From what I've read, you started recording The syntax error
demo in 1986.
Was it already with Julie and Chris ?
wasn't actually in SYNTAX ERROR, they were just a local Moncton
band in 1986 that i thought were pretty cool. I was in a hardcore
band called the UNDERDOGS around that time, and it was Syntax
that introduced me to Devo and other more surrealist art and
theatrics. My hardcore band used to play mostly basement partys
and sometimes we played with a local surf band called CLARENCE
which contained Chris Thompson on the drums. Chris was a skateboarder
like me and we started hanging out quite a bit. We got a hold
of the first DINOSAUR album in 1987 and decided to make a
heavy Dinosaur type band with another close friend named Ken
Leblanc. Ken had this great girlfriend at the time. Really
fun and great to get along with and hang out, and i got quite
struck on her. We eventually got her to join our band as a
singer since she was always around anyhow, we called ourselves
In late 1989 i started dating her, which put a strain on Ken
and my friendship, and the forest broke up. Chris wanted to
play the bass instead of drums so we got his childhood friend
Ed Vaughan and taught him to play drums.So by summer 1990,
me, Chris, Ed and Ken's girlfriend ( Julie ), started up Eric's
What were your ideal music style at the time ? Something
like simon and garfunkel with sonic youth as noisy backing band
Yes, we also were really into the early My Bloody Valentine stuff.
"Ecstacy and wine" and the "You made me realize",
"feed me with your kiss" e.p.'s Coming from a hardcore
and metal background i really liked the way their music was still
very fast and loud but had this surreal melodic soft vocal within.
Julie and i were just learning to harmonize together by playing
Neil Young and Velvet Underground songs on acoustic guitars, and
we thought if we could do that type of thing with faster and noisyer
music around it, it could be pretty good. Our own type of Canadian
My Bloody Valentine.
Why did you record everything yourself ? Because of the price
of studios or for the sound it gave you ?
more just because we wanted to do it ourselves. My hardcore
band always recorded ourselves on 2-track cassette. So when
we managed to come across a cassette 4-track we thought fuck,
this is a studio. I didn't know any bands in Moncton that
recorded on anything more than an 8-track. In the early days
this was just the natural way but once we released PETER on
cd, and reviewers started saying how "lo-fi" it
sounded or how it didn't sound "normal", we thought
"great, at least we'll stand out". I never thought
about or even heard the term "lo-fi" until then.
you record all the songs on the day of their creation (like
for the elevator part 1-3 album) or did you wait until you
had a bunch of songs ready to record ?
use that technique when i make my own songs or demos for the
bands i'm in, but usually with Eric's Trip and Elevator, we
would learn the song together for a while before we would
record a version.
Except with Elevator's "Taste of Complete Perspective"
album in which i recorded many versions of each song as Mark
and Tara would learn them. Even the first attempted versions
so i could compile an album from the most relevant takes.
You recorded live or track by track ?
With Eric's Trip it was always two guitars, bass and drums live
and then overdubed vocals for that detatched sound. Except for "Forever
Again" which was all recorded in tracks cause we wanted it
to have a real disconnected sound, lots of seperation both audio
and mental. I've always felt that the recording style should really
reflect in the album as much as the songs or lyrics. It is as symbollic
as the art. The sound should have meaning as much as the songs.
Shortly after releasing the Peter Cd, You did a cross Canada
Subpop tour with Six Finger Satellite and Pond, right ? What
memory do you have of it ?
Did you feel connected to those bands or were they just label
We were still very fresh then and overwhelmed by our new found
path. We never expected to be signed to some record label
and never thought we'd be touring at all. 1993 is kind of
a big blur of concerts and excitement. I don't feel very connected
to any of those bands or any bands. We always felt completely
out of place at shows and we would always use these little
dull lightbulbs to light the stage while we played to make
us seem even more seperate from any band we played with. Six
Finger Sattalite are my favourite Subpop band though.
On the Eric's trip myspace page, it's written : "Love
Tara" was done during Rick and Julie's breaking up but
"The Gordon st.Haunting" and "Forever Again"
were recorded during a strange year of a new baby, excessive
dope smoking, a lack of shows and an unlack of heavy emotional
moods. " did any of you felt like breaking up already
at the time ?
