Planetary Group took some time to get to know Eric Din…
Planetary Group: Tell us about your latest release. How did you come to create it?
Eric: Street Party is my first solo album. I’ve been making records with The Uptones and a few other bands on and off for most of my life. There’s also been a lot of focus on playing live. And since in the last couple of years we haven’t been able to do much live playing, I’ve recorded a lot of this album at home. And it’s been a great kick to collaborate long-distance with some of my former band mates and other musical pals on some of these tracks.
PG: Share a bit about your musical journey, from when you first started making music until now.
Eric: My musical journey started while sitting under my dad’s piano. He was a classical pianist and a modern composer, into John Cage and David Tudor – he was actually a contemporary of those guys. And he was also really into playing classical.
My folks only had one kind of pop record in their collection – they had Beatles records. They had lots of classical, some jazz, so I didn’t really discover rock and roll from them other than The Beatles. And then I went further into rock and roll on my own from there.
PG: Let’s talk about the music that you love. Pick one album for each category below & tell us a bit about it!
- An album you grew up listening to:
Eric: Again, I have to refer to The Beatles because for me, Magical Mystery Tour was a big one. And I know that people don’t often refer to that album as a Beatles’ high point… for me, it absolutely was.
One of the things that I love about The Beatles’ work is that it’s great for children, but it’s not what you would call children’s music, right? And as a kid, I hated children’s music. I didn’t like things that were intentionally made to be all cutesy or whatever. The Beatles were sophisticated and grand and really, really kid-friendly. And Magical Mystery Tour, I bought it hook, line and sinker. I was so in that world, when that LP was spread out on the floor with that big LP-sized booklet, I very easily suspended all disbelief.
It was beautiful. And it inspired me musically and also shaped the person that I am. I am very, very glad for that.
- An album that inspires you as an artist (I’m sure there are many, but pick one of your choosing):
Eric: The first albums by The Specials, The English Beat, The Clash, and that entire two-tone explosion. The late seventies collision of punk, sca and reggae as it happened in the UK, for whatever reason, collided with me and a lot of other Berkeley kids. Well, I don’t know about a lot, the ones that started The Uptones anyway….
They influenced me and completely changed the course of my life, and for the better. I really love the message, the power, the music and the fashion of that stuff too. To this day, it’s still a high watermark of culture as far as my personal tastes are concerned.
- The album you currently have on repeat:
Eric: Nothing, have nothing on repeat! I don’t listen that way except to my own music. And not because I’m entirely self-centered (though I’m sure that is part of it). I create records by listening over and over again in my daily life – while I’m doing the dishes, while I’m getting some exercise – and then I go back and play with the mix a little bit.
A lot of the tracks on my album I probably listened to a hundred times before saying, okay, that’s done. So that’s the only stuff I end up listening to on repeat.
PG: What do you want people to take away from your music?
Eric: Hopefully inspiration, joy, humor. I really value humor as not just entertainment, but as a sort of survival skill. It’s part of what gets me through the day with all the absolutely shitty news that we have to cope with relentlessly. Reality has become satire. And a sense of humor is really helpful to deal with that.
Things can be better. I think… I hope.
What’s next up for you?
Eric: I have no idea! I tend to live very spontaneously. There’s a lot of focus on living in the now and staying in the moment that I hear and I’m like, well, how do you do anything else? So for better or for worse, I’ve always had a very easy time of doing that. It’s hard for me sometimes to make plans. I don’t have any idea what I’m going to do next.
I hope you enjoy my album!