The 2014 Hall of Fame I am going to induct Eric Wagner. Persistence paid off, because I bugged his PR people and they did not want him to do a written interview, so I went to bug the man himself. I will say right now it is such bullshit that all these so called metal magazines talk “greatest singers ever” and not one of them name Eric, even in a top 50? You are telling me all these flavors of the month have had a bigger impact than Trouble? No fucking way, doom metal fans know Eric as our Robert Plant. I am so honored to have Eric Wagner in our Hall of Fame and without any more delay…
1. First and foremost, welcome to our Hall of Fame Eric Wagner. This is beyond an honor. The obvious first question, what was the first singer or band that inspired you to pursuit music?
Why thank you kind sir it is most appreciated…that would have to be the Beatles my older cousin turned me on to nowhere man and i must have instantly connected to it which kinda freaks me out a little considering in was only 7
2. You formed Trouble in the late 70’s when the music scene was clearly disco-influenced and this new wave of anti-establishment in your face punk. What was the underground scene like that you guys were trying to get your name out on?
I’m assuming you are talking at home in Chicago at first there really wasn’t anywhere to play so we just had a party every Friday in our rehearsal room was always packed by the time our first record came out there were certain clubs that started having metal so everyone would come out we didn’t play a lot but when we did it was an event
3. In 1984, you released your first record Psalm 9. Were you guys nervous going into the studio? Also, why did it take you so long to put out a first record?
Are you kidding we were all excited it was like a dream come true really it didn’t take as long as it seemed when we first got together in 79 all we did was just rehearse 4 nights a week and have parties we played a lot of cool covers like from Sabbath and Priest UFO Motorhead Scorpions all the shit that we listening to at the time a couple of years in we started writing our own stuff Psalm 9 and a few that were on the skull were all written in the same time frame actually our first bass player Tim Brown had a hand in a few of them he left a little before we went to record
4. Do you think the earlier labels like Enigma and Metal Blade knew or had a clue how to market your band’s music? Did they ever step in the recording process and want you to try and go into a different direction with the times or pressure you into writing hits?
Not at all those labels were metal so we just did what we wanted besides we wouldn’t have listened to them anyway then they labeled us white metal to try and distinguish us from the other bands
and automatically put us in the Christian band category which was never the case they should have just let the people make their own mind up on who we are
5. How did you guys get Rick Rubin to work with you? Was he aware of your previous stuff? How was working with him?
Someone told me has was our show in LA supporting King Diamond in 1987 and that he liked us can’t remember if he knew who we were or it was because of the show anyway i got his number somehow and called him he answered the phone himself and i just asked him if he would be interested in us obviously he said yes I loved working with him he taught a lot about arranging songs and producing things i still use today when we a record or i when i work with other bands
6. Was there any pressure on the self-titled Trouble release? You get picked up by a major label that seems to be hitting the landscape of music and signing as many bands as it can.
Not really at that time we already did 3 records so we were used to being in the studio it was however the first time we worked with a producer all he wanted was for us to work hard and make the best record we could we were too involved to think about anything else
7. I will be honest; Trouble’s self-titled record is a classic, but it is so ahead of what is coming out at the time. Do you think metal fans at that time truly embraced the record? Looking back now, do you think if this record came out say 1998 or 2004, it would be better received?
I have no idea we went in made what we thought was a great record it’s probably my favorite one we never once said or did things towards if people would like it or not you have to be happy with your work first that way there are no regrets
8. The follow up Manic Frustration, yet another classic. This time you not only worked with Rubin but also someone who was about to make a huge dent in music Brendan O’Brien. Going into the studio with these two, and a record that did moderate business, was there pressure on you on this release? I mean, when this came out we had the grunge movement in full effect.
There is always something isn’t there working with those 2 was awesome what more can you really ask for they taught me a lot and without that experience i probably would not be sitting here in 2014 with a new record and doing an interview
9. Do you think Def-American really got behind your band and was fully on your side? I mean, people seem to think bands get signed to a major label and they are rich, and that the label puts billions into the band. Was this the case?
I think they did a pretty good job there are always things in hindsight that could have been done different but you know we went into the studio and recorded 2 records without really worrying about how much it cost we worked on it until rick and the band felt it was right we went on a lot of cool tours and had a great time I still don’t remember everything and I’m probably better off the best thing about all of it is I’m still alive
10. 3 years later you come back on a new label Century Media with Plastic Green Head. At this time were you starting to get frustrated with the scene. I mean you guys are putting amazing records, and all the critics are kissing your feet as the second coming but the records seem to be selling to a following more than a mass. What was the mindset in the studio this time?
I think everyone was a little frustrated at that time plus I had been working on songs that weren’t really trouble songs I wanted to try and do my own thing but got a new deal and new management so i taught I’d give it another go which I’m glad I did I ended meeting some cool people that I still call friends to this day but by the end of all that i was ready to try new things
11. Trouble seems to be on a bit of a hiatus, and you get together with Cavanagh of Anathema and form a band called Lid. Was Lid going to be a full time project or just a side band? I will be honest, I thought the record was solid and you seemed to be really enjoying yourself in this psychedelic acid dream you took us on. How did you guys meet and were you familiar with each others work?
