“Unfortunately you have to go through some things to be free”, says Memphis born Eric Gales. “Now, I feel the most free I’ve ever been in life, even more so than when I was a kid”, he opens up. “You gotta help yourself man, once you can help yourself you can genuinely help someone else.”
The title of his new album Middle of the Road will be released on 24 February 2017 and is the running theme throughout the record. “It’s about being fully focussed and centred in the middle of the road. If you’re on the wrong side and in the gravel you’re not too good and if you’re on the median strip that’s not too good either, so being in the middle of the road is the best place to be.”
Middle of the Road is Eric Gales fourth album on Provogue/Mascot label Group (Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Black Stone Cherry, Warren Haynes, The Robert Cray Band, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson, The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band) after Transformation (2011), Relentless (2010) and The Psychedelic Underground (2007) and it sees him at his most expressive yet; it is a deeply personal and reflective record that echoes where he is in his life right now and he opens himself up and allows himself the chance to really flourish.
It’s well documented that Gales was a child prodigy and heralded as the second coming of Jimi Hendrix when he released his debut album The Eric Gales Band in 1991 as a 16 year old on Elektra Records. It was the first of 10 albums on a major label through a blistering career. He has released 14 studio albums in total ahead of Middle of the Road and a host of other collaborations, one of which led him to work with producer Fabrizio Grossi (Alice Cooper, Joe Bonamassa, Billy F. Gibbons, Ice T, Leslie West, Slash, Walter Trout, Steve Lukather, Steve Vai, Paul Stanley, Supersonic Blues Machine).
Talking about working with Eric, Fabrizio Grossi offers; “I’ve been a fan of Eric since i first worked with him 15 years ago on a project with George Clinton & the P.Funk. His tone and his playing was wicked. Personally and musically Eric grew into a ‘monster’ , a really good one and he’s set on a path of huge success with a ‘taking no prisoners’ type of attitude! I know a very few musicians with such a musicality and Eric is right there a head of the bunch. I hope fans will dig. There’s lots of love, tears, sweat and “truth” in this record, which is what classics are made of. As far what I think about him: Eric is simply Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix’ love child, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
Recorded in several locations; Room A Studio and Fab’s Lab in North Hollywood as well as Cuz Studio and Sound in Cleveland, MS and ‘Cotton Row Studios in Memphis, TN. With Aaron Haggerty (drums), Dylan Wiggins (B3 Organ), LaDonna Gales (All backing vocals), Maxwell ‘Wizard’ Drummey (Mellotron on Repetition) and Eric Gales providing all lead vocals, guitar and bass. It’s a beautiful snapshot of life right here, right now. “I played bass on the entire record, it was beautiful” he beams. “I’m a bass player at heart so Fabrizio was like ‘bro you need to be playing the bass’. It was something that was very natural for me to too, I loved it.”
Talking about the accolades he is starting to receive he humbly adds;” It’s absolutely great, I’m grateful to see the recognition for the work that God has allowed me to continue to progress with. It’s beautiful to see the recognition to be finally coming and in the proper way, unlike times where I was engaged into heavy addiction, where it wasn’t such good publicity, but to see it be changed around, it’s a great turn of events.”
This refers to the time he spent in jail serving at the Shelby County Correction Center in 2009 for possession of drugs and a weapon. Elaborating he adds; “While I was in there all the officers and guards were like, ‘bro you know this isn’t where you’re supposed to be. When you get out of here, go take the world by the horns and ride it all the way out.’ It took a couple of years after but, I’m here.” Whilst he was incarcerated he was able to play shows, for the Mayor, the city and festivals, his own versio of Johnny Cash Walk the Line.
This is where Middle of the Road finds the rebirth of Eric Gales. A new album that has seen him more free than he’s ever been and on the biographic songs you take this journey with him. Along the way he brings in not only a host of guest and collaborators, but also those closest to him: Lauryn Hill, Gary Clark Jr, Eugene Gales, LaDonna Gales, Lance Lopez, Raphael Saadiq and Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram.
Much of the album is achingly heart on its sleeve and Change in Me [The Rebirth] is one of those moments, it’s about a new change in life. “I changed up some things in life and decided to go a new route”. “I wrote Carry Yourself with Raphael Saadiq and strangely enough, as I sit here looking at her that song is about LaDonna actually. It’s about how we met and how we grew to get to know each other through life and how she’s always carried herself. It has always been something I’m fascinated with. The only cover is the mesmerising interpretation of Boogie Man featuring Gary Clark Jr is something to behold. “I’m a fan of Freddie King anyway and I like that song. I just enjoyed the original version and I just put a little twist on it and music wise.” “Basically”, Gales adds, “The Boogie Man is about, so watch out cos there’s a bad guy on the way and you know, I’m coming! I think me and Gary did a really good job on that song.” Continuing the rebirth is Help Yourself, features 16 year old guitar sensation Christone ‘Kingsfish’ Ingram. I’ve Been Deceived has a multi-layered meaning to it. “Personally, I was talking about how I was deceived by addiction” he confesses and on Repetition, he goes back to the very beginning and where it started by collaborating with his ‘mentor’ and older brother Eugene Gales
“When I say the world will hear about it, you’ll see what I mean when you hear the record,” he says. “This record is going to take me everywhere that I’ve never been, and everywhere I’ve ever wanted to go.” Eric Gales
Courtesy: Mascot Label Group