Eric Harrison is a New Jersey-based Americana singer-songwriter whose work has earned comparisons to Elvis Costello, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan.
Getting to know Eric
Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
My man crush Stephen Colbert…but it would end up being my doppelgänger Jon Stewart.
If you were a member of the Spice Girls, what would your spice handle be?
Sardonic Spice. We would tour comp lit graduate programs in the Northeast and run out of money by our third gig.
Would you rather be the one in a movie who gets the hero/heroine or the baddie with all the good lines?
Whoever Paul Rudd plays – the self-deprecating little guy who makes the girl laugh and wins her over by being a good listener. Through his magical powers he blasts himself out of a seemingly impenetrable dungeon called “the friend zone.”
What makes you nostalgic?
Everything. Alas, in 2021, nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be.
If you were talking to a younger version of you, what advice would you give yourself?
Live a little and don’t waste so much time being so nostalgic, you idiot!
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
I think my music generally falls into the overlapping categories of singer-songwriter and Americana – hopefully with the best qualities of both when I get it right.
In my heart I’m a protest singer since every song I write feels like a protest against something – injustice, apathy, frustration, compromise, cruelty, mortality… or some girl not giving me her phone number in 1989. Somehow that injustice still seems worthy of a march on Washington.
What is your creative process like?
When I stumble upon a couple of lines or a melodic idea I like I’ll type it or sing it into my phone. When I have what I think is close to a fully formed song I will record it to a click track, add some harmonies and then upload it to my producer Kevin Salem.
Kevin will add a basic drum track, we’ll talk about song structure and what direction we want to take, and then we enlist any other players we may need.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Kevin Salem continues to be the songwriter and producer I would most like to collaborate with because of how well we work together. If I had to choose somebody else, Daniel Lanois could be a fun guy to work with – he got Bob Dylan out of a rut and coaxed him into making some great records. I suppose Mr. Springsteen also would be a pretty good songwriting partner – but only if we started by meeting at a diner on Route 35 and he promised not to talk like a ranch hand from Kentucky.
Are you finding the isolation of the pandemic conducive to your writing or is it hindering the experiences you can write about?
My creative output is unexpectedly better than ever. At the beginning of the lockdown a songwriter friend of mine, Larry Hart, started a Facebook group called the “Hart song club“ where we all challenged each other to write songs using particular phrases, record the songs and share them every two weeks. That prompted me to dust off some dormant ideas and to force new songs into existence. A handful of them turned out really well. Two are on this EP and there are about five more in the tank.
What would you be doing right now if it weren’t for your music career?
Like Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap: I would work with children.
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
As Bo Burnham profoundly asks, “Can I interest you in everything all of the time?” The internet has given all of us a platform and a huge potential audience, which simultaneously renders it virtually impossible to build what used to be considered a career in music because of the sheer number of us and the enormous volume of product.
Even still, I’m so grateful to have this platform! When I started writing songs and was trying to get the world to listen to me, I would have to mail people an 8 x 10 with a bio, lyric sheets and a cassette, hoping they’d take the time to listen. Now my recordings can be streamed on demand. And when I play a Facebook live show from my front porch, I may have only 20 people watching, but they are truly engaged with me and my songs. While that can’t be monetized at my level, it’s still a huge gift, even if 10 of those 20 viewers are Russian bots trying to chat me up and get my credit card.
What is your favorite song to perform?
My favorite song of mine to perform is “Storm Your Revolution,” which I wrote when I was 20 as a sort of angry letter to my future 50 year-old self, warning that middle aged chump not to sell out. I’ve taken to heart the message of that song every day since I wrote it, so even when I’m playing to an empty room it’s a pretty joyous experience to hang out with my younger self and laugh at how pathetic we are.
What’s next for you?
I plan to continue releasing a new single every month for at least a year and then release a full album with a bunch of new songs at some point in 2022.
What are your ambitions as a songwriter and musician from here?
My ambitions are both lofty and modest: to keep writing and recording the kind of music I want to listen to and make it better every time. Expanding my audience and making money would be nice, but that isn’t as important to me as it once was. Now it’s about art for art’s sake – an attitude I mocked 20 years ago but it’s really how I feel today.