Shawn Hamilton here with you once again from The One Magazine. This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with an old friend of mine, and someone I consider one of the hardest working musicians in the country — Eric13. Eric is a founding member of the New York-based band Sex Slaves, has a huge following as a solo artist, and lately has been touring with Atlanta’s own Combichrist.
SH: Eric, thanks for joining us and tell us, how did the Combichrist US tour go?
E13: It was awesome! We just completed 34 shows across the US, 32 of them as part of a package with Coal Chamber, Filter, American Head Charge and Saint Ridley. The lineup was pretty diverse, so I really had no idea what to expect in crowd size or crowd reaction. It turned out great though, packed houses for the most part and really enthusiastic crowds. Every tour has a couple clunkers of course, but the bill was really solid and the people responded. I became a much bigger fan of Filter & Coal Chamber, both great live bands. We might even tour with one or both of them again in the future.
SH: Nice, so with a little time off, can you tell us what’s in store for you in the near future?
E13: Well, I just got home from tour, so as one does I’m doing laundry and catching up on sleep – you know, the glamorous stuff. But in the five days I’ve been home I’ve already performed two solo shows and written a new song. No rest for the wicked!
In a few weeks Combichrist heads to Europe for the first of two summer tours — a short one in May, then a huge one in July and August. I’m really stoked the festivals we’re on this year — Summer Breeze, Amphi, Rockstadt, WGT and the big boy – Wacken. In between tours I’m going to be working on a new ERIC13 album.
SH: Speaking of your solo music, tell us how you go from being on a Singing Cowboy tour to this stage of Combichrist?
E13: Combichrist drummer Joe Letz and I have known each other for over 10 years. We rehearsed in the same studio while both playing the New York City club circuit. The latest Combichrist record “We Love You” is much more guitar heavy than any previous album, so Andy (LaPlegua, singer/founder of Combichrist) wanted to bring in a different type of guitar player for the live band. There were a bunch of candidates but when the dust settled I got the gig, and haven’t looked back since. It’s amazing that it’s only approaching 18 months in the band, because we’ve been on tour almost that entire time. I’ve already done over 100 shows with these guys.
SH: How has it been so far?
E13: I love this band. We all get along great, and are definitely on the same page professionally. It’s funny to think that I briefly considered turning it down. I had been writing, rehearsing and playing out about 30 new solo songs. I had players in place, and a European tour booked. It was the culmination of months of planning, and I was just about to invest a bunch of time and money into a new album cycle. The Combichrist offer came right at the height of it all. I sought advice from some of my peers, including Sex Slaves drummer J/Bomb who said he’d be mad if I didn’t take it, so I switched gears, dove into it full on and it’s been an incredible ride.
SH: For those not familiar with your New York based career, give us a summary of how you became ERIC13.
E13: Many people know me as “Eric13 of Sex Slaves,” my hard rock band from New York City. Sex Slaves put out four commercially released albums over a 10 year span that saw us tour in every corner of the US, and all over Europe. Our most popular track “Thank God for Jack Daniels” is a pretty well known international single. Bands in seemingly every country I find my way to have covered that song. I’m really proud of the music and touring and hard work that the guys and me put in over the years. Hoping to pull it back together at some point.
SH: You mentioned having a few new Sex Slaves tunes written in your back pocket, what’s the plan for those?
E13: I’m always writing, and sometime songs for my solo records pop out, and sometime Sex Slaves songs pop out. Right now I have a few heavy tunes up my sleeve that I want to bring to Sex Slaves for sure, but we don’t have a timetable as of yet. We still field a lot of calls for Sex Slaves shows, and I’m dying to fulfill those wishes, but my hands are pretty full with Combichrist at the moment. I’m hoping that Sex Slaves do some live stuff in 2016. If we do, I definitely wanna put some new material out. Stay tuned.
SH: How do you feel the music industry is doing these days and how has it changed for touring musicians like yourself.
E13: The music biz rolls on. It’s certainly way different than it was 5 years ago, and even more so than 10 years ago. The whole world is different, economies are different, and it’s all tied together. If you wanna make a living making music, you gotta roll with the changes. At the heart of it all, the key is to work hard and make great music. Opportunities may come or not, but without those basics it’s gonna be real tough. After that you need to either know your own business well, or have talented people on your business team that keep you moving in the right direction. I just try to focus on being as pro as possible — play great, sing great, keep your gear in top condition, and do whatever you have to do to keep it going. Oh yeah — and have fun! The business end of it is rarely fun, but it’s necessary if it’s your job.
SH: Tell us about your endorsements and those relationships?
E13: I’m very lucky to have the support from companies whose products I really love. It’s crucial for a musician or band that tours as heavily as I do to be able to interact directly with the manufacturers.
I’ve been with Dean Guitars for over 5 years now, and love them more every tour. I still use the very first Cadillac 1980 model they gave me when I first joined their roster in 2010. I love the look and playability of that model, and it pretty much remains my No. 1. More recently I’ve had the opportunity to test a few different models, and each one has earned a place in my arsenal. I have a Dave Mustaine Signature Z that I use for Combichrist’s drop C songs, and I love my Eric Peterson Signature V — it just looks badass. I have a handful of acoustics that I’ve taken all over the world. They sound great and really hold up to my heavy travel and performance schedule.
I’m pretty stoked too about my latest acquisition — a Flameburst ML, just like Dimebag used to play. I realized that for all the Deans I have and play that I didn’t have one that represented the most iconic Dean player there was. I debuted it in Columbus, Ohio on this tour, and I have a feeling you’ll be seeing me play it a lot more live.
I use Albion TCT amplifiers — a company started my Steve Grindrod, who was a master amp designer at Marshall for 20 years. He worked alongside Jim Marshall creating many of the most famous heads in the world. I was turned onto his new company, and amp, by Producer Ulrich Wild, and was instantly sold. I still use a stereo amp rig and have my prized Bogner Uberschall still in action. It’s just too blazing of a live amp to ever consider replacing.
Just this year I moved over to Ernie Ball for strings — which is what I’ve been playing since I was 9 years old. To be added to their roster is pretty awesome.
I’m with Westone audio for my in-ear monitors, great product, great service from our guys there.
Since joining Combichrist, and now donning the stage makeup, I’ve been using Manic Panic, the NYC original.
Also a shout out to Innercity Raiders and 7hirteen Designs who make me all my stage clothes. Oh wait, and our bassist Brent Ashley who customizes all those clothes! haha
SH: Any promotional items you care to discuss?
E13: Not to blatantly plug BUUUT….I invite people to check out all the different music I’ve put out: the four Sex Slaves albums, (“Bite Your Tongue,” “Wasted Angel,” “Nikki” and “Call of the Wild”) and my two solo acoustic albums, “Ritual Dance” and the white album. They’re all on iTunes, Google, etc. etc. Or on my website www.eric13.com. And for those who knew me already, check out the Combichrist stuff!
SH: Any favorite venues or cities to play?
E13: Oh man, there’s too many to list. I tend to like places based on getting to see my friends, so it’s always great to be in my hometown of Philadelphia. I’d say NYC because of all my friends, but it’s always so insane there! Munich allows me to see all my Bavarian buddies, crowds in London are wild. Eastern Europe is my new fav — Prague, Zagreb, Sofia, I could go on and on. But I love being in the good old U.S. of A too. I guess I just love touring.
SH: Well with that, we’ll let Eric get back to his laundry and look forward to see him out on the road in a city near you!
E13: Thanks for having me. See y’all out on the road!