On a new album, St. Petersburg’s Will Erickson puts together 45-minutes of heavy-hearted country music that can party on the back porch, too. The Five Year Weight’s 12-cuts will please the songwriter-set, and they’re also perfect for a tailgate. In short, it’s another shining example of the quality and range of music coming out of the Bay area.
It’s also a tribute to his good friend Nate Cobb, who lost a fight with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
“It was tough to handle. It really shook me up. We went from him telling me he was gonna beat this thing over the phone to me spending his last birthday with him in MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston,” Erickson, 37, told CL in an email. “I took my guitar and I played him songs off this new album he will never get to hear how everyone else does and then we sang some songs together. “
Erickson doesn’t play locally too often (he has shows at Souzo, October 27, and Hideaway Cafe, December 30) and heads out to play shows in South Carolina and Georgia at the end of next week. He plans on recording an acoustic EP soon, but before all that he caught with CL to talk about the big influence his dad had on his career, why he misses his friend Nate Cobb (to whom Weight is dedicated to) and how Red Room Recorders helped him polish up his brand new album.
Read our Q&A and listen to “Two For One” below.
CL: Who’s in your band these days?
Will Erickson: I've mostly been a solo artist unless I am touring in support of a studio album so I have found myself playing with a few different lineups.
I've just recently reformed with my buddy who did the David Allan Coe show with me, a guy by the name of West Brook. He's based out of Jacksonville now and tours with me. Great Guitarist. Plays a mean slide too. On drums I've got Mike Warren with me now. He's a Saint Pete guy who's back in town now after living out West for a while. My bassist and partner in crime Jalon King actually just moved out west but is touring with me some.
Tell me a little more about your dad. You still sing with him? What’s his honest opinion on your music and the career you are chasing?
I grew up watching my dad sing in church. We almost always sat in the second row by the choir so we could hear him. My dad and mom come to all of my big shows. They were there when I recorded my live album at Hideaway Cafe. That was a special night.
He's retired now and we had a conversation maybe a couple months back about writing and recording a song together so I'm gonna keep pushing for him to give in and do it. Maybe even track it on the guitar he gave me that I learned to play on — it sounds great still. He loves what I do and supports me 100-percent. He completely gets it.
He played in a band that got as far as cutting an album and then having it shelved so maybe that's why I have always been as DIY as possible. He's been especially impressed with my new album. I'm always gonna say my dad is a way better singer than me. It's just what I believe.
Who’s Nate Cobb and what did he mean to you?
Nate Cobb was one of my best friends and biggest supporters of my music dating back to when I was playing live on college radio at The University of South Carolina. I remember him calling me after I got done and telling me I sounded great and that we should go get beers. He was influential in my first ever paying gig, too. I had a handful of finished songs. It went about as smooth as one could guess. I was a groomsman in his wedding, and I had most of the album written when I met him out in Austin for SXSW. He drove over just to see me play my showcase and to meet my girlfriend.
It was shortly after that he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It was tough to handle. It really shook me up. We went from him telling me he was gonna beat this thing over the phone to me spending his last birthday with him in MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. I took my guitar and I played him songs off this new album he will never get to hear how everyone else does and then we sang some songs together.
Last song I ever played for him was "River of Deceit" by Mad Season. When he passed I put the album off. It was just too much to deal with. Grief is messed up thing man. It can just shut you down. It was important once I got back on track to mail his wife, mom, and dad a copy. I just wanted them to know that I was forever grateful for Nate being in my life.
Talk about what Mark Prator brought to the record that you couldn’t have done by yourself?
Mark and Wes were supposed to be kinda tag teaming the whole engineering but Wes’s solo career took off, which is freaking amazing by the way, and his time became very limited. Mark and I just kinda started running with things. He and I spent quite a bit of time together. As a drummer in the studio he's a guy who can hear a song and play it perfectly in a couple takes. As an engineer he's got a meticulous ear for tracking, mixing, and mastering.
I also have to admit that I don't know jack squat about Pro Tools. I record all my ideas either on my phone or Garage Band. Mark was also the guy who reached out to me when I put the album off in an email and was basically like we've got something good here almost finished so let's get back at it.
I know that The Five Year Weight would not be what it is without Mark Prator and maybe it would still be almost finished sitting there if he didn't reach back out. I'm not sure if they've done many alt country albums at Red Room but they sure as heck nailed this one start to finish.