TR+ Extended Interview – Welcome Back: Wreckless Eric
The veteran of kitchen sink rock’n’roll returns with amERICa, his first album in over a decade.
“Whole Wide World existed before Stiff Records, and exists after Stiff Records, and it’s a thrill to play,” Wreckless Eric reflects on the power-punk single from ’77 which remains his most famous song.
Though a veteran of the infamous Stiff Tours with labelmates Elvis Costello and The Damned, his rackety, observational records since leaving the label are better – several made with his American wife, singer-songwriter Amy Rigby, who declared at the 100 Club last year that “I married punk rock”. They live in Catskill, New York, midway between antique-shopping yuppies and mountain rednecks – a good spot to make Eric’s new album, amERICa.
There are two sides to amERICa on your new record – prejudice in the song White Bread, and the wonderful music you list in Have A Great Day.
When you tour in the bit in the middle of America, then you start to understand. You see all this stuff: ‘No Food Or Comfort To The Enemy.’ ‘Uncle Sam Wants You To Speak English.’ But I’ve also met the most enlightened people there. The worst waffle house in the world is in Alabama, where when this old whore said, “Oh, that guy, he’s so useless, he couldn’t even get the butt-plug in,” we were the only people that turned round [laughs]. But Huntsville, Alabama is the home of NASA. I was talking to this guy after a show who’s got software orbiting Venus. And look at the south, which has given so much musically, and is so misunderstood. You get that with Lynyrd Skynyrd, who are despised by people who can’t actually hear what it is that’s there. They just go, “Oh, that’s southern rock. It’s all cocaine and machismo.” Maybe there is a certain amount of that, but it’s not the fucking point. The point of Lynyrd Skynyrd is they came from nothing and had to crawl out of it.