Spot Him at Café Ladro: Eric Tollefson Talks with KXSU

Alaska native Eric Tollefson is a lifelong singer-songwriter that moved down to Seattle in 2014 to make music. Tollefson’s 2012 release, The Polar Ends, features emotive, acoustic work beneath Tollefson’s subtle, but distinctly memorable, lyrics. This move is the building block that we can look back on in anticipation of his next project, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. Set to be released on February 24, 2017, the six-song EP embodies everything that Tollefson came to Seattle to create. Produced by Justin Armstrong (Audioslave, Death Cab For Cutie) and absolutely saturated with notable collaborators such as Johnson (The Head & The Heart), Andrew Joslyn (Macklemore, ODESZA), Eric Heywood (Ray LaMontagne, Son Volt), and Matt Hopper (Matt Hopper & The Roman Candles), the care with which the EP was created is both evident in its sound and its credits. Check out Tollefson’s latest single off the project, “Wish You Well,” featuring Matt Hopper and Josiah Johnson here.

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Photo by Zoe Rain


MK: What inspired This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things? Are these new songs, or some that you’ve been playing with for a while?

ET: Each song came individually over the course of a couple of years living in Seattle. The stories were either from my own experiences or someone I knew. The title didn’t come until I knew what songs were going to be on the record. Each song had a theme of the human experience, love and loss. Is it all worth it? I think it is, but it can come with a price.

14322445_10153782011490404_6936175684064236503_nMK: What was the recording process for This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things like?

ET: We started at Robert Lang Studios and built what we could with the rhythm section. We ended up getting what we wanted from a couple of the songs, and scrapped others. Drums and feel can make or break a song, so that was by far the longest process. The six song EP features three drummers, all of them great.

After we had what we needed from the rhythm section, producer Justin Armstrong and I started to build out the rest. The most exciting session for me was having Eric Heywood come through to record at Studio X with us. I’ve always been a big fan of his.

Another memorable session was singing vocals with Josiah Johnson and Matt Hopper. We all met at a house in Shoreline and sang our parts for “Wish You Well.” We set up in the study of Justin’s house at the time, and later learned an older man (after losing his wife to illness) had hung himself in it just months before.

More than anything, Justin and I wanted to produce an album with performances. No midi, nothing pre-programmed. We didn’t finish this first set of songs until we had the right performances for each. 

MK: How has your sound developed since your 2012 release, The Polar Ends?

ET: The Polar Ends was a fun record to produce, but it wasn’t current. I hope this record not only sounds current, but has authenticity to it.

MK: What is your favorite track on the new EP?

ET: I think “Blindfold” stands out right now because it’s very fun to play live. I like the turns we took in producing it for the album. I worked with my friend Sam Kearney and he always surprises me with his guitar playing and production ideas.

MK: If you could have each audience member leaving your show remember one thing, what would it be?

ET: My favorite artwork is anything that moves me. I hope that we do that with our audiences. That, and giving them a show they didn’t expect to see.

MK: What is your favorite coffee spot in Seattle?

ET: I really like the kind people at Café Ladro in Downtown Seattle. They make great coffee to boot.


This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things will be released on February 24, 2017 and you can preorder the EP here. To keep up with Eric Tollefson and make sure you don’t miss a show, you can find him on Facebook, his own music page (where you can sign up for his mailing list), take a listen to his work on Spotify, and try to spot him at Café Ladro.


MARIA KING | Green is a creative color | KXSU Music Reporter

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