For someone with so many famous heads stuck on poles outside his jungle hut, you’d expect he’d put a little more “brag” into it. But the soft-spoken Eric Drew Feldman lets his keyboard playing do the talking for him. When you’ve recorded and played live with a twisted array of musical talent that includes Captain Beefheart, the Residents, Snakefinger, Pere Ubu, the Pixies, PJ Harvey and Polyphonic Spree, you don’t have to blow any hot air into your own balloon. Speaking from his San Francisco home, Feldman touched on the high points of a marvelous career like a flat stone skipping over the surface of a mountain lake. His latest project, kNIFE & fORK’s The Higher You Get The Rarer The Vegetation, is out now via Frank Black’s The Bureau label. Feldman will be also guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Q&A with him.
Feldman: One of my other duties at the studio was keeping track of famous people’s little stashes of cocaine. As the ‘70s wore on (I worked at this studio from 1976-1978), this became one of the more important parts of my job. People kept their coke in little glass vials. One person would pull me into a private part of the hallway and say, “I have to go out and sing (or play). I don’t want to have this on me. You can help yourself, but I don’t want to share it with anybody else.” So I would put their vial in my left shirt pocket. Then another member of the band would come up to me 10 minutes later and say basically the same thing. Engineers and assistants were using me the same way. Often I had up to four vials on me. I now know that people were so paranoid about things that assistants became hesitant to make quick punches for fear of screwing up and losing their job. But I was fearless as I had little to lose with that job, and found such tasks easy. Then I started being allowed to play piano and organ parts if there was no keyboard player around. They never thought that I would be capable, but I got it done quite easily. It was then that one engineer that always quite friendly to me said as an aside, “You know that you will never be taken seriously if you keep your job as gopher. You will always be that guy. If you have higher aspirations as a musician, you must quit this gig.” I did so soon after.
Video after the jump.