With an extensive discography to his name guitarist Eric Gales is in high demand. Hailed as a child prodigy Gales released his first record aged 16 and has a whole host of blues influences but also his own passionate and inimitable style. His latest album, Middle of The Road has been critically acclaimed and features several other guest musicians. A huge fan of collaboration, he's currently touring with Supersonic Blues Machine and Photogroupie caught up with Eric ahead of his performance with them at Ramblin' Man Fair.
PG: MANY FAMOUS GUITARISTS SING YOUR PRAISES HOW DOES THAT FEEL?
EG: It's one of the highest compliments in the world and it's also very pleasing from peers of mine and I feel the same about them.
PG: YOU ENJOY COLLABORATING WITH OTHER ARTISTS ON YOUR ALBUMS, WHY IS THAT SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?
EG: Two heads are better than one. When you get that fusing together of ideas, you never know what will wind up coming out – that's why I love collaborating.
EG: IS THERE ANYONE YOU'D LIKE TO WORK WITH THAT YOU'VE NOT HAD THE CHANCE TO?
EG: John Mayer and Jeff Beck. Those are two that I'd like to do some stuff with.
PG: YOU'VE OFTEN BEEN HAILED AS THE NEW HENDRIX AND HE'S OBVIOUSLY AN INFLUENCE OF YOURS. BUT I DETECT A LITTLE BIT OF PRINCE IN YOUR PLAYING TOO.
EG: A little bit, a little bit. There are definitely nuances. This whole record was put out there showing examples of people who inspired me, so I do that in my own way - and several other people I had in mind too: Stevie Ray, Robin Trower, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker all the different people who inspired me.
PG: MIDDLE OF THE ROAD WAS A VERY PERSONAL ALBUM, TELL US ABOUT THAT JOURNEY.
EG: I'm in a prime spot of life right now and Middle Of The Road is the first of many projects to come that's a whole new perspective on me as a human being, me as a musician as a guitar player and a writer and all that comes with that. It's just important that I have the chance to let people know who I am, especially with these new set of eyes. What I mean by that is I recently celebrated one year clean and sober, so for me, that's really massive and it speaks volumes in the way I play now; there's no cloud in the way and it started with this record. It's a great testament to how I'm living life right now.
PG: HOW HAS BEING SOBER CHANGED THE WAY YOU PLAY?
EG: It's changed it to where it's more intense, more passion, more energy. I didn't think it could get better, but it is.
PG: THERE'S QUITE A GOSPEL FEEL ON THE ALBUM IN PLACES TOO.
EG: I grew up in the Church so I couldn't take that away if I tried to. Now more so than before. I have come to be an actual believer that if you have the faith, some kind of faith, and really believe, things will work out. It's serious inspiration.
PG: HOW DOES YOUR FAITH COME OUT IN YOUR MUSIC?
EG: Definitely in the playing, in the passion. In the playing, my mind is always set on the things I've been through in life and how I overcame them. So, that enough supplies faith for me that things will work out because what I've been through is enough to have killed me. True, but I'm here. I've been through a lot and it was by my own hand, but I've turned it around.
PG: YOU'VE SAID THAT MIDDLE OF THE ROAD IS 'GOING TO TAKE ME EVERWHERE THAT I HAVE NEVER BEEN AND EVERYWHERE I'VE
WANTED TO GO' – HAS IT DONE THAT AND HOW?
EG: That's a quote that I verbalised before I thought about what it meant. Sometimes you have to speak things into existence and I was speaking things into existence when I said that. Within a year of this journey that I'm working on musically and personally, life has turned over ten thousand times just within 365 days. It started happening within the first month. I'd been working on tearing my life apart for the last twenty something years and in a month or two it all turned around: it was already sitting there waiting for me, I had to go into town and say 'I'm ready'.
PG: YOU'VE MADE 15 SOLO ALBUMS SO FAR - WHAT'S NEXT?
EG: More's coming. I got an email from Mascot saying how do I feel about doing a new record – it's in the works, so I'm starting to write now. I've still heavily touring off Middle Of The Road right now, so I'm going to mix and intertwine them so that I can do both. If I take a break to record the album it won't be long because I'm touring everywhere, it's a full on situation!