Eric Welton
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Eric Welton

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Despite having little connection to the city before coming here, Eric Welton is one of the most well-liked and hardest working musicians in Windsor’s music community.

Between playing opener to touring bands and hosting weekly open mics, Welton has found time to write and record his fourth album, Kill Them with Kindness.

Considering his inconspicuous arrival in the city and friendly, good-natured demeanor, his musical beginnings are suitably common.

“As a kid, dad bought me a guitar for Christmas. He drove me from Port Stanley into St. Thomas for lessons. But then, that was when I was a really young child. When I moved to Chatham, I really lost touch with music and playing for a number of years.”

High-school bands and local open-mic nights eventually broke Welton’s time off, but gaining the ability to record full tracks on his own was the catalyst for what he does today. “When I got my first computer, one of the first things I did was get a recording program from Staples. That’s when things took off on the path they’re on now. I’ve basically been doing that since 2004. Then I moved to Windsor.”

Welton began showing his recordings to organizers around Windsor and he immediately began playing opening spots on shows. While he became very popular among other musicians and was eventually recruited into prolific Chatham rockers Square Root of Margaret, the prospect of continuing to play solo became less and less appealing to Welton.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to do this anymore. It was acoustic and I was playing alone. It was lonely,” Welton said.

Welton’s friendship with Windsor success-magnets Michou greased the wheels for what would be a band of his own. “Mike [Hargreaves] said, ‘I’ll play bass for you, and Stefan [Cvetkovic] will totally play drums.’ That was the first conception of the EW (eric Welton) Band– Sasha Appler on keys, Travis Reitsma on guitar and Derek Harrison on mandolin. It was this huge, awesome band.”

Since “Michou got their shit together and took off,” as Welton put it, his band has featured a series of the best artists to ever take the stage in town.

“I’m talking cream of the crop Windsor musicians,” Welton said of the ever shifting lineup of his band, which has at one point or another also included Sally Zori, Jamie Greer, Tara Watts, Andrew MacLeod and Jackie Robitaille, to name a few. One of the longest tenures on drums was Bradford Helner, who passed away in August.

“Of course Bradford was a huge influence for us, just a great force. Huge loss in this town.”

Another aspect of Welton’s work is the open-mic he hosts at Villain’s Beastro on Tuesdays. The thing that separates it from the dozens of others in the city is that Welton brings his band along with him to accompany anyone who wants them.

“If everybody knows that Hendrix song, chances are these guys did too. If someone comes in and says, ‘Hey, I want to play these songs with you,’ then the plan is to say ‘Sure, bring it on. We’ll be your band,’” Welton said.

One of the only constants in the band has been Erik Myskow, who has held his spot since a former band mate in the Hung Jury give him the suggestion. “Jamie Greer recommended me to play,” Myskow said. “I had nothing else going on at the time. One band had just broken up, and it seemed like fun. I joined to go on tour, up through London and Toronto.”

Welton remembered it differently. “You think Jamie Greer recommended you to me? I saw you play with the Hung Jury and I would have done anything to steal you from Jamie, abso-fuckin-lutley. Then you guys just naturally broke up, so I was like, ‘Oh my god! That kid! The bass player! He can be mine!’”

“We’ve probably had at least 20 different members, but Erik has always been constant,” Welton said of Myskow’s contribution to the band. “He is our secret creative ingredient in some otherwise straightforward songs. My songs are kids songs. you throw some of Erik’s magic into the mix, and it becomes something else.”

Despite not having his name on the posters, playing with Welton still has its rewards.

“It’s nice because it’s not my name on anything. I just do what I want and no one gives me any flack,” Myskow said of his role, noting how the new album allows a lot more room for that. “I like the direction change, it’s a lot different. There are a lot more soloing and more different directions I can go in.”

Kill Them With Kindness once again sees Welton writing and playing the entirety of the compositions, although he has started to drift from the sounds people might be used to.

