Having worked on my craft as an instrumentalist for thirty-five some years, it pains me somewhat to say that songwriting and singing are undoubtedly the most difficult bases to cover in popular music, but this group was/is blessed in those areas. As I mentioned in the extensive interview for the Alice Cooper website in the UK, the most interesting writers I have had the good fortune to record with at length are Dan Pritzker and Alice Cooper.
Although the music is different stylistically for the most part, and the writers often address different topics, possibly even to different target audiences…..intentionally or not…both are capable of writing great songs…..and have. I could say that an uncommon awareness of the foibles of human nature, a powerful compassion and realization of the injustices of life, and a real appreciation of the eccentric inform Dan’s writing…… but I won’t, cause it sounds too much like a critical review. He, like Alice, would much rather express the lyrics and the music in as non-mainstream a manner as possible. They both have a great sense of humor in the writing. Some might say that Alice writes about and for youth, while some would probably say that a little life experience enhances the appreciation of some of Dan’s best work…but I shan’t. Maybe I should just say that for me, they can both write some great stuff. (By the way, another writer of great off-the-beaten-path stuff is Tonio K, but I only got to work with him briefly, a couple days in the studio. We did do a tour back in ’79 though with Earl Slick on guitar…good sport.)
And Sonia has had from three to four great voices, all of ’em different. Michael Scott, Paris Delane, Shawn Christopher, and Sam Hogan all have their own distinctive presence, and they can’t help but get into the gospel harmony every now and then, with great results.
Some of the most distinctive musicians I have had the pleasure to record with have been in the studio with SD, and I should name them here, Hank Gualianone on drums, Chris Cameron on keys, Dave Resnick, Phil Miller, and Dan on guitar were the regular guys….. Ron Schwartz on keys and computers and Larry Beers on drums also contribute substantially. There really have been too many outstanding talents to mention here that have passed through our studio, but they are all mentioned on the individual album credits.
I’m probably a bit close and prejudiced to alot of this music after 16 years , so I’ll just say it’s a highlight and here’s a link to the SD website. Although the band is currently on hiatus, the site is still up for the most part, including a 24-hour radio playing SD. You can also buy all Sonia Dada records and swag at this site.
In the UK, Si Halley runs a great website on all things Alice. I had a pretty extensive conversation with them that is better than I could repeat here, so for some of the adventures of that era with photos, please visit the link. We also spoke some about Sonia Dada, Flo & Eddie, Carl Palmer, and other stuff.
In mid -1974, just after moving to LA, I started doing some work at Cherokee Studios, where Flo & Eddie had done some recording. When F&E were ready to tour in late 1974, they called the studio, and I was recommended. We toured and recorded constantly for about three years, making the “Illegal, Immoral and Fattening” and “Moving Targets” records. Flo and Eddie shows were known for alot of great hit songs from their career as “Turtles”, cool stuff from the Flo & Eddie albums, some stuff from the Zappa years, and their usually profane and hysterical tirades about the excesses of pop stars and the music business in general. I mean, this was funny stuff, and usually attracted alot of big names to the shows, particularly the shows in towns like LA and NYC. That’s how I first met Alice, onstage with Keith Moon at the Troubadour in LA singing ‘Happy Together’ (Turtles Hit) and ‘Wooly Bully’.
Mark and Howard (F&E), as the main “Turtles”, had their first #1 single at the age of 16, followed by many more Top Ten hits and they developed a particular perspective on the music scene that combined a love of the music and the musicians, with laser-eyed observations on the sometimes ridiculous excesses surrounding the circus. I couldn’t help but absorb some of this perspective.
For a young musician from Gurnee, Illinois (where?), recording and touring with Flo & Eddie upon first moving to LA was enlightening, illuminating, eye-opening and alot of other -ing words. In short…great sport…a fine graduate course on the music business and its denizens. On Christmas Eve 1974, at LA’s Troubadour, Linda Ronstadt, James Tayler, Joni Mitchell, Peter Asher and others all came onstage and sang Christmas carols. The next night is when Alice Cooper and Keith Moon came up and did “Happy Together” and “Wooly Bully”. In NYC , Lou Reed came up and we did “Walk on the Wild Side”. Later in Australia, our tours intersected, and Mark and I spent some additional time with Lou…interesting fellow. Time and conversations spent with all these folks was pretty cool.
