We sat down with the bass player, Eric, after an amazing show at La Zona Rosa. They will be back, for sure. We had a nice conversation. Here is an excerpt
AD: You are an amazing bass player. I want to know first off what it was like to play with Phil.
PARTICLE: With Phil? I mean, it’s fantastic. Particle has been really fortunate to be embraced by some of the Grateful Dead family. You know, Mickey Hart, we just formed a band with him – Hydra. We just toured with them. It was unbelievable. Steve was in Phil and Friends. Phil came out to some Hydra shows and he’s such a huge supporter of us and really enjoys what we do. It almost felt like a long time coming, even though it wasn’t. I couldn’t wait to play with him after all the love he’s given towards our band. So when he came up, it was fantastic. It felt great. I’m really fortunate we could make it so that it was a double bass thing. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a hand off and sit back and watch it and just be psyched for my boys, you know. I actually got to kind of kick back and follow him. I was very humble within it. I let him take the lead and colored over whatever he was putting out. It was really fun. You know, I have a lot of experience on double bass. Rob Wasserman, Darren and I have formed a band together that’s a double bass drums group project called Red.I’ve been doing a lot of double bass lately, just with that project. It was fun doing it with another bass player. Let alone it being Phil Lesh. It was great. It was a really good time. It gives us extra spirit to do what we do to know that some of the true fathers of our genre are so in to what we do. It’s a really amazing thing. And we’re really humbled by it. And it drives us to strive for greatness.
AD: The weird thing is, back on Phil Lesh, that I just finished his new book. He was talking about how when he just first joined the Grateful Dead, people would come and sit in and like now he is sitting in with the next big bands. It’s cool. It’s full circle.
PARTICLE: It’s such a cool thing when you’re a band on the rise and so many great people come and sit in with you and join your band. We have had so many amazing people share the stage with us. We’ve had Lonnie Jordan from War singing “Low Rider”. We’ve had Robby Krieger doing some Doors songs. We’ve had John Popper. We’ve got Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell with Phish. We play with Phil and Mickey from the Grateful Dead. We’ve had so many amazing just historical figures in music sit in with us. And each time it shaped our music in a different way. And I’m sure that’s what happened with the Grateful Dead as well. They didn’t even know it, but they were creating something new. They were paving the way of uncharted territory. I’m sure it was just as exciting for them. When that’s going on, when that kind of spirit is happening, all the other musicians out there that are open to that experience want to get in on it and get a little piece of it. I’m sure they got so many amazing people to sit in with them as a result of the spirit they were doing. I just hope that what we’re doing at the larva stages of our career, which is now, I just hope that we’re on to something that can even come close to that realm. We’re all striving for something greater than we are constantly, that’s a big part of Particle. We are what we are right now, but we have such high hopes to delve into a whole different world, a different entity of music that’s out there. It’s just something that we’re constantly working towards.
AD: Keep doing what you’re doing.
AD: Why particle? How did you get the name Particle?
PARTICLE: A particle is basically it’s own being. It’s this thing that could be the largest thing that you could possibly image or this tiny spec that you can’t even see and fathom it’s there, but it is. Particle is kind of our world. The band Particle is the essence that we’ve made it. We get either as large or as small as we make it.
AD: How much of what you do on stage is practiced and how much is improvised?
PARTICLE: Our songs have a lot of composition to them. But the majority of them, most of them, leave open areas for interpretation. So we’ll have certain sections of our songs that are the same thing each time but there’s one piece or there’s two or three pieces within our songs or more that anything can go and we don’t know what’s going to happen. There are some songs that we have that are completely that, where we just literally have a little groove, a melody and then we just jam and we don’t even know what’s going to happen. There are some songs that are a little bit more orchestrated. Like a lot of bands in our genre, it’s a mix between the two. We are a very loose band as of now, Particle. We have so many spots that are open and even our compositions are open to interpretation on the stage a lot of the times. There are periods of time when I look forward to getting a little bit more rigid in having some more full solid compositions. But I’ll never want to get rid of the open parts because that’s part of … a term we use a lot is sonic exploration. And that’s part of that, it’s being able to have an open vehicle where you just don’t know what’s going to happen. Once you start knowing what’s going to happen within those things, that’s when you’ve got to start thinking about reinventing yourself and that’s something that we’re always striving to do. As soon as those open parts become predictable, we’re done with that and we’re ready for something new. We just try to search ourselves to reinvent the next thing.
AD: How about ACL? How does Austin City Limits Music Festival compare to other festivals that you have done?
PARTICLE: Austin City Limits Festival and Bonneroo to me are the two biggest and best festivals out there right now. We just came from Bonneroo and it was unbelievable. Unbelievable. Just so amazing. And the ACL Fest, it just matches it. For the first three years that it was a festival, they invited us. We had the privilege of being on it. And it’s just one of those festivals that’s just vibrant with energy. And that has a spirit to it that really is unmatched. You have it in one of the most amazing music cities in the country, Austin, which is just so full of life in all the club scenes, and all the great music that comes out of that. And having a gigantic festival with all these amazing acts in the heart of it, it’s almost too much to handle. Whenever I’m going to that festival, I just have this feeling of adrenaline and joy, it’s just so great, so great. I hope we can play Austin City Limits every year. It is just amazing. There’snothing I would rather be doing during the time that Austin City Limits is happening than being there.
AD: Cool. What sets Austin apart from other cities?
PARTICLE: Well, we travel all around the country. We started traveling all around the world and there are a lot of really special places out there. But when it comes to music, when it comes to the heart and soul of music, Austin is just one of the best. If not the best. Austin just breathes music and breeds music. When I think of Austin, I see musical notes in front of me. It’s one of those things where it has so many great venues to it. Whenever bands come to Austin, they feel it, they get in the vibe, they get in the moment. But the crowds here have so much energy. I remember a time playing here where I’ve never seen so many hands up in the air. The spirit just rising from the music. It’s just so great. This is just a city that is music. It was born to be a music city and it’s matured into one of the greatest music cities.
AD: I guess we have just one thing. We were really surprised at the young people here. We felt old.
PARTICLE: I love that because I remember being in highschool and college. That’s when the rock and roll stole my soul. Music is one of the last great adventures out there. You go out, you find a band andyou get engulfed in a band or a bunch of bands or a scene and you’ve basically become adult in that and it takes you to so many places mentally and physically that it moves you and shapes who you are. When I see that, I think of myself, when I was in that place and it makes me feel like I’m giving back to what I experienced and that is such a special feeling. What a joy it is to give inspiration for what inspired you.
AD: Full circle.