After decades of songwriting, singing, producing and performing, The Hooters’ Eric Bazilian is still as active in the music industry as ever before. The 66-year-old Philadelphia native has created major hits with his own band, but also for dozens of other talented artists such as Joan Osborne (One of Us), Ricky Martin (Private Emotion), The Scorpions (The Best Is Yet To Come) and Amanda Marshall (Believe In You). In the summer of 2020 Eric is going on an extensive Hooters’ 40th anniversary tour through Germany, but he’s working on several music projects with different artists as well.
Despite this busy schedule, the inspiration for writing songs luckily hasn’t eluded him. But it’s not as if songwriting is an effortless endeavour, that requires hardly any action from its creators. “Sometimes I can get lazy, so I actually have to sit myself down and go to my ‘happy place’,” Eric admits. “I have to take my guitar, which is the most comfortable for me, or whatever instrument is making me happy that day, and start playing. Usually I begin with a guitar riff and come chord changes. Then I turn on the microphone and start singing. The music and lyrics just come. And sometimes it’s really unexpected what pops out of my brain! Creating songs is a bit like therapy for me, because I also learn things about myself while writing them… I find out what’s really going on in my mind. So for me songwriting is about both work and play. Nowadays, with my kids grown up, it’s a bit easier to stay focused while creating music, but the creative process itself hasn’t changed much over the years. We don’t make art, art makes us.”
Eric’s Hooters’ co-founder Rob Hyman is one of his most successful long term writing partners. “Rob and I have a very good musical chemistry, having collaborated with each other for over forty years. We’ll be in a room together and magic just happens. But over the years we’ve had different phases of working together. Sometimes we have this telepathic ‘Vulcan mind meld’ going on and we spin off into infinity,” he laughs. “And other times we show each other what we’ve been working on and the other one continues to work on it by himself. So sometimes a song is finished quickly, other times it takes longer for one to take shape. The funny thing is, my most successful songs are the ones that were created really fast without me trying very hard. The way a song comes together also depends on your writing partner, and I’m lucky I’ve met multiple people who I work with really well. Recently, I have teamed up with a producer from Slovenia, Martin Štibernik also known as Mister Marsh, among other artists. We discuss things, he goes off and does his own thing, comes back and completely suprises me. Then I’ll add my own ideas and we work from there. I love it.”
“When it comes to listening to songs from other artists, I can be a bit ‘lyric deaf’. Unless the lyrics are really clear, I just don’t hear them. If I can’t hear them easily, I don’t care. A lyric has to make me care. I don’t really have much patience for abstract lyrics, to be honest. They really have to jump out and grab me. When I was about twelve years old, I liked Bob Dylan,” Eric recalls. “Many of the lyrics were just crazy, but there was something about them that interested me. Like ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ or ‘It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’. The lines in those songs are like good poetry, while I usually don’t even like poems. Nowadays, I’m not really into his music anymore. The Beatles and Leonard Cohen however always kill me. Every time. Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas are some of the younger artists I admire. I think they make by far the most unique and inspired music to come along in decades. I expect a long and successful career for both of them. If I can name one more artist, it’s Bruce Springsteen. I don’t love everything he does, but the man is an amazing songwriter and performer.”
In for a treat
Performing live in front of an audience is one of the most rewarding aspects of a musician’s job. In June and July Eric Bazilian and his fellow Hooters will perform more than thirty shows in various German cities. “There’s such a great live music scene in Germany. We’ve played there many times before, but this year is going to be special,” Eric promises. “After forty years we’re actually better than we’ve ever been, and we are very much looking forward to the concert tour. Both the audience and the band always have a great time. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re an old or a new Hooters fan, you’re in for a treat!”