"This year has been 40 years since I first started touring. Forty years since I first made a record. You know, it's ... " Wreckless Eric pauses in thought. During the silence we do some math. In the subterranean annals of rock & roll, 1977 was "the year punk exploded." It was the year that Never Mind the Bollocks penetrated the white noise of our radiosphere, igniting the loins of pimply middle-class youth the Western world over.
"It's quite a thing really, I suppose. So I thought I had to do an album this year. I thought it would be important somehow. You know, I usually miss all these anniversaries and stuff. I usually forget. I don't know. I've never been in it for that kind of stuff," confesses Wreckless Eric. Somehow, without his saying this, we already knew it.
"Wreckless" Eric Goulden, a venerated veteran of U.K. punk, plays Will's Pub this Friday. And he's been playing for 40 years. This is Goulden's first time in Florida since, at the least, the early 1980s.
"I don't think I've ever been to Orlando. I seem to remember being in Florida in 1979 ... I remember wearing some kind of Florida souvenir sun hat with a big rim visor, just to piss people off." A chuckle. No theatrics or persona, just honesty and charm.
Don't take this anecdote as a signal that Friday's show will be a real "raucous scorcher," nor that Goulden will be there to try and "piss you off." It's not WWE. The erratic antics of that lad from '79 have been somewhat curbed with the passage of time. The man with whom we spoke seemed keenly aware of the issues present in the world around him and unlikely to further them through childish onstage debauchery.
Goulden continues, "I've never been in it for that kind of stuff. ... It's sort of like, those 40 years of doing it is ... " There's another brief but pregnant pause, then he finishes the point simply, "This is something to kind of be proud of. This is what I've done, this is what my life is."
Doing. That is the crucial point to it all. Forty years of doing. Forty years of producing. In these 40 years, Goulden has released 16 proper albums under various names and with various groups. His last, AmERICa, was released by Fire records in 2015. As suggested by the title, there's a bit of himself, and a bit of the modern world's current leading superpower in the record. This October will mark the release of his 17th album. Goulden confesses, "I have to finish it by next Friday before I go. ... So the thing is, this trip to Florida has made me finish everything. It's also paying for the mixing. It's multi-functional touring."
Goulden's collaborative efforts for mixing his upcoming album are a deviation from the norm. He hasn't done an album in a professional studio since the '80s, turned off by the rigid structures and procedures within.
"You do your best work when no one gives a flying fuck whether you do it or not. When you're out of your depth, and you don't know what you're doing, but you're fucking doing it anyway. And you have to have this kind of do-or-die [attitude]. A bit of pressure is really good," Goulden enthuses. Ever the punk.
"My parents wanted me to be a schoolteacher. I didn't want to be a schoolteacher. But, you know, I think, 'If I'd only done that I'd be retired now and have a pension.' Not have to worry about anything. I kind of find the idea quite attractive really. Of being really bored. I don't know what I'd do. Play golf and vote for Donald Trump or something," deadpans Goulden. More lively laughter. There's a tad more relatable conversation on this subject, but Goulden's a green-card holder. For the sake of his freedom of global movement, we'll skip over it.
So, this Friday, we strongly press you to see Wreckless Eric at Will's. After all, a bit of pressure is really good.