CULTURE- FRIDAYS UPDATE Staying fresh: Mixing influences with pure originality

When Eli Cook released Electric Holy Fire Water in 2006, he was 20 years old and had already figured out how to put a clever new spin on an old musical form. Although his earlier acoustic album had been relatively traditional, working with a band prompted him to reach out into the '90s alt-rock canon to grab whatever bits of Alice In Chains and Soundgarden weren't already being reconstituted elsewhere. It was a rock record by a blues musican, in other words, and one that stubbornly refuses to this day to draw lines between its two primary sources of inspiration.

Cook says he's already found a new direction for the project, though, and it involves the ass you're probably sitting on at this very moment. "People can move to it. It's a little funkier than we've been in the past year," he says, "still heavy, but with a little more 1970's heavy rock influence, like Sly Stone or Funkadelic."

Without all the fixins, at least– "The overall presentation is still very much three-piece grungey power trio," says Cook. "We don't have the means to present a Curtis Mayfield full-band thing."

So don't expect an enormous horn section, in other words. You will, however, get bassist Eric Yates and drummer Jordan Marchini, the latter the drummer from local Goth-rock success story Bella Morte. Cook doesn't claim to be rolling that into the mix– yet– but at this rate, he'll have a few other musical traditions whipped into his stew by the time we talk to him next time around.

"In my car, I have Sly Stone and Alice In Chains and the latest Metallica album and Black Sabbath and Curtis Mayfield and CSNY," says Cook. "I try to make sure I don't listen to too much of one thing. It's important to try to incorporate everything you can, or else how are you going to be original today, when so many things have been done?"

Well, at least we can name one guy who doesn't have that problem.

Eli Cook performs at Fridays After Five at 5:30pm on May 2.