Eric Burdon from The Animals Talks to Philip Gardiner
‘The house of the Rising Sun’, ‘We gotta get out of this place’ and ‘Don’t let me be misunderstood’ are just three of the mega-hits from the British 60’s band, The Animals. Under the name ‘Eric Burden and the Animals’, they moved to California, and have gone down in history as one of the greatest pop-rock bands ever. Here, Eric Burden unleashes his animal instincts with Phil Gardiner.
My first question is, what would you most like to be remembered for? Is it the music or the meaning?
I feel that the music IS the meaning.
We know most politicians were born in the fiery pit of hell as the spawn of Satan, but what’s your opinion of the politics of the world today?
In New York City recently, I saw the congregation of a black church departing after Sunday morning service. Next to the doorway, inside a glass case, was the prayer of the week. It read: “Show respect to your enemies, after all, you helped create them.”
That’s my feeling toward today’s democratic process and the so-called regimes we feel don’t fit “our ideals,” but you can’t force democracy on anyone. People must come to it.
The past is past, nothing you can do about it. Lord knows I have made my share of trouble, but I’m grateful to all of the people who remember the better things. The present has me involved in continuing basically the same endeavours. Only I can now use my experience from the past to do it better than previous works. As for the future, we’re all going to have to be stronger than before as the challenges are greater than ever, but everyone should try to live in the ‘now’.
Tell us a little about your kind of music please!
The music I love must be from the centre of the soul. I listen and feel anything that has reached my heart. I decided, years ago (age 15 or so) that the human voice was the first instrument ever, and words and stories needed to be conveyed. I believed and still do, that I am an instrument.
Have you ever heard of a band called The Animals? Any good?
We started out young and strong. We had a collective belief in music: music from another land, the music that was stronger outside the land that gave birth to it. America tried its best to crush the sounds of black music and rock and roll, and so we reached into the collective trash and we found the Blues, which gave birth to Rock n’ Roll. Yeah, we were good, until money got in between us.
I have an open mind. Out here in the Mojave desert I’ve seen some unexplained things in the night sky, but after all these years, I now believe that people have been deluded by a great cover up put into action by the military, since 1947, as a means to cover up their need to spend trillions of dollars on experimental aircraft and keep the fear level up in the world. This is all based on the fact that people see and believe what they want to see and believe.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
“Ooohoooh! Stayin alive, stayin’ alive!”
A thought… It’s 201 Jazz music’s dawn was around 1911, which morphed into blues. R&B, which became rock and roll. It’s still alive today, so one could say that this form of music has lasted almost a century. I’m proud to have been a part of that cultural expression. Rock On!
What has been mankind’s greatest achievement?
The printed word comes close, but I am still waiting and watching. I hope I won’t be disappointed.
Save the oceans! It’s our last chance! We should be ashamed of ourselves. Reduce plastic use, and wherever possible, “revolt” against atomic energy use.
If your life depended on it, which Soap Opera would you do a cameo in?
I would love to be with Joan Collins in a Mexican daytime soap opera, killing all of her lovers with an ice pick.
If a tree falls in a forest, and nobody is around to see or hear it, does it make a sound?
About as much as a teardrop. You don’t need to hear it, when you can feel it.
Have you ever felt pressured by the fact that what you sing about affects society? Have you ever wondered whether you were doing the right thing?
Chaos is the foundation to life itself.
Stay in the garage until the whole street knows who you are, then find a good manager. Don’t trust anyone, but when you do need to, pray you used your own gut feelings. If things go wrong, you only have yourself to blame.
Why do you think music and words seems to work so much better than just words as a means to get a message across?
Charles Dickens didn’t play Harmonica. I believe that words by themselves can be just as effective.
What kind of movies do you watch and why?
American and French gangster films circa 1947-1958 (Jean Pierre Melville).
My favourite directors are Stanley Kuberick, John Ford, the Cohen Brothers, David Lean, Guy Richie, Sergio Leone and many more.
What are your opinions about the power of the internet?
I think we’ve yet to find out.
Do you think man is created in the image of God (or Goddess) or the other way around?
God created woman, then the silence was broken forever. I tend to lean toward the belief that God is a woman and that she is black.
So that means that Science will be the new religion? As long as there is a human element, there will be religion. Science has also recommended that atomic power s the cleanest, most efficient form of power for the people on our planet, so who can we trust?
Is “free will” the whole of the law? Can man ever be truly free?
A good, healthy night of sexual activity will “free” you up for a few hours, but death does a better job. Amen!
Do you back Nuclear Power? If not, why not.
I’d like to back Nuclear Power all the way back into the ground. But the genie is out of the bottle. We all know it’s too late. There’s been so much big money in ‘clean-ups’ and security. If we want to stop it we can, but man would even put a reactor in the rear of a Volks Wagon.
I live in the land of astronomical events. A large meteor strike could wipe us all out, that’s for sure. None of us can confidently say he or she will still be living the next day. Now it’s known that there are fingerprints embedded into asteroids that the space program has found and may be the key to human space exploration. But no little green men in UFOs are going to find us. We have to find them, their traces, and clone what we find. Then we could have our choice of colour when it comes to little space creatures.
Have you ever experienced altered states of consciousness? How, why and was it beneficial? And would you recommend it to all politicians, business and religious leaders?
During a session in 1964, I consumed mescaline and was embraced by Karli, the Indian goddess of death and destruction. It was a frightening experience. I survived to be stronger and lived to tell the tale. Could you imagine Carl Rove doing the same thing?
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I am crazy! It’s the best defence mechanism in this crazy world.
What would you still like to achieve?
Peace of mind. And more regular sleeping habits as I get older. This is becoming more difficult as time races by.
Sure! I’ve got a cool song for the dude, the title is ‘27 Forever’
Do you believe in manmade global warming? Or is it natural?
I knew it was coming, so I moved to the desert where the summer temperatures can get up to 120 and nights in the winters are freezing cold. But the air is clean and the night skies are beautiful so it’s an even trade.
And lastly please feel free to say anything at all you want to the world of readers and tell us all about what you’re up to these days, plug an album, website or car-boot sale.
I’ve been hitting the studio getting my new album ready for release. It’ll have all new tracks and a short video to accompany a song about the late, great, Bo Diddley. The album has been taking up most of my time, writing lyrics, recording, designing album art, etc., but as usual, I’m reading constantly and I’m thinking about material for a new book.
We’re also leaving again soon for a few shows here in the U.S. We’ve got some shows in Canada and Europe later in the year. Check out the dates on my website www.Ericburdon.com . The tour info is updated frequently so I’m looking forward to seeing all of the fans out on the road.