Bassist for the funk band Lettuce and accomplished studio musician Erick “Jesus” Coomes earned a degree from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in the mid-90s. Over the past couple of decades, he’s honed his craft to become one of the most prolific bass players out there. His brother, producer Tycoon, has multiple platinum hits and works with some of the most successful people in the industry, including Ron Fair, Diane Warren and Dr. Dre. Coupled with their musician father, who essentially came up with “Jesus music,” it’s truly a family affair.
As he was getting ready for his set at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where Lettuce was joined by special guests Ghostface Killah, J-Rocc of The Beat Junkies, The Meters’ George Porter, Jr. and Cyril Neville, Coomes was able to take a few minutes to talk about his incredible journey. Dressed in a tie-dyed t-shirt and a hat that read “Jesus,” he spoke candidly about his experiences working with Snoop and everyone in between. In true Jesus form, he’d routinely show up at Snoop’s studio wearing a turban he had worn to his yoga class and freak everyone out.
“[I did that] on purpose, totally [laughs],” Coomes says. “What’s cool about people in the music scene is you can be yourself. Every night, I’m seeing everyone being themselves and doing what they want, so I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to rock this turban [laughs].’ I remember wearing it a bunch of times. I’d wear it over and over.”
While most people would likely lose their cool in the presence of the almighty Doggfather, Coomes was just enjoying the music making process.
“Snoops awesome,” he says. “He and my brother tried to smoke each other under the table. It was awesome. I didn’t smoke weed at the time and we were working on Anthony Hamilton’s record at the time. Snoop had signed Latoya Williams – bad ass singer. She was doing a guest spot on Anthony’s first record, My First Love.”
As he continued to talk about that experience, he got choked up for a second thinking about how much he loves the position he’s in. It’s been a long road, but his path was seemingly carved out for him early on.
“My father is in the music business,” he explains. “He was a record producer and had me in the studio when I was really young, and my brother plays drums. For the first 12 years of my life, I was looking for an instrument. I was trying everything. I would sing in my crib. My dad has recordings of me writing little songs. I’d been trying to find a voice. My jazz band teacher pretty much made me play bass. I had tried a lot of instruments. My family being musical saw me play at the jazz concert and they were all excited. I guess I was good at it.”
With his humility intact, Coomes has been able to manifest one of the most incredible careers any aspiring musician could ever dream of and do it all with a smile on his face. Considering how he was raised, it’s not surprising he’s so congenial.
“My dad has the biggest heart ever,” he says. “I don’t want this to come off wrong, but they were hippies early on and I think that affected their version of Christianity. ‘God is love’ is a really big part of it. It’s not a negative vibe. He’s like a musician hippie that is also into church, so he’s spreading love with acoustic guitar and his voice. He’s so excited.”
From working with Eminem on 2009’s “Crack A Bottle” to studio work with Britney Spears, Coomes is living the dream, especially on the road. Night after night, he gets to hit the stage with some of his closest friends as a member of Lettuce. Music is the unifying force that keeps them going, but he admits it can get intense in the studio.
“We might passionately scream at each other, but in a good way,” he says. “We’re not talking to the person – we’re talking to the force of music going through you and trying to get the music right. Obviously you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings – feelings are important, but the music is pretty important too.