The man, the band the legends that are Eric and the Soo. Put your listening ears on to some of the best indie musicians around… it’s about time…
One of life’s great ironies is that we long for things to change when we’re young, and long for things to go back to the way they were when we’re old. Yet, as much as the Canadian landscape has been transformed into what can at times feel like one large, homogenized urban sprawl, it is still in many respects a nation of small towns, and small town dreamers like Eric Brombacher.
Although based in Toronto, Brombacher’s pride in his northern Ontario upbringing is on full display with his band Eric & The Soo and their debut album, Small Town Dreamer. It’s the kind of record that immediately hearkens back to when albums were made without the help of computers, and were intended to be listened to from beginning to end. It is the sound of real people, playing real instruments, singing about real experiences.
The fact that Eric & The Soo have this approach ingrained within them isn’t much of a surprise, since Brombacher is an admitted late bloomer when it comes to fronting a band. Despite playing guitar since his late teens, he didn’t seriously take to the stage until ten years later, joining and forming a variety of cover bands and garage rock bands that eventually released a modest output of original material. It wasn’t until Brombacher’s friend, the acclaimed Toronto singer/songwriter Jerry Leger, invited him to be a part of his side project, the Del-Fi’s, that Brombacher ultimately found the inspiration to put together his own group in 2015.
“Being involved in the Del-Fi’s album Crowd Pleaser was a tremendously uplifting experience for me,” Brombacher says. “We recorded at engineer Aaron Comeau’s place, ‘The Trailer,’ and I was very impressed. I first started bouncing around the idea of putting together a solo project at the session, and both Jerry and Aaron were encouraging. So I started writing songs, and almost immediately Jerry joined on as producer. By the end of summer I had a concept and a handful of songs. I even had a name, but truthfully, no band!”
Eric & The Soo ultimately came together in time for the band’s live debut in January 2016, followed quickly thereafter by a two-day recording session at legendary Toronto recording studio “The Trailer”. These sessions would result in 2016’s debut album “Small Town Dreamer”. The coming years would see Eric & The Soo evolve through a rotating cast of some of Toronto’s finest musicians, before settling into the current core lineup of singer/guitarist Eric Brombacher, guitarist and harmonica virtuoso Ken Yoshioka, bassist Tim Bradford and drummer Dino Naccarato. Regular collaborators and special guests also include Juno award-winning pianist Julian Fauth, violinist/guitarist James McKie, and guitarist/singer Ted Pruce.
It all falls under the umbrella of classic Canadiana—the seamless blending of vintage country, folk and blues that artists like The Band and Neil Young synthesized nearly a half-century ago. In the hands of Eric & The Soo, it provides the perfect backdrop for Small Town Dreamer’s lyrical snapshots of the present (“Slices Of Life”) and the ever-present past (“Twenty-Two”). Yet, for all of the album’s references to changing times, Brombacher at no time expresses regret. Instead, he sings with the voice of someone who has waited far too long for this opportunity.
Brombacher even has his own term for it, “imperfect nostalgia,” which he ascribes particularly to the album’s opening track, “My Hometown.” “That song holds special meaning both personally, and I think universally, because it exposes two truths. One is that you can’t revisit your past by going back home, because nothing can ever be frozen in time. It seems obvious, but it always kind of shocks and saddens me. The second truth is that memories, when you really examine them closely, are not ever what they seem. You tend to leave the bad parts out when romanticizing the past.”
On the other hand, Small Town Dreamer has its share of sheer joy, such as “Listening To Neil,” Brombacher’s spirited tribute to his Sault Ste. Marie childhood friend Woody, who first turned him on to Neil Young. But just as “My Hometown” lays out the album’s themes, closing track “Just Let It Go” brings things full circle through the notion that, no matter how difficult it can be, change must be accepted.
“That was the first song I wrote for the album, and it was the first time I’d ever written a song on piano,” Brombacher explains. “I was going through a lot during this time period, and found great relief and freedom in letting go of some of my past life that had shifted from being positive to weighing me down because I was holding on to an idealized version.”
The release of Small Town Dreamer would cap off a whirlwind two years for Brombacher and would firmly establish Eric & The Soo as valued members of Canada’s roots rock community. Close on its heels came 2018’s Modern Dystopia, an ambitious concept album delivered in the uniquely styled psychedelic roots genre, an album that’s been well received by radio stations across Canada and around the globe. Augmenting this growing collection of songs are several singles including: Great Northern Road, Goulais Bay, Picture and Out of the Blue. And the band continues to ply it’s craft, with more fresh music due in 2021.
An upbeat raucous rocker, frenetic and loose, and a little bit wild. Also a song of regret sung from beyond the grave. A man with everything finds himself on the “other side” through a combination of wrecklessness, misadventure and a bent for self destruction. He calls out to those he’s left behind, those he loved most and who loved him deeply. All that’s left are photographs. “Now I’m just picture, sitting in a frame”.
For this release singer/songwriter Eric Brombacher recruited his core crew consisting of Ken Yoshioka on harmonica and electric guitar, Tim Bradford on bass guitar and harmony vocals and Dino Naccarato on drums and percussion. Also on the roster for this session are Juno award winning pianist/keyboardist Julian Fauth and Sault Ste. Marie based lead guitarist and harmony singer Ted Pruce.
Debut album Small Town Dreamer sees Toronto-based songwriter Eric Brombacher looking backwards to his past and his childhood in his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. His follow-up Modern Dystopia is a concept album that takes a broader outlook, exploring the current social climate and the challenges we face as humankind. The songs touch on themes both personal and societal including isolation, depression, homelessness, conformity and social obedience; while still offering some hope for change, in this imagined pre-apocalyptic future. Are we really free? Or are we just slaves to the machine? Is it too late, or is there still hope for our beautiful world?
While Eric & The Soo’s debut album “Small Town Dreamer” saw Toronto-based songwriter Eric Brombacher looking inwards and backwards to his past and his childhood in his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, his follow-up sees him looking more outwards and forwards, at society as a whole and at our future on this beautiful planet we call Earth.
Produced by acclaimed Canadian songwriter Jerry Leger, “Modern Dystopia” is a concept album that explores the current social climate and the challenges we face as humankind. The songs touch on themes both personal and societal including isolation, depression, homelessness, conformity and social obedience while still offering some hope for change, as it explores an imagined pre-apocalyptic future. Are we really free? Or are we just slaves to the machine? Is it too late, or is there still hope for our beautiful world?
Modern Dystopia by Eric & The Soo
Produced by Jerry Leger
Engineered and Mixed By Tim Bovaconti
Mastered by Jeff “Fedge” Elliott
All Songs by Eric Brombacher *Except “Time Travelers” by Eric Brombacher & Jerry Leger
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All songs are available on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, GooglePlay and Deezer