By Jeb Wright
Eric Gales first hit the scene as a teenage guitar prodigy. He could play Hendrix like Hendrix and he could play the blues like the masters. Despite his talent and promise, Gales would hit the self destruct button, which would lead to a cocaine addiction and land him in clink.
Gales, hopefully, has learned his lesson and made permanent changes in his life that will give him a second chance at the success and notoriety he deserves as an artist. His newest project should help him make up for lost time.
Pinnick Gales Pridgen will release their debut, self-titled album on Magna Carta records on February 12, 2013. The album features, alongside Gales, dUg Pinnick of Kings X and ex-Mars Volta drummer Thomas Pridgen playing hard rocking blues mixed with Pinnick’s unique metal sorta progressive thing. The end result is an album that is non-stop balls to the wall guitar heroics from start to finish.
In the interview that follows, Gales admits being amazed at the music he is making with this band. He, also, openly discusses his cocaine addiction and what he has learned from his time in jail. Read on to discover more about Pinnick Gales Pridgen and to take learn more about the new and improved Eric Gales.
Jeb: Pinnick Gales Pridgen is one hell of an album. I think you described it as colossal, which is the perfect word.
Eric: [laughs] That’s a great description, I couldn’t have said it better than I did.
Jeb: How did this band form?
Eric: I have known dUg for a while. The first band I opened up for when I first came out was King’s X. So, for me to be able to do this project with him is amazing. To be honest with you, this music takes my breath away. Thomas [Pridgen], I have known for six, or seven, years. He played on some of my solo albums. We got together and did this project and it was just wild. I didn’t expect it to be as major as it is. It is like when you go to open up a Christmas present and you don’t know what it is and it ends up being something amazing. That is really what this band is like.
Jeb: Did [Record Executive] Mike Varney put you three together?
Eric: Yeah, sort of. We were kind of talking and we were trying to put me with someone for a minute, but we didn’t know who was going to be able to get with who. I’ll put it like this; it just couldn’t have been better than this group of people. I had sat in with dUg on stage a few times, but we had never written music together. I have been knowing dUg a long time, since I was sixteen.
Jeb: Gales and Pinnick is a very interesting combination.
Eric: It is, definitely. It has both of our styles, but it is its own entity.
Jeb: Tell me about the song “For Jasmine.”
Eric: I often play that live. I wanted to turn it into something that I could implement on this record. It is my take on how I like to freestyle and free flow on things and I dedicate it to my daughter.
I just closed my eyes and played and that is what came out. It comes straight from the soul. It comes from straight inside and I’m glad I was able to play it for this project. It is different than everything that is on there, but it fits right in.
Jeb: When you compose in that style do you plan it out at all beforehand, or do you just close your eyes and play?
Eric: I just close my eyes and let it flow.
Jeb: It is like tapping into another dimension.
Eric: Right, right, exactly. I really have no idea what the other dimensions is. My wife and I have actually sat down and talked about what that other dimension is, but we don’t know. We just call it some other world. We don’t have an explanation of what that world is.
I do have to say that it is great having someone like my wife here. She was at home here in North Carolina while I was out in California recording the record, but she was with me every step of the way. I was on the phone with her several times a day. I was like, “Babe, check this out.” She would be like, “Wow.” We were just getting to know each other then. I was like, “Babe, you may not like this style of music…” She would say, “Whatchu mean? I like everything.” I said, “Okay, then, let me throw this at you.” Playing in the same room as dUg and Thomas gave me a lot of inspiration, but she was a lot of inspiration, as well. I would do something and call her and she would encourage me. It was a real nice blend.
It is interesting that you talked about that other world. I have no idea what it is, but having to take a trip to that other world, here and there, and to be able to take that trip with somebody, is great. I don’t have to sit down and try to explain to somebody what I just did. I have somebody that I don’t have to say a word to and she understands and knows what I am talking about. It is much better than someone who would just say, “That’s good, honey. I’m glad you’re enjoying your project. I hope it comes out okay.” Having someone that I can talk to, like my wife, and having a group of musicians like I do, that can work on the material the way we do is wonderful.
I remember very vividly sitting in the studio with dUg and Thomas and we we’re all saying, “Man….when this comes out…” We felt it back when we were doing it; we recorded this back in May of last year. We were like, “Man, dude, this is like wow. This is something a whole lot of people are going to be talking about.” Even though, I, personally, was involved in the project, I feel like I have the capability to step outside of myself and be objective. I was hearing this music and going, “Man, did I really play that? Was I really a part of this project?” Looking at it in both positions is just amazing.
