Eric Frey, the “man of many talents”

Acousticult: Hi Eric, thanks for joining us today. Tell us who you are, what you do and where you’re located. You’re currently playing bass for East Nash Grass, correct?

Eric Frey. Music. Maker. Handyman of many talents currently playing bass with Kathy Mattea, East Nash Grass. Slowly becoming first and second call for many gigs in town and working to get more session work.

Acousticult: Eric, tell us a little bit about your beginnings. Your origin story, so to speak. How did you get into music, and what made you choose this path over others?

I grew up in Clay, Alabama. My Dad is a bluegrass bass player, and I was raised going to jams and festivals, and the music bug bit me at about 8 years old. After that, I did everything I could at school that was music related, played clarinet in the band, marched on the drumline, played electric bass in the jazz band, started all kinds of rock bands. I don’t remember a time where I didn’t want to be a musician.

Acousticult: What are your favorite 5 albums, and do they influence your work? If so, in what ways?

Depends on the day! I’ve been listening to a lot of Lee Dorsey lately. Of course what I listen to influences my playing, I think that goes without saying. It’s just like anything else you ingest: books, movies, art, food. What goes in, inevitably comes back out and makes you a well-rounded person.

Acousticult: Do you have 5 go-to albums that really have made an impact on the way you play/sing/create/perform?

Man, I find this question impossible to answer. Is this the desert island question? If I was stranded on a desert island, I wouldn’t want five albums. I would want fresh water, plenty of food, a Leatherman, a decent guitar, and an endless supply of strings. That doesn’t sound too bad. Maybe a volleyball.

Acousticult: Which part of your music career do you enjoy the most – live performance, recording, writing, etc.?

I love it all, man. I think I get the most joy from playing music for fun, jamming. I think recording and working on records is the most rewarding. I like being able to flex that creative muscle and really analyze a song, put it down and move on. Sort of a zen thing, do the work and let it be done. Playing gigs still get my heart racing, no rush like it.

Acousticult: What are three musicians today do you think are underrated?

Not sure man. popularity is a fickle thing, and we’re all working hard.

Acousticult: That’s true. Let me reword the question – who are three musicians today that you think would be great candidates for an interview like this?

Ok, this is like thanking people at the Oscars, once you open it up, you’re gonna miss somebody and they will be mad at you. But here goes… PJ George is one of my favorite musicians in town. He can play any instrument in any style it seems, and plays it RIGHT… very tasteful player. I have a chip on my shoulder about bass players not getting enough credit, so I would nominate low-enders worldwide.

Acousticult: Tell us a little bit about your current rig – what does your “rig” consist of?

My upright is a Romanian bass built in a factory that I’m told used to be used to make AK-47s. I hope that’s true, I love the whole “spears into plowshares” thing. I bought it new about 12 years ago from Mark Rubin at Violins, Etc. in Austin, TX. I have tried some other strings, but I always come back to the Spirocore reds. I have a Realist Lifeline pickup installed on the G-string side of my bridge, in tandem with the realist Docking Station or whatever they call it. It’s a sturdier jack, and has a volume knob…pretty handy. I plug into a Radial PZ-DI, or directly into my amp. I used to use a K&K Bassmax, and I still keep one in my bag for emergencies. I recently bought an Ear Trumpet Labs “Nadine” microphone, very cool design. I have two amps, a little GK MBwhatever and a Mesa Boogie Walkabout combo. I have a couple Electric Basses, but the one I play most on gigs is a ’78 P Bass with Bartolini passive pickups. I put it through the Mesa.

Acousticult: If you were given $100,000 to spend on an album production, what would it look like?

It would be epic! Elephants and wizards. One song would be just Mickey Mouse guitars.

Acousticult: Any particular musicians you’d like to record with? Any particular place? Any particular time of year?

I think if I were going to do a solo project with that budget, I would make it here in Nashville one song at a time, and get the personnel suited for each song. Maybe batch a few in little mini-sessions at different studios. I would work with my friends rather than try to get a bunch of famous big names in the credits (not that my friends aren’t famous big names <wink>.)  Stylistically, it would be all over the place, because so am I.

Acousticult: What is your favorite album or recording so far that you’ve made?

So many! I’m proud of the suitcase record by the Red Sticks, I think that’s a well done record. Miss Tess’ Baby We All Know was the first session I did after moving to town. That’s a great record, too.

Acousticult: Who do you currently play with? Any upcoming projects? Anything on the horizon?

I’m starting my own handyman business. “No job is odd, even the odd ones!”  I’m still slogan hunting… “3720Fix!” … I’m still writing, still working on playing in tune. I want to make an old time record with my wife, Clelia. I’ve been woodworking lately.