At the tender age of six months old, Kitchener-born Eric Brombacher moved to the Sault with his family.
That move can be linked in a direct line to a great deal of the lyrical content in the now singer songwriter’s songs.
So, instead of writing about Victoria Park and King Street, Brombacher writes songs about Great Northern Road, Goulais Bay and the old Eastside Confectionery (you know, the one with the Orange Crush sign).
“I feel like I was born and raised in the Sault, even if technically I wasn't,” laughs Brombacher.
“It's my hometown. It's where I was raised and it's near and dear to my heart always.”
Even after leaving the Sault for good in 1995, Brombacher continued to carry the flag of being “that guy from the Soo” in both his professional and musical career.
“I've worn that badge as a proud component of my identity.”
In fact, it was this connection that first put him in contact with fellow Saultite, and drummer and one of the founding members for the band, Eric and the Soo.
“Long before I had a band, Dino [Nacarrato] played in numerous bands, including one that I was a fan of,” says Brombacher.
“The lead singer of that band said, ‘Hey Eric, do you know Dino? He's also from the Sault’... ‘cause you know, we all know each other. Dino was the first guy I called when I had the idea for ‘Eric & The Soo’ and he jumped on board immediately.”
The former White Pines student went on to study at Queen's University in Kingston from 1991 to 1995, eventually leaving the Sault for good to attend the University of Toronto for a post-graduate degree.
“Upon graduating, I got a job in Toronto, got married to my wife Jessie Poh and I've been here ever since.”
Brombacher lives in the downtown core of Ontario’s capital, right smack dab in the centre of the live music scene.
It was there he worked for 20 years in the IT and software industries AND was fortunate to be able retire early a few years back.
Back when Brombacher was still living in the Sault, he hadn’t yet become involved in the music scene.
“I'm very much a late bloomer,” he laughs.
“I didn't pick up a guitar until I was 19. Prior to that, I used to play a harmonica at campfires and parties. It wasn't until I moved to Toronto that I got more seriously involved in the music scene.”
His first 10 years in Toronto were primarily focused on his career which left little time for other pursuits, outside of guitar lessons.
“The live music scene here is very vibrant, especially as far as original music goes,” he says.
“That inspired in me a great desire to put a band together and start writing songs of my own. I put my first band together at age 32. We were called The Septembers and we were primarily a cover band in the classic/hard rock vein. I was the lead guitarist and my songwriting partner Frank Miotto was the lead singer.”
Eventually, The Septembers began writing their own songs, had some personnel changes and morphed into Shattervox, eventually releasing two full-length albums, an EP and several singles.
In 2015, Brombacher decided to 'step up to the microphone' and start singing.
That's when Eric & The Soo was born.
“The band name is an obvious reflection of my love for my hometown and my identity as that ‘guy from the Soo,’ he laughs
With two full-length albums and a bunch of singles, the band is a member of Toronto’s music scene and garnered some interest back in his hometown.
“In March, we recorded four new songs, with producer John Dinsmore, that are all to be released as singles over the course of the next several months,” he says.
“We first recorded [with Dinsmore] back in 2019 which is when we recorded the songs Great Northern Road, Goulais Bay, and Picture. It was a positive experience and John did such an excellent job capturing our sound and mixing the songs perfectly.”
The first of the four new tracks to be released is called, We Will Stay the Same.
It was released with a new music video.
“Our method of recording is very much ‘live off the floor.’
Brombacher says that the live studio approach is key to Eric and the Soo’s sound.
And of course, the lyrical bent often highlights many things Sault Ste. Marie.
“I love the Sault and I'm grateful for having grown up there,” says Brombacher.
“It's very much a part of me. I love coming back, seeing old friends, and of course, visiting my folks.”
Interestingly, Brombacher’s lyrics, even when Sault-specific, have a much wider appeal, much like when an artist like Bruce Springsteen sings about his hometown of New Jersey.
“I write from the heart and I write the truth, so naturally I end up writing about the Sault with pride. I feel like you can write songs with universal themes while simultaneously including local and personal references.”
Brombacher equates the local references to 'Easter eggs' for listeners that are actually from the Sault.
“They add a kind of magic to those not from the Sault. It's okay if the songs have a little bit of mystery. Not every lyric needs to be understood. Rather the song can paint a picture with some of the colours to be filled in by the listeners' imagination. It's especially sweet when a listener asks about one of those references and I have a chance to explain the back story.”
When performing live, Brombacher likes to play up the "northern boy" angle by making a point to say where everyone in the band is from.
“The drummer is from the Sault, bassist from North Bay, lead guitarist/harpist Ken Yoshioka is actually from Tokyo, but get this, he now lives on Algoma Street in Etobicoke. So I play that angle up as well.”
The latest single is unique for Brombacher in that it's the first co-write that he’s done with guitarist Ken Yoshioka.
“Ken's got a wealth of great musical ideas and he wrote all of the music. I wrote the lyrics, and then as a band, we worked on the overall arrangement of the song.
“I feel very fortunate to have these guys working with me,” says Brombacher.
The core members of Eric and the Soo are Brombacher on vocals and acoustic guitar, Ken Yoshioka on lead guitar and harmonica, Tim Bradford on bass guitar and harmony vocals, and Dino Naccarato on drums and percussion.
Whenever he can, Brombacher returns to the Sault.
“I visit regularly as I am very close with my parents. I have a few close friends that I always visit, including friends like Mike Petingola and Derek Turner, and I recently reconnected with Dustin Jones, who was from the neighbourhood I grew up in. It's been inspiring to watch Jones’ development as a musician, creator and producer, and quite frankly a cultural community leader in the Sault,” he says.
“I also recently co-wrote and recorded some songs with Jon Ferguson [formerly with Stiffler's Mom]. I recruited Dino from my own band, and we've formed a side project called Kadelburg, which is named after my Dad's hometown. So it's an all ‘Soo-boy’ garage band trio and it's been a fun outlet when I feel like taking things in a different direction. My ties to the Sault remain strong.”
Listen to Eric and the Soo on all the major streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple, TidalMusic, etc.).