Eric Fisher, Seattle-style lurking. Yes, it was raining outside when the above-photo was taken mid-July 2011. You reside in a dark, dark world, my friend.
*[Side note: Eric, you've been staying here in Los Angeles with us for the past 8 days. It is sad to see you go so soon. That 10AM Fly Away shuttle was a real tear jerker. Thanks for spazzing with Monick, Tammy and I in the limestone pools of the Angeles yesterday. Excellent way to end our visit. See you in a few weeks. Love you, bye!]
Hi Louie, I love you too. Now back to photos of Seattle from six weeks ago.
Totally 'Coke and A Smile"-style. Enjoying a rare sunny afternoon with Nate and Tammy on Seattle's Alki waterfront.
Andrew, Liberty. You really are such a lovely and supportive friend. Without you we would've been damp and homeless on the not-very mean streets of soggy Seattle. Thank you for everything.
This is Eric Akre.
Man, I don't even know what to say here. The giant awakes from his long self-imposed slumber? Unleash the Kracken? Rise and shine, Sunshine... You've done so much, and yet you have so much time... Between now and 77-years of age, you still gotta lotta life and drums to play. *[Now begins the portion where the Trufthssss Beasths Brrrrog will start to get reallllllllllllllllly tangential].
There are drummers, sure. Lots and lots of drummers. Studio drummers. Punk drummers. Prog drummers. Fake drummers. Drummers splashin' on 16" china boy cymbals. Drummers drillin' blast beats. Drummers hittin' cowbells. Drummers be-boppin' on jazz kits. Drummers takin' time off to play guitars and sing crappy songs about feelin' misunderstood. Drummers with too many concert toms. Drummers skifflin' along to Creedence riffs. Drummers chooglin' to Tom Petty. Drums with licks and chops. Drummers with muscles and "pro attitude". Drummers programmin' beats for documentary films and daytime TV shows. Drummers with tattoos and headsets. Drummers with gongs. Drummers with loincloths. Drummers with cigs hangin' from their mouths playin' like Phil Rudd circa 1979.
Generally speaking, drummers are a breed apart. I appreciate them all. It is a cult unto itself, entirely separate and hermetic from every other aspect of bandlife and musicianship. And it goes deep. So very, very deep. So many levels of unfathomable nerdiness; tuning keys, drum "thrones," lug nuts, stands, cymbals, drum heads (coated or uncoated?), pedals, cases, mics (small diaphragm vs. large diaphragm?), attire (shorts vs. pants vs. track pants, sneakers vs. boots vs. bare feet?), drum sticks (wooden vs. plastic-tipped vs. graphite), gloves vs. no gloves, wooden hoops vs. metal hoops, maple shells vs. birch shells vs. basswood shells vs...blah blah blah...
Suffice it to say, more so than any other instrument in a song, a drummer's style is what catches my ear first.
Probably because I grew up around so many brilliant drummers. Which is to say there are drummers, and then there are Northwest drummers, (i.e., Sara Lund, Will Goldsmith, Greg Ferguson, Joe Plummer, Erin Tate, Nicky Thomas, Jade Devitt, Nick Dewitt, Janet Weiss, Scotty Jernigan, Nat Damm, Barrett Martin, Jorma Vik, Coady Willis, Ted Pilgrim, Danny Peters, Jay Clarke, Matt Cameron, Dale Crover, Ryan Paravecchio, Jason McGerr, Mark Pickerel, Wayne Flower... to name just a very few personal favorites from around the region).
And then there's Eric Akre. He's the consummate drummer's drummer. It could be argued (with considerable success) that Akre, by the sheer power of his virtuosity and good nature behind the kit, spawned more drummers during the 90s than any other drummer in the NW. Watching him play made run-of-the-mill punkers wanna become serious drum-nerds. Actually, scratch that. Watching him play made even non-musicians wanna pick up guitars just so they could make indescriminate noise to the sound of well-played drums. Crushing drums. Pounding drums. Fast drums. Slow drums. Weird drums. Well tuned and tastefully placed drums. Awe-inspiring drums. Drums, drums, drums...
As a kid growing up in the late-80s—mid-90s NW post-punk scene, I always felt Akre was the drummer to watch. Christ On A Crutch, Diddly Squat, Galleon's Lap, Treepeople, Kill Sybil, Citizens Utilities, Tarver, Juno, Ghost Wars, Brothers of The Sonic Cloth, etc... Even if the band's music wasn't necessarily my bag, his personal approach to the art of drumming made every band he was ever in, and every musician he's ever played with— fundimentally better. There's no doubt of this. And yet, he was always humble, helpful to fellow drummers, and always ready to offer his towering talents to even the whackest bands, (e.g., Citizens Utilities).
He could play any style of music imaginable. If there was a rhythm he didn't know, he'd spend ten-hours a day, seven days a week at his studio practicing until he had the rhythm dialed. All done in his own style. Perfect timing. Excellent swing and strike pattern (nerd-alert!). More than that, he was always hyper-focused at rehearsal and in the studio. Routinely capable of capturing tracks in one-to-three takes, (which if you know anything about what bitch midget ego-maniacs many drummers are, you'd agree this is virtually unheard of).
Akre has no excuses behind the kit. No confusion. No delusions. No worry. No resting on past glories. No laziness or arrogance. Just serenity, curiosity, and confidence. It is such a wonderfully bizarre vibe to behold. Especially considering that he, much like myself & and most other musicians I know, is crazy as a bag of hammers otherwise.
Of all my years in good and bad recording situations, the only other person I've ever witnessed with such a Greek God-like grasp of studio drumming & recording dynamics is Barrett Martin, (formerly of The Screaming Trees). That dude seriously knows how to conduct a session and keep everyone relaxed and on point. Of this, Mr. Akre himself would probably agree.
Eric, I've known you since I was, what, fifteen? We've played a lot of shows together (Juno), and in recent years you've participated in some of the most rewarding music of my life (Ghost Wars). It was great visiting with you in Seattle this past July. As your friend and your fan, it is fan-fucking-tastic to see you in front of that drum kit again.
Love & Strength,