Taek Five With Eric John Eigner

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D.J. SweeneyMeet Eric John Eigner: Eric John Eigner plays drum set, table-top percussion and bass clarinet.

Eigner has released three CDs from his Mysterium Project on Eavesdrop Records, a label he set up as a platform for contemporary work. Eigner works in a number of diverse Soundpainting projects and has performed with the Walter Thompson Orchestra, the New York Soundpainting Orchestra and ZAHA.

Eigner is also a member of the international Soundpainting community. He currently is involved in a duo project with composer/guitarist Bruce Holmberg, the John Nickels Band and the Michael Wagner Quartet. Eigner has worked with Butch Morris, Reuben Radding, Kenny Wollesen, the CAVEnsemble, Shinichi MOMO Koga, Mark Stewart, Sabir Mateen, Steve Swell, Daniel Carter, Nate Wooley, Matt Lavelle, Greg Tate's Burnt Sugar and poet Steve Dalachinsky.

Eigner has played in a number of other bands, from Steve Albini produced Pillow Theory, the eclectic Balkan thrash band The Trophy Wives, to Earthdriver, a band made up of a wide variety of international talent who join forces to create a unified musical and social statement.

In addition to music, Eigner is also a working painter and photographer that exhibits in New York.


drum set, table-top percussion, bass clarinet.

Teachers and/or influences? Duke Ellington, Anthony Braxton, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Jasper Johns, Lawrence Butch Morris, Joey Baron, Mark Ribot, John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Thunder, Lightning, Wind and Sea, Scuba Diving, Skydiving, Hangliding, World Traveling, Han Bennink, Tony Oxley, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Eric Dolphy, Doug Wimbish, Meshell NdegeOcello, Ani Difranco, Prince, Sly and the Family Stone, Parliament Funkadelik, Elliot Carter, Jack Dejohnette, Joe Foley McCreary, Miles Davis, Dave Holland, Gerry Hemingway, Yukio Mishima, The Beatles, Art Ensemble Of Chicago, George Lewis, Henry Threadgill, AACM, Bill Dixon, Mark Dresser, Sonny Greer, Ray Nance, Bob Marley, Mike Patton, Dave Lambardo, Jim Black, Dafnis Prieto, Terry Bozzio, Frank Zappa, Fantomas, Al Foster, King Tubby, Bernard Herrmann, John McLaughlin, Charles Ives, Marty Ehrlich, Tracy Chapman, Ned Rothenberg, Downtown Music Gallery, The Wire, Signal To Noise, All About Jazz, Bird Song, Cicada Sounds, Bill T. Jones, Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, Deftones, Ed Blackwell, Billy Higgins, Charlie Haden, Bob Moses, Tomahawk, John Cage, Robert Rauchenburg, Ray Johnson, Willem DeKooning, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Yoko Ono, Fluxus, Bill Viola, Dada, the Guitai Art Association, Christo, Jeanne-Claude, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Lee Bontecou, Philippe Petit, Gerhard Richter, Louise Bourgeois, Francis Bacon, Joan Mitchell, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Tori Amos, Manu Katche, Trilok Gurtu, Big Sid Catlett, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Warren "Baby" Dodds, Andrew Hill, Tony Williams, Jaco Pastorius, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Bill Laswell, Buckethead, Zakir Hussain, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Living Colour, Janes Addiction, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Santana, Naked City, Masada, Mark Feldman, Silvie Courvoisier, Miya Masaoka, Jennifer Choie, Mike Paton, Bill Laswell, Morton Feldman, Ives Kline, Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura, Katsushika Hokusai, Ando Hiroshige, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Hamid Drake, Brian Eno, Christian Marclay, Nina Simone, Umberto Eco, Kodwo Eshun, Derek Bailey, Pauline Oliveros, Harry Partch, Harry Smith, Stan Brakhage, David Cronenberg, William S. Burroughs, Joseph Cornell, Vincent Van Gogh, Krzysztof Penderecki, Dennis Chambers, Carter Beauford, King Crimson, Fred Frith, Arto Lindsay, David Byrne, Ukiyo-e, Salvador Dali, Santiago Calatrava, Antoni Gaudi, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Leigh Bowery, Ricky Wellman, Terence Higgins, Zakir Hussain, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Nirvana, Wu-Tang Clan, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Genki Sudo, Fedor Emelianenko, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Huey Newton, Assata Shakur, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roi, Howard Zinn, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Billie Holiday, Capt. Walter Henry Dyett, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Tony Allen, Craig Harris, David Murray, J.T. Lewis, Brandon Ross, Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Famadou Don Moye, Sonny Sharrock, Pete Cosey, Bad Brains, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Buckminster Fuller, Frank Lloyd Write, Frank Gehry, Birds, Lyrebirds, Monkeys, Lemurs, Sharks, Stingrays, Dolphins, White Beluga Whales, Seagulls, Cheetahs, Miyamoto Musashi, Hoyce Gracie, Morihei Ueshiba, Bruce Lee, Mixed Martial Arts, Lennox Lewis, Free Running, Parkour, Chess, Emanuel Lasker, Jose Raul Capablanca, Aron Nimzovich, Garry Kasparov, Eugene Alexandrovich Znosko-Borovsky, Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Botvinnik, Arianne Caoili, Judit Polgar, Zhu Chen, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Hou Yifan, Jennifer Shahade, Anna Zatonskih, Irina Krush, Kazushi Sakuraba, Alexander Calder, Homer, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Zhang Yimou, Akira Kurosawa, Sarah Silverman, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lee Quiñones, Dondi, Rock Steady Crew, The Sugarhill Gang, Zephyr, Fab 5 Freddy, Turntablism, DJ Q-Bert, Afrika Bambaataa, Mix Master Mike, Roc Raida, DJ Shadow, Grandmaster Flash, Grand Mixer DXT, Christian Marclay, Grand Wizard Theodore, Martha Cooper, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Anselm Kiefer, Shirin Neshat, Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel, Joseph Beuys, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Francesco Clemente, Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva, Jay Adams, Craig Stecyk, Jeff Ho, Peggy Oki, Skip Engblom, Bob Biniak, Chris Cahill, Paul Constantineau, Shogo Kubo, Jim Muir, Nathan Pratt, Wentzle Ruml IV, Allen Sarlo, David Ray Perry, Freestyle Motocross, Travis Pastrana, Brian Deegan, Mike Metzger, Nate Adams, Surfing, Larry Bertleman, Laird Hamilton, Kelly Slater, Titus Kinimaka, Lisa Anderson.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... My mother tells me stories of me demonstrating to her my desire to play music before I could yet speak. It's always been with me. I consciously made up my mind that this would be my path when I was 18 years old.

