The happenings around us can provide for some great musical inspiration. Considering the crazy world we are in right now it was no surprise to discover songwriter Eric Douglas has put together a full album/story with his new record The Storm.
We caught up with the talented songwriter/story teller to get a deeper look into how he got here and the inspirations behind the new record. Enjoy the interview:
What first drew you to creating original music?
Writing songs came naturally to me – as soon as I began playing guitar in college, I started writing lyrics and coming up with tunes. One of my earliest songs was about my dog; another was about being my car. I’m not saying these were great songs!
How would you describe the Eric Douglas sound?
The “sound” I strive for is a combo of interesting melody and original lyrics. In terms of genre, I shuffle between folk, rock, jazz and country, with a little Latin and R&B funk flavor thrown in for good measure. It’s a fusion. My best songs have some kind of surprise in them – whether it’s in the confessional quality of the lyrics or a key change, or tempo variation.
Which artists have had the biggest influence on you?
Wow! What a question. I’m influenced by so many different people, starting with the Beatles, Dylan and the whole ‘60s revolutionary thing. I love listening to bands like Little Feat and Steely Dan for their musical chops. Stevie Wonder and all of the great Motown artists were a big influence. Solo artists like James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot and Bruce Cockburn had and early impact on my songwriting and singing. I listen to a lot of jazz and classical music. I love the crooners like Sinatra and Dean Martin. I wouldn’t be who I am without all of them. I feel like I’m still evolving – which is exciting.
Tell us about your songwriting process? How does a track come together for you?
I typically hear a part of lyric or a musical riff in my head while I’m walking or driving or fiddling with my guitar. I know enough at that point to stop what I’m doing and try to write it down or record it on my phone. At the best of times, I feel like the song flows out through me. I try to keep a light touch so that the finished product feels natural, not forced. Sometimes I struggle and the song isn’t quite there. I’ll set it aside for several months and maybe drop it altogether. But sometimes, I’ll come back to a tidbit I’ve recorded, and suddenly the song bursts forth! It’s a very interesting and fun process.
The inspiration is obvious but what made you move forward with such an epic undertaking as “The Storm”?
As an artist, I react to what I’m feeling, and I’ve been feeling a heavy sense of loss about America’s values and place in the world for the last four years. The songs started coming out as soon as Trump became president. The first two, “Crazy Town” and “The Storm,” I included on my previous album, “Keys to the Heart.” As more songs kept coming, like “What’s Happening Here?” I began realizing that I had the makings of a story line with separate characters. I started outlining the story and imagining what songs were needed – but of course, I can’t just order up a song and make it happen. This took a lot of work!
Do you see this as more of a musical play or an album?
When I try to categorize it, it’s more like a musical or rock opera because it has different characters and a plot line. But that sounds so pretentious! Which is why I call it a song cycle. Ultimately, I want to do a cast album of The Storm, with different singers in the different roles. And of course, I would love to collaborate with people to refine it into a full stage production.
What do you hope the listeners will take away from “The Storm”?
I hope listeners feel something – have a shared emotional experience: First, a shared sense of outrage. The very first song, “Self-Made Man,” with its blaring horns, sets that motif. Second, a shared sense of getting our country to a better place and healing our wounds. That’s in songs like “Where Are the Heroes?” and “Long Way Home.” I still get emotional when I listen to these songs.
Give us a look at the future of Eric Douglas?
I’m already looking forward to the next album. Thankfully, I’ve already written a number of new songs that I think are album worthy! “The Storm” stretched me in some new musical directions and expanded my vocal range. I learned some new tricks in the studio. I want to keep working with my producer, Tommy Dunbar. With my new songs, I want to aim for more of a “live” album feel. And, of course, all that may change once we get to work on it.
Learn more about The Storm by Eric Douglas HERE.