Jeb: Talk about the song “Wishing Well.”
Eric: That song is one of the songs that really has a King’s X feel to it. I will tell you off the bat that I am not the guy that puts the lyric together. We will talk about the song, melody-wise, but Mike and dUg really did the actually writing of the words. Musically, I would sit down and have them put the track on and vibe with it.
I have to say that some of the most amazing stuff that I’ve done in my life came out on this record. It tapped into quite a few interesting worlds. I tapped into the Jeff Beck world, the Jimi Hendrix world, the Eric Johnson world, the John McLaughlin world…there is some bizarre stuff. It still can be labeled as the Eric Gales world. It is not me just trying to play some other folks stuff. I was very proud of that. There are a lot of critics out there and I have not seen anyone say, “This is a great rendition of someone trying to play like Jeff Beck.” It really sounds authentic. For me, I am enjoying every bit of it. We have high aspirations of taking this out on the road. There is nothing set in stone yet, but there is no way a group like this can’t get out on the road.
Jeb: I would come see it. When you hear a killer album, then you want to see it translated live.
Eric: Dude, I look at it like as an F5 tornado coming through the whole world. There is no damage after this tornado, though. There is no bad damage; there is good damage, if you know what I mean.
Jeb: “Been So High (The Only Place to go is Down)” may be the best song on the album.
Eric: Dude, that song there ain’t no joke at all! I’m just saying there is some serious material on this record. Some of this stuff is hard for me to talk about because there is nothing to say; it just leaves me plain speechless. All you can say about it is, “Gaaawwwwly” if you can even get that out! Dude, it is self-explanatory. That song is just a hard, hard, hard Zeppelin type, bluesy song. I feel that the point got across very well lyrically and musically. The solo that is going on during that song, when I listened to it I couldn’t believe that I soloed like that for eight minutes strong. I am very happy with that one. I am happy about them all. When I think of all of the elements that went on and went into this album it makes me very, very happy.
Jeb: Why did you do “Sunshine of Your Love”?
Eric: I don’t know; it was just a pitch in the tossup. I thought we could drop the key and drop the tempo a little bit. The end result is something that we were really happy with.
Jeb: In one way, this album does not need a remake, but in another way, it’s pretty grooving.
Eric: You’re exactly right. I think this album would have done very well without a remake on it, but it slides right in there without taking away from it. That is a point to me; if it takes away from it, then we should not do it. I think it added a nice little spice to the record. It is a nice little spin on the musical GPS, if you will.
Jeb: Some albums are really tough work and some are like taking a vacation. What was this one like?
Eric: A vacation. You want to make sure that it is right. I have to credit dUg with coming up with a lot of great ideas. He was like, “Dude, there is no need to hold back on anything. I know you’ve got it in you.” We are known for what we do, but we’ve got to take this to the next level. It is not about showing everybody else, it’s more showing ourselves that we can go out and stretch beyond what it is that we’ve done before. I think that’s what we did.
Jeb: You’re most known for the Eric Gales Band. You even have EGB tattooed on your neck and arm. With there be a PGP tat soon?
Eric: [laughs] I might! You never know, you know me, there ain’t no telling, but I might.
Jeb: Was there any trepidation stepping away from what you know and stepping into the unknown?
Eric: No, not at all. I actually used that as a catapult and a springboard to let me not take away from who I’ve been being all of my life, but rather to add to it. I used that to elevate me to the next level. All of our backgrounds implemented in what we winded up achieving with this project.
Jeb: You get to call all the shots in your own band.
Eric: To be honest with you, we all still got to call all of the shots. Nothing was taken away from anybody. Like I said, I couldn’t have wished for a better group of guys to do this project. There were no arguments and there are no regrets about anything.
Jeb: You are in a much better space today. You had a drug problem and you went to jail. How much has learning those lessons contributed to your current state of creativity?
Eric: I hope I have learned some lessons! At first, I was a little frightened. I am not going to lie to you; a lot of creativity has come out of me while I was plastered. Honestly, with the help of the people that I have in my corner…they help give me what it was that I felt I was going to be missing not being high.
It is a much better world. I’m married and my wife is heavily in my corner. She gives me motivation every day to keep going. I am so happy with her. In my opinion, I have the most beautiful wife in the world. There is nowhere that we go that there is not an eye not looking at her. They are just looking at the outer part of her, but they just don’t know what I know, that she is even more beautiful on the inside. God has put everything perfectly in place for me. This is what I have been missing all along. I am looking at 2013 to give me what I’ve been robbing myself of all of these years.
