Eric Slick: More Than a Fan.
Text and images by Brandee Nichols.
Eric Slick is dressed in business casual attire – jeans and a button-down shirt – in preparation for a meeting later with fellow Dr. Dog bandmates. They’re going to finalize the details for their upcoming album release. For now, however, he sits eagerly with his coffee by the window at Milkcrate Café in Fishtown.
“Okay, I was born at Jefferson Hospital on May 15th, 1987,” he enthusiastically jokes, when asked about his history.
Slick says he started playing drums after seriously wearing out his crib and bongos. He was just 5-years-old.
“I broke everything I had,” he says. “Even to this day, I break my drums. I’m cursed,”
He started his first band with his sister shortly after learning to play.
“There are a lot of early recordings of me and my sister banging on stuff and singing about our mom,” he reminisces. “I would love to find those tapes because it’s pretty embarrassing.”
Slick, 23, has since played with an extensive number of bands: the Adrian Belew Power Trio, Project/Object, Goldbug, Lithuania and even the original version of Nicos Gun, then called Young Ice. He currently plays in Dr. Dog, Norwegian Arms with roommate Brendan Mulvihill, Ape School with Michael Johnson, and Paper Cat with sister Julie Slick and Robbie Seahag Mangano. He devotes most of his time, however, to Dr. Dog and Norwegian Arms.
“Paul was playing drums and I was like, ‘Aw man, I could play drums,’” Slick recalls. “So I went up to him afterwards and was like, ‘Hey, can I join your school? Or whatever this is?’ He was like, ‘Oh, maybe I should start a music school.’ So that whole thing kind of gelled that night. The light bulb went off.”
Five years later, Slick started teaching at the School of Rock. While he proudly shares how fun and rewarding the experience was, he eventually got to the point where he needed a break.
“It takes its toll on you,” he adds before sipping on his coffee. “Maybe I’ll teach again later in life.”
Around that time, Slick met the Dr. Dog guys at an in-store performance at Tower Records (now FYE). He talked to them again a few weeks later at the Jam on the River. Then, Slick really got to know the guys during the Bonnaroo in 2007.
“We hung out the entire weekend and it was awesome,” he says, with a huge grin. “So much fun. I was hanging out with my favorite band.”
It wasn’t until almost a year later that he even saw them again. On Slick’s 21st birthday, Dr. Dog keyboard player Zach Miller called him and invited him out with the crew.
“The whole band took me out and we went to see The Black Keys,” Slick remembers. “I ended up hanging out with The Black Keys all night. It was the best 21st birthday.”
A year later, Slick reached a significantly low period in his career.
“I wasn’t really happy playing music anymore,” Slick confides. “I was starving. I was literally eating ramen, beans and rice for dinner.”
He thought about giving up the drums to be a DJ. He even bought two turntables from a guy in Fishtown – and the guy mentioned that Dr. Dog didn’t currently have a drummer. Slick shared with Zach Miller his intentions of quitting live music and Miller convinced him to continue drumming.
Soon afterward, Slick got the call from Miller asking him to audition for Dr. Dog. He was caught off guard and he burst with excitement. He auditioned about a week later, right after Christmas of 2009.
“They gave me five songs to learn but I’ve seen them so many times, we ended up playing every album,” he says.
Slick, with the support of Miller and lead guitarist Scott McMicken, finally went from simply a fan to regular member of his favorite band.
The band recently recorded a new album, their first with Slick on drums. Fans can look forward to a February 2012 release date of Be the Void, supported by a likely slew of tour dates the rest of the year.
“I can’t wait for people to hear the new record,” Slick says. “The new record is crazy. It’s really, really different.”
With the right combination of talent, perseverance and timing, Slick was able to accomplish what many aspiring musicians only dream of.
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he says.
Find the full conversation between Eric Slick and writer Brandee Nichols here.