|"This whole record is going to the shrink to figure out what's happened to me." Singer, songwriter, rapper, survivor: Everlast--a/k/a Whitey Ford, a/k/a Erik Schrody--is talking about his new album, Eat At Whitey's. "Before I had my heart attack and surgery, you couldn't have told me I was gonna have a career anymore. I had quit a very popular band. I didn't know what I was gonna do. I blinked my eyes, it's two and a half years later...and I'm where I am right now." Where is that? First, Everlast is looking back with pride on his acclaimed solo debut Whitey Ford Sings The Blues and its Grammy-nominated smash single "What It's Like". He's coming off months of live gigs, including his first headlining solo shows and a major U.S. tour with Santana. He's living with a new faith since converting to Islam in 1997, and with a new outlook since his near-fatal heart attack in 1998. And he's celebrating a new album that contains his most soulful and sophisticated music to date. Erik "Everlast" Schrody was born August 18, 1969, on Long Island, New York, but has lived virtually his whole life in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. He sporadically attended Taft and Canoga Park High Schools, where his consciousness was altered permanently by Run-DMC's debut album. Recruited into Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate posse, he released his first album Forever Everlasting in 1990. "I thank God every day that record flopped," Erik later told Spin. "I could have been Vanilla Ice, dude. Then it really would have been over." In fact, it had just begun. Everlast split with his label and founded House Of Pain, whose rowdy brand of Irish-American hip hop struck platinum with their self-titled debut album. Same As It Ever Was (1994) went gold, but by 1996, Everlast had had enough. He quit the group on the release date of their third album. The next two years were a time of dwindling funds and broken romance. Out of this blue period came the career-saving album Whitey Ford Sings The Blues, but the effort nearly cost Everlast his life. On the last day of recording, he was rushed to the hospital with a torn aorta. Today, an artificial valve ticks within his torso. But you can't keep a good man down. "As soon as I was done making the last record, I was out there supporting it," Erik recalls. "That was like my rehab. It kept my mind off all the drama and just allowed my body to start getting better. Whereas when I sat down to make this record, I had time to reflect and think like, 'wow, that was crazy'--meaning the whole journey up until now." In 1999, Everlast released the 5-track EP Today, featuring the Santana collaboration "Put Your Lights On" and a smoldering live version of John Lee Hooker's "Blues For Xmas". "Put Your Lights On", written and sung by Everlast, went on to win the Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group for Santana's album Supernatural. "Right now, as dark as Eat At Whitey's is, my life is wonderful," says Everlast in summation. "I've had tremendous success. I've been able to work with incredible people, including some of my idols."