It's no secret that we here at Pencilstorm are big fans of Erica Blinn. She is the real deal as a writer, person and player. Do yourself a favor and visit Ericablinn.com for info on her latest record, Better Than Gold. She was kind enough to answer a few of our questions while out on the road supporting the new release. - Colin G.
CG - The old saying is you have your whole life to write your first record and 12 months to write your second. Was it challenging to come up with the material to follow your debut record Lovers in the Dust?
EB - I was just thinking about that saying the other day! Luckily I had about 36 months to write the second record. I actually think in some ways it was easier this time for two reasons: songwriting does seem to get better/easier with practice, and the more life you’ve experienced/ things you’ve learned the more you have to write about.
CG - Who were some of the co-writers that helped out with this record? How does that process work for you?
Van Darien, Caitie Thompson, Will Newsome, K Phillips, and Delyn Christian all helped on some songs. Co-writing can be hard at first, especially when you don't really know the person you're writing with. For example, when Van Darien and I first met and started working together we would schedule write days and spend most of the time talking and drinking coffee or tea. Then one day we wrote "Better Than Gold".
CG - Along those lines, as opposed to Lovers, which was recorded over time in Columbus, Ohio, most of Better Than Gold was recorded in bulk in Nashville. How was the process different on this record than before?
EB - This time, the stuff we did in Nashville was all done live as a group with vocals and some percussion over-dubbed. That was very different, and very fun!
CG - Who are some of the players on this record?
The list is enormous. PJ Schreiner: drums, percussion, backing vocals - Michael Zimmerman: bass -Jerry Blinn: bass - Shane Sweeney: bass - Rick Kinsinger: bass - Steven Cooper: lead guitar - Wade Cofer: lead guitar, bass, backing vocals - Andrew Leahey: lead guitar, backing vocals - Will Newsome: lead guitar - Andy Harrison: lead guitar, backing vocals - Michael Talley: keys/organ/piano - Matty Monk: Wurlitzer - Bree Frick: backing vocals - Mark Nye: bass, backing vocals, hand claps - Colin Gawel: backing vocals - Kris Luis: handclaps - Erica Ott: handclaps - Jerry DePizzo: baritone saxophone - Soul Satyr Horns: John Bonham - trumpet, Ted Basinger - trombone, Joe Reasoner - saxophone
CG - You and PJ moved to Nashville a couple of years ago. How has that influenced you both as a person and a musician?
EB - It’s been really great. I think you learn so much when you’re constantly hanging out with people who are doing the same kinds of things as you. It’s maybe like working in an office building and all of these people are part of the team and you can ask them questions about how they are doing things, what seems to be working what doesn’t, only our office is the city of Nashville. All of our friends are musicians, songwriters, photographers, videographers, graphic designers, producers, engineers, managers, booking agents, etc. You call on each other to be involved with whatever you’re working on. Every day I get to spend time with people who just want to listen to records, play guitar, and talk about songs. Like when you’re learning a new language, if you want to become fluent quickly you should go somewhere where they speak the language and immerse yourself in it.
CG - How has your relationship with producer Mike Landolt evolved over the years?
EB - We’re friends and business partners and the business part includes all aspects of my career, not just as a producer of the music. I’ve learned a lot from him and we’ve learned some things together.
CG - Weren't you guys recently visiting him at his studio in Seattle? Did you work out there or just party?
EB - We did recently visit him and his wife Amy at their home/studio. It was my first time out there. It’s a very beautiful place. Any time we hang out with Mike, we are both working and partying. We all like to cook so we made some extraordinary meals together. We also did some work to finalize the release of the new album and we even demoed a new song!
CG - Your Dad, who is also a musician, has had a major influence on your life. Tell us a little about your relationship with him?
EB - He says I have to stop talking about him in interviews. Ha! He’s amazing. He’s everything. I wouldn’t be doing any of this if it weren’t for him.
CG - Where are some of your favorite places to hang out in Nashville?
EB - Our house (our yard/porch when the weather is nice). People are always coming around to jam, talk, or cook dinner. My roommate ALT and I have hosted four impromptu dance parties in our living room/kitchen just this week! The 5 Spot is another favorite place. Always some good music happening there. High Garden Tea is a cool, cozy spot with fermented teas on draft. I like to buy loose leaf tea and herbs there.
CG - You pretty much tour non-stop anyway, but any special plans to promote the new record? Are you making and videos?
EB - We released one video for “Softer Side” and we have a second one, “Suitcases and Truck Stops” being pitched by our amazing publicist Heather West currently and we have another one shot, for “When I’m With Suzie (I Do What I Want), that we will start editing soon.
CG - Who picks the tunes when you travel? What are you listening to now?
EB - We all kind of take turns picking the tunes but Michael Zimmerman is a pretty good DJ so sometimes we just let him run with it. I started a “Van Jams” playlist on Spotify because I thought it would be fun for us to all add songs to it like a jukebox. If you want to hear a song add it to the list and it will play eventually. Plus then we could share that on our social media and people could check out what we’re listening to in the van. It didn’t last too long. We also enjoy Marc Maron’s podcast and various stand up comedy. One time Wade Cofer bought some old timey radio show cassette tapes from a thrift store while we were on the road and those were super fun to listen to.
CG - What is your go to restaurant on the road?
EB - Ugh. This is the hardest part about being on the road. Usually no one gets mad about Chipotle. Breakfast is usually Waffle House. It’s best to ask locals at the show where to eat the next day though.
CG - Do you binge watch any TV shows?
EB - I recently watched GLOW on Netflix and I loved it.
CG - If you could go back in time and see any band, what would you choose?
EB - Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles
CG - What kind of show should folks expect at Natalie's and on this tour?
EB - We’ll be playing all the hits.