Erik Meade Interview (February 2010)
Erik Meade is a versatile guitarist with a long career in the San Francisco scene and elsewhere, beginning with the Jackson Saints and playing in an array of bands and studio sessions. He collaborated with Michelle Muldrow in two of his most notable bands:, Eyesore and his late 90s group The Bloodroses, with the former also featuring Michael Steele on bass. He remains active in music, with the Jackson Saints recently reuniting for a single gig.
Note: (January 2015) Since this interview, Erik has uploaded two Eyesore songs on youtube. Although both were recorded pre-Michael, they give insight into the band’s sound.
RIS = RealInspectorShane
EM = Erik Meade
RIS: How did your career in music begin?
EM: Trying to find a way to meet girls. It worked.
RIS: Do you recall how Eyesore came about? I understand the band was around for at least a while before Michael joined…
EM: Michelle had been the bass player in a band called Moth Macabre (you can find them on youtube) but decided to branch out on her own because she wanted to write her own songs, so she started Eyesore with two guys named Mark and Jon. After about a year or so I joined as well and we were a four piece, then Mark left and we were back to a trio. It was around this time that Michael started showing up at our shows. I think the first time was at a club called the Nightbreak. Michael came in with one of the Peterson sisters (I think they just happened to be walking by). The next time we played Michael was there again and at the end of our set she walked up and asked Michelle if she could join our band. Of course, when a rock star asks to join your band the answer is almost always gonna be “Yes, yes you can,” so Michelle switched to just doing vocals and Michael played bass from then on.
RIS: As there currently isn’t any Eyesore material available to hear, I was wondering, what was the band’s ‘sound’? I heard the rumors of them being a ‘goth’ act were false. (and thought this’d be a good chance to clear that up.)
EM: I think the reason people thought we were goth was because Michelle had long crimson hair and wore long velvet dresses. but we were actually more comparable to Throwing Muses. Michelle was a big Kristen Hersh fan. We were Loud alternarock. Actually, the funniest rumor I’ve seen on the net was that we started writing jingles for commercials.
RIS: Did the members of Eyesore record much studio material while together, or were they chiefly a live band?
EM: I think there were eleven songs recorded at one time or another, but nothing with Michael on them, they were all with Michelle playing bass. I only have five songs myself but the others might be lying around in a box somewhere.
RIS: Did the band play strictly original songs in concert while together, or also play covers? Did anything about the live act change at all (besides the lineup) after Michael joined?
EM: Well, prior to Michael joining Michelle played bass and sang, so the inclusion of Michael meant that Michelle could just stand front and center and sing. Suddenly Michelle took on a very Patti Smith like role as front person. I don’t recall us playing covers in Eyesore although in Bloodroses we covered songs by Magnetic Fields, Mike Nesmith and Belle and Sebastian.
RIS: What were your impressions of Michael as a musician, and how did you think she ‘fit’ the band?
EM: Michael is an amazing musician, a really fabulous bass player. When we first talked to her about joining the band we gave her a poorly recorded tape of one of our rehearsals and asked her to learn two or three of the songs. When she came to the rehearsal two days later she had learned our whole set ( about a dozen songs) and had come up with a lot of great bass ideas. She had the set so down that we asked her if she would play a gig we had booked a few days later, so she was pretty instantaneously in the band. I’m actually really surprised that she hasn’t joined some other major band as she would be a real asset to any project.
RIS: Do you recall what type of instruments were generally used live by the band? (like, what bass Michael used, what guitar you generally used etc: )
EM: Michael always played her two Precision Basses with us (the two you have pictured). I remember those clearly because I really liked the artwork she had drawn on the pickgaurd with a silver sharpy. I can’t remember what kind of amp she was using. I’m not sure whether she was using Michelle’s bass amp or her own since Michelle’s was already in the studio. I always played Les Pauls thru Marshalls.
Eyesore (L to R; Jon Silk, Michael Steele, Michelle Muldrow, Erik Meade)
RIS: I was also curious about musical influences. Do you remember any particular influences Michael mentioned while Eyesore was around? Were there common influences across the band?
EM: I’d say we all had pretty eclectic tastes musically, we all listened to everything from Fairport Convention to Motorhead. As I said earlier the band’s sound was more in a Throwing Muses/ Belly kind of vein, but the one thing I thought was interesting was that Michael’s two favorite bands at that time were Kings X and the Posies. She talked about them constantly. She also told us some pretty interesting things. For instance she said that prior to joining the Bangles she
had briefly played with Snakefinger. She said she had played on a version of “I Love You Too Much To Respect You” that never got released.
RIS: How were the venues that Eyesore played? Did any certain gigs stand out in your memory?
Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco.
EM: Just the local clubs like Bottom of the Hill, Nightbreak, Slims.
RIS: I saw an old page online which quoted Michelle Muldrow saying that in 1996/97 Michael was writing and recording material for a solo album that remains unreleased. Did you ever hear any of this material and if so, what do you remember about it?
EM: It was very morose (lol). Kind of dire songs, kind of like June Tabor’s Abyssanians.
RIS: How did Eyesore come to an end? Was it a fairly smooth transition into the Bloodroses, or more abrupt?
EM: Michelle broke it up right as our lawyer was trying to get us a deal, which I assume we would have gotten with Michael in the band. Then a few months later we started Bloodroses with almost the same lineup (minus Michael ) but a radical musical change of direction. It’s kind of a shame Michael wasn’t there since I think she would have worked well with that style of music.
RIS: What else have you been up to musically since Eyesore ended?
EM: Well, after Eyesore broke up Michael moved back to southern California and Michelle and I started Bloodroses, which was basically a more 60s styled folk oriented extension of Eyesore. A few years later Bloodroses broke up and I moved to Los Angeles and started playing in Linda Perry’s band as well as a country rock band called High Horses. Michelle stopped playing music and went back to being a painter. On a side note, on the day after I moved to Los Angeles I overheard two guys in a guitar store saying that the Bangles were giving a secret show that night at a club called Spaceland, so I drove over to Spaceland (this was about 4 o clock in the afternoon) and happened to pull up right as Michael was walking across the parking lot for soundcheck, so I hung out and she put me on the guest list. The Bangles were amazing that night (as always,) it was a good way to start my new life in LA. I’ve only seen her once since then, I ran into her at Amoeba Records in Hollywood and we chatted for a few minutes. I hope she’s doing well these days.