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Charlotte

De beste plaat en mijn persoonlijke tip van afgelopen maand was 'Medusa Groove' van het Amerikaanse vijftal Charlotte. Een vreemde keus wellicht, zeker als je bedenkt dat de muziek op dit album al zo'n twintig jaar oud is! Goede muziek blijkt echter nog steeds tijdloos te zijn en gelukkig voor ons heeft Eonian Records dit fantastische materiaal alsnog op de markt gebracht. Daar de band snode plannen heeft om een doorstart te maken, zocht ondergetekende contact met wereldzanger Eric Ganz, die gaarne bereid was om het verleden, heden en de nabije toekomst te belichten.

Door: Sjak | Archiveer onder hardrock / aor

band imageEric, your band Charlotte was already founded in 1986 when you and Nick DiBacco (guitar) and Vinnie Cacciotti (guitar) got together. Can you elaborate a bit more on how you got acquainted and why you decided to start up your own band?
Sure thing man, well, Nick and Vinnie and I were playing together just after high school when we decided it would be cool to go to Los Angeles and be a part of the greatest rock scene in America. All the bands that were coming out of there like Motley Crüe, Van Halen, Faster Pussycat were kickin' ass and we were ready to do the same. Not to mention the history of the Sunset Strip: The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Sex Pistols, all these killer bands played there and that fueled our fire even more. We started playing very soon after arriving in Los Angeles and it pretty much went well from the start. But, in time, we realized we wanted to use more of our root influences in creating our own sound, play the music we felt a little deeper, the stuff we really liked. We heard bands like Faith No More, Guns And Roses, and Love/Hate who inspired us to think “hey, let's explore the boundaries a little further here”. We naturally just started letting more blues and funk infuse our songs along with the seventies heavy rock sound we love which is Led Zeppelin, Nazareth, Deep Purple, Hendrix, The Doors, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath to name quite a few.

You seemed to have a problem with the rhythm section, since it took you a while before things stabilized with Chris Colovas (bass) and Eric Brewton (drums). Why did you have so many problems finding the proper rhythm section and why did both Chris And Eric fit the bill?
Because we wanted to bring out different sounds in our playing, sometimes guys do not fit style-wise, and people move on. There were never any real problems, just that tastes can differ just enough to make band members part ways. A couple of the guys we had either got out of playing in bands altogether or felt like going back “home” wherever that may be. Chris and Eric liked the same music as the rest of us and the very first rehearsal clicked right away.

In the second half of the eighties the LA hair metal scene was really big, Charlotte however chose not to jump on this bandwagon and create their own blues influenced hard rock. Why did you decide to take the hard road at that time?
It really comes down to playing what we enjoy the most. If a band isn't true to themselves, I think it shows in their performance and Charlotte always wants to be on top, you know what I mean. Fitting into a mold doesn't guarantee success regardless so you might as well roll the dice with something you are fully into yourselves and then see what happens. The road is hard no matter which way you go, but it can be a hell of a lot of fun.

What were some of the band's early influences?
Well, the bands I mentioned earlier of course: Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Deep Purple, all that cool, hard stuff from the seventies. Whitesnake and Guns And Roses had that sound we like as well. Together or individually we would listen to all kinds of music from James Brown to Judas Priest, Allman Brothers to Queensryche, and of course all that old school wicked blues stuff too: Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf. Some good voodoo there.

Why was the band named Charlotte?
It was named after Charlotte The Harlot, the worldly woman of the evening that struck legendary status through her never-ending efforts to serve mankind in a most loving way, to “know” them in the biblical sense.

How did the song writing process during those early days look like and who were the main song writers in the band?
It has always been the same. I would usually come up with lyrics and one or two main ideas then we would all write the final arrangement together, maybe adding or subtracting other parts. Sometimes one of the other guys would write a riff and a song would come out of that. I write the words, we all write the music. I love it when the band is rehearsing and everyone breaks into an impromptu jam and all of a sudden a lick takes hold and you find yourselves writing a song on the spot. We've had some great results that way too.

How many official demos did Charlotte make and which songs were featured on those?
I think like four or five. Featured tunes included 'Medusa Groove', 'Siren' and 'Miss Necrophilia'. Some of the songs we stopped playing and then there are others we never recorded, songs we really like too. Maybe on the next album!

Despite of getting rave reviews and being named one of the most promising new rock bands, things never seemed to materialize for Charlotte. Now looking back at it, what do you think was the main reason for missing the boat?
I really couldn't say. Again you roll the dice and from there it's timing, it's politics, it's money, there I just gave you a few reasons. Maybe some corporate folks thought we weren't good enough, or we weren't what they were looking for. We just kept playing what we liked. We had a great fan base, killer shows in some great venues like The Whisky and Palace Theater, offers to do tours in Europe. We had good relationships going with a couple of the majors but you got to play the game too so, pay attention kids, its wild out there.

As a singer you were responsible for the lyrics of the songs. From what kind of topics did you get your inspiration and did you want to convey a message with the lyrics?
Any of the powerful, natural human functions will do. The raw emotions and wants we all take pleasure in and suffer through. Sometimes there might be a particular girl or an event on the street that inspires me. A girl so beautiful you would almost sell your soul. Some ranting lunatic exhibiting heavy paranoia proclaiming the end of the world is near. Is it real or is it madness? Or both? For a while I didn't really have any one place to live so I was cruising around Los.Angeles sleeping in cars, parks, strangers' beds: that can make for some good stories right there. I'll involve politics insofar as it affects the human condition, without getting too technical though. Sometimes I get really paranoid or needful myself and that always comes out nice in the end. My only message really is to wake up and feel, wake up and see.

