There’s no place like soul…there’s no place like soul…there’s no place like soul. Well, clicking your heels together and repeating that line may not bring you to the other side of the rainbow, but playing the album by that title will surely take you somewhere outstanding. Soulive’s No Place Like Soul will be out in the summer of 2007 as a bold new statement from these New York groove gurus and the first new-artist release from the Concord Music Group’s re-launch of the legendary Memphis soul label. The addition of a permanent vocalist to the group makes this album even more special.
It was March 1999 when brothers Alan and Neal Evans invited guitarist Eric Krasno to jam with them in their home studio in Woodstock, New York. That session became their first EP, Get Down!, and the group soon started touring to support their fresh collaboration. The following summer, they recorded their first LP, Turn It Out, which featured some prominent guest musicians such as Oteil Burbridge and John Scofield. Turn It Out would define Soulive as the new, must-hear jazz/funk act. From there, Soulive would release six more studio albums, collaborate with a variety of artists, and broaden their fan base along with their own musical styles, getting more into the sounds of hip-hop and the blues.
Eric Krasno, sometimes called Kraz, is a master at blending those styles into a unique sound all his own. With help from his parents and grandfather, he was exposed to many genres as a child. “I grew up around a lot of music. My parents were really into all different types – from the Rolling Stones and other rock ‘n’ roll to jazz and Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson…along with a lot of Brazilian music. My grandfather was a musician and my dad is a musician, so I was lucky to be surrounded by a lot of music when I was a kid,” he explains. Another apple didn’t fall from the tree, as his brother is a guitarist that used to play along with young Kraz’s bass playing. Proving that change can be good, Kraz soon moved on to the guitar. He says, “Eventually I just wanted to play chords, and I was really into Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page…that kind of inspired me to want to play the guitar, hearing those guys.”
A delightful change for Soulive came when reggae singer Toussaint joined the band as permanent vocalist. Krasno had done some producing for him a few years back as Toussaint was developing his craft as an artist. “We did a couple of songs together and they came out really good.” He adds, “But he was doing his own thing and we were just doing the trio at the time. As we were looking for a permanent singer, his name came up again and we brought him out to do a week-long run. It just started gelling and we realized he was the perfect fit…That’s when we got into the studio a month later and started doing No Place Like Soul.”
Kraz recently realized that there’s also no amp like a VOX AC30 Custom Classic. “I was just about to cut a solo on this tune called ‘Outrage,’ which is on the new album…We turned the AC30 on and everybody was just like, ‘That’s it!’ Then we played the Nokia Theater a few days after that, and we brought the AC30 out to the gig. I was thinking, ‘Ok it’s great in the studio; let me try it on stage.’ I put it on stage and it was just slammin’. I was sold after that.”
Besides the legendary tone of the AC30, Krasno also digs the simplicity. He states, “I like how basic it is. There’s not a million knobs, and it doesn’t overly compress my sound. It gives me what I want without having to get to into the science of it.” Kraz knows there’s nothing complicated about how good his VOX Wah-Wah pedal is, as well. “The VOX wah is the only wah pedal I’ve ever used and ever will,” he confirms.
With his newly-acquired VOX amp and favorite VOX Wah, Krasno continues to build on his reputation as one of the top young guitarists in the jam band and jazz scenes. “The VOX AC30 has got the classic sound that I love. I can plug straight into it, turn it up, turn it on, and I’m good,” he says. Now that’s tone for the soul.