God as muse: Eric Lewis opens up
Editor’s note: Clarksburg native Eric Lewis rocks. Cheesy? Yes. But when you’re doing a feature on a pop rock musician who also happens to be a geologist, how can you pass up such a pun?
Currently living it up in the big M-town, Lewis took some time away from his musical endeavors with no less than five bands (Shock the Monkey, Alien Life Form, Eric Lewis Trio, 5ive-O, and 3 Nuts) and job with the state of West Virginia to talk with Joey & Graffiti about his latest CD, Consider the Source, on which he ponders “what is God?” “what is love?” and “why do we exist?”.
Graffiti: It appears that you’re a pretty busy man. What has lead you up to now, with “Consider The Source”?
Lewis: I love making music. All aspects. Writing the songs, arranging, recording, collaborating, producing, packaging, and distribution. The marketing I’m not so good at, and it takes a lot of time. In order to make money in the biz, you gotta be good at marketing your product. So I always kind of had a plan to make money with a regular job so I wouldn’t be limited with the parts of making music [that] I enjoy.
Graffiti: What do you write about?
Lewis: I’m getting better at making records and I’ve always liked the idea of concept albums. Making a record is enough of a commitment, let alone one with a consistent theme. On this one though, I decided to write about God, and that seemed to bring everything together. Sometimes throughout the record, I tried to make it unclear whether I’m talking about God or a human being. I’ve written about God on previous records (“Clear”), but not to this extent.
Graffiti: How would you describe yourself as an artist? Is ‘singer/songwriter’ an appropriate description or is it too limiting?
Lewis: I used to consider myself that, but really I just consider myself a musician. If I thought I was a good singer or songwriter I may consider myself a “singer/songwriter”. But honestly, I probably wouldn’t buy one of my records. Not my style.
Graffiti: What do you want your music to do?
Lewis: I’m not sure. I guess make people think about things differently. That would be nice. Especially things you would normally consider as conventional wisdom. Ask me again when the next one comes out and I’ll tell you something different.
Graffiti: Do you write alone or do you bring others in the process with you?
Lewis: I think it’s always best to collaborate. I laid the groundwork for the record and asked a few people to contribute. That’s nice, because I’ve known myself 41 years and I know what I’ll do. I’m pretty predictable, and that makes for a boring record. That’s one of the things I miss about working with professional producers.
Graffiti: How do you know when you’re ready to put everything that you’ve written together, and it’s time to go in and put it all down on a recording? Essentially, how do you know you’ve got an album?
Lewis: Honestly, I was shooting for around 40 to 45 minutes of music on this CD. At one point, I knew I needed a slow song, so I called my friend Bryan and asked [him to ] record ‘Signals’. I thought I was done as far as songs go, but one night I wrote ‘If I Were the Devil’ in a matter of minutes. I’m glad that happened.
Graffiti: What got you here? What was your influence to take the path you’ve taken? Is there a muse that influences and inspires you to write?
Lewis: I don’t know if you read the description of the new record on CD Baby. Anyway, God would be the muse for this one.
Graffiti: Do you have immediate plans to tour and promote right now?
Lewis: No plans to promote or tour. I’m just playing with five different projects all the time. I’m playing on the eastern shore in a few weeks. But I wouldn’t call that a tour. As far as promotion goes, well, luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I’m prepared. Just waiting for [the] opportunity.
Graffiti: If someone wasn’t familiar with Eric Lewis, how would you describe your sound and musical direction?
Lewis: I have no idea. I just try to make music that is not offensive to the ears. For marketing purposes, I usually compare my stuff to John Mayer or Jason Mraz. See, I told you I’m terrible at marketing.
Graffiti: What’s coming up next for you?
Lewis: I’m working on getting these bands going. I’m also working on upgrading my studio to the point that I can take clients. I’ll probably work on trying to get on Mountain Stage again…ha! I’m sure I’ll make another record at some point.
Graffiti: How can people find you?
Lewis: My website, www.ericlewismusic.com. I’ll definitely be playing in West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania or Ohio somewhere, and it looks like maybe even expanding a bit with Shock the Monkey. The cool thing about what I’m doing is that you may come out to see me three times and see three different acts. That’s awesome because you’ll probably moderately enjoy one of them….and one outta three ain’t bad!