Once again, it's time to present another exciting band from Maryland. Since over 30 years the MD/DC area is a source for authentic heavy music.Long before fucked-up trends as "stoner" had seen the face of this earth, the Sabbath-influenced musicians of Maryland gave a shit about those terms and they still do. Here we have one of the newer heavy original MD bands, but of course with some veterans in the line-up. EARTHRIDE have released this year the highly recommandable full-length "Taming of The Demons" on Southern Lord and so it was time for me to talk with drummer Eric Little about the new album and other stuff.
Hello, Eric! It's great to welcome the next Maryland-based band here in Cosmic Lava. Let's start directly with the short history of the band. When did you decide to start with EARTHRIDE? Was it right after you left Internal Void? Please, give us some details about the band's history.
I started EARTHRIDE in 1997, four years after Internal Void. I formed the band in 1997, with myself, Joe and Kyle. We we're writing originals and learning how to work with each other as a band. David Sherman, an old and very good friend asked if we needed a vocalist so, I played him a demo and we started to work from there.
I've never heard before from guitar-player Kyle Vansteinburg and bass-player Joe Ruthvin. Have they played in other bands before EARTHRIDE?
Kyle played in some underground doom projects and Joe played in a few Maryland hardcore bands but, neither we're involved with any labels.
I think, that EARTHRIDE has some kind of a "biker-attitude" ( the name and the lyrics of the same-titled song). Is anyone of the members a biker and, if so do you have contacts to any motorcycle club's?
I wouldn't consider Kyle and I bikers but, we own BSA choppers but, not part of any motorcycle clubs but, there are some hardcore biker clubs in the area.
One of the trademarks of EARTHRIDE is the combination of the ultra-heavy , dirty and massive sound and this interesting variations of fast or mid-tempo themes that are changing into mind-blowing slow parts . Where do you rehearse and how often ? Is the whole band involved in the process of writing a new song ?
We rehearse at Kyle's place and we rehearse long hours a couple times a week and located in the mountains of Western MD which gives us a good atmosphere for writing our material. Kyle & Joe wrote the music for the EP and Dave and I wrote the lyrics but, the full length's music was mainly written by Kyle and as for the lyrics I wrote four songs and Sherman wrote three.
In 2000 you have released your self-titled debut CD-EP and I have to admit that it's still one of the outstanding releases in all this flood of releases I've listen to this and the last year. The songs are fantastic and very variable, the production is thick and it's obvious to see (or better to hear) that, although EARTHRIDE is a new name on the map the band's a strong musical force and unit. So, how were the responses for the self-titled 4-song CD you've released ?
We sold a good amount of the CD's to CD distributors and online record stores but, we've sold a good amount at the show's we've been playing.
The EP has an absolutley powerful production. You worked together with Chris Kozlowski at the legendary Polar Bear Lair Studio, where other bands that are also coming out of the Maryland area have recorded their albums. Was Chris the first choice as a producer and how long took the whole recording and mixing process?
Chris was the first choice for our producer. To be honest, the EP took one day to record and one day to mix.
The layout assembly of the CD was done by I.V. guitarist Kelly Carmichael. Are you still in contact with the guys from I.V. and how do you remember the days with Internal Void?
Yes, I am still in contact with Kelly and the guys in I.V., the memories are, of course good, I mean, we did tour with Vitus in the states and that would be intense for any band, in my opinion. Also, playing with The Obsessed & Pentagram in MD and DC was an intense experience.
There's another question I like to ask you about the cover-artwork. You haven chosen an old picture of Albrecht DÃ¼rer which is showing the four horsemen. What does it mean to you ? Is it just a cool cover or is there any kind of philosophical connection with the so-called modern world for you?
If your familiar with the book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Holy Bible, I guess you could get from it what you will. Once again speaking of Bible scripture and the bleak realities of the earth, I guess it's all in personal interpretations.
Let's talk about the lyrics of the songs. Let's start with the track 'Earthride'. It's like a hommage to nature and motorcyles. The lyrics of 'Black ' reminds me to old horror-stories. There's one track named "Enter Zacfreyalz"(although this song is an instrumental!) . What the hell is "Zacfreyalz" ? At least, there's 'Weak End' (nice title!). What story is behind this lyrics and how important are the lyrics for your songs and who is responsible for them?
The track 'Earthride' is a song full of symbolism, which is about a human's inner fight with realities around them. The biker reference is to express an intense journey just as life is intense. 'Black' is just as you said, a horror story with apocalyptic undertones. 'Zacfreyalz' is a made up word, it means the state of entering a certain mood when we all use to get stoned. 'Weak End' is an anti-suicide song. Sherman wrote that song and it's an intense subject matter and wasn't meant to offend but might be misinterpreted. The lyrics are what I said about and very important.
