Interview: Eric Selby

Recently I was introduced to drummer and producer Eric Selby. Eric has performed live and recorded with many talented artists, including: Daryl Johnson (The Neville Brothers, Emmylou Harris, U2, Bob Dylan), Lenny Castro (Adele, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Maroon 5, Stevie Wonder) and James East (Elton John, Lionel Richie, Eric Clapton). He has also been featured in Modern Drummer and Eric has also been named Blue411‘s “Drum Thumper ‘Jimi’ Award” winner, been nominated for multiple WAMMIE awards, inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and #1 on Blues411‘s charts multiple times.

That’s quite an impressive resume for sure. In 2020, Eric moved out in front of the drum kit releasing his first solo record of original music, entitled “Do, Baby.” as well as two singles, “Anxious Zen” and “Another Page.” These releases are a culmination of the various styles and genres he has had the opportunity to embrace through his musical travels. Eric has recruited many of his musical associates along the way to give these releases a new vibe and emotion with every song.

MA: Tell us what attracted you to the drums and what attracted you to singing?

ES: I am the youngest of five sons, and my older brothers all played instruments. When I came of age to join them, they needed a drummer. So at nine years old, I took up the drums but kept learning other instruments from my brothers (i.e. keys, guitar, etc.). I’ve been in bands ever since then and professionally since I was 18. I played in progressive/fusion/alternative bands for many years and then started performing in the genres of blues, funk and New Orleans groove. I had the opportunity to play with many iconic musicians and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Through all of the rhythm section years, I continued to play guitar and write music, really, to entertain myself. Thankfully, I keep honing my craft and continue to do so today.

Since I have been a drummer “by trade,” I really was never particularly interested in being the “front man,” so singing is still a bit foreign to me. The songs that I have recorded were written by me, so I knew, from a performance/emotion/production point-of-view, how I heard it conveyed in my head. So it seemed naturally appropriate for me to sing them too. As a drummer in a band, I had often been a back-up singer so singing wasn’t new, just the “lead” part is something I’m learning to embrace now.

MA: What are the unique challenges between being a drummer and being a producer?

ES: One challenge that comes to mind is for the producer in me to ensure that the drummer in me plays to serve the song. As a drummer, it’s certainly easy for me to over-play because I can, but the reality is to properly deliver a song, whether live or on a recording, the musician must truly serve and support the song. One of the producer’s main roles is to ensure the song is being served properly by the musicians for the artist’s project.

The two roles are intrinsically similar and completely different at the same time. The rhythm section of a song is a vital part of the production, so it is weaved in, but I think I wear a completely different hat when I am producing the song in my head to be laid down “on tape.” I have been working hand-in-hand with an amazing producer based in Arlington, VA, named Marco Delmar, who has an innate way of understanding my layman’s terms for vibes, sounds, and effects. By working his magic on the board, he can manifest what I’m hearing in my own melon. In addition to Marco, Don Côqayohômuwôk Chapman (Firefall’s Larry Burnett & Rick Roberts, America) has been instrumental in providing such support on these songs with foundational and thematic parts and background vocals. Those two guys really make my job easy because I have confidence in both of their incredible talents.

MA: How did you come about recording your own solo record?

ES: I had been writing songs for years, on my couch at home to entertain myself or, as a single Dad, to simply irritate my four daughters. After I had about a dozen or so tunes that I thought were decent, I thought it would be cool to record them for fun and posterity, again, just for myself and family or friends. I had no idea these songs would receive the response that they have! My new songs have gotten amazing airplay literally around the world, plus phenomenal reviews, and the distinct honor of being on Roots Music Report’s Albums and Singles Charts for over 6 months now!

With the success of the Do, Baby EP and encouragement from fans to deliver more tunes, I jumped back into the studio and continued writing and tracking. I am now working on my sophomore effort and have released two singles from that project, “Anxious Zen” and “Another Page”, and I have a third single entitled “Orbit” due for release in January 2021.

MA: Which do you find more rewarding, drumming or singing?

ES: Hands down, drumming. I have been drumming for 40+ years, so my language and versatility with that instrument are far more fluent. My comfort, confidence, and musicality in drumming is considerably stronger than my singing. Lead singing is a new instrument for me and one that I look forward to developing further, as I do with all of the instruments I try to pick up.

Admittedly, I have never been a natural with any instrument. I have worked at playing the drums, guitar, piano, and singing. The old adage about reaping what you sow really rings true for me. I am strongest on drums because I have invested so much time into it. As I heard Will Smith once say, “Self-discipline is the center of all material success.” I will continue to focus on bettering myself at these instruments and in all aspects of my life, for that matter.

MA: Do you plan on touring to support this record?

ES: Although it would really be cool if I could, the immediate answer is no. Until we have a vaccine readily available to all, and people are being intelligent and exercising smart health practices, I don’t think it’s smart for me to be touring. I totally understand that it would significantly increase the exposure of these records, but in the grand scheme, it is worth far more to me to do the right thing for right now.

My current thought is to release my second EP in 2021 and see where things stand with the health of my family and the nation. If all seems under control, then I may revisit the idea of touring with the right people.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy working on my own project. And, I am absolutely psyched to continue tracking drums and percussion in the studio for all the amazing artists that I am blessed to work with on their own projects!

You can listen to a preview of Eric’s music here: listen to Anxious Zen and Another Page

Visit Eric’s webpage at:

Socials: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Spotify // YouTube // SoundCloud

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