There is nothing more hypnotic than the beat of a song, nothing more erotic than the words, like an open book we reveal our thoughts and expose them to the worldâ€.
The opening lyrics to Let it Echo, from the new release â€œWake upâ€ by singer and songwriter Eric Keyes, bring to light a powerful and radically honest album that challenges the listener to wake up and take a deeper look at the world around them.
Walk into almost any major area in any big city where people are gathered and take a look around. Do the people seem alive? I have been inside churches, schools, banks, malls and grocery stores, and most of the time people seem like zombiesâ€, recalls Keyes.
â€œI remember one time at the bank, I used the tellerâ€™s name and she looked up at me and said, â€˜Do I know you?â€™ I said to her â€˜your name, itâ€™s on your nametagâ€™. It amazes me how people watch TV, read the paper, listen to the radio and pretty much believe whatever they are told. I think Jim Morrison reveals it best when he said, â€˜is anybody awake? Do you people know you are alive?â€™â€
The release of Wake Up feels a lot like an Epiphany for Eric Keyes.
â€œIn writing this record I totally reinvented myself,â€ says Eric. â€œAfter spending the last 2 years writing and creating music I decided to sit down and listen to all of my favorite albums from when I was a kid to the present. It was a major awakening for me.
I discovered that this music had in a major way shaped who I was. I read all the lyrics to my favorite songs and it was like reading a biography of my life. With my background in being a guitarist I never consciously thought about how powerful lyrics were until I started writing songs. This introspective look led to a lot of ideas and I just started writing songs like crazy. The next thing I knew I had the concept for this album.â€
Produced by Jimi Tunnell (Carly Simon, Robin Gibb, C&C Music Factory, Laurie Anderson, Steps Ahead) and mixed by Scott Noll (George Clinton & P-Funk), Wake up is Keyes first solo album. The CD was recorded in Texas at Buffalo Sound during the spring and fall of 2003. Eric spent the year recording a bunch of songs, 12 of which will be included on the CD.
Wake upâ€ takes the listener through an aural â€œjungle of soundâ€, utilizing African Drums, Latin percussion and extremely hypnotic grooves that invite the listener in. The lyrics are clever and thought provoking, sung from the heart and offering solutions rather than the incessant whining and complaining of many songs written today.
â€œI wanted to use rhythm in a big way on this albumâ€, says Keyes. â€œRhythm is what wakes people up and draws them to the stage. This is such an integral part of my music and I am very fortunate to live in a town with so many great musicians. What better to wake up to, than the big boom of an African tribal drum or the pulse of a Latin groove? I purposely chose to work with drummer, Greg Beck on this CD because of his deep understanding of African percussion, hard-hitting style and signature â€œtribal grooveâ€. I also am very excited to have drummer/percussionist Raul Valdes on the album and who will join us on the tour.â€
The album features Ericâ€™s friend Aloke Dutta on two tracks playing tabla. â€œHaving Aloke involved in the recording was such a blast. The tabla is one of my favorite instruments and I am such a fan of what he has done for the instrument in the music community. His solo recordings as well as his work with Tool are simply amazing. When he flew in to record we set up a solo tabla concert here in my hometown. It was amazing to see hundreds of people to come from all over to see the concert. His playing is incredibly poetic and magical. A sense of community around this record was integral to me in the recording process and it is why I carefully chose the musicians.â€
Mikel Combs from Baltimore played bass on the record and brings an awesome lyrical backbone to the songs. The fretless bass on â€œLove Rulesâ€ is amazing. Jimi Tunnel masterfully rounded out the programming, keyboards, additional guitar and background vocals on the record.
â€œAll of these wonderful, diverse musicians helped me create the sound I was looking for. Working with a singer of Jimiâ€™s caliber was a life changing experience,â€ says Keyes. â€œHe pushed my voice into places I did not know was possible. He has such a vision and cache of musical experience it really brought out the best in me.