Even though their original tenure as a band spanned less than a decade, the lasting influence of Moncton lo-fi band Eric’s Trip is examined in A Distorted Revolution: How Eric’s Trip Changed Music, Moncton, and Me, the first book from Moncton author Jason Murray.
Formed in the early part of the 90’s, Eric’s Trip were the first Canadian act signed to the Sub Pop label, the original home of influential acts like Soundgarden, and Nirvana, among many others. The group’s non-conventional approach to making music – the bulk of their studio output was recorded at home – earned the group a dedicated fan-base that spanned the globe before the band parted ways in 1996.
Although the book charts the formation and eventual dissolution of Eric’s Trip, the book isn’t as much an official biography on the band as it serves to symbolize the vital, vibrant underground music scenes that inhabit countless cities and towns all over the world.
“Along with [Halifax rock band] Sloan, Eric’s Trip were one of the first groups from Atlantic Canada in the early 90’s to have received such widespread attention,” Murray says. “And while Eric’s Trip figure prominently in the book, it has as much to do with how their success came to inspire so many others in Moncton and beyond as it does the band itself. They helped instill a spirit of friends getting together to make music for nothing more than the sake of trying to capture some magic. If anything, the band proved you don’t need million dollar production budgets, and big brand name instruments to have some fun and earn a devout following.”
As an observer, Murray acknowledges it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement, and do-it-yourself attitude that was swirling around Moncton in the early 90’s.
“I was inspired by the creative forces of the scene as much as I was the music. Seeing everyone take on the do-it-yourself aspect of making music and getting onto the shelves of local record stores, with their homemade covers and cassette sleeves. I was just blown away that the little city of Moncton had such a vibrant creative community working away to make things happen, with no expectations other than to play some local shows. They were doing it for the love of doing it and nothing else.”
In the book, Murray relates how the culture of skateboarding – very much an outsider past time in the late 80’s and early 90’s – and the music of The Ramones, among others, helped to unite a subset of teens that were uninterested in almost any respect of the mainstream.
“When I first started skateboarding, there was only a small group of us, but it helped shape who we were and who we became. None of us were worried about fitting in; we already had our own little gang and culture, of which music played a big part.”
As the author would discover, however, this wasn’t a Moncton-only phenomenon.
“For the book, I spoke with Keith Morris [Black Flag] and Ian MacKaye [Minor Threat, Fugazi], both of whom confirm what was happening culturally in Moncton in the 80’s and 90’s was happening, or had happened, all over the world. Ian told me, ‘Ideas come from small towns; sales come from big cities,’ which was evident when looking back on the early 90’s, when the microscope was finally cast upon the Monctons and Halifaxes of the world,” Murray says.
Since the book was released, Murray has received messages from readers that marvel at the similarities between the story he lays out and what is taking place in their own backyard. It’s that universality and manner in which music brings people together that is perhaps most gratifying to the author.
“In 2005, I was travelling through Australia and popped into a record store in Sydney, and on the wall was this huge Eric’s Trip poster. I spent the better part of a couple of hours talking with these guys, sharing with them how I came from the same town as the band, and having them tell me how hard it was to get their music in Australia at the time. To literally be a world away from home, but have Eric’s Trip serve as a common bond between us is a testament to the power of music.”