And while Mark and Howard weren’t as big as Flo & Eddie as they were as Turtles, we got on huge tours. We went out in ’75 with Jefferson Starship, whose “Red Octopus” album went to #1 five different times, and in ’76 we were out with the Doobie Brothers, whose “Takin’ It to The Streets” was also #1. In between we did a tour with Steven Stills, and gigs with Fleetwood Mac, among others.
I can remember doing a show in San Francisco with Steven Stills, where the rumor going around was that Neil Young was going to appear with Steven onstage and sing some songs for the first time since CSN&Y had broken up. So I found myself hiding behind the guitar rig with Grace Slick and Craig Krampf as the reunion took place. These tours, and the albums with Flo & Eddie, still stick in my memory.
I was living in LA but was in Chicago with SD [Sonia Dada] and had a night off. Richard Brown was doing some work with Mavis Staples and said Pops was looking for material for his next album. This was 1994. So, I went over to RB’s home studio and told him to put the drum machine on a simple R&B beat at tempo 110 and call a guitar player, Glen Rupp. I then just started the bass groove and called out changes. We recorded an arrangement of this simple, but deep groove. It all went pretty fast.
Later, as Richard tells me, when Pops and Mavis came by Richard’s studio to hear ideas, they heard about five things, and Pops said, “Play that one with the bass drag again.” That was mine. Richard came up with the title, I think, and Pops and Mavis wrote the words for what became the title cut of that album “Father Father.” It won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues recording for 1994, and, at the party afterwards, I was introduced to Pops and Mavis. Ha! Later, Jim Tullio produced an album for Mavis, and he and Jim Weider wrote a song, “Have A Little Faith”.
I went to the studio and recorded the bass track, but didn’t see Mavis that night either. It turned out to be the title track for the album, and Mavis won The Blues Foundation’s W.C. Handy Award for Best Soul/Blues Song of the Year 2005 for “Have A Little Faith”, and best Blues/Soul Album of the Year 2005 for the album.
Interviews and Reviews
Reviews of Erik’s work with Sonia Dada…”Test Pattern”
“If there is a breakout musician on this album it is Erik Scott, a fine bass player who has always done outstanding work. This album has several tracks that put him in a class with Jaco Pasorius, Stanley Clarke and James Jamerson of Motown fame. Erik also shares the production duties with Dan Pritzker, Ron Schwartz and Scott Steiner.”
Richard Strauss, triplearadio.com
This ultra-eclectic Chicago ensemble branches out far beyond it’s R&B-based, adult-contempo roots on Test Pattern, incorporating a craftily assembled soundscape of trancy eastern tones and catchy, soulful melodies.
Erik “Eski” Scott is the perfect artist for the group’s many moods, delivering dreamy medium-register drones, sweet fretless counter-melodies, down-and-dirty swamp boogie, plaintive double-stop ostinati, and everything else the band’s lushly arranged compositions call for.
Bill Leigh, Bass Player Sept. 2004
Lay Down & Love It Live (Calliope)
Erik’s wide grooves, toothy tone, and tasty fills keep Sonia Dada’s now 12-piece juggernaut firmly on course in a polished yet intense live collection. Scott scoops a sollop of funk onto whatever he does, but he really lays it on thick when the feel says “New Orleans.”
Richard Johnston, Bass Player Dec. 1999
My Secret Life (Capricorn)
With bass lines like these Scott could end up being the next king of modern-rock low end. This disc’s songs are complex, fresh and beautifully recorded- and Scott’s deep, syncopated grooves all work beautifully.
Karl Coryat, Bass Player Dec. 1998
Creative modern-rock bass is not an oxymoron. Scott’s clever lines on SD’s My Secret Life push and pull the band’s complex arrangements woth aplomb-but they (gasp!)always support the song.
Bass Player Jan. 1999