How would you describe your music to any person who may have never heard it before? Eric: We get asked this question quite a bit, and we always come up with something different which makes it hard to put us in a specific category: our musical lineage is so rich and varied, it’s reflected in our style and specifically our musical compositions. Amanda Sycamore has an outstanding percussion background and has been a major Symphony percussionist for most of her career. Jimmy Hauer is a rock-steady bass player, a journeyman player with a background in Jazz, and a go-to tour bassist in Chicago blues; he’s a student of James Jamison and a master of the Ron Carter and Mingus styles. Eric Sommer is the lead vocalist, songwriter, guitar and acoustic guitar player for the ensemble, and has toured with many national acts and toured in the EU for three years while living in Denmark, and has worked with Nick Lowe and Dave Edmonds. When you add all this up, it’s a unique combination of musical forces, and it has produced a sound that is a bit hard to define but accessible and very easy to listen to.
Is there any significance to the band’s name? Eric: Yes - “Eric Sommer and The Fabulous Piedmonts” reflects our current location as well as the geographic influences of our sound: “Piedmont” is a plateau region located in the Eastern United States. It is situated between the Atlantic Plain and the main Appalachian Mountains, stretching from New York in the north to central Alabama in the south. The Piedmont Province is a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division, which consists of the Gettysburg-Newark Lowlands, the Piedmont Upland, and the Piedmont Lowlands sections. So the “Piedmont” area covers a wide range of musical origins, specifically the Country and Appalachian Music of the mountain people in the area. We have taken that sound and re-worked it with slide guitar, open-tunings and the best rhythm section around who are known as “The Fabulous Piedmonts.” What are your musical influences? Eric: I started out listening to a collection of folk records and acoustic guitar players such as Pete Seeger, Bert Jansch and eventually David Bromberg, Steve Howe (YES) and Duane Allman. I tried to learn everything I could about these artists and their sound and techniques. I was very influenced by The Beatles, too, and their remarkable musical and composition approaches. I was very influenced by the songwriting of Elvis Costello, The Clash, the poetry of Dylan, the writing of Truman Capote and the storytelling of Chaucer as in The Cantebury Tales”. What are your musical inspirations? Eric: I am inspired by what our ensemble is creating, and what I hear from these remarkable players every night on stage! If given the chance, what musician(s) would you like to collaborate with? Rather this is to either write a song or be featured on a track. Eric: I would love to write with an upcoming French pop act, a new artist from the UK or be in a band supporting any of them. What’s the brand-new single about? Eric: The single we are releasing is “Redneck Parking Lot” and it is a new mix by British producer Patch Boshell who has engineered a number of live shows for me in London. What’s something you hope people take away from the new song(s)? Eric: We thrive on energy, and this song is uptempo, upbeat and it just won’t quit! We do this song live and it is a winner every time. Which songs on the album were the most fun to write and which were the most challenging to write? Eric: This new record almost wrote itself… the most fun was working on Redneck Parking Lot! “RedNeck Parking Lot” is about all the houses you see in The Carolinas and Virginia, Ohio and New Jersey that have front yards full of old and used cars! Do you have any favourite song(s) off the new album? Eric: I love “Doin’ Wrong” and “White Knuckle Girl”... but at the end of the day, I have to say I love all the songs off this new record. What’s the new album about? Eric: It’s a collection of songs about objects and situations, a sort of travelogue of the heart, not necessarily in that order. All the songs are different - some have slide guitar, some harmonica, some just acoustic guitar, but all have vocals and most have three-part harmony. Do you have any favourite songs to perform live? Could be your own music or even a cover. Any reason why? Eric: I always enjoy playing “The Cereal Song” live - it’s amazing to me that of all the things that tie us together, breakfast cereal is one of the most consistently share morning experiences… If you could perform a show this very second anywhere in the world, where would it be? Is there any particular venue(s) or city/cities that comes to mind? Eric: It would be London - or in Oxford, UK or just about any village Hall in the UK; in the US, I love small, intimate settings like coffeeshops or Nashville listening rooms… What do you currently have planned for the remainder of the year? Eric: We are working on another record, planning a Spring tour and planning a tour in the UK in the Fall. Thanks for the time today, Eric. Is there anything else you may want to add before you go? Eric: Are you kidding? Thank you so much for your interest, and please check in at www.ericsommer.com! Say “Hello” and let us know what you think of the new record, ok? Also, here’s our tour schedule: http://www.ericsommer.com/tour