Below, you can read our interview with Eric Leonhardt Brown, and listen to his latest album, Climbing Mountains Across The Shoreline Of Your Thought. Check out our full music review of that album, HERE.
Q: Tell us about your life “outside” of music: Who are you? What do you do for a living? Family? Hobbies?
A: I am a husband and father. My son and daughter actually sing on the album (SissterrWittness@Syccamorre.calm and #avatar), and both kids are pretty creative and musical. I am currently the social media director for a marketing company based in Tampa, Florida. I’ve spent the past 19 years as a barista/manager at a bohemian espresso shop, which is where I’ve met many of my artistic collaborators. I have also produced several other musicians’ albums over the past decade, which I really enjoy. Music is my great love and passion.
Q: You’ve talked about singing with your mom at church as a boy, did you know then that music was “it” for you?
A: Absolutely! I loved the rush of singing and performing which was something I have been chasing ever since.
Q: I love that Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was such a huge “formative experience” for you. Can you please attempt to tell us what it is about that record that drew you in at such a young age? In your opinion, why is that album—to this day—such a classic among all ages; how/why does it continue to inspire so many?
A: DSOTM was/is such a fine example of artistic expansiveness; a fully crafted album–from sound, vision, philosophy—yet simple in its presentation; one word song titles like Time, Money and the iconic album cover, for example. The way the songs flow into one another left a lasting impression on me, which is evident on the new album. As a child, my budding imagination feasted on all the ambient nutrition oozing from DSOTM.
Q: Your very first band—Nude Canoe—did quite well in the late 80s/early 90s, recording 3 albums during a time when making records took a lot more work, and required a studio. What happened to the band? Why did it end?
A: All the members of NC grew up together, and we knew each other since 2nd grade. We formed our rock band in high school and made a lot of creative and progressive music as we were all going to college and trying to become adults. Honestly, our egos were pretty out of control. Well, I can say mine was, for sure. We had something special but none of us really could see that or tap into it in a focused way. I’ve collaborated with my NC band-mates over the years, especially with MS Borders who co-produced and plays guitar on the new album, as well. As of a few weeks ago, we have set 2018 for a NC reunion! We are currently writing and collaborating for a new album. Needless to say, I am very excited about this project!
Q: Did 2016’s Inversion inform and/or inspire 2017’s Climbing Mountains Across The Shoreline Of Your Thought, or, are they totally separate concepts in your mind?
A: Very different albums with separate processes. Inversion was a deeply personal album where I was exploring the depths of grief as I reflected on my life. That album was a healing process for me in many ways.
Climbing Mountains is a totally different animal, less personal and more a reflection on social issues and the times we live in. It is a concept album, and I created Spooky Gladstone, the main character, so I was able to write from a different angle, less Eric, more Spooky! I loved this process and feel rejuvenated from this project and I think you can hear that in the overall strength of the songs/album.
Q: How long did Climbing Mountains… take to record? What were the greatest non-musical insights gained during the recording process?
A: As you can tell, this was a MASSIVE project and quite daunting at times. I started writing songs in late December 2016, and really started chugging along in January when John Paul Davis, co-producer, joined me in composing. We had the demo done by May and were in the studio by June. I knew exactly what players I wanted for each tune and scheduled everything for session work in June, July and August. We then spent over 75 hours mixing and mastering the album. I’ve never been a part of such a large and involved project. I am very happy with the end result and proud of all the hard work everyone put into the album from the sound engineer, Chris Hertzler, to the musicians, producers, visual artist, graphic designer and filmmaker, Elias Kelley, who shot the music video for :pretty), and is finishing up an hour long documentary on the making of the album which will premiere in December. As far as insights, my approach during the entire project was to stay open to any possibility, even if I was initially uncomfortable with it. I wanted to “allow” things to organically happen and take a life of its own while holding firmly onto the vision for the album. The result was amazing! John, Matt and I really feel like we grew as people during this process, and I learned a lot about myself and my craft.
Q: What is your favorite track or theme on Climbing Mountains..., and why?
A: Tough question. My favorite song changes often. This week I’m really digging on #twittertat, fits my mood these days. All these songs are deeply woven into me at this point, I’ve been living inside these tunes since January!
Q: Do you plan on touring to support Climbing Mountains…? If so, do you plan on performing the entire 33-track experience for audiences?
A: The only way that could happen is if someone wanted to throw a lot of money towards such a goal. It would be a major undertaking and, though I wouldn’t oppose it, it is hard to imagine taking on another large project like that right now.
Q: Perhaps in some unspecified amount of time, your musical career explodes in the best of ways…what does that look like for you?
A: I really love writing and producing songs. I’d love to write/produce for some other artists. This project was pretty expensive, and I’d love to have the resources to do an album every year.
Q: You get to collaborate with anyone of your choosing. Who is it?
A: Artists: Peter Gabriel and Elvis Costello
Producers: Brian Eno and Tony Visconti
Q: Your favorite album of all time?
A: Has to be Dark Side, but David Bowie’s Low album is a close 2nd.
Q: Your favorite song of all time?
A: Changes by David Bowie
Q: What would you like fans to know about you that they’re most likely unaware of?
A: My private obsession with the works of Antonio Vivaldi and my deep gratitude for the many kindnesses I’ve been blessed with over the past few years.
Q: Any shout-outs you wanna make?
A: Matt (MS) Borders and John Paul Davis are both artistic geniuses, and I am grateful for their collaboration and friendship.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Thank you for taking the time for this interview and to review Climbing Mountains. It is a lot for me to ask a listener to devote nearly 2 hours of their time to fully take in this album. In the end, I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I have. And finally…Nude Canoe album in 2018!!!