INTERVIEW: Eric Krasno is a busy man of music

Eric Krasno’s new single with Gramatik is called “Recovery.” Photo courtesy of Jay Sansone.

Keeping up with Eric Krasno, the co-founder of Lettuce and Soulive, can be a difficult endeavor. The musician has shredded the guitar with his two bands for years, and he’s still basking in the glow of his latest solo effort, Blood From a Stone. Never a man to rest on his laurels, Krasno is now gearing up for a busy summer.

The Grammy-winning guitarist recently released “Recovery,” a new single with Gramatik. He’s also in the middle of Soulive’s annual residency at the Brooklyn Bowl (appropriately dubbed Bowlive), and there’s a concept album in the works as well.

Krasno’s list of collaborators over the years is impressive. From the Rolling Stones to The Roots to Norah Jones and Aaron Neville, musicians obviously love whatever Krasno is putting out. One only has to look at the guest artists for this week’s Bowlive shows to know the level of Krasno’s musical friendships. On Thursday, June 15, John Scofield will sit in with the band. On Friday, June 16, New Orleans legendary bassist George Porter Jr. will join Soulive.

All in a day’s work for Krasno and company.

“We’ve worked together a bunch over the last few years, and [Gramatik and I] released a song called ‘Torture’ a few years ago,” Krasno said in a recent phone interview. “Every once in a while he checks in with me. He comes around my studio, and I play him a bunch of music. It was kind of the same process this time. I played him some stuff I’m working on. I have a concept album in the works, and one of the songs was called ‘Recovery.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, man, I would love to make a version of this song with you.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, cool.’”

Krasno supplied Gramatik with files featuring vocals and guitar work, and then Gramatik developed an original version of the tune.

“I loved it, and this was like only a couple months ago,” he said. “[Gramatik] decided to release it right away, and I was game. Also we have a few other songs in the works that we had worked on maybe six months ago or so, so we were getting together to try and piece together an EP. It was funny because that song, ‘Recovery,’ he just grabbed it right there and within a few days had this version. He was like, ‘Man, we’ve got to put this out.’ I was like, ‘Go for it. Let’s do it.’ Hopefully this jumpstarts the rest of the project.”

“Recovery” will also be featured on Krasno’s upcoming concept album, albeit a completely different version. “It’ll sound really different,” he said. “It’ll have the same chorus and the same words but kind of a different approach to it.”

This type of collaboration, either working live or in the recording studio, is what makes music interesting to Krasno. He loves teaming up with other writers, singers and instrumentalists. “I love to learn from all of them, and kind of absorb a little bit of what they do and try to take a little bit of that with me,” he said. “That’s been huge for me. I’ve learned so much from the people that I’ve been able to work with.”

As these new chapters open up in Krasno’s professional life, he’s also still enjoying the lingering effects of his last big project, Blood From a Stone. That solo effort tested him, for sure. He needed write those songs and build a band to present them in the studio and on tour. This many months after its release, Krasno can say he’s happy with the results.

“We had great shows, great response,” he said. “We still have a lot of festivals this summer and a few dates in the fall, but, yeah, I’m really happy with it. And the response from it has been great. It’s really prepared me for this next album that I’m working on now. The whole making of the last record was awesome, but it was a little all over the place because I was trying to find my voice literally and trying all these different things. … This concept album I’m working on, I kind of have … a concise vision. It’s really exciting, and now I’m really ready to jump into finishing it and then probably get back out there and tour again with the new material.”

Balancing all of these professional projects can be a difficult, but welcome, obstacle. The Soulive band members have largely been finishing up different projects, but they are able to get together and gig around once in a while.

For Lettuce, Krasno comes and goes from the band he co-founded. “Those guys are really cool about me jumping in at certain times and then other times doing my other stuff, so I work with great people who kind of understand the idea of doing a lot of different things,” he said. “With Soulive, in particular, we all branch off and do other things. When we get back together, we’re kind of really excited to play again. We’re also kind of bringing these different influences from the other projects we’re working on and stuff.”

Those influences include the likes of Scofield and Porter, and Krasno is simply amazed he’s able to share a stage with these guest artists. “John Scofield is definitely one of my heroes, so anytime I play with him, I try to absorb as much as I can,” Krasno said. “Absolutely I learn from them. That’s one of the elements of Bowlive that I love is learning from the guests and getting to work with my heroes. It’s huge.”

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

Eric Krasno’s new single with Gramatik, called “Recovery,” is available now. Soulive continues to perform at Brooklyn Bowl. Click here for more information.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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