December 13, 2018

Eric Schenkman talks Judaism, new solo album and the future of The Spin Doctors

Eric Schenkman. Photo by Karen Kuehn

Thanks to five Top 100 singles – including “Two Princes,” “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues” – The Spin Doctors proved to be one of the most successful bands on the 1990s. The quartet, which consists of vocalist Chris Barron, guitarist Eric Schenkman, bassist Mark White and drummer Aaron Comess, is still at it 30 years later after debuting in the late 1980s. And to celebrate that, The Spin Doctors will be headlining a big 30th-anniversary show at New York City’s Brooklyn Bowl on Nov. 8.

Guitarist Eric Schenkman has always kept busy outside of his work with The Spin Doctors. He has notably recorded and/or performed with Chico Hamilton, Carly Simon, Natalie Merchant, Noel Redding, Phoebe Snow and Corky Laing. Schenkman recently released a solo album, “Who Shot John?,” which features contributions from Canadian blues veteran Shawn Kellerman, Enrique Iglesias drummer Van Romaine, and North Mississippi All-Stars co-founder Cody Dickinson. The title track is already out via Spotify, while the full-length itself gets a proper release on January 11, 2019.

I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Eric Schenkman, and highlights from that are below.

Jewish Journal: “Who Shot John?” is your new album. How long did you spend recording it?

Eric Schenkman: Ten months, but I pieced it together. I didn’t work on it every week, so there was time to let the songs and arrangements attract more quality.

JJ: Do you have a favorite song on the album?

ES: “Only A Fool” is my favorite, and “It’s Got A Thing,” but I have to say they all fit together well. It was hard to pick.

JJ: Around how many songs did you write for the album?

ES: 10 songs.

JJ: Did you record the album in Toronto?

ES: In Toronto yes, also in New Jersey, Mississippi, and in Kitchener and Singhampton, Ontario.  

JJ: What led you to move to Toronto?

ES: My dad was hired as principal cellist in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

JJ: As I am speaking to you for the Jewish Journal, I must ask: What do you remember about your bar mitzvah?

ES: I did not have a bar mitzvah.

JJ: I believe three members of The Spin Doctors are technically Jewish, yet I don’t remember reading about The Spin Doctors being a “Jewish band” the way that KISS or The Beastie Boys were. Was it simply a coincidence that most of the band was Jewish?

ES: Yes, I guess so. Although I went to Aaron’s for Passover two years ago. I am interested in Judaism more than anything.

JJ: Judaism aside, what do the next few months look like for you career-wise? A lot of Spin Doctors activity?

ES: We celebrate our 30th birthday as Spin Doctors in New York City at the Brooklyn Bowl on November 8! We are planning to write and record a new record in 2019, as well.

JJ: Finally, any last words for the kids?

ES: Kids: don’t forget to sing and dance, oh yeah, and play!


More on all things Eric Schenkman can be found online at www.spindoctors.com and www.ericschenkman.com.