Eric Slick on New Age Rage (out Friday): “I wanna incite something in people!” (4/27 at JB’s)

“I made this record with the intent of sort of riling people up more.  In the past, whenever I would play my new music for friends, they’d be like,...

“I made this record with the intent of sort of riling people up more.  In the past, whenever I would play my new music for friends, they’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s nice,” or something like that, and for this one I was like, ‘Fuck that!  I wanna incite something in people!’” says Eric Slick of his new album, New Age Rage, which drops this Friday, April 26th.  The album’s release date also marks the third day of his upcoming solo headlining tour, which kicks off tomorrow at The Middle East in Cambridge and will have Slick returning to his hometown this Saturday, April 27th, when he plays Johnny Brenda’s.  During a recent phone chat, Slick tells me that he saw around 100 shows at JB’s back when he was living across the street from the Fishtown venue, including Bill Callahan, tUnE-yArDs, and Pissed Jeans, which he cites as some of his greatest memories of concerts he attended as a fan.

Best known as the drummer in local legends Dr. Dog (bandmate and Dr. Dog principal singer and songwriter dd Toby Leaman will be providing direct support for Saturday’s show, with Mavis the Dog opening), the Philly-born (“I was there for 26 years.”), Nashville-based musician has played with a plethora of artists and projects over the years, including Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee, The War on Drugs, [his wife] Natalie Prass, and – I discover during our recent chat – even my freshman roommate, Scott Churchman (who would go on to play as Chubby Checker’s touring bassist for around a decade), with whom he played in Ape School (Apparently Slick attended UArts as a Jazz Performance major for one year in ‘04/’05, just a year after I started there in the Communications department.)

Eric Slick has been dropping singles from New Age Rage (his first solo album recorded in his home studio) since February, with the title track (released earlier this month and featuring samples of Taco Bell’s gong and AIM’s door slam) as the third and most recent.  Each of the three singles has been accompanied by an official music video that lovingly embraces a 1980s VHS aesthetic, perfectly matching the sonic aesthetic of the album, which is being described as, “a dance-rock opus about the downfall of our dystopian, tech-driven future.”  “A huge part of my childhood was watching old VHS tapes…  For this album, I wanted to make something that sounds modern but use the ‘80s as a pastiche to heed warning about the future with the dangers of things like A.I. and all of that,” he tells me of the LP and music videos, going on to explain, “I’m super proud of this one, which is accessible, but also me and weird and dancey.”  The live dates around New Age Rage have been built to match this aesthetic, described as, “a series of theatrical, experiential shows,” which Eric explains to me as, “arena-ready shows in small rooms.”  He says the performances are inspired by the live shows of artists like The Flaming Lips and Of Montreal, going on to tell me we can expect, “Synchronized videos, lights, inflatables.  Everything is synchronized, and I’ve never done a show where everything is synchronized, which is challenging.”

Slick tells me that he has high hopes for his show this Saturday at Johnny Brenda’s, despite the fact that his solo shows haven’t always been great in his hometown: “I’ve never played any solo shows that have done particularly well here, but this one’s on track to do really well, so that’s exciting.”  And while we may be used to seeing Eric play mega-venues with Dr. Dog, he tells me that spaces like Johnny Brenda’s tend to be his most common setting: “I play bigger rooms with Dr. Dog, but I play smaller rooms the most, probably, like when I’m at home with local artists.”  But he does have a few exceptionally big shows with Dr. Dog coming up in the near future, with a July 13th date at our very own Mann Center for the Performing Arts (where they’ll be joined by Kevin Morby and The Teeth), followed by a sold-out show at Red Rocks on July 18th.  However, he tells me that there’s also a lot more touring in the works for him in the second half of 2024: “I’ll be on tour in the fall with Kevin Morby, and then doing some more tours behind my record in different places, like Canada.  I’m excited to be booking things this far in advance!”

*New Age Rage features a number of noteworthy contributors, including Prass, Diane Coffee, Finom, Liam Kazar, VV Lightbody, Kimaya Diggs, and our good friends in mmeadows (among others).   “I love Kristin [Slipp] and Cole [Kamen-Green] so much!  I became privy to Kristin with Cuddle Magic, when I was doing Norwegian Arms, and I wound up seeing them live a lot, and then we also played a lot of shows with them,” Eric tells me of his origins with mmeadows, long before they were actually mmeadows.  He admits that during the pandemic they enjoyed doing Zoom workout sessions together. They’ve even visited Eric and Natalie’s house a few times: “Natalie usually sings on my songs, but she wasn’t home this one day when they were there, and I asked Kristin to sing the part on a song, and Kristin got the job!  Sorry, Natalie!”

**Get your tickets here.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.