“I play a lot of electric guitar,” Welton said. “It’s been mostly acoustic right up to this point, I guess. To somebody’s ears, that makes them immediately think its country or alt-country or whatever. Which was fine, but now these tunes are a little more rock and pop.”
- The Lance


While almost all of the other producers listed have been a part of a full on recording studio, Eric Welton takes a far simpler approach. He relies on the artists simply being themselves in his own makeshift studio setting and goes out to capture the heart of the songs themselves. After many local songwriters heard the results of Welton's own early recordings (2006's ZiGZag and the follow up, An EP), people were amazed that he had recorded this all himself. His production was slick and the musical accompaniments only seemed to nurture and enhance the songs inner strengths. He then began working on demo recordings by various local musicians, such as Lee Gaul and Steven Gibb (of The Golden Hands Before God), and then working on bringing the best out of Travis Reitsma, on his stellar debut, Bluebeard, last year. A beloved local entertainer, he was most recently the man behind the helm for the critically acclaimed debut from Tara Watts, About Love. He has also recently joined the ranks of Chatham-based psychedelic rock outfit, Square Root of Margaret.

What prompted you to start recording bands?
Eric: The bands themselves asked and I usually agree!

What is your niche? By that I mean, what do you specialize that sets you apart from the other producers?
Eric: A simple, stripped down process...my focus has been on more acoustic solo artists, but that doesn't stop us from adding any and all other instrumentation.

Who are you working with right now?
Eric: Currently working on my next record and Travis Reitsma's next record. In talks to record Why Me?'s debut..

Is there anyone locally right now that you'd love to work with but haven't yet?
Eric: Andrew MacLeod, Jackie Robitaille and The Windsor Salt Band.

How do you see the recording industry surviving with the increasing DIY recording that seems to be emerging of late?
Eric: The recording industry will do just fine, in my opinion. There should definitely be enough room for for both.. People make their own beer but does it affect Molson?

A Sample of Eric Welton's Discography
Prophet Limbo Prophet Limbo (2007)
Travis Reitsma Bluebeard (2008)
Tara Watts About Love (2009)
Eric Welton ziGZag (2006)
Eric Welton An EP (2007)
Eric Welton Foolheart (2008)
What Other Local Musicians Have Said:

Travis Reitsma:

As soon as Eric and I finished my first album, we pretty much immediately made plans to start working on the second. It was such a smooth and enjoyable process the first time that it had to happen again. Eric is one of the only people (along with Tara Watts and Derek Harrison) that I'm able to work with musically and not hold anything back. When we first started working together, we barely knew each other and now I consider him one of my closest friends.
Tara Watts:

My experience working in the studio with Eric was a positive one. He is very patient and makes you feel at home which is super important in the recording process. He's professional, he takes your music and his work seriously and yet we had tons of fun as well. It was great working with Eric because I knew he believed in my music and this project, so when I would get discouraged he was super supportive and continued to motivate me. He definitely went the extra mile and did everything he could to make my first CD a success. He has a good ear for music and he made good suggestions that added different dimensions to each song. - Jamie Greer: Musically Speaking...


Eric Welton, Kill Them With Kindness (Wotown Records/Spur of the Moment Media)

Eric Welton has been one of Windsor’s most enigmatic songwriters of the past decade, ever since he crash landed on the Rose City’s shores from the distant galaxy of Chatham-Kent.

His catalogue of music is vastly underrated – locally and nationally – and, depending on his mood, whims, friends and associates of the moment, touch on just about every gamete of emotion, situation and nuance. He is a songwriter’s songwriter, letting the songs and melodies dictate the direction each album will take him. From 2006's understated 16-track debut ziGZag (home to live favourites “Dog”, “Another Day” and “Bright Lights”) to the follow-up in 2007, an e.p. (which featured his live classic “Drunk Man Trilogy”, as well as pop gems “Won’t Stop” and the gorgeous “What It Is For”), Welton showed he had the songwriting chops to write undeniably catchy pop classics that stuck around for days and months on end after each show or CD listen. A year later, he switched from his indie pop stylings with an almost alt. country flair for 2008's Fool Heart, which yielded several more live staples, such as “Cold Hearted Woman”, “Flea” and the heart breaking “I Don’t Believe In You (Too Far Gone)”. In three years, Welton had produced three offerings chalk full of instant sing-a-long classics and emotionally crushing ballads, performing at all the live venues downtown. Welton’s songwriting always seemed to be better appreciated, however, by the city’s local musicians more than the public. A solo performer in the studio (he recorded, produced, wrote and performed everything on his first three releases, except for Fool Heart‘s “Fool Heart Blues”, a collaboration with former Golden Hands Before God guitarist Steven Gibb), his live backing band featured many of the area’s most respected performers, such as Jackie Robitaille, Tara Watts (The Locusts Have No King), Damien Zakoor (The Swillingtones, The Vaudevillianaires, The Golden Hands Before God), Eryk Myskow (The Hung Jury, ASK), Andrew MacLeod (Years of Ernest) and the late Bradford Helner (The Hung Jury, Huladog, Mr. Chill & The Witnesses). Over the next few years, he seemed to almost abandon his solo career when he joined up with Chatham’s (and one of Canada’s) finest psychedelic rock outfits, Square Root of Margaret (lead by his cousin and long time friend Po Kadot).

