An up and coming artist that is sure to make noise in 2012 is Erica Chase. Not only does her debut album come out, but she is one of the few women guitarists that can hold a candle to Nancy Wilson and Lita Ford. I recently chatted with the guitar goddess about her influences, her music and Rolling Stone’s list of greatest guitarists ever.
Q – Thank you, Erica, for chatting with me.
A - It is my pleasure to talk about rock and music in general. How long you got?!
Q – You are an up and coming rock female artist. There is a long list of successful women rockers like Joan Jett, Sheryl Crow and Janis Joplin. Which artists influenced you growing up and why?
A – Sheryl Crow has my ideal career; she writes killer songs, plays guitar/bass like a bad-ass down low, continues to tour off the success of 10 major crossover hit songs, puts out a great record every few years, gets to use her position of influence to raise awareness for important causes, and has a song about having a fling with Clapton! (Awesome). However, the biggest influence in my songwriting and music would be without a doubt, the Beatles, though I also really dig Jeff Buckley, Fleetwood Mac, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Q – How would you describe your sound to those who are not hip to Erica Chase?
A – I generally would say it is like Sheryl Crow meets the Beatles with some Fleetwood Mac in there. My voice is uniquely lower than traditional female singers. It kind of has an androgynous appeal where there are definitely masculine elements to it. I love to rock my guitars down low and move around like I’ve watched the “Song Remains the Same” too many times (I have).
Q – You are also a guitarist. There recently was a list compiled by Rolling Stone magazine of greatest guitarists ever with Jimi Hendrix as the best ever. I, being a guitar player as well, think Eric Clapton is the best ever, who fell at number two on the list. Which guitar players did you look up to and who would you say is the best ever and why?
A – I agree that there is no one like Hendrix; he changed the game period. However, I have always liked the guitar players that play all of those subtle parts that make you feel really good but you are not really sure why. Like the Edge for example, his guitar playing is revolutionary and one of my favorites for sure and he never plays a crazy Van Halen solo or does any kind of guitar gymnastics, but the inversions and melodies he creates
complement Bono so well.
In terms of female guitar players, there are at least 10 that Rolling Stone shamefully left off the list including Nancy Wilson (who was one of the voters!) Put yourself on the damn list girl! She rocks harder than many dudes I have seen. Lita Ford could walk into any guitar center and scare every 15 year old boy into maybe taking up the bass. I also love the raw, untrained attitude of Sheryl’s playing. Attitude and vibe outweighs proficiency any day in my book.
Q – Would you say there is an advantage or disadvantage of being a woman rocker/guitarist in today’s musical landscape and why?
A – I think the answer to this is simply, yes. There are both pros and cons in navigating the rockesphere as a woman these days. There are companies like Daisy Rock that specifically design guitars that fit women and I think this is awesome and empowering and I am a proud Daisy player. However, I still find that when I walk into a guitar center everyone in there assumes I am with some guy there or buying something for my boyfriend and only after I plug in a Strat and start jamming, do I get any real attention. It makes me angry that these assumptions and stereotypes exist, but I understand it because in popular music today, there are many females at the top, but I can only think of a few that play guitar or any instruments at all. Female guitar rock definitely is the underdog these days, so come on ladies, let’s do this!
I would like to encourage young girls out there to pick up guitars and drums and not let ignorance deter them. We rock just as hard and shred just as much. The guitar changed my life when I was seven and we need the new generation of female axe players to continue where Joan, Lita and Sheryl left off.
Q – Describe your song writing process. Does it begin with lyrics, music, etc.?
A – My process is straight up crazy and is always the same. I never sit down and know I’m going to write a song and never go in with a conscious idea so it is always a surprise to me. I like to think the song writes itself and I am taken out of my consciousness.
I start to play a chord progression or a riff on the acoustic guitar and immediately start singing some nonsense over it. The progression starts to have some dimensions and verses, choruses, pre choruses emerge, all the while nonsense is being sung over it. Then the nonsense starts to become words and I will sing the lyrics until I memorize them and then when I have played the completed song about three times, I will finally write the words down in a composition book. Also, I write everything with a capo because of my lower voice so I can easily change the key! It never takes me more than 25 minutes or so to write a song and I never ever go back to something. If it doesn’t come in 20-25 minutes, it just is not going to happen.
Q – You’re set to release your debut album with the help of former Slaughter bassist, Dana Strum. How did you get involved with Strum and what have you learned from him?
A – He kind of discovered me I guess you could say. We met through an old mutual acquaintance of his and my dad’s. He sort of agreed to do this guy a favor by listening to his friend’s daughter and tell her if she has any talent (me). I went out to Vegas to meet him and after spending the first three hours listening to him tell me how bad the music business is and his whole history with Ozzy and Randy Rhoads and Slaughter, I thought two things: he never shuts up, and yes I still want to do this.
He asked me to play him some songs and so I played three or four songs and he was expecting to just say, well you are a nice girl, it was great to meet you, but he kind of took a step back and I could see him thinking and he finally said, “you are not the average and for some reason, even though I do not have time, I cannot say no.” After that, I moved to Vegas to start demoing songs when I finished college and the rest is crazy wine drinking recording session history.
He is one of the smartest people I have ever met. He has forced me to learn every aspect of the business from accounting to running my own publishing, production, and marketing companies. He has also encouraged me to never stop writing music and is always eager to hear what I have come up with. I think our shared obsession with the Beatles has made for an interesting musical chemistry. I’m grateful for his belief.
Q – When the album drops, are there plans for touring?
A – Yes, I am planning to hit the road next summer (2012). This is what I am so stoked about and I cannot wait to get on the road with these songs. It has always been my dream to travel around on tour and play to people that just want to have a great musical experience with me. We will start doing some promotional appearances as we set to release my first single early next year.
I can’t wait to wake up in a new city every day and do what I love. And also, tour pranks seem like a really fun time.
Q – Thank you again for talking to me. Is there anything you wanted to add?
A – Thank you for having me, it has been fun! I just want to let people know that there are a lot of exciting things going on right now on the Erica Chase front and to stay up to date, check out www.ericachase.com for all of the latest updates.
I will leave you with a quote I say to myself every day in order to not take things for granted: Everything you want in life, you already have.
Peace and Love, Erica Chase.