Eric Dover is known to me through his work as a rock guitarist with Alice Cooper and also as the vocalist on the first Slash’s Snakepit release. However, on closer examination, his musical career is pretty diverse and eclectic. I had the opportunity to chat to him recently about his new musical project which sees him reunited with two former Jellyfish bandmates Roger Joseph Manning Jr and Tim Smith under the unusual moniker of “The Lickerish Quartet”
Eric Dover: Hey, how are you?
ANTIHERO: I am good, sir, how are you? How are you currently spending time?
Eric Dover: Well, I’m spending it with music, thankfully. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do a little work from home during all this wretched business. So, it’s been spent with music primarily, but I am itching to get out again.
ANTIHERO: I just wondered, obviously what we are here to talk about the EP. I just wondered if there was any chance at any point that the Lickerish Quartet could have become a full-blown Jellyfish reunion?
Eric Dover: In the sense of it being Jellyfish, no, because Jellyfish obviously too, Andy Sturmer was a cornerstone of that. So, this is a new endeavor entirely.
ANTIHERO: The EP title has got, “Volume One,” on it. I just wondered if you have volume two and volume three lined up, or it was just a typically cryptic title?
Eric Dover: Right? Well, no, there are going to be three EPs, I’m very happy to say. We have one dozen tracks that are basically complete, and we’ll be releasing them over the span of the next few months.
ANTIHERO: And of course, the band name indicates four musicians, and yet there are only three. Why is that?
Eric Dover: Oh, the name? Yeah. It’s a little bit of an inside joke. Of course, you could technically say that Jeremy Stacey would be the fourth member on this EP, definitely. And as you know, he plays with King Crimson full time and plays on loads of other records and we were very happy to have him. So technically you could say it’s a quartet, but the writing is between Roger, Tim, and I.
ANTIHERO: Of course, you have performed various roles over the years. I just wondered if you prefer personally being a frontman, or maybe like you were with Alice Cooper, a guitarist? Which comes more naturally for you?
Eric Dover: Honestly, just at least fronting or singing, that’s where I’m happiest. Of course, I like to be connected to my instrument too, so ideally both. I don’t see why not.
ANTIHERO: Which came first for you personally, did you start singing first or did you start playing guitar first, or did they go both together?
Eric Dover: Well, I began playing at about 11 years old, guitar, and I took lessons for a few years, from a little old lady in town. So I began singing probably shortly after that, because, as you would do as a kid, once you’ve learned to do something, you would inevitably start writing songs about your school principal, or whatever seventh-grade concerns you had at the time. So singing came a little bit after.
ANTIHERO: Obviously, what you have achieved with Jellyfish, and now the Lickerish Quartet, it’s completely different from the sort of music that you created with Slash or Alice Cooper. I just wondered if you like mixing it up in terms of musical genres and styles? Is that something that makes it fresh, stay fresh for you personally as an artist?
Eric Dover: Well, it’s pretty vital to me. I like to mix everything up and I don’t really hold too much sacred as far as genres or styles are concerned. I understand that there’s a purity in every genre, of course, but genre-mashing and just mashing things together and stirring it up in a pot, it’s really fun for me, as an instrumentalist as well.
ANTIHERO: Are there any other musical styles, maybe, that you’d like to explore further in the future, maybe something that you haven’t done yet?
Eric Dover: Well, I’m sure there is. I’m always on the lookout to try to do something interesting or inject some kind of new factor with whatever I do. And I know that Tim and Roger feel the same with Lickerish. We always want to set the bar to a new place, if possible. So, yeah. Let me give that a think.
ANTIHERO: I’ve mentioned there that you’ve worked with Slash and Alice Cooper. What have they taught you personally? What have you most learned from other musicians that you have created music with?
Eric Dover: Oh, loads, man. I learned so much from Alice and Slash. It was unreal, and it’s knowledge and wisdom that I keep with me at all times, keep close to my chest. They are extremely wise individuals. They have an uncanny way, too, of looking at things, and looking at the world. They have a great understanding of broad perspectives and, well, I feel that way with everyone that I work with, there’s an immense level of respect for not only their musicality but their spirit, their personality. And if you don’t learn anything, what are you really doing? Right?
ANTIHERO: I just wondered in terms of Lickerish Quartet, had you made plans to do maybe live shows over the coming months? Obviously, everything’s on hold at the moment. Just wondering what long-term plans did you have? You mentioned there are three EPs, did you have plans to play live?
