Eric Johnson, 2005


Written by: Jason Perlman


When you get to tour and are really focused on music, is that when you can find yourself doing most of your writing?
Yeah, sometimes its when I actually get a little more in touch with what I’m doing and practice a little more and kind of sort through things and get everything focused a little better, that happens a lot when life is a little more simple.


Your guitar playing even abstract and detailed can still grasp simplicity. So, for someone like me who cannot play a lick, there is still something there I can relate to.
Yeah, I think on the new record that is one of the motives I tried to do. I guess right now until I figure out a new way to play crazy, out of control guitar, I feel like I’ve been there and done that and I wanted to figure out a way to try to use the guitar to still play some nice parts but be more orchestral with it and that was my attempt at least on this new record to use it like an orchestral instrument.


How exciting is it for you to play with other great guitar players like Buddy Guy?
I like all types of music, I like all guitarists so it’s an honor for me. I just try to do as much as I can and try to learn as much as I can from all these great artists and stuff so, yeah, I enjoy it. It’s kind of neat. Now I’ve toured with Buddy a little bit before when I went out with B.B. about 9 years ago or something like that.

Does it bother you when you see a lot of guitar players now look at a sheet of music and not know anything about what that sheet of music means?
No, I’m a little that way. I can read music a little bit because I studied piano and I can read chord changes and stuff but I’m not the fastest hitter, I’m pretty slow and I have a lot of room to improve in that. I think it goes both ways, I think that it’s good to know that but you take somebody like Wes Montgomery, he just taught himself by ear and he kind of re-invented a lot of the ways that jazz guitar is played and it was really quite a beautiful way and that was really just him sitting and listening to records. He was a self taught musician so, I don’t know if there’s ever a hard fast rule but I guess it’s kind of good if you can do it all, like, do both and you have a good moderate tiff kind of balance.


What’s more exciting for you, someone loving a particular cd or someone that says I got your instructional video and you taught me a, b, or c?
I think the second’s better. The instructional video I just made, I’ve done a couple before and this one I’m sure will have a lot of similarities because I’ve pretty much given away my bag of tricks but I’ve kind of done it in 10 major points that I want to talk about. There’s two sections to the instructional video. There’s a performance section where we actually, the band and I play eight pieces of music that nobody has heard before so there is a chapter that you can just see a performance if your not a guitar student but the instructional part was just broken down to 10 points and I think the priority that I was trying to get across was the 10 points that are important to me that might be universally helpful in anybody creating their own personal music so I think the instructional video in parts technique that somebody can assimilate and there in use it to make their own music. I think their means to an end is served better that way, than just somebody learning some technique that I have and they learn to do it and it’s just kind of a static learning process that is not really applied. That’s really second choice, you know.


I think I read that your bringing a full band out with you this time.
Actually, just a trio at this point. We want to add another member we just haven’t done it yet. We want to because there’s a section of this new record that needs more than just trio and I’m really concerned about doing some of that stuff as well. We’re playing about half of the new record but there’s some sections that I need to get another member in order to pull it off right.


When you sit down to write a new record, do you just do your guitar part first and everything else falls into place or you mentioned this being more orchestral with this record or did you consciously think about how does everyone else fit in with what your doing?
Well, I think I kind of take a back seat about the other stuff. The best music is the music that just comes and I don’t have as much to do with it, it’s not like I’m not a part of it or that it’s like a mannequin that has no personality but it’s me, it’s like me diving into a sink of water or me diving into the ocean. I’m still part of it but I get to be part of something that is a lot bigger than just me so it’s going to be more exhilarating and more fun so if I do that then basically I let the music dictate what it needs or I try to learn the process of doing that and so I let the music go where it needs to go. The more I do that then it’s like oh, this one needs twenty over dubs or oh, this one doesn’t need any over dubs and kind of let it go where it needs to go rather than me trying to hold to tight but kind of along the lines that you were talking about I think one of the down sides of that is that you might end up with a record well, like we’re a trio how are we going to do this? So, there’s kind of two sides to that issue so I just let it go where it’s gonna go, I think it turns out better if I just become a participant.