Lane Dunlop
Rick White
Julie Doiron
Chris Thompson
Publisher Title Transcript
CBC Radio Brave New Waves Yes

[plays "Belong"]

From their 1992 7-inch single, that was "Belong" from tonight's profilees, Eric's Trip.

The ricochet effect has finally come to Canada, and it didn't land on Queen Street after all. A place where musicians have traditionally been coagulating, waiting for the big "it" to happen. Has there ever been a chunk of geography in this country that one could consistently expect quality and vitality from? A Washington? A New York? We now find ourselves in a time when a spatial, geographical locale can sell a whole pile of music. It started in Seattle, now it's happening to Chapel Hill, it's happening in San Diego, and now it's come to the Maritimes. A&R people and journalists are flown in, and mythologies sprout daily, which leads us to the question: If something is happening somewhere, is it only happening there because someone says that it's happening? Perhaps armies of Canadian baby bands will head by the rented vanload to the East Coast, where they can find comfort in knowing at least somebody's looking around now.

Eric's Trip became the first Canadian Sub Pop band earlier this year. They were made an offer months before but turnedit down. That scores high on the integrity meter. Now that Halifax, as some kind of Maritime epicentre, has been put on the indie pop map, many point to the isolation of the area as its unique quality. Julie, the group's bass player, calls what they do "noisy love garage." They've just followed up their Never Mind the Molluscs profile-making release with Songs About Chris, another EP that sees them bravely sticking to the four-track, despite the opportunities that America's biggest little indie label could offer them.

[plays "Sickness"]

[plays "Understanding"]

Eric's Trip and "Understanding" from the 1993 CD compilation Raw Energy, and before that, from 1992, "Sickness".

The four members of Eric's Trip have a thing for mall culture and four-track recorders. They come from Moncton, not Halifax dammit, and like legions of young folk around the world, they started, well you know, doin' the "J" thing, which in this case would be "jamming". Having an affection for groups like My Bloody Valentine, Neil Young, Dinosaur Jr., and Sebadoh, and of course Sonic Youth, they managed to come out sounding vaguely, and nothing, like any of the above. In June of 1990, Chris Thompson (a guitar player), Julie Doiron (bass player and sometime singer), along with Ed Vaughn (who would be the drummer), all found themselves in Rick White's (guitar player and singer) basement. Perhaps they'd actually met at the mall for the first time; it's hard to say, no one really knows.

Their chosen name, Eric's Trip, came replete with a namesake -- that bug-eyed guy who graces their releases and is their guardian angel. They plucked the title from a Lee Ranaldo song on Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation. Julie says, "You'd be surprised how many so-called Sonic Youth fans don't know about the song 'Eric's Trip', 'cause they only got into the band after Goo. When we took the name, we never thought we'd get this far. We thought we'd play a couple of gigs in Moncton, and that'd be it. Lee Ranaldo told us that it was totally cool though, so we're not going to get sued."

From the Sub Pop compilation Never Mind The Molluscs, this is "Blue Sky for Julie" and "Smother".

[plays "Blue Sky for Julie/Smother"]

[plays "Haze"]

From 1993's Peter EP that was Eric's Trip with "Haze", and before that, two tracks rolled into one: "Blue Sky for Julie" and "Smother".

By December 1990, they had released their first cassette. The "Caterpillars" cassette followed in April 1991, then "Drowning" came out in August. They lost drummer Ed and found drummer Mark, then went on to record "Warm Girl" in January of '92, and "Belong" in July. All the time the group had been commuting to Halifax, where the night life apparently rivals Moncton's, which is probably similar to Saskatoon's. Being cosy with Halifax's Sloan turned many eyes and ears in their direction. With Sloan scoring a deal with DGC, they were in a position to talk about the Maritimes: the music scene, and their favorite pet band, Eric's Trip. Constant comparisons between the bands, generally unwarranted, drove Eric's Trip to distraction. Says Julie: "We don't get compared to Sloan so much anymore. It's kind of weird though, because it makes me nervous -- there's just too much hype. It's great that Sloan's bringing all this attention to the scene out here."

The hype in question began when Sub Pop's East Coast rep started snooping around. She landed in a whole heap of bands when she travelled northward to investigate. Sub Pop made an offer -- the band declined. Last fall, Sub Pop organized a little music festival called Vermonstress. Eric's Trip and Sloan were invited down. When the Sub Pop's Poneman and Pavitt saw the show, they sweetened their original offer considerably. A four-record agreement was struck between the two parties. But first, Eric's Trip would release, through Sloan's MURDERecords label, an EP they called Peter, in January of this year. "Peter was a weird record," explains Julie, "It's a four-track recording. We recorded some sixteen-track and it didn't really sound like us. We started recording in a sixteen-track and hated it, then we did a four-track after that. As a result, only two of the seven cuts are sixteen-track."

Back in the belly of the media machine, things were getting hectic. Apparently, Warner also had been interested, but they sat on the demo for a long time. When they heard that Sub Pop had been sniffing around, they sat up a little bit, but it was too late. The chunk of geography called the Maritimes suddenly seemed for sale. Other signings loomed. Island looked at Jale -- and Jale went with Sub Pop as well. Of the Eric's Trip situation, Rick said, "We didn't want to sign to any major label because we didn't feel ready and our music wasn't very accessible."

[plays "Listen"]

From Peter that was Eric's Trip and "Listen". The watchful eye of the industry was thrown a bone when Sub Pop released the double seven-inch package compilation called Never Mind The Molluscs a few months ago. Idee du Nord, Eric's Trip, Sloan, and Jale all threw in a song. In a way, it appeared that Sub Pop was lifting its hind leg and peeing on the area -- marking out its territory, if you will. The first Sub Pop record for Eric's Trip would be Songs About Chris, released a month or so ago. On it they stuck to the four-track basement principles that made them feel comfortable, and even threw in a ditty called "Sloan Song". Besides the warm, fuzzy quality of the group's recorded material, they stick to some vague construction ideas. Rick says, "We try to keep our music poppy. Even as noisy as we get, we keep a catchy melody, but with a twisted edge." Chris adds, "We just want to make it interesting, so even if people think we don't play that well or something, it'll still be interesting to hear."

[plays "Listen" again]

[plays "Sand"]

"Sand" from Eric's Trip off of Songs About Chris, and before that, "Listen", from the EP Peter.

It's been about three years for the Trippers, and though they appeared to suffer from some amount of shellshock at first, they're settling into indiedom nicely. There are three more records to do in the coming years; in the meantime, the band plan to tour in that very Canadian way -- transcontinentally -- in July. For Rick, the rock'n'roll road may be something he just happened to travel along through a series of fantastic coincidences, but he says his dad was hoping he'd have turned out a little different. "My dad wanted me to just be a hockey player. I guess I wrecked my childhood for him. Now I have to compare the band to hockey for him to understand. I tell him we've just been signed to a farm team. He figures that's pretty good."

[plays "Sloan Song"]

Eric's Trip, tonight's recipients of the Waves' profile treatment, and "Sloan Song" off of Songs About Chris.

© Lane Dunlop, 1993