he recruited the guitarist as a touring member of the P-Funk All Stars. The distinction instantly thrust McFadden into the funk-rock guitar pantheon occupied by Ernie Isley, Nile Rodgers, Blackbyrd McKnight, Gary Shider, Michael Hampton and the late, great Eddie Hazel. "It’s like traveling with the circus being on tour with all those people," McFadden says of the P-Funk experience. "I’ve had times on stage with George and P-Funk that were like religious experiences. You know, where you shed tears because the energy in the room is so happening."
In late 2002, McFadden teamed with acoustic bassist Jim Whiton and drummer Jeff "The Commander" Anthony to form The Eric McFadden Trio. The group, whose songs and virtuoso heroics recall the days of The Clash, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, released its debut album in October 2003, and will release it’s next record with drummer Paulo Baldi in the spring of 2005. Until then and beyond, McFadden anxiously awaits marching orders from those insistent Muses of his.
In addition to touring with EMT, Eric spent a good deal of 2004 touring with theThe Stockholm Syndrome. A band co-founded by Dave Schools (Widespread panic) and Jerry Joseph ( Jackmormons). The Band also featued Wally Ingram (David Lindley) on drums and Danny Dziuk on keyboards.
The Eric McFadden experience won The San Francisco music awards in 1997. Eric’s band, Liar, won the California music awards in 1998 and Eric was awarded best guitarist in 2000 by the Bay area’s Zero Magazine.