Guitarist Eric Calderone Talks ‘Meets Metal’ Videos, Guitar Heroes + More
In the Internet age, rock stars no longer have to perform in a band. Guitarist Eric ‘Erock’ Calderone has gained a massive following thanks to his ‘Meets Metal’ videos, where Erock blends iconic music with metal instrumentation and phenomenal shredding.
We recently caught up with Eric Calderone, speaking with the beloved shredder about when he first picked up an axe, the long process of creating his ‘Meets Metal’ videos, his personal guitar heroes and more. Enjoy our exclusive chat with Eric Calderone!
When did you start playing guitar?
I was 16, so 2001. I’m a late bloomer. [Laughs]
That is a bit late to start playing. Did you that find you had a natural talent?
I don’t believe in that. I started off like anyone else, sounding like s–t. [Laughs] I just got so addicted to it that I just couldn’t put it down. My religious experience was when I learned the intro to ‘Enter Sandman’ and it sounded like it should. It just gave me the feeling like, “Holy s–t, it sounds like it!” I had that feeling yesterday again on a song I was learning. It’s never gotten old for me. My guitar teacher told me this one thing in college I’ll never forget and it keeps me practicing: “No matter how good you are, there’s someone younger and better than you,” and I was like, “Holy s–t!” [Laughs]
Your ‘Meets Metal’ videos take a very long time to orchestrate and record. Can you take me through the full process?
First thing I do is, I write a skeleton out with a MIDI file, just the main melody and tempo so I can hear what I’m basing it off of. From there I do the drums and I have severe OCD so I go through every measure to make sure that no fills repeat. I can’t just loop something. That takes about a good four or five hours of just straight work.
After the drums, I record the wall of guitars. I do four on each side, panned all the way left to all the way stereo. I try and make it a big wall. I got that trick from Andy Sneap. He’s like my go-to tutorial guy. It’s kind of the same thing he does. I don’t copy/paste. I play the entire track straight through. It sort of loses the musicianship when you’ve got shortcuts.
Then, after that, I take the actual solo section where there’s a solo I put in there that’s not in the original song. I sort of loop that. I probably play for about an hour or two trying to come up with ideas and if I like something, I’ll record it in that measure and then go to the next one, then I’ll listen back and see how it sounds and then erase it all and record it. Then I go back and record the main lead, one left side and one right side for harmony purposes. Then I go back and listen to the song and try and hear if there’s any harmonies and how the chords move. I wasn’t so much lost with it, but it really helped; I went to Berklee for orchestration and they’re very friendly, but harsh. [Laughs] A lot of it was drilled into my head, which when I was doing it I was saying, “Oh, this is stupid.” Now I’m like, “Oh, thank God I did that!” It’s helped me understand if something is moving a certain way, you have certain options you can go to and certain ones you can’t.
After the harmonies I go back and play the bass. Then I put in any, I guess you can call them overdubs, any synth parts or I do a dive here or there to kind of lead up to a phrase. Then I bounce it and I do my best to master it. Then I bring it again and try and maximize it to a good volume where there’s no clipping and after that, listen to it, learn it and then when I turn the camera on I mute out the left lead guitar and that’s the live guitar and hopefully I get a good take the first or second try and upload it to YouTube.
Because people are paying you via Patreon to make these ‘Meets Metal’ videos, you’re able to do this as a career, which is awesome. What was your job before this?
I was a teacher.
A music teacher?
Yep, I did private lessons first and then I had a … I guess you could call it a part time college professorship. [Laughs]
The first video you ever put up was the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ one. It’s still one of your most popular clips. How long did that one take to explode and go viral?
Actually, I did about 10 or 11 videos. They were getting like 60-80 views. I was getting my degree at the time so I was doing them like every three weeks, just whenever I had time. The first couple or the first 10, they’re basically all movies, video games and all that. And then my brother mentioned, “Hey man, this chick Lady Gaga is kind of big right now. Maybe give her a listen? Maybe you can do one of her songs.” I was like, “Yeah. okay.”
It’s so funny because throughout this whole time, I called my dad and was like, “Dad, I have 80 subscribers! 80 people all want to know when I release a video!” He’s like, “Oh, that’s great!” So I put out ‘Bad Romance.’ It was like my 12th video and I went to bed and I woke up the next morning and my inbox, it was something stupid, like 1100 messages in it. I was like, “What the hell?” I went through the inbox and it was all the YouTube stuff. I was like, “What’s going on with this?” I went on and it had 125,000 views and I was like, “Oh my god! This is awesome!” That’s kind of the one that started it.
So it was the Lady Gaga cover that launched you rather that ‘Pirates.’ That’s interesting.
Yeah, the 12th video.
What’s your favorite video you’ve ever uploaded?
Oh, great question. Probably the one that’s my favorite right now, and my answer could change tomorrow if you were to ask me again, it’s probably ‘The Rains of Castamere.’ I put actual metal songs inside a lot of the videos, like a tribute or a ‘thank you’ or a tip of the cap. I try to integrate it with the song. I did ‘Killer Instinct’ and I put Judas Priest‘s ‘Painkiller’ in there so it became ‘Painkiller Instinct.’ Stupid s–t like that.
It’s cool, one of my favorite things to do is I like taking a very sad and slow song like, ‘Requiem for a Dream,’ that’s probably another one of my favorites. It’s so slow and very depressing. I just love it. When I hear it I’m like, “Man, this would sound awesome if it was fast.” I love the melody. That’s kind of what I try and do. [Laughs]
Who are your personal guitar heroes?
I can do a Top 3. Jason Becker will always be my No. 1. Just because it was like, the circumstance is obviously sh–ty [Becker suffers from Lou Gehrig's Disease] but it’s his passion that’s so inspiring. He was basically, at the time, he was probably the best guitar player in the world according to a lot of people. Then it’s like, “Hey, you’re going to get this disease and you’re not going to be able to move.” I couldn’t even wrap my head around it and the fact that he still makes music is unbelievable. I don’t even have a word for it. Unbelievable.
My No. 2 would be Randy Rhoads. Not just because I love his songs, he just put such an impact on music. When people talk about him, I don’t think they realize he was only on two Ozzy albums. He made that much of a mark with just two albums. That’s why I always have a soft spot for a Rhoads. I have two Rhoads shaped V’s right now, it’s my dream of being Randy.
Thanks to Eric Calderone for the interview! To keep up with the guitarist’s original videos, check out his YouTube channel. To help keep Erock making new mashups, head over to Patreon and donate what you can.
Eric Calderone – Exclusive Loudwire Shred