Jeb: You said you were robbing yourself. That is cool because so many people point fingers at other people.
Eric: There ain’t nobody else to blame but me. Ain’t nobody else made me do this; I did. I have to claim that. I am going to claim all of the good that happens, so I have to claim the bad too.
Jeb: It was not the music industry that got you into drugs, it was the fact that you were trying to fit in with other people.
Eric: That’s exactly right. That is the perfect quote; you’re right. I am trying to be as honest and truthful as I can about what happened to me. I was trying to fit in with all of the street life. It was the worst decision that I’ve ever made. There was no need for me to try and fit in with those people, as I was doing fine fitting in with myself. I don’t know why, or what that is, but life gives you turns and twists. I’m just glad that I’m not somewhere underground being a statistic. It could have easily happened.
Jeb: I saw a YouTube video where you were jamming while you were locked up. As odd as this sounds, it was kind of inspiring.
Eric: I have talked to a lot of people about that, man. I really was being looked upon by the Gods above while I was in that situation. I was in my darkest time and the wardens came and said, “We know who you are and we think you could be a lot of help while you’re here.” Having the opportunity to maintain and have access to my craft while I was in there was a beautiful thing. I am really thankful for that.
Jeb: What changed in you to make you change your ways?
Eric: Honestly, the first thing that got to me was my appearance. I couldn’t look in the mirror. I remembered how I used to look and how I used to be. I used to pride myself on how I looked. I was to the point to where I didn’t even care anymore.
It is hard to feel good about yourself when you can’t look in the mirror. When you can look in the mirror and say, “Damn, you look good today” it changes things. That really was it for me. When I did that, then I knew I had to step my whole game up. I was supposed to be at a much higher level than I was at. I robbed myself of all of this. I took away a whole lot of other stuff from me during that time. God could have chosen to take other things away from me, but it never was my craft. I am thankful that is the case.
For me personally, I knew if I was going to take the world by storm that I had to get my appearance together. Now, there is no place that I can’t go and look like Rudolf Valentino. What lets me know that is that I’ve got one of the baddest women in the world. She could have chosen to be with anybody in the world that she wanted to be with, but she chose me. That lets me know that I am alright. For me, honestly, it has inspired me to do a whole lot of other things. That is the truth.
Jeb: It is nice to hear you, not only excited about music, but excited about life.
Eric: I am. It is really the truth. Life is still going to bring ups and downs, but I feel a whole lot better facing them now. Back in the day, I would just stuff things and hide and not deal with things. I am a better person today with where I stand in life and I am so grateful.
Jeb: You play a right handed guitar, left handed and strung upside down. But you’re naturally right handed. You went against your own nature and played left handed.
Eric: I am, so go figure that one out. To me, it wasn’t going against my own nature. Everything about what I do feels natural. That leads me to the question of what makes it natural to me, but to everyone else, it seems wrong? Maybe I am doing it right and everyone else is doing it wrong [laughter]. It is just the way I learned to play. It is the first way that I picked it up and it is the way that felt natural to me. I have tried to play it right handed but I feel like I’m walking on two left feet. That makes me know that even though it is, quote, unquote, wrong…it is right for me.
Jeb: Does it surprise you when people are so amazed by what comes naturally to you?
Eric: Yeah. It never dawned on me that is what would end up happening. Upside down and backwards is just what is natural to me.
Jeb: Is this project a full time gig, or will there be more Eric Gales Band?
Eric: I just put out a new live DVD, simply titled Live, so I am going to keep doing that. I also played with Lauryn Hill. I am just stretching my parameters as far as I can stretch them.
I talked to Mike Varney a couple of nights ago and he said that I should be ready to get back in the studio and start the next PGP record; even before this one comes out we are back in doing it again. I don’t know when it will happen, or when the second record will come out, but we are already having conversations about it. We will have to start from scratch, but that is not a problem at all with this band. I am not trying to take away; I’m trying to add too.
Jeb: Do you have any last thoughts on the record? Where people can buy the music?
Eric: You can get it everywhere. Go to www.ericgalesband.com and there are links to the PGP project on there. I just want to tell the world, “Look out because the storm is coming.”
Buy the album here: http://www.magnacarta.net/pinnickgalespridgen
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