Your sound and approach to music: This is fortunately a never ending process. As your sound is like your face...with time always changing. Having a sound is more like video than a photograph, it is always moving and evolving, mutating and changing. Learning to trust my instincts and having the willingness to move into areas of playing that I do not yet know. Paying attention to the world we live in and the world that lives within us! Everything is musical, architectural, poetic, informative...one only need be still and observant.

Your teaching approach: My experience is that every person has a natural approach to the way they come to the instrument. The initial directive energy they move in. This, to me, is the identifier and the point of which to begin and nurture. History, technique, philosophy...all these things are layered upon that primary root!

Your dream band:

Each new band I have and recording I do is a result of my dream at the time, the thing I am trying to get at in the music of that moment for me. In that respect I plan on having many a dream band. There are many players I would enjoy working with of which whose names I both know and do not yet as music is also of a future tense. I look to work with people I can learn from. People who I can both challenge and be challenged by...this creates freshness in the music.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Running out of money in Tahiti with a delayed flight due to a 747 that hydroplaned off the runway into the ocean. Fortunately I was not on this flight! Due to the accident however, all flight were cancelled. As a result I was put up in a 5 star hotel, ocean side for a few days, all expenses paid!

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Mysterium, An Electric Soundpainting Septet.

It most reflects what I am currently feeling with music, improvisation and composition.

The first Jazz album I bought was: John Coltrane's A Love Supreme.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? Energy!!!

CDs you are listening to now:

Lawrence D. Butch Morris, ORT-Orchestra della Toscana, Holly Sea Conductions 57 58 59;

Tower of Power, Live and in Living Color;

Henry Threadgill, Everything I can get my hands on! Robbie Robertson & the Red Road Ensemble, Music for the Native Americans;

Mark Feldman and Sylvie Courvoisier, Music for Violin and Piano;

Don Byron, Tuskegee Experiments;

Anthony Braxton, Quartet Dortmund 1976;

György Ligeti, String Quartets and Duets.

Desert Island picks:

Tracy Chapman, Matters of the Heart; John Coltrane, First Meditations;

Robbie Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble, Music for the Native Americans;

Ornette Coleman, Art of the Improvisers;

Prince, Around the World in a Day.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? I would describe it side by side with the state of music in general, art in general, society in general and the times in general. Ultra conservative, ultra isolated, ultra in need of vision, time, collectivity...

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? I feel that there is not really a solid musical community (in New York) and really hasn't been since the late '80s/early '90s.

John Zorn and William Parker have been the main orchestrators along with all their peers. It is due to the increase in economics in the city. Rents are sky high which keeps everybody hustling for money, doing whatever must be done to survive, draining peoples time and energies, "consuming everybody's energies in a multitude of irrelevant struggles." All this eats the time needed to work on your craft and construct a music/an art worth hearing/seeing.

Previous movements came about as a result of consistent collective activity (though each collective member need certainly put in their time on an individual level to build a language to bring to the collective). Coupled with this extreme economic period of hardship has been, what I feel, a very ultra-conservative and retrogressive mentality and spirituality. The societal value system is in a horrible state of being and has been for quite some time now! The ability and actuality of what was once self expression, art and creativity has been replaced by cheap '80s Ray Ban sunglasses and gold lamé pumps.

Everybody seems to want to look the part of an artist without actually putting in the time and dedication required to actually produce something of intrinsic value (the function of art). The saddest part about it though is the Emperor really believes his/her new clothes are happening!

In short, attention and awareness, to not just the music but to the world we are living in...well, that is primary to art of any quality.

What is in the near future? I am working on a couple solo recordings; 1) Solo music for drum set;

2) Solo music for table-top percussion, analogue electronics and clarinets.

I also have CDs coming out from other projects I am involved in: 1) ZAHA chamber ensemble;

2) A duet CD of compositions for guitar and drum set by Bruce Holmberg;

3) The New York Soundpainting Ensemble will be releasing its first CD;

4) The John Nickels Band - A power pop band that I drum in;

5) A duet CD with trombonist/laptop artist Christian Pincock.

By Day:

Who wants to hear of the Albatross dangling 'round the neck? I just think back to hearing about Cecil Taylor having to still wash dishes or something while his records were playing in the background.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: Hard to say really. Maybe dead. Maybe living with a lot of money and a family with no knowledge of self... Who can really say? It's all speculation.

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