Interview of ERIK LUNDGREN
(ex-guitarist of Johnny Van Zant Band)
In September 2011 by John Molet.
So before to ask you anything, I have to remind to our readers that you were the mythical guitarist of the Johnny Van Zant Band in the 80's.
RTJ : First can you explain to us how you started to be a musician ?
Erik: I was the youngest of four boys and my father was a band leader in the navy and forced all my older 3 brothers to play drums; he would actually lock them in a room for an hour and make the practice the rudiments. Then when I came along – he gave up and I picked up the guitar at 8 years old. My father was friends and co-star of a vaudeville act with Robert Conti’s sister, so out of a favor ,I became a student of his. This was my introduction to jazz and formal training.
RTJ : How did you become a member of the Johnny Van Zant Band ?
Erik: Darryl Inscoe, a member of my first band, back during high school years asked me if I wanted to meet Johnny Van Zant. His sister was married to Ronnie Van Zant. At the time they had released nuthin fancy. I said “sure”. So I went and jammed with a bass player and Johnny on drums and Robbie Morris in the wings waiting to play drums, but that would come later when Johnny would take up singing, like his two older brothers.
RTJ : Do you live close to Jacksonville ?
Erik: Yes in the Beaches area.
RTJ : Can you tell us how the JVZB started ?
Erik: I was 13 years old when I first met Johnny, neither of us were licensed to drive , so three years later he came to a skating rink I was playing at and offered me a job with his band at the time called the Austin Nichols Band, which later turned into the JVZB.
RTJ : Were you very influenced by Skynyrd ?
Erik: Very much so and also 38 Special. I spent a lot of time watching them rehearse for preproduction for Rockin Into The Night , at a practice studio that we shared with them and Lynryd Skynyrd., similar to the Hell House
RTJ : Did you know that you had a lot of fans in Europe ?
Erik: Yes, because of the popularity of Southern Rock
RTJ : What are for you the great moments and memories of the Johnny Van Zant Band ?
Erik: The Albums we recorded and the awesome acts we got to tour with and the iconic producers that I worked with. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
RTJ : Which JVZB's album do you prefer ?
Erik: The first one (No More Dirty Deals) for it’s production value and guest players. Also, Brickyard Road, also for great studio players and production.
RTJ : With Robbie Gay, you made a very complementary duet in the band, did you know eachothers before the JVZB ?
RTJ : Did you keep contacts with Robbie, but also Danny Clausman, Robbie Morris, etc ?
RTJ : You probably know it but Robbie Morris recently released an album with his band Shanytown, and I think that it sounds a lot like the two first JVZB (Hard Luck Story and Round Two !). How do you explain it ?
Erik: I wrote Hard Luck Story with Johnny and Donnie ; so if it sounds like that, I’m all for it.
RTJ : According to you, what are the reasons of the JVZB's split ? The style didn't please to the record company anymore or is that because Johnny is gone with Skynyrd ?
Erik: Obviously, his Skynyrd opportunity took priority.
RTJ : Did you work again a little with Johnny and Donnie for the Van Zant Brothers albums ?
Erik: I’ve been the live touring lead guitarist for them in promotion of their two Van Zant rock records, as well as their two country records, one of which, Get Right With The Man was RIAA Certified Gold.
RTJ : Did you ever wish to gather again a band or do a solo album ?
Erik: I currently perform in a local band to keep my chops up for the next Van Zant project. I, also perform solo, which has become my favorite; mixing jazz, standards, christian rock and instrumentals.
RTJ : What do you think about the words "Southern Rock" ?
Erik: To me, it’s a label they hung on the Allman Brothers, Skynyrd and a lot of other bands that came out of the south.
RTJ : Does it have musically a special meaning for you ?
Erik: Yes, It’s close to my heart. Somewhere between blues and country rock.
RTJ : What are the bands or artists that influenced you the most ?
Erik: Everything from Jazz Greats,like Joe Pass, Return To Forever, Robben Ford, Jeff Beck to the southern pickers like Duane Allman and Allen Collins.
RTJ : What are your favourite guitars and amps ?
Erik: I received a Peavey endorsement, while touring with the Van Zants for their last country records and currently still use their guitars but switched to Fender Amps, also utilizing a GT-10 Roland effects pedal.
RTJ : A traditionnal question : if you have to leave to finish your life on a desert island, taking only 5 albums with you, what would they be ?
Erik: Get Right With The Man (Van Zant, N.dR.), My Kind of Country (Van Zant, N.dR), No More Dirty Deals (Johnny Van Zant Band, N.dR.), Round Two (Johnny Van Zant Band, N.dR.), Last of the Wild Ones (Johnny Van Zant Band, N.dR.),
RTJ : We would have a lot of questions that we'd love to ask you but we don't will to go too far, so if you can sum up and send a little message to the European Southern Rock fans that always appreciated your way of playing guitar, thank you !
Erik: Message To European Rock Fans:
Thank you for your continued support of Southern Rock and myself. I would love to hear from you, please feel free to visit me on my website http://www.ErikLundgren.net