We really weren't sure what was going on at the time. In your
early 20's it's all about emotional drama anyhow. I started
Elevator to Hell in that period and recorded the parts 1+2
album. Eric's Trip didn't break up for a couple more years
because it was all we had. We were on Subpop and people were
digging us, we didn't want to stop. We toured all through
1995 and i guess when i realized that the Elevator album was
doing pretty good, i thought maybe i could do that instead.
Eric's Trip were all seperating in our lives and starting
familys. I wanted my band to be my family so i wanted to be
with Tara. It wasn't the same with Eric's Trip once Julie
had her baby. Maybe she was still the same, but my perspective
Do you have any advice to give about 4-track recording,stereo seperation
and all that stuff ? Eric's trip had a loud sound although i believe
the equipment was often cheap,right ? so, what's your secret?
I never believed that the device that you record on should have
anything to do with your sound. It's the creative use of the equipment
you have that is important. I've recorded on 4-track, 8-track, 24-track,
protools, whatever, and it always sounds like me. It's most important
to just do it yourself because as soon as some other engineer or
producer is involved in your recording, it is going to sound like
them, and that won't do. Just try things and use whatever you have
or whatever fate brings you. Just do it and keep doing it and let
it grow with you natural and true. As far as stereo seperation goes,
hash and 60's records like Electric Prunes, Love, Beatles, Simon
and Garfunkel, these really influenced me around the time of Forever
Again. Hardly anyone still ever "dares" to put drums or
vocals in one channel, but it sounds good on those old records and
it still sounds good on ours. Why wouldn't you want to?
again has a real "autumn feeling", is it the "color"
you wanted to give to it ?
It is a pretty autumny record. If i think of the lives of things
as seasons, that album wasn't the spring or summer anymore, but
it also wasn't winter yet.
distortion unit did you use in eric's trip ?
I stumbled across a 1970's Electro-harmonix Big Muff pie at a Moncton
pawn shop for ten dollars in 1988. I didn't know what it was and
got it just because it looked like it sounded cool with its big
silver metal case. I had no idea it was the same pedal used by Dinosaur
and Mudhoney. I believe fate gave it to me.
purple blue, you toured before recording the album which helped
you recording it in only two days. Was it the usual way to
record for eric's trip ?
No, but after doing so many recordings at home we thought
we might like to try a big studio. Subpop sent Bob Weston
up from Chicago to help us work the gear but we mixed it ourselves.
I didn't like it for quite a while because of the fidelity
but came to apprieciate it over the years. You can hear how
the band was starting to sound more Elevator like by this
point. I think i had started my LSD phase by then.
your favourite eric's trip release ?
I really like the Gordon street Haunting, and the early stuff like
Belong. It really captures our energy and fire and unrestrained
guys got back from your last ( american ) tour to Moncton
on May 11th which is one of the title of a "Love Tara"
song. Do you believe in premonition ? Is that why you named
one of the elevatoralbum "vague premonition" ?
much so, there are signs all around and thats when i really
started toopen my eyes to it all. On the last song on "forever
again", there is a sound of cracking and banging in the
background, that's Tara who was my new girlfriend at the time,
throwing rocks at the window because she was locked out. When
you put that together with the lyrics i'm singing about Julie,
you can see the symbollism. It is filled with this stuff,
"Vague Premonition" is set up to give premonitions
that i was supposed to figure out later. It's a creepy record
to me. I was starting to get quite far out around then.
Any chance of a new eric's trip recording one day
never know, we don't put rules on ourselves so if it does
come up, we probably will. It wouldn't be the same but it
could be cool.
Did you feel the breaking up of the band was a bit like the
end of youth and the beginning of adult age ? you know, the
kind of feelingthat people move to different cities because
of their jobs or families and get a job and stuff like that...when
listening to those albums and looking at their covers, pictures
and videos, you get the feeling that it was a time of teen
age when friends ( and band mates ) gathered often in each
other's house and I don't know, I guess you can feel a weird
feeling of nostalgia listening to those records...
Completly. I'm glad i put so much conscious and unconscious
effort into making all my albums like a photo album because
that is exactly what it is. I've never tried to make a rock
record and go on tour to rock crowds like some football team.
I just want to capture my life in the most compelling way.
