I've interviewed a lot of musicians, but this was the first time I'd been asked to meet a band at a member's parents' house. "It was my bedroom, and a rec room," confirms Rick White, Eric's Trip's guitarist, singer and, recording engineer. "A teenage boy takes over the rec room by a certain age."
Down in the rec room, I find White and bass player Julie Doiron. The then-couple are clearly comfortable there, with their instruments and a tape recorder. It certainly doesn't look like a recording studio, though. "We had a little quarter-inch eight-track," White remembers. "We recorded pretty much that whole record down there."
White was recording Eric's Trip in what was called "lo-fi": instead of spending thousands on professional sound, lo-fi musicians worked within the limitations to create their art. It wasn't simply a lack of funds, says White. "It was always important for us to be able to record ourselves. I don't know how we ever got that theory at such a young age. We just didn't want to go into studios."
The do-it-yourself ideal extended to the packaging White put together: "We treated it more as an art project where we thought it was important to be us doing it. I still feel like that. I don't like it when other people make a band's videos or produce their records. I get the feeling it's not them anymore."
Surprisingly, new label Sub Pop didn't want anything to change with the new deal: "Part of the attraction—we didn't realize at the time, I guess—was that it was all homemade. Sub Pop sought that in us, and just wanted us to make the record we would have made and put out on cassette and they'd put it out . Even when they dealt with my artwork. I'd send them my art and it was all taped together, collages. I had the intention of them taking the tape off to make it look better, but they left it on always, because they thought it was part of the art."
Sub Pop did everything to keep the group just the way they were: "They didn't give us new gear and stuff like some bands get when they sign, because they liked that our stuff would fall apart on stage. I didn't find this out until much later. It was a shtick we had that we didn't realize."
Despite a 1996 break-up, Eric's Trip members White, Doiron, guitarist Chris Thompson, and drummer Mark Gaudet have reunited several times, including for a 2007 tour.
From The Top 100 Canadian Albums by Bob Mersereau. Released October 18, 2007. Reprinted by permission of Goose Lane Editions.
Bob Mersereau's The Top 100 Canadian Albums launch, Saturday, October 20 at Tribeca, 1588 Granville, 5pm, 492-4036, free to HPX pass holders.
For more on Eric's Trip read Tripping the light fantastic by James Covey.