Following the release and limited touring for Square Root of Margaret’s last album, 2010's WYSIWYG, Welton once again began work on his next solo release and now, three years after his last, he has finally unveiled his most solid release yet, the deliciously schizophrenic Kill Them With Kidness (which he releases this Friday at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), backed by Eryk Myskow, Josh Zalev (Huladog, Vice Aerial, Mr. Chill & The Witnesses), and Luke “Big Lou” Pelotte (Theory of Everything, The Hung Jury, Vice Aerial)).

While prior releases showed off a minimalism that was both refreshing and ear-pleasing, with this release Welton has added a multitude of layers to create a grandness and lushness not present on previous efforts. This time around, the minimalism is more pronounced and the epic truly shines. Once again, Welton handles the bulk of performance, except for steady bass work from long time live associate Eryk Myskow on most of the record and one song guests in some vocals from Years of Ernest’s Andrew MacLeod (on “Every Day”) and percussion from SROM bandmate Ben Srokosz on the opener.

The frantic indie rock of the under-a-minute lead off track “Kooler” segways nicely into the groovy plodding of the title track. On “Kill Them With Kindness”, Welton once again displays that being wordy is sometimes backseat to a solid beat and groove, as he sings “I want/what you want/and you want it all/I know/what you know/and you know/it all” over a bouncy rhythm that would be best heard on a sunny Sunday afternoon with the window rolled down.

The guitars ring loud again in the circle round gang vocal rocker “Gone” before delving into the beautiful piano driven pop ballad “The Evil In Your Violence”, written in direct reaction to the tragic events surrounding Scott Funnel’s attack last fall. “Have you heard?” he croons over a gorgeous keyboard riff. “They’ve gone and changed your world. And everything you knew, you had believed … is gone, erased with every kick in the head.” For those who remember those horrible weeks when we nearly lost our friend, the refrain “The evil in your violence is permanent” will ring with a haunting shiver.

A beautifully and somewhat faithful cover of an older Square Root of Margaret song, “Hazel Eyes”, uplifts the record from the heaviness of the prior track, and Welton, free from the restraints of writing a song, showcases one of his finest strengths on record – his layering of vocal harmonies, some simple and obvious, some so layered or obstructed your brain hears them without realizing just how many voices they are hearing.

“Every Day” could easily be an anthem for many in today’s world. It seemingly tells the tale of a man suffering from an immeasurable vices who justifies his demons and self-destructions by simply praying to his maker for forgiveness. Andrew MacLeod (Years of Ernest) capably assists Welton with the harmonies with another bouncy song that sounds like it could easily have fit on the alt. country Fool Heart.

With the next track, “Spherikal”, the album takes a decidedly more (controlled) experimental approach. Dabbling in electronics and vocal chants and swirls, what it lacks in lyrical content it more than makes up in substance. His tenure in Square Root of Margaret has definitely rubbed off in his own songwriting and this could easily have been an instrumental (of sorts) on an upcoming SROM release.