The band got dismantled in the early nineties, what was the exact reason for this?
Actually, we played our last show in 1996. That's when the party had to end, at least for the time being. It wasn't so much the changes in the music scene and the trends. We felt our music could've endured any of that because it had its own sound, especially at that point. Inner change was needed amongst the members and we had our run, that's all.

band imageWhat have you and the other band members been up to during all those years from the beginning of the nineties until now?
Some of us kept playing, myself and Chris mostly. He and Vinnie and I did some commercial recording and Vinnie and I got involved with film and TV as well. I just did some live stuff with a band in Cali a couple years back: great band but they broke up for various rock and roll reasons.

Now all of a sudden Eonian Records releases 'Medusa Groove', which is kind of a compilation of songs that were recorded during different sessions. Who triggered this and how was the first contact with Eonian Records established?
Chris and I decided to put Charlotte on MySpace a few years back and Stephen Craig, owner of Eonian Records, found us there and offered us a deal. After some discussion we were off to the races and now we're global.

How much were you involved in putting the 'Medusa Groove' record together and wasn't it hard to pick the tunes for the album?
I was very involved. I chose the concept and Stephen and the rest at Eonian worked very well with us to get it across. We helped with the liner notes, which pictures we liked the best, and the song-list. It was kind of hard to pick the songs. So many favorites.

I was very impressed when I heard this stuff for the first time and especially songs like 'Little Devils', 'Miss Necrophilia' and 'Medusa Groove' are very much to my liking? What are your favorite songs on the album and why?
I like 'Siren', 'Medusa Groove', 'Little Devils', 'Invisible Man', and 'Ocean Of Love And Mercy' the best I would say. The lyrics have a poetic rhythm that I like and the guitar work is awesome. The whole band really found its groove on these songs.

What are your expectations from 'Medusa Groove' and what's going to happen next? Is the band officially reunited now?
I expect we'll get out of it whatever we put into it. Half the work is finished and we are psyched that the music is out there for everyone to hear. We are planning shows for Los Angeles in the fall. After that we will try to branch out as much as we can. I think this music can reach a lot of people.

Probably you got a whole lot more stuff laying around in the Charlotte vaults, so what's going to happen with those songs? Are you going to use them for another “new” album or do you prefer to write new material for this? If so, how's the new material going to sound like?
Yes, we have some killer material that never got recorded and we would love to lay it down. It has the same hard rock edge and dark blues groove to it. Maybe some arrangements would be modernized. I am always writing new stuff too so I'm sure we'd find a place for some of that as well, as long as the song holds up with the rest, then it's a go. It's ALWAYS about the SONG. If the band is not unanimous about a song, no matter who writes it, it doesn't get used.

Will a possible new album also be released by Eonian Records or are you looking for another record company?
Well, that is always a possibility. We are not in discussion about that right now but it would be great. Eonian Records has been awesome so far and we're happy with the efforts. Really good guys.

Do you think that the world is still waiting for bands like Charlotte (at least I do – Sjak)? What do you consider to be the unique selling points of the band?
I do think listeners' ears are ready for just about anything these days. Rock, metal, hip-hop, everything's in. I think Charlotte can sell based on its timeless rock sound, a sound that can adapt to change but remain intact.

It will be very hard to catch up with those twenty or so lost years, but to what level does the band want to go now? Are you still hungry enough to claim the success that you should have gotten in the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties?
The thing about music is that it never goes away. It goes through changes and there are so many different sounds out there but strong music lasts forever. The continuation of Charlotte has felt almost seamless, like we never stopped to begin with. We don't feel like we have to “catch up”. Maybe everyone else finally caught up with us. Yes, I stay hungry all the time. As long as it still rocks me I'm hungry for it. I'll go as far as it takes me.

Are there any concrete plans already to promote the album in a live situation? If so, what are these plans?
Right now, just the shows in L.A.

Are there any new and upcoming bands in the LA scene that we should be aware off? To what kind of music do you listen to yourself lately?
I know L.A. Velvet is making some noise on the scene. Lately I've been listening to a lot of old school: Rolling Stones, James Brown, Hendrix. I like listening to Miles Davis a lot. He's like the rock king of jazz. I just put a bunch of Judas Priest on my iPod, their always awesome, they have such a powerful sound. There's a band out of Nashville called The Worsties, a friend of mine is the bass player, they are very good; female lead singer with a great voice; sound a bit like No Doubt. Check them out.

Since you've all grown older (and wiser) and maybe have established family lives, it will be harder nowadays to devote all your attention to Charlotte. How are you planning on doing this?
Take your vitamins, drink a lot of water, and show the kids how it's done. And don't forget the beer. It takes a re-focusing of sorts, throwing out all the mental trash and concentrating on the important things. We are all in good shape still and that's very important but most of all it's about the fire within. Nothing in life gets 100% attention anyway, life needs to be faceted to a degree for things to shine.

What more can we expect of the band (members) during the next couple of years?
What less can we expect? Everyone is busy getting it going, we'll have to harvest what we've sewn.

Okay, Eric, I would like to thank you for your time and willingness to answer my questions. Is there anything that we didn't cover during the interview and that you want to share with our readers?
Of course we want to thank everyone who listens and supports, your time and faith are priceless. Regards to our friends and family as well. Check out Charlotte at www.charlotterockband.com and look for us on iTunes and Amazon.com. You can email us at charlottes.harlots@gmail.com. Have a blast and keep it real y'all.

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