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Published: 2018/02/12
by Larson Sutton

Eric Krasno: Soulive Cinematics and Other Concepts

When you come out to the West Coast to do shows like this do you feel like you are bringing a New York sensibility to that scene?

That’s a really good question that I haven’t thought a ton about. Other people notice it more than I do. I don’t think about it so much myself. I always just see the person I’m playing with. Midnight North sounds like California to me. Maybe if I was in California, I’d take that on a little more.

New Orleans, to me, seems to be a place that you play that exudes so much of itself into its music.

New Orleans is a really good example because when you are from New Orleans, more than anywhere else in the world, in my opinion, it affects the way you play. The humidity. The density of the air. The weight of the food. Everything is heavy. There is a lopsided groove there because the streets of New Orleans are lopsided. Maybe the New Yorker in New Orleans brings a little more edge.

So how do you find a point of entry when you are guesting?

That’s different depending on the situation. What do they want me to do? What do they want me to add? Phil is really cool about that. I’ve gotten more comfortable with him as far as adding my own flavor to things and making more suggestions. He’s really open which is cool. He wants us to put a different twist on this music. We’ve been writing together, a few songs we’ve started to play. With Dead music, I want to have a list of songs way before I actually get them. (Laughs.) I like to let them seep in. Singing and playing them has been a challenge which I love. It’s the greatest challenge in the world. It’s helped me broaden my skills, but also my writing.

Phil has a reputation for lots of songs and little time to learn them.

The first time I did a little run with him at the Capitol Theatre, I think the night before the first show he sent a list of 60 to 70 songs, because it was a run of three nights, a few sets a night. I didn’t sleep for that whole week.

Dyou think doing that is part of a way to keep the music and the musicians fresh?

He doesn’t want to repeat anything. He doesn’t want a format. It’s amazing. I think he’s going to be 78 this year and he rehearses every day of the show. He’s the first guy there. He’s super-inspiring.

As someone who always seems busy, how do you prioritize?

The calendar is pretty full. Sometimes I leave things open because I want new things to happen. I’ve been trying to slim down what I’ve been doing. Last year I was rarely at home. This next year I’m trying to keep open for studio work. Recently I’ve been prioritizing making my own music.

Does that mean you are happy where projects like Soulive and Lettuce are at for you?

It’s where I like it. I remain really good friends with all of them.

For as tuned in to the retro side of things as you are, you also seem like you are open to the newest things.

I’m always looking for the next thing that’s inspiring and, in some ways, cool. Things that are trending now are not as exciting to me as they once were. I love hearing new artists. I don’t want to be the old guy that screams about how great things were back in the day and how horrible they are now.

It could be argued that Spotify is the dominant music delivery system these days. You had a recent “moment” with Spotify when your album was inexplicably gone. How did that feel?

What was interesting, and I’ve never thought or said this before in my life, was, ‘Are the numbers still going to be there?’

The record was restored and everything is fine, but that must have been strange to experience. Kind of scary.

It just hit home that no one has “it.” It’s just there, and one button pressed by somebody in an office and it’s just gone. It’s pretty crazy.

Isn’t that really dangerous in that it can effectively devalue the music down to a disposable file?

I think that Spotify should pay better, but there’s a lot I like about it. I take advantage of it. I don’t believe in fighting against it except for the fact that they should pay us better. But, I’m not going to take my music off of there. It’s hard, because then what is our leverage? I use Spotify all the time. I save and share playlists. And it’s become a gauge to see if an artist is doing really well, looking at the Spotify plays. I’m not one of those haters. I think it’s an amazing time for music if you are willing to dig. But, I have to stay really prolific to make money. I have to play a lot of shows. 20 years ago I probably would have made a lot more money doing what I’m doing.

You issued Blood From a Stone on vinyl. Are you a believer in the vinyl comeback?

My nieces are not even thinking about buying (vinyl) records. For people of my generation we miss looking at things or holding things. On my tour I sold-out of vinyl quickly and had to re-order. People who didn’t even own record players bought it because they liked having it. What I’m surprised isn’t a broader complaint is that there are no credits anymore. iTunes might do it, but I know Spotify doesn’t. That was so important to me as a kid. I want to see who played guitar on this. Who is the engineer? Who is the producer? Where did they record?

So is the vinyl revolution real?

I want to say yes. I want to. Yes. I say yes. I will say it’s my most popular merch item. I think that’s what it is: a merch item.

Is there anything that you feel you’ve done and are content with not doing again?

The one thing I tend to do is say yes to everything. I’m trying to be a little more focused about making my own music. I want to create something that is going to leave my mark. That has become more important to me than being a part of the best jam.

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