Now, McFadden has teamed with acoustic bassist James Whiton and drummer Jeff Anthony to form a trio whose electro-acoustic sound, impressionistic songs and virtuoso antics suggest an obscenely voluptuous hybrid of the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Black Sabbath, Cream, Tom Waits, Django Reinhardt and spaghetti western composer Sergio Leone.
Indeed, EMT recalls a now hard-to-imagine time when songwriting involved the realization of some well-conceived personal vision, and when musical mastery and experimentation were the order of the day. In James Whiton, McFadden has found an ideal musical foil. Performing on amplified acoustic double bass, Whiton employs techniques thoroughly unique to the instrument -- percussive slaps, bowed flourishes reminiscent of a string orchestra, and electronic effects like wah, distortion and synth pedals. Taking a similarly ambitious approach, drummer Jeff "The Commander" Anthony reconciles 4/4 rock rhythms with prismatic jazz rudiments and scampering, electronica-inspired beats. At the center of this elegant musical equation is McFadden himself. A guitar hero in an anti-heroic time, the guitarist combines rapid-fire rock improvisations with luxuriant gypsy jazz runs, quicksilver bluegrass fills, romantic neo-classical chords, hardcore R&B rhythms and heartrending mandolin trills.
Given the band's all-things-considered approach, it's not surprising that McFadden finds it difficult to describe the Trio's sound. "It has elements of other things I've done," McFadden says. "It's got the rock energy of past projects like Liar and Angry Babies. It's got the carnivalesque gypsy Latin thing of Eric McFadden Experience and Alien Lovestock. There's a little of the dark Americana vibe. But I think for the most part, it's a rock band."
The EMT saga begins in the mysterious environs of McFadden's native New Mexico, where mother Victoria (an original member of the Fuggs), and stepfather George fueled the guitarist's musical passions. By his teens, the budding guitarist and songwriter was absorbing everything from Bob Dylan, Beethoven and Miles Davis, to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Hank Williams and the Clash. "I went through this time where I listened to so much music, it was just overwhelming," McFadden recalls.
Unbeknownst to McFadden, James Whiton was also cutting his musical teeth in the Albuquerque area. The son of a concert bassist, Whiton was following in his mother's classically-trained footsteps when he was blindsided by bebop, fusion jazz and Seventies prog-rock. But while jazz and virtuosic rock remain an influence, classical still comprises the foundation of Whiton's disciplined style. "I grew up playing classical exclusively for the first 18 years of my life," the bassist explains, "so it's just ingrained in me to hear the bass fulfilling certain roles harmonically and rhythmically, much as it would in a symphony."
Hailing from Long Island, NY, drummer Jeff Anthony received a degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Miami in 1999. After brief stints in Portland, OR where worked with a variety of experimental electronica bands, Anthony forged a musical kinship with Jeff Trott (Sheryl Crow, Tears for Fears). Anthony worked on Trott's solo album "Dig Up The Astroturf," then landed a recording session on Sheryl Crow's platinum-selling 2002 album, "C'mon C'mon."
The paths of these three musicians began converging in the early Nineties, when McFadden and Whiton formed a mutual admiration society in New Mexico. Though their budding friendship was cut short after they both moved from the Albuquerque area, the pair reunited in 2001 for some impromptu Portland, OR gigs. When the scheduled drummer bailed at the last minute, Jeff Anthony was hastily recruited as a replacement. EMT was born.
"My initial reaction was, 'oh, this is amazing'," drummer Anthony recalls. "From the start, instincts played a pretty big role in this band, because we hadn't even met before our first gig. But there was this incredible musicianship and great intuitive communication between the musicians. Plus, I was able to express myself without anyone telling me not to, which was a first. It was just ... magical."
Now, as they cultivate their bastard brew of American, European, Pan-African and Latin influences, EMT seems destined to thrive collectively as they have individually -- i.e. on their own exacting terms.
"Everyone in this group passionately, 100 percent loves music," McFadden says. "I don't feel I had a fuckin' choice. This is the life that chose me, and I'm sure James and Jeff would tell you the same. This is our love and our life, and nothing's going to keep us from doing it."
Check out the artist's website:
1. Working For A Dead Man
2. Field Of Bones
3. How Would It Feel?
4. Hey Bulldog
5. Clowns Of The Deep
6. Einstein Wardrobe
7. Pobre Constantina
9. I Feel Too Good To Die
10. What Is They?
11. Diamonds To Coal
12. Devil Moon