Literally and figuratively, Eric Krasno rarely stands still. The guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer keeps as steady and growing a schedule of sessions and performances as he’s had for over a decade. His guitar work with Soulive and Lettuce earned him a reputation as an equally adept lead and complementary player capable of jamming with the best like Phil Lesh and George Porter. Yet, it’s Krasno’s adaptive style and versatility that make him a most in-demand musician and producer, with a forward-thinking approach that embraces the possibilities of the future as easily as the influences of the past. In 2016, he issued his first solo album, Blood From a Stone, and since has spent more of his time focused on a developing career as a solo artist. This year, Krasno will issue a concept album as a follow-up to the debut, while still finding time for friends like Lesh and old bandmates, Soulive and Lettuce.
In a February 2017 interview, you talked about plans for Soulive and for a new solo album. Can we get an update on those two projects, starting with Soulive?
Soulive is doing a series of EPs called Cinematics. We have the idea to create somewhat of a film soundtrack without the film. We recorded over two days. That’s kind of the concept; to go into the studio for short spurts, get some sounds and some ideas down, and try to put it out as quickly as possible. We went into the studio in mid-December, put the single out, and the album- Volume One- is coming out in February.
And your new solo album?
I’ve been working on a record for a while now. I’ve been working super-hard on that. It’s a concept album; kind of like a storyline that follows four characters that live in a brownstone in Brooklyn. There’s a narrative of their lives. I have a bunch of guest singers that are portraying the characters at different points in their story. I’m doing animation and illustration to it. It’s a pretty in-depth project.
It sounds like a departure from Blood From a Stone .
It’s a departure, though there was a song on that record called “On the Rise” that was the last song recorded for that album and it’s what kind of set me off in this trajectory. I’ve been working with Jeremy Most, he’s co-producing the record with me. Last night Marcus King sang on it. And Emily King. Two kings! And Son Little. Allen Stone is doing a song. All people I’ve worked with. It kind of happened naturally. This is a cool showcase for them. I need these different voices to tell the story.
I’m curious about the animation.
You probably know this guy, Josh Clark, who was in Tea Leaf Green. I found his animation not realizing I knew him. I had some concepts of what I wanted it to look like and he’s helped flesh it out. He did the first video. We’re still deciding if he’s going to do animation for the whole thing. He may do comic-style illustrations that follow the whole story.
Will this be a multimedia piece
That’s still coming together, how we’re going to present it. We may do an app. Right now I’m just working on the music. I want to present it in a unique way. The music will stand on its own. But, you’re going to be able to dig deeper if you want to.
Was everything written prior to studio work?
For the most part, yes. The story was first and then I built in the songs to help tell it.
Will you stage it?
I hope so. That’s the part I’m trying to figure out now. I’d like to do that. It’s a tall order, but yes, I’d love to perform it and present it as a unique project.
It sounds like you’ve returned, in an artistic sense, to Brooklyn.
This is an ode to Brooklyn. My letter to Brooklyn. The characters are amalgamations of various people that I’ve known here. It goes beyond personalities to how I’ve seen it change here. Gentrification in certain areas, and how that has affected things. It’s very much about New York.
Have you found inspiration in writing stories of others?
Yes. Blood From a Stone was very much me talking about me. This record, I feel like I thrive when I’m writing from different people’s perspectives. So, this was perfect.
Are these stories based on actual people in your life?
I wouldn’t say directly one person, but based on various people I’ve known.
What are some concept albums you like?
Only a few that I’ve followed deeply. Pink Floyd was always the best at it. Theirs were so abstract, though. The Wall was amazing. There is an artist named Andy Shauf from Canada that made a record called The Party . I became slightly obsessed with that album. That’s another one that I really love. Tommy was great. I’ve always loved the idea of musicals, not as much the music attached to them.
When can we expect to hear the album?
I’m going to put out the single with the video in springtime. It’ll take a while to put together all the visuals.
In the meantime, you will be doing some shows with Phil Lesh and with his son Grahame. What’s that like for you?
It’s an honor to play with Phil. Just meeting him was so cool. He’s been so great, so supportive. And his son, Grahame, and I are really good friends. He’s super-talented. I love the Terrapin Band, in general. We just kind of clicked. I love Phil and Friends, too. To be able to play with all these amazing musicians? The Terrapin Band felt like a band. They picked up on my excitement because they have been asking me to return quite a bit, so it’s been great.
And still doing your solo shows?
I’m still doing gigs as Krasno and Friends. While prepping for this record, I’ve been putting some cool lineups together which is fun.
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