Interview Eric Wagner Trouble, The Skull



>>Weed for the rest of your life <<


Eric Wagner of Trouble fame is a singer extraordinaire. Onstage he is not 100% accurate, but always building atmosphere and singing his heart and soul out. Not a preacher, a vivid weed smoker, here’s Eric Wagner answering.

First of all- what were your beginnings as a singer? Was Trouble your first band?

I was in a band with Bruce (Franklin – VN) before Trouble. But me and Bruce liked other kind of music, so we left. We were living back then in a small town outside of Chicago. One day we answered to the add from Chicago, telling that the band was looking for a singer and guitar player. And this band was Trouble. We joined them in 1979.

Quite a long time ago. So it was your second band, when you learned how to sing, because from the very beggining you were a fuckin outstanding singer. How did it come ?

Well, we've did covers for first four years.You know - Priest, Sabbath, shit like that. And after that we started to write songs. Our first demo kinda sucked. But than suddenly we went from that demo to "The Tempter", I don’t know fuckin how. We've played once a show and recorded it, and that's how Metal Blade found us.

You've left Trouble in 2008, because you said that you were tired of touring. Is this tour a proof, that you were wrong in the past?

Yeah, I was tired of everything. Tired of touring, playing same songs every night. I wanted to do more things, and I didn't see us doing anything new. I had a bunch of new songs, that I've been working on, which appeared on Blackfinger records and The Skull records.


Anyway, you left Trouble in favour of Lid in 1997. What happened that time?

That was the same reason. I wanted to do stuff on my own. At that time I was in Trouble for 15 years, and decided to do what I want. I did this record and decided to run away from the music buisness. I've cut my hair, get a normal job. I got a wife and three kids. Actually, Dave Grohl called me back with his Probot project. I was sitting with two weeks in front of blank card of paper, I couldn't write anything, you know? But I wrote it, than I called other guys. We settled a couple of auditions and than the rest shit happened.

How was The Skull formed and why isn't Ollie (the drummer – VN) with us?

Because he always quit, it's not the first time. I sent an e-mail as a joke. I wrote that we should start a Trouble cover-band. I wrote that Ron looked like bass player, Ollie as a drummer and that I looked exactly as a singer. So we decided at first to do songs only from first two albums. „Trouble” was heavy, we enjoyed it. So that how it's started. And that's from what we've taken the name. We were wandering if we shall call the band "Psalm 9" or "The Skull", and we decided to pick up "The Skull". We already got a logo for the band.


I've been listening to your songs and new Trouble records and they're suffering from lack of good vocals. You're a genius, but you don't have the guitars. You’ve got good guitarists, but they're not that genius. What the fuck is going on, that you really can't bury the hatchet and pass over it?

I don't want to go into personal stuff. I am happy doing what I'm doing. I did a lot of work with Trouble, but I've felt that there's nothing more than we can do. I started Blackfinger, which is like my solo band, The Skull- where were doing a bit different music. Like I've said, we started with older albums, and we pushed it into recording our own albums as well. I'm happy doing that now. I wish good luck to the guys, but honestly I think that there is nothing more we can do.

With The Skull you are experimenting a bit, while with Trouble you were still repushing old stuff.

Exactly, and I didn't want to do that! Just to go back to play the same songs. With The Skull we do it, but we're doing more.

The Christian period, was it like breakdown day for you or like a gradual? I've seen a video added to your Metal Blade release. White Metal…

Metal Blade did that, we didn't. I was never a Christian musician, it was a Metal Blade idea. I don't want to change people's life, praise God etc. We were nothing different than other bands at the time. The only difference is that I always put a bit possitive thinking in it. All these Lucifer and Satan stuff is what Venom and Slayer did. We never called ourselves „White Metal”.

As an atheist I see your Jesus from the lyrics as a positive hero, like from Greek mythology or something but nothing more.

Well, I know he exists, but I don't want to preach or anything. Religion is man-made. There's a difference between religion and God. I had more time to write and I started writing different, more like painting pictures with words. My heroes has always been Morrison, Lennon or Roger Waters.

When it comes to The Doors, it's close to the drugs. What's your favourite one?

Weed. If you put all stuff on the table - drugs,beers, weed, cigarettes and say "you can only pick one of the rest of your life”, I'd definitely pick up weed.

How do you feel as a rock god, hanging on my wall?

