We meet again my friends out there in the 311 universe! I trust you all had an amazing weekend and are ready to take this new week by storm! So let us not delay another moment and start it off right by meeting this weeks 311 fan spotlight – Erik Walder!
Back in the mid 90’s Erik was really into the whole rap/rock genre of music that was happening and it was during that time that he saw the video for “Down” on MTV (back when they actually showed music videos). Erik loved the song and went down to the mall, to a store called Sam Goody’s, and bought the album. “I was really into the alien theme back in those days. I had alien hats, posters, candles, movies, X-Files stuff, etc. As soon as I saw the blue album had alien heads on it, I knew it was a good sign.”
Since then Erik has been to 33 shows and also 1 Nick Hexum Quintet show. This past 311 Day in New Orleans is included in that show tally and he claimed it ranks as one of the happiest moments in his life, behind the day he married his wife Sharon and the day his daughter Maia was born. Erik saw the band this summer in Scottsdale, Arizona and he said it was an amazing experience. “We had planned our family vacation to Arizona, and after we had already booked our flights, 311 announced the summer tour. It was awesome that they were playing the same weekend we were out there. It was awesome to rock out with my wife on the rail, and it was my brother and sister-in-law’s first 311 show ever.”
Erik originates from the Baltimore region and has lived in that area all of his life. He attended Rider University in New Jersey from 1996 to 2001. During that time he was always blasting 311 and it was in his hallway that he met Wayne Slater. “He had room #311 and had a giant blue oval logo sticker on the door number. When I joined a fraternity, I met Ian Silber. Instant friends. He took me to my first show at Asbury Park on 11/11/99. I only had 2 friends that were 311 fans, until my senior year.”
Right before Erik’s final semester at Rider he started collecting live shows and found a website that had bootleg trading. Since Erik didn’t have anything to trade the guy for live 311 shows, he worked out a deal with the guy. “I didn’t have anything to trade, so the guy that ran the site told me to send him a spindle of blank CD-R’s and a money order for return shipping. The only way he would burn me all 83 discs that I requested, was that I had to promise never to sell any of them. I could make as many copies for my friends as I wanted, but I was not allowed to sell them. That’s when I realized that the 311 fan community was something special. I’ll never forget it. I hope that I can find that guy and thank him for feeding my 311 addiction.” If you are out there reading this stranger who helped out Erik, say hello!
Since graduation Erik has been working in his family’s poultry business and he has been there for almost twenty-one years. “I love what I do, and I got to spend more time with my grandparents and my brothers while also learning the right way to do business: honesty and experience go a long way. I’ve tried to keep those same morals and values in all aspects of my life.” Erik met his wife Sharon back in 2002 and they married in 2006. Sharon has been to a few shows (Erik said he thinks her show tally is 4). His daughter Maia is following in dads footsteps and loving 311 just as much as him! “She’s so amazing! I play Stereolithic in my car and she loves to sing along with me. She even asks me to put 311 on instead of Frozen! I can’t wait to take her to her first 311 show one day. She keeps asking when she can go.”
Erik found the Familia on July 14, 2013 and he said his life changed forever because of it. Being from Baltimore, Erik is a Orioles and Ravens fan, and 311 never had any themed shirts for the teams. Erik found a way to make his own by creating custom jerseys with 311 on them. It was thanks to this that he found the Familia. Erik had attended an O’s game and the next day his friend messaged him asking if he had seen the photo of him on the Familia page. Erik said he asked, “What’s Familia?” His friend Chris Sabol added him to the group and he saw the photo that someone took of him, and it had 133 likes and tons of comments. Since then Erik has met amazing people through the group and he said some of the people know him better than his non-311 friends.
If you are friends with Erik you know that he loves to grill. While he says he doesn’t really have any special talents, he does try to always look at the bright side of things, no matter how bad a situation may be. He always tries to keep himself level-headed. “In times of trouble, everyone joins a team.” He collects 311 posters as a hobby and he loves to trade them (you can find him posting often on the 311 Trading Post). “I love to see all the great art that 311 inspired. Even fan art is awesome. There are so many talented people out there. It’s just amazing.”
There isn’t one 311 song that particularly means the most to Erik because he said each one has a different meaning to him at different points in his life. Although he mentioned he’s been on a non-stop Stereolithic kick since it was released. “I’ve been saying it over and over again that this album has the potential to be one of the most important albums that I have ever heard in my entire life. There’s just so much meaning in the lyrics, and it really describes how my life has been going in the last few months.” Erik has a lot of quotes from songs that he likes. One in particular is “I always say what I feel and that is a promise. Nothing in life is above being honest.” If you want to see more, just check out his Facebook profile if you friends! There are some great ones listed there!
Erik’s message to the band is simply this: “Thank you for combining many different types of music to create such a unique sound. The lyrics speak to me more than any other artist or group out there. I could listen to the entire 311 discography and never get bored.”
To every fan out there in 311 land: “I always knew that the 311 community was full of great people. After I joined the Familia last year, my assumptions were correct. I’ve met some great friends who share the same love of a band as I do. Lifelong friendships formed because of a band! Can you believe that? “In the comfort of strangers, you don’t see the danger of just letting it flow. This I know.
There you have it folks – you have met Mr. Erik Walder! I hope you appreciate and enjoyed his story. Oh and before I go, Erik’s birthday is this Wednesday July 30th, so make sure you leave him some birthday love in the comment section!
Until our next encounter, just remember…”There’s a door open to walk through, all I want is, just beyond…”
Love you all! – The Runt