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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Local Frequency: Q&A with Singer/Songwriter Eric Maskol

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 1:33 PM


Bernal Heights singer/songwriter Eric Maskol bills his music as echoey acoustic rock with an apocalyptic swing. Playing around the city for years, Maskol has remained largely unknown, scoring music for independent films and making home recorded EPs.

This past July, he released his first full-length studio album, The Year Before the War. Drawing the best aspects of the Beatles, The Pixies, David Bowie, and Leonard Cohen, Maskol's songs offer well-crafted pop hooks and witty lyricisms that one can't help but sing along to. Maskol sat down with Local Frequency (All Shook Down's new local musician profile series) prior to his set at the Beale Street Bar & Grill to chat about his sound, embarrassing songs, and where he likes to drink.

If your sound was a neighborhood in the city, what would it be and why?
I'd say Bernal Heights. I live there, and it's like a small town with the same San Francisco-ness but there are also aspects of the big city as well. It's like this little section of wilderness amongst the city.

Last thing you've read?
The Moon and Sixpence by William Somerset Maugham, it's about the life of the painter Paul Gauguin

Favorite venue in the city?
I have so many, my favorites are the ones I haven't played in yet -- Great American Music Hall and the Fillmore. Great American Music Hall has this intimate feeling and history that I love. The Bottom of the Hill is also my favorite, which I've played.

It's happy hour, where are we most likely to find you?
Wild Side West. It's in Bernal, and has this great patio to chill in and have a drink and enjoy the sun.

Are there any upcoming acts that you'd like to see?
Actually, all the acts I've seen have already passed. I saw Neko Case at Hardly Strictly, and The Walkmen at the Treasure Island Festival. Both of those were fantastic.

Who are some other local musicians that you're listening to?
The Hollyhocks, they're my friends. You know who I really love is a band called the Sweet Snacks. My friend Maya is in it. They describe themselves as a "Nano-techno pop band imported from the future" My stuff is so serious it doesn't lend itself to having a name like that. I wish I could have a description like that.

Favorite article of clothing?
A page boy hat.

What's a song that's been stuck in your head recently?
Wow, this is going to be really embarrassing but "Jug Band Music" by The Lovin' Spoonful. Yeah.

You've been playing around the city for years, but The Year Before the War is the only title listed in your discography. Have you recorded anything else before?
Sort of, I've been playing with various musicians for years, and have tons of EPs recorded - some at home, some in studio. This album is really a collection of all of the things I've recorded and played over the years in one place.

You manage to blend many of your influences--such as John Lennon and The Pixies--rather than sounding like a particular artist. How is it that you manage to do that?
That's a nice compliment. Though I'm not really sure, I don't know what's cool and what isn't and I haven't tried for a while. At one time I tried to be cool, but now I'm just honest, and I hope that's what comes across in my music.

You've made your entire album free to download from your website. How do you feel about giving others free access to your music, and are you making any money off of the album?
It's tough. Really, I want to get as many people to hear my music as possible. For an unknown artist, I think the biggest point is to get your name out there. I mean, listeners could get it off Limewire, but I'd rather make it easily accessible. I've scored music for independent films, and given people my stuff for use in podcasts and movies. I feel that the music industry is so screwed up that music should be free. Currently I'm working on a website where I can make money off of my music. Right now, I just want to touch as many people as possible with my music.

Where can we see you next?
El Rio - Dec 1st

Eric Maskol's album The Year Before the War is available for a free download on his website.
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