Eric Dover: Well, initially when we got together, it was more or less a case of, let’s dip our toes into the water and see what the world’s like in 2020 when they hear this kind of music, which is why we decided to release the EPs in that timeline. But Roger Manning, as you know, is currently with another project and he’s on tour quite a bit, and then I have things going on as well as Tim. So for us to meet up and do shows was never something we initially considered, although we are doing that online, coming up, there’s going to be some premieres. As you know, the EP comes out on the 15th of this month, so hopefully, there’ll be some goodies, visual things, and music. That’s about as close as we’re getting right now, though.
ANTIHERO: I have been fortunate enough to obviously have listened to the first EP. How would you define it in terms of music? It’s definitely not something that would be easily described.
Eric Dover: No, not really. I think there’s a certain amount of classicism, which could be a dirty word to some people. We just look at it as good songwriting and arranging and trying to muster our efforts into creating a good song, essentially, first. But musically, you could say it stays within the confines of early electronic, some people would say progressive, I think it’s more a pop band than it is a progressive band, myself. And I think Tim and Roger feel the same way. We’re really more into the craft and the sound of it, and whether or not it has any emotional content attached to it, I think.
ANTIHERO: What about the songs themselves? Did they flow effortlessly and easily? How were they created?
Eric Dover: Basically in a room here in my studio, where we got together, Tim and Roger and I, and just played each other ideas, and got instant feedback on all of them and decided, we wrote a bunch of ideas or submitted a bunch to each other, but we just went with the ones that we thought were strongest at the time. And, is it effortless? No, it’s not always effortless, because it just takes a great amount of concentration and work to get the songs where you want them. And plus, people will come in with new parts or ideas, and you have to leave no stone unturned, really, when you’re in the process of writing and creating things. But the work was well worth it.
ANTIHERO: Just a couple, then, to finish, obviously looking back at creating music, you mentioned different styles with different other artists. I just wondered how you view your own musical legacy? Any standard highlights in there for you? Like maybe a CD that you’ve created, that you still go back and regularly listen to?
Eric Dover: Well, I try to never even dwell on what I’ve done to a certain degree, only because I don’t want to be trapped in whatever time frame that was. So yeah, I don’t consider my legacy so much as, maybe as I should, who knows? So for me, music is a very fresh process. I like to get that high from the new creation of things, and looking forward to maybe trying to get the next song in my head down on tape, or… I’m a bit too close to it, I would imagine.
ANTIHERO: When you’re not creating music, either live or in a studio, do you have any spare time interests or hobbies, or do you find that music’s just basically your whole life?
Eric Dover: Well, music has been, no lie, it’s been something I wanted to do from an early age, but yeah, I have plenty of hobbies, a lot of things that I take an interest in. I’m very into amateur radio and radio science. And so, I’m a licenced extra class operator in the United States. So, radio things, things that are communications and technology, I’m really, really interested in, because it goes hand in hand with music as well. So, you’re never really far off from the thing that you love the most if you pick the right hobby.
ANTIHERO: Just a final one, then. If the rules were reversed and you could interview somebody, maybe not even a musician, who would you pick? Maybe somebody that’s inspired you, a personal hero, as I said, maybe not even a musician. Who would you like to sit down and talk to?
Eric Dover: Boy, that’s a great question.
ANTIHERO: Thank you.
Eric Dover: Well, I would like to sit down, and I would have loved to have talked to Winston Churchill. That would have been fascinating to me. There are plenty of musicians as well. Obviously I never got to meet Prince, or David Bowie or whatever, but people in history, of course, fascinate me. So yeah, Winston Churchill would be maybe one of my top answers.
ANTIHERO: That’s great. Thanks for that. What then, moving forward with the Lickerish Quartet, do you have a defined programme for the release of the next two EPs, in terms of dates?
Eric Dover: Defined in the sense of when they’ll be released?
ANTIHERO: Yeah, absolutely.
Eric Dover: Yeah. I don’t know how long we’re giving between the releases, but it’s just a few months, three months, four months maybe, because each time that we do these releases, we have to do certain setups, and the artwork, and all the above and whatever. So yeah, I would say that, because it’s going to be over the next year or so, that’s probably a good bet. So by next May, I would imagine, should see all three EPs.
ANTIHERO: Yeah. And finally, do you envisage the Lickerish Quartet having some long-term longevity as a band? Or is it just a project that’s been put together, primarily just for these three EPs, and then you’re all going to move off and do different things?
Eric Dover: Well, I think that speaking for myself, and I’m pretty sure that Tim and Roger feel this way, we’ve really loved doing this, and it’s been wonderful to reconnect together musically, and as friends. So we’re in a pretty happy place right now. So, I would like to think that we’re going to continue this, despite our other commitments. Yes.
ANTIHERO: Okay. That’s great. Thank you very much for chatting to me.
Eric Dover: Oh, wonderful. Yeah. So yeah, Mark, it was awesome. And thanks for the great questions.