Erie, born and raised in Bergen County, New Jersey, and now a proud Music City resident, has been steeped in the local Americana scene for years. After releasing his widely-acclaimed 2018 EP, The Art of Letting Go, Erie is ready to kick it up a notch with the 12-song epic expected to be released in March of this year.
His songwriting reflects the beautiful yet harsh reality of the human experience, inspired by his firsthand encounters with alcoholism in his family and even living in a two-bedroom apartment that his mother turned into a halfway house when he was young.
The poetic songsmith has earned many accolades, including winning the 2019 Eddie Owens Presents: Songwriter Shootout, which artists such as John Mayer and Tyler Childers have won. With Tiny Fires, Erie hopes to take that next step and secure his place in modern Americana music.
Erie was kind enough to answer some questions regarding the single, the album, and much more.
So the last time we talked to you it was around 2018 when you released The Art of Letting Go, and now you’re on the cusp of releasing your follow up album, Tiny Fires. How do you feel you’ve grown as a songwriter in that time?
Wow, so much has changed since then. I wrote The Art of Letting Go to help me disengage with the past and move on. I feel like it did its job. I feel more present than ever in my life. Maybe it is just the idea of fleeting time or maybe it’s me growing as an artist, but either way I feel like I just want to be honest with where I am and how I fit into the world, regardless of how ugly or beautiful it is… just plain honest.
And would you say the pandemic was helpful or hurtful to the creative process behind the new album? Neither?
The pandemic was helpful and hurtful in a lot of similar ways. Watching friends, family, and strangers suffer has been heartbreaking. I have been one of the lucky ones. I have been able to draw in and spend time with my loved ones and my thoughts, all while it has felt like I have been watching the world set itself ablaze from a bunker that feels like 200,000 miles below the earth’s surface… Sure, it has helped me write Tiny Fires, but I still wish I could unsee everything.
Speaking of, you dropped the titular track as a single recently. What’s the backstory and inspiration behind it?
I wrote this song while I was in quarantine, right before I could get the vaccine. Two weeks apart from the people closest to you is hard when they are right outside the door. All I could do was watch TV, write, read, but even with all of that time in solitary, you find yourself scratching at the walls, dreaming of what awaits you outside. Even when I could muster up the courage to dream, it was hard to picture anything good. The pandemic was surging, people were dying in the streets just because of the color of their skin, the whole world found itself on fire, and here I was writing about it. My heroes have always been artists, and I now know that the people they write or speak about are the real heroes/cowards…I just had a pen.
I see the album will have 12 songs on it. Are there any overarching themes or motifs throughout it as a whole?
At its core it is an exposé on what it means to be human in a seemingly smoldering world while trying to find a home in its ashes. It’s a first-person look on what it means to be an American in today’s world, whether that makes you embarrassed or feel entitled to something that no one owes you. Honesty…that’s what it is all about.
And how did you land on the name Tiny Fires?
I wrote the title track and just thought, man, that’s it… Tiny Fires is such a visual thing to me. So many fires, but no one even fighting to put them out. The world burns, such small acts can reverberate around the world. It’s beautiful to me in a strange way, makes us feel less insignificant.
How much time and thought goes into the order of the songs on the album? Do you find that to be a challenge in itself?
It’s always difficult to get the perfect order, but when it came time to decide on a track list for this record, I already knew what I wanted to convey. I set the tracks to take the listener through my thought process: loss, grief, anger, clarity, then hope. That is what my aim is on almost every record.
How did you get hooked up with Brett Ryan Stewart at Wirebird Productions, and what made you feel he/they were the right group for the project?
Brett is an incredible producer. I met him through our mutual friends Anana Kaye and Irakli Gabriel. We hit it off right away, but didn’t work together until a few years after we met. We became friends first, got to know each other, and our wives became friends.
We both went into this project knowing it was something we wanted to make together. Tiny Fires took two years to write and record. I went into the studio December of 2019 to start working on a follow-up record to The Art of Letting Go and came out two years later with a totally different record than I set out to make. The pandemic made us all slow down and, honestly, I just kept writing about what I was seeing and feeling, I knew that was the record we were supposed to make. I couldn’t have done it without Brett.
Do you have the wheels in motion for post-album release? Any light touring, heavy touring, or regional gigs?
I will be announcing some local shows soon, an album release show, and I will be touring lightly up until this summer. After June (God willing) my foot is on the gas and will be heavily touring.
What other goals whether musically or otherwise do you have for 2022?
I plan to enjoy what’s to come. That is something I have rarely done for myself. I go from project to project, task to task, and never quite take the time to admire what I have made. I plan to change that moving forward in 2022 and beyond.