I don't feel like that, I feel like a normal guy. That's why I love to go out and hang with a fans and guys like you. Going to bar, ordering a drink. Showing that I'm just person, like you. Even if for some strange reasons I was able to write words that you or other fans would understood. That doesn't make me a god. Everybody’s got a talent and that is just mine. I'm glad to help people, I have problems as anybody else. And that helps me too- to write it down.


In 1990 you were signed to Def Jam Records. Under what circumstances?

It was awesome. I think that our first self-titled album is awesome, but by the fourth record we put it into the right time. It was heavy, doom fans liked to listen to it. I think that it's my favourite album. I've learned a lot. Somebody from Metal Blade called me and behind everybody's back someone said "hey, they're interested in you". And I've called them and it worked up from there.

It was 1992, when I found you for a first time. I was a young guy, who was coming to radio station with thrash records, and they had a great knowledge about hard rock and death metal. They came to me with your album and Death's "Leprosy". The next week I went to a record store and asked them to put your CD aside, as I wanted to buy it. Since that time you're the soundtrack to every homefucking in my life, hahaha!

That's actually funny, that you're fucking someone while looking at my picture, hahahaha!

Not exactly, the poster from Metal Hammer is tiny, hahaha! Anyway, "Manic Frustration" is one of my lifetime favourite record. What's so special about it?

Maybe my influence at the time was to play a bit softer, I've been raised on The Beatles or Steppenwolf and that impacted me. We became friends and we’ve worked it out better. Warner Brother helped us with videos. I got everybody involved and I had a big influence of writing music. Maybe that's why.


„Plastic Green Head” isn't much worse, but the band started falling appart from this one, right?

Yeah, we were tired. Too much touring. That was a hard record to do. I like it, but it was more heavier I think. I don't listen to it much. I listen mostly to stuff I remember - which I remember singing, writing etc. „Plastic Green Head” was after we shared a stage with Cathedral. But when I came back home I decided to take a break. I wanted to do things because I want to, not because I have to. And Trouble reached the "I have to" stage.

Your returning record to Trouble is weaker than other ones…

Well, I like the record. We discovered new stuff. It's pretty heavy. It's about our place on the planet, who we want to be. Maybe it's not the good as self-titled or „The Skull”, but it's different. There will only be fans' favourite record and the least favourite. It's nothing we can do about it.

I've also listened to Trouble's „Live in L.A.” and...

.. oh, I can't listen to it.

He was literally slaughtering your songs!

I know. I've seen it, I went to Hammer&Doom in Germany and I've played with Death Row and Trouble was headlining this night. I've seen two songs and I had to leave. I'm OK with going out and doing it. I wish them all the best, but that was terrible.


What was the best and the worst thing that happened to your Trouble career?

I don't know, there were a lot of good moments. And bad ones too. For sure signing to Def American was a highlight, as well as playing on '95 Dynamo for 100.000 people. There was a lot of good times. And bad too. We had a lot of temptations on the road - drugs, women. And I'm the one who doesn't want to always say "no".

I've heard that at the beggining you, as a Christian band, hit the road. And when you came back home, you changed into human beings, hahaha!

As a writter there's no way that I'll be able to do same record twice. I know some people do, I can't. I want to look forward, exploring and see different things. That's all.

How do you recall Probot project?

Probot? That was cool. As I said, I was retired by that time, but I got message that Dave Grohl wants me to do a song for a Probot project. I thought that he was joking, so I never returned the call. Whenever they called back I answered and he got me to do that. This song was actually written for Ozzy. There was two songs written for "No More Tears" album, that they didn't accept. It was my song and I think second one was King Diamond's. Grohl is a huge Trouble fan, he loves „The Skull” album. He's a normal, regular guy.


You played live for Death Row and Probot as a guest. I want you to tell me more, as I haven't listen to it. I've bought your solo record tonight, but I haven't listened to it, Blackfinger either. As well, as I haven't listen to Lid.

I'm thinking to re-release it, but I'm so busy right now. I'm writing new Blackfinger album, new The Skull album, so I'm so fuckin busy. But it's fun, first time when I'm doing what I want to do, it's just my record.

You’ve already answered the question I wanted to ask as the last one, hahaha!

That's how it should be hahaha!

Interview by Vlad Nowajczyk

Foto Live The Skull by Karol Makurat (Tarakum Photography)



Poprawiony (wtorek, 30 sierpnia 2016 19:47)