An Interview with Eric Slick of Dr. Dog

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Many of you may know Eric Slick as the long-time drummer for Indie Rock band Dr. Dog. Others may know Eric for his outstanding 2020 solo effort, Wiseacre. Haven’t heard Wiseacre? Well, you’re in luck. Org Music has a gorgeous new reissue of Eric’s critically acclaimed effort on two awesome vinyl variants. Grab your copy here.

So, today I’ve got an interview with Eric Slick for you all. We covered a fair amount of ground, touching on Eric’s beginnings as a drummer, how he broke into music, hanging out with The Black Keys until 3 am, who he would like to match up with in a drum battle, and a whole lot more. If you’re interested in learning more about Eric Slick, you can head over to his website here. If you’re interested in checking out Dr. Dog, you head over to their site here. Enjoy this interview with Eric. Cheers.

Andrew:
Eric, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us. How have you been holding up over the course of the tumultuous events of this last year or so?

Eric:
I’ve been doing okay. Working on a lot of different projects, mostly as a drummer. I’ve had my ups and downs like everybody else. It’s been a stressful year, but ultimately I feel like I’m coming out of it a stronger person.

Andrew:
Before we dive into your professional career, I wanted to go back a bit and touch on your early days. What got you hooked on music?

Eric:
My parents! They would play records in the living room. The early ones were Beatles, Santana, Cream, Stanley Clarke, Ella Fitzgerald, Queen. I used to play drums on my crib. I had a lot of unchecked aggression.

Andrew:
More on your origins, so to speak, where, when, and how did the drums enter the picture for you? Who were some of your biggest influences? One’s who perhaps you owe your style the most to.

Eric:
When I saw Ringo Starr perform at the Mann Center, that’s when I subconsciously made the decision to become a drummer. I watched The Beatles on a worn VHS copy of the show “Ready, Steady, Go” about a million times. As I got older, I got into Terry Bozzio, Bill Bruford, Neil Peart, and Tony Williams. I probably owe most of what I do to Ringo, though.

Andrew:
Let’s go all the way back now. You started playing the drums at the age of 5, while growing up in Philly, right? Tell us more.

Eric:
Yeah. My school was not too keen on letting me play drums, but there was a teacher named Carl Mottola who taught kids after school. He took me on. (https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=x7uRV7PF5uM). I didn’t realize until recently how massive his talent was. He played on a lot of old Cameo-Parkway records. He was extremely supportive of me. Then I studied with a guy named Craig McIver. He was in Max Roach’s M’BOOM. He’s a total trip. Those two teachers gave me a deep jazz background. Then I studied with Tim Karsten. He was great and taught me a lot about sight-reading and rudiments. I was a pretty hungry drummer kid, and I wanted a lot of attention from it, so I practiced my ass off. Eventually, I just started gigging around town with any band who would have me.

Andrew:
Where did Dr. Dog come into the picture? How did you get the gig?

Eric:
I became friendly with them in 2007. I was a massive fan. I loved everything they did. To me, what was most impressive was that there was no gimmick. The songs were great, and the performances were even greater. They took me out for my 21st birthday, and I ended up hanging out with The Black Keys until 3 in the morning. It was a good night. A few years later, I ran into Zach Miller, the keyboardist. I told him I was quitting music. I got the call to join a week later. That’s how life goes.

Andrew:
You’ve also had the opportunity to record and perform with Adrian Belew, Nels Cline, Daniel Rossen, Ween, and others. What’s that been like?

Eric:
What can I say? I am humbled. The musicians you mentioned are so ridiculously good. I can’t hold a candle to them. I don’t think I’m the best drummer or musician in the world and yet somehow I keep getting asked to play with people who are lightyears ahead of me. What I do bring to the table is a sense of professionalism mixed with a lot of stupid jokes. I think people like to laugh. That’s probably why I still get work.

Andrew:
Digging into your solo career now, you’ve got a few really amazing albums out, culminating with Wiseacre, which was released in 2020. Tell us more about that record. Some say it’s your best work yet? Agree? Disagree? Either way, why?

Eric:
Thanks! I think it’s my best one yet. But I don’t wanna get into the mindset that I won’t make a better record in the future. I worked so hard on it. Do I feel like it could’ve done better? Of course. It did get a lot of love in some unexpected places, so that was nice.

Andrew:
You’re working with Org Music on a gorgeous vinyl reissue of Wiseacre. Tell us more about the reissue and your relationship with Org.

Eric:
We’ve got two color variants coming your way: Slick Yellow and Smoke Red…or smoky ketchup and mustard. I just tweeted out into the void one day that I wanted a label to reissue Wiseacre, and Org Music came to the rescue. They have been total sweethearts, and I hope they are happy with how it’s doing.

Andrew:
Circling back to Dr. Dog, anything new to report there? Any new material in the works? How do you reconcile your role in the band against your work as a solo artist? How do you find balance?

Scott:
Nothing new. I think my role in the band is a support role. I tried to help mediate as much as I can. Get out of the way, ya know? I think my solo work is totally different, and it’s where I can be free to explore. They’re both equally valid and wonderful means of expression.

Andrew:
Touching more on the band/solo dynamic. As a musician, what are the major differences for you as a solo artist vs. working within the confines of a band? Which do you prefer?

Eric:
Working with solo artists is very different. It’s cool – there’s a lot of room to experiment. Being in a band is great. Nothing compares to that feeling when everyone is on the same page. Those moments are so crucial and egoless. I don’t prefer one to the other, though. I try not to place too much excitement on one thing. It keeps me grounded.

Andrew:
Now that the hard ones are out of the way let’s talk about vinyl. Are you into it? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital?

Eric:
I love vinyl. I love any way of listening to music. I don’t like to get hung up on audio quality because I think great songs often transcend their technical aspects.

Andrew:
What other passions do you have outside of music? How do those passions inform you musically, if at all?

Eric:
I’m kind of a bore. I’m super into self help and meditation. I love reading about brain function. I love documentaries and books about people I admire. I love animation, particularly claymation. I should really get into some other stuff.

Andrew:
What types of drums, cymbals, and hardware are you using these days? Are you into vintage drums or new ones?

Eric:
I use Ludwig drums and hardware, Zildjian cymbals. I love vintage drums but hate touring with them.

Andrew:
Here’s a drummer-specific question. I am sure you are aware of those old school “drum battle” records from back in the day. So, if you could have a drum battle with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

Eric:
Dear god. I guess Joe Russo or Glenn Kotche. We have similar sensibilities, but they would fucking destroy me.

Andrew:
Last one. The music scene has taken a huge hit in the last year+, so in your opinion, as this begins to open up, what are artists facing out there? Any fears? Advice?

Eric:
I think we’re all gonna be okay. It’s going to be different, but as long as we lower our expectations, the rewards will be great.

Interested in learning more about Eric Slick? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
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