Trouble did a small tour with Anathema during plastic green head got to know him and loved his playing thought he would be perfect it was easy because they were on Peaceville too which I had just signed Lid to so he came over and stayed with me and helped me put the album together all it was going to be was to just record an album I was really tired of touring at that time but I still loved being in the studio
12. Why did Trouble stop making music after 1995? Were you guys still talking?
I can’t speak for them but for me I was just tired of the whole thing and needed a nap which ended up lasting 5 years wanted to spend time with my family my kids were still young and I had missed a lot seeing them grow so I ran away from the music business
13. 12 years later, we have a new Trouble record. Were you proud with the end of Simple Mind Condition? Rumor has it you guys were in and out of the studio for close to 5 years working on this?
I loved simple mind condition after all those years we got back together and made a new record if you listen to it it’s a cool story about being born and having to come and live on this earth it’s just where i was at the time in exploring my life we made a record on how felt in particular moment in time just like we always have
14. Trouble has been on a lot of tours, I have to ask Eric and I am begging you to give us and the fans something on this one. Who were the best people/bands you ever toured with? And who were the worst?
It was all good and I wouldn’t change a thing and I’ll never forget even though i can’t remember
15. So, Trouble put out their new record and then all of a sudden, they seem to be bragging that they are working with Warrior Soul lead singer Kory Clarke. What was going on with Trouble? Also did you ever hear Kory doing the Trouble stuff live?
I was just tired of the same old bullshit so I left and went back to writing i had a lot of crap going around in my head and all I wanted to do was lock myself in a room and write it down took me 2 years and i put together Blackfinger as far as hearing Kory sing those songs there was nothing to brag about
16. Eventually the majority of the band quit, do you think it is fair that Franklin and Wartell are still calling the damn band Trouble? Trouble let’s be serious is you, Olson and Holzner as well.
To be honest they can do whatever they want because that’s what I’m doing everyone knows who the real Trouble is I don’t have to say it I wish them all the best
17. Have you heard Trouble’s latest The Distortion Field? If so, what do you think of it?
I haven’t heard it so I can’t really answer the question
( I have so I can answer, it is not a true Trouble record. It sounds like a weak attempt at making a buck off the legacy)
18. The Skull rumor has it started off as a tribute band to your own band. Why did you guys decide to record a full length record?
Oly Ron and i were at days of the doomed in Milwaukee with their bands Retro Grave and Earthen Grave and they came up with Blackfinger and did a bunch of trouble songs we all had a great time and thought lets have fun and go out and do the old shit since we hadn’t done those songs what seemed like forever we thought that the fans might enjoy it as much as we did like any band it kinda come time to do new music which i have said before it’s my favorite part about being in a band
19. Is The Skull going to be a part time project with the Trouble door open for you guys? Or is this going to a start and keep putting out music?
The Skull is a new band with a brand new record and there are new ideas being talked about for our 2nd record I love jammin with these dudes and am going to continue to do so
20. Beside The Skull, you have Blackfinger as well. How did that come about? Are you planning on taking both bands on tour?
After writing a bunch of songs it was time to come out of my cave and put the band together people wanted me to get a bunch guests to do the record but I like being in a band and getting together and working out tunes so I got friends of mine from home who all had been in bands that have backed us up whenever we played at home it was awesome working with them and am proud of that record we did a bunch of shows as far as the future goes I don’t know I’m busy with The Skull right now so we shall see
21. It seems that Doom Metal is the bastard child. Bands like Trouble, Cathedral, Orange Goblin and a billion more never get their due respect in these best of all time lists whether it is band, singer or records. But, people seem to always reference only one band Sabbath. Does this bother you that after putting out so many classics that even the critics embraced and put in such high regard that they seem to forgot?
You know this kind of music has the most loyal fans I’ve ever known they know and that’s really all that matters the critics from back then are now probably just sitting back and still listening to it also as far as trouble goes all our peers give us respect that’s pretty cool too
22. Eric, if you never got a break in music. What was going to be your back-up plan?
I don’t know always wanted to talk for a cartoon when I grow up don’t really know when will be
23. This is called Fill in the blank…
____________is the best cd I ever heard
______is the one thing America really needs right now
To come together
________is the one band or singer I wish I could have toured with
Deep Purple and Ian Gillian
________is the one vice I wish I could quit
Cigarettes [yeah right]
__________is the best new band I have heard in a while
24. Do you think the internet really killed the music scene?
I guess it can go both ways on one hand it’s easier to put out new music and promote and on the other why go to shows or buy the new record when you can see it on you tube or download it for free you I like but the download for free is bullshit
25. If you had to sum up your whole music career in one sentence what would it be?
It’s been a long walk through hell and I’m tired
26. What to you is your best record you ever recorded, and what was the worst one that you would tell people to never buy?
I would never tell you not to buy any of our records but my favorite one is the 1st Def American release we were a good band then…The heaviest one is The Skull and my least favorite is Run to the Light but only because I hate the mix
27. This is the end, Eric Wagner I am bowing to you. Trouble, Lid, and now The Skull are all incredible as is the new Blackfinger cd. This is your chance to tell people what you are up and how they can catch you. I cannot even begin to tell you, you are the Robert Plant of Doom Metal, you are God to me and so many. Thank you.
Thank you I appreciate all your praise except you don’t have to call me God… I have enough to live up to just being Eric…we are doing a small tour that starts Dec 11th in Pittsburgh
ends in Milwaukee on Dec 20 then a little break till spring were I’ll more than likely just work on some new songs I know I will see you all soon until then I just want to say everything will be alright I promise