He’s with the band: Perry balances science and music

The+members+of+Mr.+Perry%27s+band%2C+Scalawag.

Courtesy of Eric Perry

The members of Mr. Perry's band, Scalawag.

Nicole Poitras, Co-Editor In Chief

In Eric Perry’s Physics classes, his students often hear him remark about his “rock ‘n roll days.” But his time of gigs and recording studios are not as far behind him as he may imply. Perry’s love of music has spanned his entire life, and he is looking forward to future opportunities that music will bring him in and outside of teaching.

Perry began taking drum lessons at age 7, and continued until he was 14. As a kid, he would drum along to vinyl records of The Beatles and Elvis Presley. Additionally, Perry has been teaching himself how to play acoustic guitar for the past 16 years. It was this enthusiasm for the craft of music that has earned Perry a spot in six different bands.

After graduating high school, he drummed for a band called Keep Right. When that ensemble disbanded, he was a part of Reckless for three years, and then Showdown for six years. While Perry was the drummer for Showdown, the band opened for Rick Derringer and backed up Al Downing, both of whom had major hits in the 60’s and 70’s.

“I was in an acoustic duo for a few years, but my mandolin player took a job out in Oregon,” said Perry. “Then I was in a band called The Stink for about eight years up until about a year ago. We played local, mainly covers, a lot of rock and roll like Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, that sort of thing. Then I was approached by Scalawag.”

Scalawag is the band that Perry is currently a part of. Prior to his joining, the band released two albums on iTunes: Wheel on Steel in 2006 and Penny Arcade in 2010. The band’s sound on these two CDs is a delightful mix of country, funk, and classic rock. Currently, with Perry at the drum set, Scalawag is working on their third disc which is projected to be released by the end of the school year.

Scalawag mainly plays local gigs, with their home base being the Wild Rover Pub & Restaurant in Manchester. They enjoy performing at charity events, especially at Maggie’s Beat, which is a cancer research benefit festival held over the summer.

Although Perry’s primary instrument is the drums, the acoustic guitar holds a special place in his heart. He enjoys drumming because he is able to “be a part of the music and feel where the music is going.” However, for Perry there is something wonderful about being able to sit in antithetical quiet with his guitar and practice chords. Time spent with his acoustic also feeds one of Perry’s other hobbies: songwriting.

“I write poetry, and I like to take a poem and put it to music. But most of the time, I’m just kind of fiddling around with chords and usually the words kind of flow out,” Perry said. “My best songs come out of nowhere, whatever is in the moment, whatever I’m thinking about, or based on a mood that I’m in. So some of my best songs will be written in an hour. Other times I sit down and really try to focus and write one and I can’t do it. I’ll get bits and pieces, but I won’t finish it.”

Perry’s diverse musical talents have not only allowed him a multitude of opportunities in the professional music world, but have given him a one-way ticket into the heart of Hollis Brookline High School’s music program.

Perry enjoys connecting with his students through music. In his first year, he was welcomed instantly, and shared the stage with other music-loving faculty during Guitar Night. This year, he plans to participate again, even performing with some students.

“[The music community at HB] is amazing. I love it,” Perry said. “Mr. Umstead [band director] and Mr. Barbosa [choir director] are truly inspirational and not only amazing people, but amazing musicians, amazing inspirations, and I see why we end up with the best guitar players in the state, the best trumpet players…it’s an amazing music community here and I’m thrilled to be able to become part of that.”