Erik Scott’s musical experience is as deep as he is tall (6’3”). Though this veteran bassist is best known for his work with Alice Cooper, Sonia Dada and Flo & Eddie, he’s also recorded with dozens of other artists, including Carl Palmer, Kim Carnes, and Pops and Mavis Staples. In addition to being a provider of soulful low notes, Erik (aka “Eski”) is also a songwriter and composer who has written songs covered by Ted Nugent, Triumph, and Alice Cooper and has written and recorded music for hit TV shows Starsky & Hutch, Charlie’s Angels, Vegas and Loveboat. He’s also played and co-wrote music for “Nothing to Lose” with Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence, “Waterproof”, written by Barry Berman of “Benny and Joon,” and the National Lampoon “Vacation” movies with Chevy Chase.
With Sonia Dada on extended hiatus, Erik turned his focus to recording soulfully spacey instrumentals. His debut solo album, “Other Planets” will be released in January of 2009. We caught up with Erik recently to discuss the recording and his four decades worth of experience as a professional musician, producer and composer.
The idea for this album came from a piece I wrote in 2004 for Sonia Dada’s album Test Pattern, where the bass was the main melodic voice in a rather spacey environment. When SD took a break, I found myself alone in the studio with an active imagination, some basses, and a keyboard. With no band, no singers, and no pre-dispositions, I could pretty much wander wherever the musical muse took me. So when I was haunted by this suggestively Spanish-sounding trumpet melody, I played it, in the upper registers of the bass. And when I heard a banjo type rhythmic chordal picking in my head, I played it – on the bass. And it worked well. So when I thought a great piano part would work in verse two………I went and got a great piano player to play it….what do you think I am, nuts?
I just wanted to make some cool music, and besides using the bass as a main melodic voice, I used it to generate sound effects in a way I haven’t heard much. Combining certain key pads with melodic bass and steel guitar I found to be sonically seductive, and John Pirruccello played some very cool steel. I got a few other buddies to contribute other instrumentation, such as Hank Guaglianone on drums,and Chris Cameron on piano.
There are no words here, except for a conversation with my dog Maui. No lyrical signposts to influence the direction of feeling. Just the music and the listener.
Hiding out in the Northwoods while doing the bulk of recording, burrowing under winter snow, it was easy to go to another world – or maybe another planet.
Bass: Pino Palladino, James Jamerson, Chuck Rainey, Beatles-era Paul McCartney, and you gotta love Tony Levin. Not to mention Lee Sklar, Duck Dunn, or the innovative Chris Squire. And then you have the true soloists like Michael Manring, whose abilities are, quite frankly, beyond me. Production: George Martin, Bob Ezrin, Chuck Plotkin to name a few. I am always influenced at the time by the people I am working with and there have been many who have influenced me to the good – in life and in music, here, and abroad.
After I moved to Illinois from Los Angeles , I was introduced to Dan Lakin by Sonia Dada’s FOH mixer, Steve Kocour (one of the best, by the way, maybe the best in a small to medium sized room). The Lakland necks are especially accurate and easy to play. A light touch on a Lakland can make a cool, subtle growl, especially on low notes in an open musical landscape. And the Joe Osborne model with which I was recording last night, well, the reason I used it was because of the remarkably warm and round tone. It has the PJ configuration pickups made by Lakland. I also must say that the folks at Lakland have started making a new fretless model bass that I just love. It has a unique upper-end sound that has a great growling resonance that can be adjusted to sound more like a cello, or you can turn the rhythm pickup up a bit, adjusting the low end, and bring it more into the range of the violin basses, as well as a warm fretless.
While still in Chicago (1969), I recorded with the band Food for an album on Capitol records. Food morphed into Otis Plum, a guitar-bass-drums trio known for its raging instrumentals. Then in 1973 Otis Plum recorded as Jambalaya on A&M records. Besides me, these early groups had drummers Barry Mraz and Charlie Ray, guitarist Billy Steele and keyboard player Peter McIan. It was shades of things to come, as all had great recording sense: Mraz went on to engineer and produce the Ohio Players and Styx; Steele wrote and recorded for Steve Perry, Alice Cooper and Pat Benatar; and keyboard player Peter McIan went on to produce Men at Work.
In 1974 most of the guys moved to L.A. to pursue their careers. I stayed behind for a few months to record an album with Mo McGuire, then followed. I started doing sessions at Cherokee Studios where Flo & Eddie (former Turtles and Frank Zappa associates Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) had done some recording. When they were ready to tour in late 1974, they called the studio, which recommended me. We toured constantly for over three years, opening for some of the biggest acts of the era, Jefferson Starship, The Doobie Brothers, Stephen Stills, and Fleetwood Mac. During that time we also recorded two albums, “Illegal, Immoral and Fattening” and “Moving Targets.” For this kid from the sticks it was a cool thing – got to meet and hang with some very interesting folks during that time: Lou Reed, Grace Slick, Keith Moon and Alice, to name a few.
Well, besides releasing the solo instrumental record in January, I’m starting to work with Dan again, of Sonia Dada. The hopeful goal is to release a new record, which has some altered versions of some of our favorite songs from the SD catalogue, a couple of cover versions of songs we really like, and some new songs.
Basically I continue to do what I do, write and record new music – hopefully progressing as a player and music-maker in the process.