Eric Martin & Darren Smith | interview

Eric Martin

Well, Harry's first solo album, after around 13 years in Harem Scarem, is finally out. I thought it's the best time to get some answers to some questions regarding this record and also about the brand new collection of the early demos entitled 'The Early Years'. The Harry's answers will be available very soon... And as you can see, I decided to give you something more. I contacted Mr. Eric Martin and a former Harem Scarem drummer Darren Smith and they're speaking about their work with Harry, their projects, music... just read!

How it happened you did the guest vocals on Hess?
I've known Harry for a few years now and last year at the Gods 2002 Festival in Bradford England, my solo band and Harem Scarem were on the same bill. Harry and I got to talking and he asked me if I would sing on his record. I said "of course..." "The man's got amazing pipes."

Tell us more about the work for Harry's solo record.
Since Harry lives in Canada and I live in San Francisco and we were both busy, he just sent me some ProTools audio files. My wife Denise engineered me singing the back up vocals and some scats right here in my home studio. I sent it back to him and that was that. It was a great song, I can't wait to hear the rest of the album.

Did you hear Harem Scarem before you worked with Harry?
I really didn't know anything about the band, just that they had a huge following in Japan.

You're back from the Japanese tour and going to prepare your new solo record.What could we expect?
Yeah, my solo band just finished a US tour and as well as a Japanese tour for my "I'm Goin' Sane" album. I'm back at home writing every single day while the producers are getting ready to start this next album. I'm going to record this entire record at my home studio with the help of a great young production team called The ITC. The album will definitely be aggressive pop/rock with the occasional acoustic ballad. I have written eleven songs so far. I figure about four more and I will be ready lay it down.

Are you doing something else? Any interesting projects on the way?
I just recorded an R&B song on a Japanese compilation record. I'm doing a song for this rock opera CD (Genius by Daniele Liverani) put out by my European label, Frontiers. Besides that, I'm 100% dedicated to making this next album. It takes a lot out of you.

What's the current status of Mr.Big? Could we hear something new in the future?
As of February 2002, Mr. Big is no longer. It's a shame really. We did a 6-week sold out tour of Asia and said goodbye to a great 12 years as a band. I'm sure the occasional hit's package or "never before released" album will be released from time to time. We had lots of success in our years together; especially in Asia and the fans still crave the music. I'm all for giving them everything we've done... why not?

Mr.Big have two really different faces. Harder and little bit lighter which brought huge success to the band. I know many people that were really confused. What about it?
What about what? You hit the nail on the head. We gave the listener the best of both worlds. The cool thing about being in Mr. Big was the freedom to create any kind of music. I always felt that we were giving the fans more for there money.

You are over 20 years in the business. You could look back and tell us about your career and feelings you have when you think about it...
I'm not dead yet my friends. Through a lot of struggle, trials and tribulations, I worked hard to achieve success through out these 20 or so years. I was just like any other musician; with no real plan just a pocket full dreams. I started out with tons of demos, a small following, a few dozen showcases, lots of handshakes, letdowns and one big foot in the door. After four or five albums through 1983 to 1987 I received a call from Billy Sheehan in the middle of '88.
He had just left bass duties with David Lee Roth. He wanted to start a band with a blues-rock feel to it. After my call, (which I promptly said "Hell yeah I'll do it") he enlisted Paul Gilbert on guitar and Pat Torpey on drums. We banged out our first album in eight days. We toured on that self-titled album for about a year playing small clubs in the USA and Japan. Our second CD (Our first album was vinyl) was called "Lean Into It." We finally got on the charts with Paul's song "Green tinted 60's mind." We toured another year opening to bands like Rush and the Scorpions. We stopped in the spring of 1992... and that's when our life changed. "To be with you" went #1 in about 15 countries. It was our passport to the world. We hit the road again headlining and opening to a host of the biggest names Rock, making lots of fans and 14 more studio/live/compilation records. We ended our musical relationship in February 2002. When I look back on it from time to time, most of the memories are great. I had the time of my life.

Special thanks to Denise Martin for help!

Darren Smith

How do you see the Harry's album from your point of view?
Well as far as im concerned I believe that Harry is probably the most talented singer songwriter and producer I know. Harry isn't guided by popularity or anyone. He is a true artist who is guided by his own personal tastes and love of music. In the 20 plus years I've known Harry he has been a drummer, a bass player and a keyboard player, so he has an excellent understanding of all traditional rock instruments. I'm always blown away by what He creates with Peter...oh yeah... I haven't heard it. Harry's sending me a copy...

So you didn't hear his version of Sentimental BLVD?
To be honest I've never heard.

It seems like you are still a part of the Harem Scarem family. Now you're a member of Emerald Rain. What about touring together with Harem Scarem?
Pete and Harry still make me feel like I am a part of Harem Scarem which has and always will be an honor. I'm not really a part of Emerald Rain, I'm just very good friend with all the guys in the band so I play on there records. I didn't leave Scarem to be a drummer for another band. I left to pursue my own music, playing guitar really intrigues me and singing. If there's a tour with either or both those bands... I'm so there!!!

Now back to the history. Could you tell us something about the early days in Harem Scarem?
Hmmm where would I start. Well I slept with a lot of women... hahaha

After around 10 years you left Harem Scarem and joined your band Juice. What was the reason you left Juice too?
I wrote most everything and that seemed to be going great and then this rap rock shit came around and they wanted to do that... And this boy don't rap.

Then I heard some rumours you might be a singer for the band called Millenium. Is it truth?
Well that's just a bunch of politics with there label and it was gonna happen but I don't need those kinds of headaches. But I really like hanging and partying with Ralph, I think we would have kicked ass.

Btw... I heard about your solo album. Are you working on it?
Yes I have just uprooted and moved into a new home so I am in the process of building my new studio. I have about 2/3rd of the record written. Harry's going to oversee the whole process.

I know you're a member of Live Sex Show... Is it just a cover band, or do you write your own songs too? Is there possibility to record some studio album?
LIVE SEX SHOW has been my baby for a long time so we are going to have a record done by the end of summer. But every weekend we go out and rock people hard. We play covers and a couple of original tunes but I don't want to leak them out to much.

Are you doing something else?
I play with Mike Hall (Killer Dwarfs) and Stan Mizchek (Kim Mitchell, Sass Jordan) where we all sing, I play drums, called Balls Deep. It's the heaviest 3 piece ever. And yes there will be a record sometime this year.

Your voice was very significant for the Harem Scarem sound. Although you left this band, you did backing vocals for Weight Of The World. Any plans to do the same thing for their upcoming studio album?
All they gotta do is ask. People might not be aware but I didn't leave on bad terms, it was very painfull for me to do. They totally respected my decision. So we've always stayed friends and we all (our kids and wives) get together as much as possible.

How do you like the Creighton's playing in Harem Scarem?
Creighton is an awesome drummer and a wicked dude to boot... love em!

Your voice reminds me the style of Paul Stanley of Kiss, but yours is more powerfull. Do you know something about your vocal range?
Yeah its pretty high... hehe.

How do you feel yourself? More drummer, or more singer?
I'm a rocker!!!

Interview by Dan Friml
Originally posted at haremscarem.net, about their work on Harry's solo record