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ERIC FLEISHMAN is not your typical rock guy. A personal trainer by day; a lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for his band 98 lb. WEAKLING by night; He puts to rest the myth of the scrawny out of shape rocker who get lost in the quagmire of cigarettes, booze and illicit substances

So why are we doing a story about him and his band? Because 98 lb. WEAKLING are on the verge  (at press time) of releasing their EP BERLIN exclusively on the internet through SOVEREIGN ARTISTS RECORDS and their internet division SOVEREIGN DIGITAL in November 2005. Currently, the track from BERLIN “LIVE FOREVER” is slated to be the theme song for the upcoming DISCOVERY HEALTH reality series THE GYM.

ROCKWIRED spoke with ERIC on a sunny Thursday afternoon. Here’s how it went.

What are your thoughts on music being exclusively available through the internet?
I think it’s great. It’s the wave of the future and it’s really exciting. I think that having limited editions and limited time periods for different releases is good because it gets people to go to all these different sites that are out there. The band and I are really excited to be teamed up with i-Tunes for the initial release of BERLIN because they’re the largest and the most powerful of these on-line sites. They’ve done a lot for the band especially with this thing that they’re calling the ROCKER PHONE which is available through CINGULAR and MOTOROLA. In fact, when people go to a CINGULAR store to purchase an I-POD telephone, people at the store use our music to demonstrate how the technology works. It’s really cool!

You’re a personal trainer yet a lot of the songs from BERLIN sound a little self-deprecating. Do you care to explain?
Fitness and music are my two loves in life. All of my time is spent doing either one of the two. I love playing and writing music. It’s a real cerebral thing and being a personal trainer is real physical thing and I think it’s great that I’ve got a passion for both. They even each other out. A lot of my clients don’t know that I’m in a rock band and people in the music world always wonder why I’m in such good shape. They’re two very different worlds.

How did 98lb. WEAKLING begin?
I was living in New York City and I was later lured out to California by the beautiful women and the beautiful weather. I began writing music and met up with a friend of mine who is a drummer and came up with the idea of forming a band. We got in touch with NATE who is the bass player and started playing a few shows and they went really well. After that we decided to get another guitar player and see where this whole thing could go. We got a hold JEURG who had just left the band LIFEHOUSE after a two year tour. That’s how the whole thing got started.

NATE is from a hair metal band. (NATE is from the band WARRANT) Did you ever have any hair metal aspirations of your own?
No. I grew up in Maine and the music there is really bad. Growing up, it was ANNE MURRAY and FREE BIRD over and over again. If you go up there now I guarantee you that it’s still playing. I think they just got the first ever STAR WARS in the local movie theater. It’s really behind the times. I remember the first music that I came into on my own were bands like THE REPLACEMENTS and THE POLICE. I had no idea it was stuff that was recorded ten years earlier.

How has touring been for a band a relatively new as 98lb. WEAKLING?
Touring has been great. It’s been a real surprise. We’re not a famous band at all yet we get such a reaction from the audience. We’ve toured Texas, Alabama, Utah and Nevada. We love what we do and I think it comes through and it’s really infectious and people respond and connect to it. We’ve played at BORDERS acoustically and at large venues electrically. We’re never to proud to play anywhere. I remember being in Alabama and we were at an IHOP at 1AM and everyone in the restaurant went crazy, because they had seen us on the news earlier. We signed the menu and they tacked it to the wall and for a brief moment we were celebrities in this small town in Alabama.

You always hear nightmarish stories about touring. It doesn’t sound like that’s the case with you guys.
We’ve been fortunate so far. We’re actually looking forward to doing a lot more touring.

How did the bands association with SOVEREIGN ARTISTS begin?
I was working in the gym and I knew this musician who was a banjo player named HERB PETERSON. This guy has played with people like LUCINDA WILLIAMS, THE EAGLES and THE BYRDS so I gave him some music to listen to. He liked it and wanted to record some stuff with us. We tuned our instruments to G to match up with the tuning of his banjo and what we recorded sounded great. He introduced us to his record company which was SOVEREIGN ARTISTS and we got signed to their on-line division SOVEREIGN DIGITAL.

With the band focused on releasing a string of EP’s via the internet is there an LP in the works?
There is an LP in the works. It’s going to be a culmination of all three EP’s.

 Would you think of your selves as an album band or a singles band?
Because of my work schedule, I think I have tendency to write more singles. I work in a sweaty gym all day for about 12 hours a day. Nothing is more relaxing than getting into my pajamas and strumming an acoustic guitar. That’s where the songs come from. I can write a song on Monday, get together with the band and play it on Friday in a night club with people jumping around and going crazy.

What are your plans for the moment?
We’ve just finished four new tracks that are going to be licensed to film, most likely. If anybody wants to find out more, they can go to our website at www.98lbweakling.com. It’s a great site! Please check it out.