Talking Rubber Soulive with Eric Krasno
BR: Now that you’ve “sung” “Help!” on the guitar, does it change how you hear the original?
EK: Definitely. That was one of the ones that we just tweaked the melody slightly to fit into our groove and it dropped right into the pocket.
BR: Made it a Soulive tune.
EK: Right, right.
BR: I think you could say that about the whole album – it sounds like Soulive, but you guys never lose your grip on the songs themselves. Even when you let it get a little wild, you remain true to the heart of the tunes.
EK: That was important to us – making sure that the tune was intact. We’re all huge Beatles fans; we came from that place and we wanted to respect them while putting our own take on things at the same time. They’re great songs, you know?
*BR: Absolutely. Take “Day Tripper”, for instance: the original is driven by that classic guitar riff – and you’re there on this version – but it’s that monster bass in the foreground that drives the thing. *
EK: It’s great. (laughs) It’s not what you’re expecting.
BR: Exactly. The guitar doesn’t really step up until later in the song when you let loose on the solo.
EK: That was definitely one where I felt like taking it out there a little bit. A cool thing about the record is we didn’t overdub very much at all. There were a couple of solos that I wanted to do again, but I didn’t. There are a couple times when I added a harmony part; gave something a little extra flavor. Other than that, we wanted it to be as live as possible. If we’d overproduced the thing, it wouldn’t have sounded like us. Part of what makes us us is that energy among the three of us in a live setting … the interaction. So whenever I’d say, “Oh, I didn’t hit that one note,” it would be Al who’d say, “It’s cool, it’s cool – don’t change it.”
It’s meant to sound like you’ve walked into a bar and there’s an organ trio playing Beatles songs, doing the best they can. (laughs)
BR: “She’s So Heavy” would’ve been the natural – almost clichéd – closing track, but you guys chose “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, which works really well.
EK: Really cool chord progression, great melody – another one that’s fun to play live and go out on for a while.
*BR: The jam on the album sounds like it could still be going on now … * (laughter)
EK: That arrangement had a great groove to it. We went back and forth with the beat from a double-time to more of a half-time thing and it worked.
BR: How did you guys choose the sequence of the tracks on the album – was “Guitar Gently Weeps” one of the last things you did?
EK: It really was pretty much in the order that we recorded things. A few songs got switched around, but we didn’t mess around with it a lot. I think the order pretty much matched up with the Halloween shows we did.
BR: Cool. So, looking ahead, what’s coming up for Soulive?
EK: Well, we’re getting ready to do a big tour this fall –
BR: A good chance for folks to hear some of these Beatles tunes jammed out …
EK: Exactly – we’re not locking in to the three-minute thing when we’re live. (laughter) Plus, we’ve got new stuff coming out on our Royal Family Records label. We’ve been working on Nigel Hall’s new album – did you know he’s got roots up your way, up in Maine?
BR: No, I didn’t. I’ll have to check him out.
EK: Absolutely. So we’ve got Nigel’s album on the way and Neal’s got a solo album coming out in the next few months, as well.
BR: And how about your own world outside of Soulive? You keep pretty busy.
EK: I try. (laughs) My solo album, Reminisce, came out back in April, so we’re working on getting that out there. I just finished a little tour with Chapter 2, where we did a bunch of my material and a bunch of Nigel’s. And Lettuce is going to be doing a record in the next few months. The whole Royal Family has got a lot going on. (laughs)