He briefly swings back to his minimalist indie folk-pop with “I Know I’m Dying” before jumping into what could be the electropop dance hit of the year. I don’t mean locally either. “LC/DC” sounds like the the final masterpiece that LCD Soundsystem was working on before his head exploded. Trace elements of what makes bands like Holy Fuck, Justice and Thunderheist continue to control dancefloors in clubs across the country. Driven around a monstrously dirty and almost Death From Above 1979 bass line from Eryk Myskow, Welton adds layers of electronic skin, veins and muscle to create a driving 8+ minute ditty that would have the same effect on a dancefloor in Montreal or New York that it would in Windsor. This song needs to be played just when the crowd is at it’s sweatiest and drug addled. This is what losing inhibitions on the dance floor sounds like.

It closes with a song, “unOther”, that seems to incorporate everything that Welton’s music encapsulated on this record. Quirky lyrics (“I said if you’re the cat and I’m the mouse – eat me!”), pulsing driving rhythms lead by vocal melody and simple instrumentation, layered upon each other to a degree that a princess couldn’t hear the pea, swerving from idea to idea with the greatest of ease.

Which to a degree, is what Eric Welton’s music is all about. Never being constrained by what critics or audiences seem to think pop music should be and simply throwing his own experience and inner songs against the wall and hoping that what sticks isn’t the shit but the shinola. Kill Them With Kindness is a bold and brave songbook of Welton maturing and branching out of his home studio comfort zone and finding a Hunter S. Thompson world of song that defies to be shackled by the FM radio pre-sets. - Windsor Zene


Discography

2006:
"ziGZag"
- an in-home recording of Welton's earliest songs. "Dog" and "Another Day" are standout tracks and are still current on the live set-list.

Free Download: http://ericwelton.bandcamp.com/album/zigzag

2007:
"An E.P."
- 7 new tracks displaying Welton's talent as a song writer and recording engineer. Tracks such as "Drunk Man Trilogy", "Won't Stop" and "What it is For" have garnered much attention as part of the live set.

Free Download:
http://ericwelton.bandcamp.com/album/an-e-p

2008:
"Fool Heart"
- A collection of songs about cold women, foolish love and hurtful loss. Welton advances his quest to write personal, meaningful songs which people can relate to.

Free Download:
http://ericwelton.bandcamp.com/album/fool-heart

2011:
"Kill Them with Kindness"
- Welton's focus broadens to include electric guitar and uptempo pop-rock gems. Stand-out tracks include: "Kooler", a minute long power pop explosion, "Kill Them with Kindness", a backbeat driven rocker and the dance floor inspired hit "LC/DC", a title summing up the mood of this record AC/DC powered rock and LCD Soundsystem inspired electronica.

Free Download:
http://ericwelton.bandcamp.com/album/kill-them-with-kindness

2013:
Welton is working on two new records - the first takes him back to his roots as a solo performer and is a collection of acoustic lullabies. The second release this year will be from the other side of Welton's sound - a collection of electronica beauties.

Photos

Bio

Eric Welton is a songwriter on a path of musical enlightenment. The Port Stanley, Ontario born singer/songwriter, musically bred in his most recent home of Windsor, dabbles and pushes boundaries in areas that even he himself is unaware he's treading next in. Eric is on a mission to write great songs.

From the folk roots of his earliest material, to country-tinged rock, to the rumblings of indie rock and now even dance floor electronica, Eric Welton has shown a diversity that matches his musical maturity.

Although Welton began primarily as a solo performer, he has also been a member of Chatham's psychedelic rock pioneers Square Root of Margaret. A stage veteran, Welton has shared the stage with such bands as Teenage Head's Dave Rave, Holy Fuck, Arkells, By Divine Right, The Pack AD, Library Voices, Bend Sinister and Coco Love Acorn, as well as performing at such festivals as International Pop Overthrow (IPO, 2009-present, Detroit, Chicago and Toronto area stops), Phog Phest and Harvesting the FAM Festival. Welton continually works with some of the finest musicians in Windsor, including his right hand man, guitarist Erik Myskow. A musical prodigy from a young age, Myskow has been playing live since he was 16 years old. Myskow has been an invaluable asset to Eric Welton's music, on-stage and in the studio.

Eric Welton is a musician that truly cultivates to create. His continuous drive to create music is only matched by his desire to perform it and for those who have heard his music, his desires are well warranted.