Welcome back to another episode of the DrumGAB podcast! This week is a very special interview with one of my personal favorite modern drummers, Eric Harland. In this episode the discussion is deep. We break down some components of drumming in an interactive exercise that I also explored with Aric Improta recently, being in the moment with music and if there are influences unrelated to music that inspire Eric’s playing, to name a few. Then in the second portion of our interview, we explore spirituality, why we are here and self-perception. This is a very insightful episode and ranks as one of the best episodes to date, IMO.
Who is Eric?
Eric Harland is a multi-grammy nominated drummer and is one of the most in-demand drummers of his generation. Already in his career, he has been featured on close to 200 recordings, including Joshua Redman’s “James Farm”, “Prism” from Dave Holland and Kevin Eubanks and his very own group “Voyager”. Overall, Eric is an incredibly ethereal musician who has inspired players all over the world.
Key Moments in this Episode
- We begin by examining 8 components to drumming. Creativity, Timekeeping, Endurance, Independence, Coordination, Groove, Chops, Technique. Eric’s interpretation is far different from what we heard previously on Aric Improta’s episode but each player expresses very convincing points of view that opens up our own minds towards this question.
- Next, we explore nonmusical influences towards his music making. Eric explains that everything acts as an influence. As our minds process our surroundings, our moods, and personal circumstances, it all affects how we create music.
- What follows is the moment of music. Eric expresses how this varies for him. Sometimes he is hired to fulfill a role musically and how it is not always a situation that he relates to internally and how he wishes to convey creativity through the instrument. Another component of this discussion is subconscious listening and how we can enter “the zone” with music and be on another level of listening.
- To wrap up our discussion with music and performance, we talk about musical freedom. How do we obtain freedom on the instrument? Eric breaks down how time is simply a measurement. Anything can happen within time as long as you have internalized it. He encourages people to understand that we as players do not need to lock into time with our playing but rather internalize the space of time and play within that in order to be free.
- The second chapter of this episode deals with life and spirituality. We start things off with the beginnings of his spiritual quest, where he grew up in a very religious household and would eventually study theology and become an ordained minister. However, after some time he began to feel that he could do something wrong and ended up leaving the church to explore other spiritual possibilities. To this day he remains open to receive and process what is possible with spirituality.
- I ask Eric, “If someone were to approach you who struggled with inner peace, how would you respond?” Eric in all his wisdom replied to me with “What is so important about inner peace?” Now that may seem like he disregarded my question, but believe me, his reasoning behind that statement was what blew my mind in this interview.
- Eric had recently received an award from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and he selflessly gave his award away to someone he felt deserved it more. In his speech, he talks about how we don’t really know how we see ourselves, instead we just experience life. So this made me want to ask him his opinion on self-perception and whether we know how we truly live as people. Again, another part of this interview that is so deep and so wise.
- To conclude, I ask Eric what the most impactful advice he had received in his life was. At first he had difficulty recalling something specific but eventually, he recalled elderly women telling him “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Simple but very true and he elaborates a bit on that to bring more substance to the point.
Eric Harland is a musician that I noticed quite a number of years ago and instantly enjoyed how he played. While I wasn’t incredibly familiar with all of the work he has done, the preparation for this interview really allowed me the chance to see more into his life and his values through all of the interviews I have watched or listened to before speaking to him. So typically for me, my favorite conversations are ones that surround spirituality, the beauty of life and music and Eric is all of those things and a perfect guest to explore these topics with.
This was definitely one of my favorite interview experiences as a host and how it translated as a listening experience, it encapsulated the essence of my podcast. Eric is a truly wonderful human being and I am very thankful that he took some time to speak with me and explore some interesting subject matter on the podcast.