The music and art and everything works very well together
to really help you remember a time. Life becomes art. It even
helps you to understand who you were down the road. There
are things and meaning in those albums that i can see now
that i never realized back then. If you just do it true and
from your heart, and we did, it is very interesting to look
back on. I may not know who i am but i can see who i was.
15) Who came up with the idea of doing Eric's trip shows again
a few years after the break up ?
Julie and i talked in early 2001. We hadn't seen each other
in a while and were both living in different citys. Elevator
had left Subpop and Tara and i were living in downtown Toronto
and were very broke. So was Julie. That was the initial reason
but once we got together, all Four of us, we realized that
we had alot of unresolved issues to get out in the open. That
tour really helped us remember that we loved and missed each
other and we should still be in close contact because it was
us four that really learned how to play together. We were
I heard a rumour once you guys were about to do something
with lou barlow before breaking up, is that true ?
We met him and played with him and our friend Peter who the
e.p. is named after did one of his subpop 7 inch covers but
we never recorded with him. I think we might have talked about
doing a split single with Sebadoh but it never happened.
did the elevator to hell project come to life ? As it began when
eric's trip was still in activity, how did you make the distinction
between your songs, like "this one will be for elevator, this
one for eric's trip" ?
I was just always recording demos. When Julie had her baby we couldn't
tour much for "forever again" so all these songs i had
started building up. I compiled a cassette and called it Elevator
to Hell and was going to just sell it around Moncton. I gave one
to our Subpop rep and she really liked it. She played it for Subpop
and the next thing i know, they want to release it as a limited
edition 12 inch record. I thought "great".
How do you explain your move from indiepop to something more
psychedelic ? were you bored of playing simple poppy songs
with 4 chords all in all ?
Just growing up i guess. That and LSD. Eric's Trip were smokers
but it wasn't until Elevator that we really started to explore.
Alot of people get the wrong idea about psychedelics, we weren't
partiers, i don't drink or do any other drugs but we took
LSD and mushrooms very seriously. Religiously. I really felt
i was getting to new magical places in art. We were a true
psyche band and only other serious heads will understand that.
You can't hear it unless you know, but i still feel that "A
Taste of Complete Perspective" is a unique, magical and
extreamly haunted record. I will always be proud of and defend
it. Hopefully it will be more recognized someday.
How would you compare tara's bass playing to julie's ?
There both biological girls and there both heavier bass players
than most boys. Julie plays it more like Lemmy where Tara plays
louder and deeper.
you still use your tape reverb unit ( you showed it to me once after
an hamilton gig , a few years ago, when " a taste of complete
perspective came out ? Is that the machine you used also back in
the eric's trip days to give reverb to voices ?
Yes, i used it all through Eric's Trip as mostly a vocal effect
but started using it mostly as a live guitar effect with Elevator.
It's an old Roland space echo.
I believe you and mark do not live in the same city anymore.
Isn't it too hard to compose/ rehearse ? Does that explain
your other projects like the rick white album or the unintended
cd or did youfeel like you needed to try something else and
play with other people anyway ?
Yes, i miss recording every week with Mark when we all lived
in Moncton. Thats what made all the records up to "Taste"
so deep. We could record any time we wanted. I liked playing
with the Unintended. I learned alot about guitar technique
from those guys. Although, i enjoy having the style all my
own that i learned through Elevator. If Mark was closer i
would still record with him though, he is still my favourite
the elevator songs ever come out of jams ?
No, i record a demo and Mark hears it then makes it do what
it has to do.
know that mark really loved "august" and put it
in his top 3 of all the Elevator releases. Is it the case
for you too ?
Well i'm most proud of "Taste" but after that i
went a little off my head and our next two albums, "Lost
during Headquake" and "Darkness/Light" went
a little to far out maybe. Headquake is very dark and depressing
though i do like it still. Thats what i was going for, and
Darkness/Light was a little weak i feel because Mark wasn't
involved in it enough. August may be my favorite too though
because it is Elevator again with a real force and to the
point again. We were focussed again and i really had a vision
of what i was trying to do. The songs work together and the
old 8-track i was using was on it's last legs. You can really
hear the tape suffering on that record and it sounds great.
I couldn't reproduce that sound with a computer no matter
what effects you use. We even taped over our Eerieconsiliation
masters cause we couldn't afford new tape. Kind of suits the
How did Dallas enter in elevator ?
