I met Carole Fruner in November of 1989. She had just become engaged to a mutual friend of mine & John’s.
At this point, my life was in full-blown self-destruct mode. With the death of my mother in May of that year, I was pretty much alone, with the exception of one cousin. For four years, I secretly resented her for being so ill and “handicapping” me from travelling and reaching for my dream. Now she’s gone, and despite all the times I remember praying with her & telling her I loved her…I still felt like she parted on bad terms. There were so many things I wanted to tell her. Self-pity & loneliness, gave birth to a deathwish.
The theme that year through early 1990 was sex, drugs, but no rock & roll. Recording & rehearsals were replaced by hanging out at strip clubs along Queens Boulevard. Money for studio time and even rent went toward cocaine and handing money to strippers; just so they would sit down, have a drink, and pretend they liked me.
I came up with a concoction that was aptly nicknamed “liquid death”. Cough medicine, laced with codeine, washed down with beer. Concerned friends would actually break in my apartment and try to hold conversations with me, force-feeding me black coffee, keeping me awake, even sneaking out and dumping my medication down the sewer. They later confessed how frightening it was to see me, barely coherent, sleeping for days in a row, and my eyes were a bloodshot red with dialated pupils that covered my iris…I looked like an alien! But that year I found out who my friends were…I also learned that numbing the pain didn’t help…it only prolonged the agony. I heard inside, John’s voice, repeating over & over…”Eric, you’re a survivor…” They knew I would eventually snap out of it…and I did.
It wasn’t until I was sober & drug-free that I was able to deal with the pain and mourning…I arose from the ashes with a new drive & a new outlook on life. There was no way in hell I was going to be remembered as washed up, alone, and dead at 24. Thanks to my friends, this rocket was not going to explode prematurely…another victim of the dream…
John’s studio was then divided between a slew of songs from my solo efforts and a project from another longtime friend and bandmate, Michael Clark. 1991 gave birth to a band called “Ethereal Machine”…techno/alternative music featuring John, Mike & myself. Simultaneously, my demos & Ethereal Machine’s were being mailed out to record companies & entertainment lawyers worldwide…
There was not only a new Eric in those days, but a new Carole…emerging from a bitter divorce, and left with two small children, Carole also learned how to survive. She and John’s wife, Janet, were always close friends, and it wasn’t until years later that I found out that she had a crush on me since day one…
She “popped by” during the times we were all together hanging out. Always armed with trays of entrees (She had her own catering business)…working her way into my heart through my stomach. I started to spend a lot of time between recording breaks hanging out and talking with her. I tried to be cool about it, but inside I was always a nervous wreck around her. Unlike the old Eric, it took me forever to finally get the courage to get her phone number and ask her out.
After six months of dating, we became man & wife: June 5th, 1992.
Less & less time was spent with Ethereal Machine & the recording studio. Carole & I were expecting our first child in spring of 1993…though I had extended my time limit, it became apparent that Carole & the kids needed a full-time husband & father…
…it was time to make the hardest decision of my life. The dream or the family. Having both was NOT an option at this time.
I had dropped out of Ethereal Machine, and recorded a song called “The Day The Fire Died”…a tearjerker about two lovers who thought they’d be together forever…finally calling it quits. I played the rough mix at home and heard the words take on a new meaning…I was saying goodbye to the “other woman” in my life.
I was saying goodbye to the dream.
I have a new dream now. Something else I always wanted back…a family.
Some years later, my son’s Godmother, Danielle Setzer remarried. One of her sons, Brian Setzer wrote his mother a special wedding song at her reception…which eventually evolved in to a mini-concert. Had a chance to talk with him, too.
I never bothered to hand over a demo, or even mention I was once a musician.
If you read the interviews of a lot of popular performers…they always say that the best times of their lives was “just before they made it. The struggling, the clubs, the anticipation”…
Ethereal Machine eventually evolved into Eternalist, who released their first album last spring on Love Cat records. I’m genuinely happy for John & Mike.
While I still hold my convictions and belief that Jesus Christ is my Lord & Saviour, I will NEVER adhere to any religious organization or group again.
Carole still does catering, is currently managing a home improvement company with the future possibility of becoming a partner.
And I guess, I’m a “slower-burning” rocket these days. Happily married for seven years, 5 beautiful kids and I wont stop until Erox Graphix conquers the Poconos and eventually the globe. And I plan to be around for years to come…stronger, smarter…and for the first time in my life I can honestly say I’m happy…
Maybe Rockets can become Candles after all….
All songs Copyright ©1986,1989,1990,2002,2006 Eric Brooks.