VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: The Spin Doctors’ Eric Schenkman On His New Album, ‘Who Shot John?’
The Spin Doctors may have been mostly known during the 1990s, but their guitarist and vocalist Eric Schenkman continues to release great music today.
The 55-year-old rock star sat down with uInterview exclusively to discuss his latest album, Who Shot John?
“[Fans] can expect a killer blues-rock record [with] 10 amazing tracks that I wrote over the last several years,” Schenkman revealed. “Two of them are co-writes, the other ones are just mine and I’ve been working them in a club for the last couple years.”
The album includes songs like “I”m Alright,” “Lincoln’s feat” and “Locked in the House All Day” and is personal in a certain sense, although it touches on the modern world as well.
“It rocks, you can dance to it, it’s happy music,” Schenkman added. “It’s stories from me and what I’ve been through recently and my reactions to the way the world is now.”
The rocker also made a bold comment on how he perceives people in his industry.
“One thing I’ve realized over the last several years is that musicians think the whole world is about them… [about] us,” he said, laughing before adding that he strives to not focus simply on his own reality and perspective.
Canadian-born Schenkman also reflected on the current tense political climate, President Donald Trump and how this affected his most recent music. The guitarist, who said he votes often, called Trump “rude” for his attitude toward fellow democracy Canada, and said he found it odd that he is friendly with authoritarian leaders like North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un.
“It’s just weird, right?” Schenkman asked, perplexed.
Schenkman even has a track specifically dedicated to Trump and the madness he has unleashed onto the U.S. and the world at large.
“It’s called ‘Agent Orange Blues,'” he said. “Need I say more?”
The Spin Doctors also included lead vocalist Chris Barron, drummer Aaron Comess and bassist Mark White. The band reached prominence in the 1990s with chart-topping hits like “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.” They were nominated for a Grammy Award in 1994 for the former track.
Full interview transcript below:
Q: What can fans expect from your new album?
A: [Eric Schenkman]: “Uh they can expect uh, it’s a killer rock and blue’s rock record uh 10 amazing tracks that uh I wrote over the last several years, two of them are co-writes the other ones are just mine um and I’ve been working them in a club for the last couple years. Yeah it rocks, you can dance to it, it’s happy music, it’s stories from me about what I’ve been through recently and my reactions to you know the world the way it is now. You can tell by the grey hair that I actually have some cultured opinions, you know.”
Q: What influences did you draw on for the album?
A: [Eric Schenkman]: “Well my three worlds would be like; there’s The Spin Doctors’ world and there’s my world and then there’s the world which is. You know really it’s the world without musicians you know one thing I’ve realized in the last several years is that uh musicians think that the whole world is about them hah, us ahha actually most people don’t think about music that much so I try to like kinda react to you know the world outside of my, my realm as well um you know, juxtaposition.”
Q: Did politics influence the album?
A: [Eric Schenkman]: “You know, it’s like you see the last election and I vote, and all this you know. And then you see what happens and then it’s a completely different story outside of the country than it is here. I mean, President Trump, he freaks people out like crazy in Canada, right? Like I mean he’s just- he’s so rude to the Canadians first of all, I mean and then he’s really nice to like you know the, the North Korean dude and it’s just weird right? I’m a proud American and you know I’m Canadian too and proud but uh you know it’s scary man. You see the stuff going on and, and um I’ve got a song about it on my record, it’s called “Agent Orange Blues,” need I say more haha.”
Q: What’s your favorite track?
A: [Eric Schenkman]: “Uh I like them all, I-I think um, I think probably my favorite track is probably the title track “Who Shot John,” because it’s a funny little story that I started writing years and years ago and I didn’t know what it meant. Uh but it kept on coming up in my head who shot john at the Mardigras. I was in an zydeco band actually here in New York um and uh I had that line and I had the, I had the basic song but it wasn’t until last year I was working with one of my partners up in Memphis uh Cody Dickinson and we were recording washboard, electric washboard on the song because he plays electric washboard and uh he says to me uh “what’s the track called?,” and I said its called “Who Shot John” and he says uh “Shit man my dad used to say that all the time,” right? Like as in like don’t give me that who shot john just tell me, just tell me what it is I want, you know what’s really going on you know and so that’s really what I think that’s my favorite song you know for that reason. Because uh you know it- this is a good time to say what’s really going on and Who Shot John? is a light-hearted you know, sort of song about uh something that doesn’t really happen. Guy gets shot but he doesn’t really get shot, he’s okay now, we have a party; we dance, we sing. And at the end there’s like uh, there’s like uh recapitulation you know and it’s when I die you know, I hope my soul goes to a place as good as this place where I am right here having such a time, you know because you don’t wanna waste your time in hell. You wan- if you wanna get to heaven, don’t waste your time in hell.”
Q: Do you prefer working alone or with the Spin Doctors?
A: [Eric Schenkman]: “Well Spin Doctors is like um you know, it- it’s got a great big footprint from the 90s, Spin Doctors does and um so and because we have the hits you know we had; “Two Princes,” “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong,” “Jimmy Olson Blues.” There’s a couple other ones that were in the top 40 as well. And so um you know, that’s more it’s sort of more tried and true and uh we have that that sort of 30 years ballast behind us er, um sort of an amazing amount of confidence and we can sort of just arrive somewhere and hit and you know have an audience and you know, you know people recognize the songs. So that’s pretty much obviously the differences as opposed to what I do is I actually started The Spin Doctors with Chris years ago and what I do is more like what we were doing then, yeah, so it’s more like um you know go to a club I don’t care if there’s two people or the place is packed uh just give it your all and play all night long.”
Q: Do you enjoy playing live?
A:[Eric Schenkman]: “Yeah I like it man ‘cuz you know it’s sorta like I get to decide, I get to really decide what the arrangement is, I can change it on the spot if I want to and then its given me a chance to kind of tell some stories to, to try to draw some lyrics out. I don’t write lyrics really fast they just come to me or like I said it takes me years to finish a ly-lyric so you know, its good I can take it at my own pace. But mostly it’s the live thing, I can go back and I can play out live, I love playing live so. When you’re playing live umm you can uh you- you’re sort of sharing your reaction like I was saying take that song for example, you’re sharing your reaction to something and somebody that sees you doing that live, they’re gonna relate to you like if you’re really being sincere, if you’re really putting it out there straight I think people get drawn in. They say, typically somebody will say to me “man you look like you’re having such a good time you know” and tha- I draw them in and then you can sort of you know work that a little bit right. And there’s a little piece of the divine in there. There’s a little connection live where you know you go down there, you sort of feel like you touch the stone, the root you know that’s what it is for me.”