I lived with Dallas in Toronto and we just really had lots
of the same ideas of what we were trying to do musically.
He first joined just to help fill in
some sounds from the albums that just the three of us couldn't
reproduce live. Then by Darkness/Light he was in the recording
process. The "Light"
side of that album is more a beginning to the Unintended.
9) what does the future hold for elevator ? any projects yet
Not yet but we hope to do something soon, it's been too long.
How did this project start ?
Just Dallas and i living together and wanting to mix our bands
sounds together. We wanted to try and make a psyche/folk rock
album and i think we
did. I'm still very pleased with the way that album turned
You write the songs and then the band jams together to get
it right ?
I recorded a bunch of demos and let Dallas weed through them
and rearrange them a bit. I wanted to try to really colaborate
with someone i trusted and
respected. Before then it was mostly me in charge of arranging
albums and the band would just help play it good, but with
the Unintended, Dallas and i
really worked together.
Does every project of yours influence the others ? (Listening
to some late elevator stuff, we can hear a sort of influence
of the unintented in elevator,I think )
Sure, it's all the same to me song writting wise. My first
RickWhiteAlbum sounds more folky because i was writting with
a 2nd Unintended album in my
head. The Sadies sounded more like the Unintended after we
did that album also. My new RickWhiteAlbum sounds more like
Elevator because i was hoping
to do another albun with them by now but the songs were done
so here it is.
Is it refreshing to multiply projects and play with different people
? is this why you do it ?
I do it not very often. I enjoyed playing with the Sadies but i
am a very independent hermit type and don't really feel i need to
musicians. I love what they add to it but also feel it kind of dilutes
my personal art. Like i said before, i want to keep it as pure and
true of a biography as possible and only feel i need to involve
others now if it suits the plot.
Why did you suddenly decide to use your name instead of releasing
this record as elevator part 7-8 ?
Because in every other part of my life, my old self had collapsed,
so i had to rebuild and find this new stage of my self.
2. Memoreaper is more aggressive than the first album, is there
a reason for that or did it just happen that the songs that came
out were more aggressive ?
I just tried to be free making Memoreaper and like i mentioned before,
i did have Elevator in my head. It's good to write and record without
pre-vision. Just do what you want to hear. I like rhythm and drums
and acoustic guitars and freedom. Just do and be. I write unconsciously
songs work as a tarot for myself. They can figure things out better
What does painting brings you that music doesn't ?
It's really all the same thing to me, it's just creation and documentation.
I do it for the same reasons that i make music or films or storys
trails in the woods. It's meditative and inspiring. You can learn
alot from yourself if you know how to look. I don't need the psychedelics
Do you keep all of your paintings or do you sell or give some ?
I mostly keep them all. I've given some to good friends or done
paintings on purpose for friends as gifts or for their album covers
but i've rarely sold
any. I sort of regret the ones i've sold because theyre all very
personel to me, but i was very desperate for money to eat and pay
rent in the early
Is it something on which you spend a lot of your time ?
I, at this point of my life, write and record about two songs and
one painting a week. Although i used to do a song a day and a couple
week through the 90's. I'm a little slower now that i'm living in
such beautiful country surroundings. I spend more time gardening
influenced you, graphically speaking ?
I guess when i was young it was my grandmother, early 70's
psychedelic seseme street, Dr. seuss, old fairytale books
and stuff. In my teens i got
really into Edward Gorey and a comic artist called Charles
Burns. As well as Alex Grey and old Stereo photography, 60's
Addams Family episodes and Pink
Panther cartoons. Nature and dreams are my main influence
what kind of painting technique do you use on the
darkness light presentation gig with the exploders and dirtyhearts,
with all the little dots ?
I've always painted for the meditative process. I like to
do it the slow way, dotting each dot of acrylic paint one
by one with a little paint brush.
Is it something important for you to make the visuals of an
album ? Do you see it as a whole ?
Yes, like i said before, i think all bands should record themselves
and make their own album covers. I dont understand why you
wouldn't want to. And fuck
mastering by the way, what a scam.
And the final question ( at last ;o) ...is there any question
that you've always felt up to answering but have never been
I don't know, i only think up answers when i'm asked a question
and i'm trying not to ask my self to many questions anymore.
Thanks Paperheart, i hope these answers make sense.