"I revel in examples of true love," Eric Tollefson confides during our most recent interview. "Maybe not from a jealous standpoint, but almost from a jealous standpoint, because when you see it work and you see the support that goes both ways, I think it's one of the most beautiful things on the planet."
Tollefson has remained a popular figure in the Bend music scene for years, despite his move to Seattle a couple years ago. I remember when he first came into the Source's office in 2009 to give then-music writer Mike Bookey his first album, "The Sum of Parts." Since then, I've enjoyed following his music career and catching him live as often as possible. Tollefson has a kind, relatable spirit fueled by a passion for music that's both refreshing and inspiring.
On his most recent record, "This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things," an EP that debuts the day after his record release show at McMenamins, Tollefson takes on familiar themes.
"I realized that each song had a theme of love and loss and the human experience," Tollefson says. "With the human experience, no matter who you love or what you put your energy to, there's a point in time when you're going to lose it. Either by a relationship or friendship ending or something that doesn't grow to what you want it to be, there's an expense to that. But I think that it's always worth it."
For Tollefson, those experiences inspired him to write songs that garnered attention from heavy hitters in the music industry. For "This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things," Tollefson partnered with music producer Justin Armstrong, who he met at the annual Dave Matthews campout at The Gorge Amphitheater in George, Wash. Armstrong has worked with the Foo Fighters and Macklemore, among many other familiar faces in the music industry.
"Working with him, he challenged me," Tollefson says. "In that some songs he would say, 'I don't like this bridge,' or 'I don't like this prescore.' 'I hear your songs, you can write something better so take it back and give me something better.' That's the first time that I've ever had someone tell me that. I want to work with him forever because of it."
In addition to being challenged musically by Armstrong, Tollefson learned the lesson of patience while recording the new EP. Some weekends they wouldn't be able to record because Armstrong would be working with Macklemore, for example.
"Working with some of the big league people, you have to be very understanding of their time and where their priorities are," Tollefson says. "And when you're in the studio, you have to have fun. You can't be overstressed. You can't be expecting something magical because magic doesn't happen every time. I think that's the biggest lesson, was being patient even though my excitement and anxiety was up."
On the eve of the release of "This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things," Tollefson performs with a seven-piece band at Mcmenamins' Father Luke's Room. The venue brings back many great memories for him, as he released his last record, "The Polar Ends," there. He compares performing at Father Luke's Room to playing in a living room with all of your favorite relatives and loves the kids dancing in front most of all.
"I'm still that dork, I'm still that guy that gets scared and I'm still a guy that works a day job and goes to great lengths to pursue music because I love it and it's a sacrifice," Tollefson says. "What I love about Bend is being surrounded by those people and those artists and answering to them and showing them what I've created, but also in a way hoping to show them that there's no reason why they can't do the same thing."
Eric Tollefson Album Release Show
Thurs., May 18, 7-10pm
McMenamins Old St. Francis School
700 NW Bond St., Bend.