You've released the MCD on your own label Earth Brain Records.Is it a real label and are there maybe more releases planned for the future?
As for the label Earth Brain Records, it was a way to release our first project but, not a real label and, no, there are no releases coming out.
Now, in May 2002 EARTHRIDE has finally released the excellent and long-awaited debut full-length 'Taming of the Demons' on Southern Lord. At first, it seems as if Tee Pee would release the album, but then you've chosen Greg's Southern Lord label.What was the reason for it?
Well, there are a few reasons for our choice one Southern Lord could release the CD earlier than Tee Pee and It seems they were much more enthusiastic. It hasn't anything to do with Tee Pee's products Tony runs a tight label with a great looking product but it seemed to work out better with Greg at Southern Lord.
As the EP you've recorded the album again together with Chris at the Polar Bear Liar Studio. I think, this time the recording sessions last a bit longer as for the EP.How much time have you spent for the recording and mixing process. Was the whole band involved and are you satisfied with the result?
It took about 40 to 45 hours. The entire band took part in the production mixing process.
Who's responsible for the cover-artwork?
Steve O'Malley is responsible for the concept, logo and design. It was his idea to put the Durer art work over the silhouette and to intertwine the lettering with the photos. He did a damn good job and we are very happy with it.
For me, your sound is more weighty and heavier as on the EP but still very emotional and there's more groove in it. How would you compare the EP with the album, soundwise?
Well, we spent a lot more time on the recording process on the full length. We think it has a better quality of sound than the EP but I can't really compare them because to me the EP stands alone as it's own entity. I hope if you listen to them back to back that it's two different experience's and they compliment each other.
How old are the songs on the album?
All the songs were written between spring 2000 and spring 2001.
Let's go more into the details about the tracks. What is the title track 'Taming Of The Demons' about? Is it a description about human's inner struggle against themselves...something like the taming of the demons within to find some peace of mind?
Well, Taming is about inner struggle against yourself influenced by demonic forces I guess it is up to the individual if demons are used as a metaphor in this song. Satan is here.
I think, the opener "Volume 10" is about the love of playing music.Am I right, or what is the story behind it?
Valiume 10 which was misspelled on the promo is a word made up of two words. Volume and valium, it is to express music as a dose of diazepam to relieve tension and anxiety. In easy words rock "n" roll keeps us from going crazy. I also think that it expresses how the style of music that we play remains original and uninfluenced by other styles. We didn't create this style but we express in this song that we want to respect what it is and to recognize the characteristics of the genre.
With 'Mr Green', you've got a song that is in the tradition of Sabbath's 'Sweet Leaf', lyric-wise. What does it mean for the band to smoke weed? Is it very important for you?
Mr. Green is about many things from government to money or drugs to your self-conscious, it's is a song full of symbolism it depends on the individual.
As far as I've understood the lyrics of 'Under a Black Cloud', it's about misfortune in life but with the reason to grow stronger instead of giving up? Please, explain us the story of it?
Well, you never want to give up but Black cloud seems to relate to every one. We have learned 99% of the things we know from living people be it true or false or undecided. If we disagree or feel differently about a subject of feel that it is wrong it is based on knowledge we also learned from another human. The viscous cycle that is with us throughout our life was giving the title of the black cloud. If this explanation doesn't make sense listen to the song and maybe you can figure it out.
Then there are at least 'For Mere Remains', the fast and thunderous 'Train Wreck' and 'Deception'. What are they about?
For mere remains is a song about endtimes and as for Train wreck and Deception they are about the current condition of our planet. Once again these songs could effect people in different ways. I think to much explanation could pull you away from what the individual brings with them in their brain when they hear this CD for the first time.
The album closes with an untitled instrumental noisy track. Is it more meant as a joke and when have you recorded it?
It could be a joke or a twisted example of someone's demons, it's disturbing in a way. We recorded it after we were done the final mix. It's Chris Kozlowski being creative.
I've mentioned in two questions above the overwhelming wall of sound of EARTHRIDE. On your website you say that you're use Matamp's and I've seen Orange amps on pics of this years Emissions. What kind of equipment and instruments does everyone of the band use? What kind of cymbals do you use, Eric?
Well, we use Orange, Matamp, Sound City and Mesa Boogie amps. Matamp, Orange, Sunn, Ampeg and Sound City cabinets. Pearl drums and a mixture of Sabian and Zildian cymbals
You've played on the Emissions of the Monolith festival this year and as far as I know, some other shows in Washington DC. What do you think about these festivals ?Do you play a lot of gigs ?
I think the festivals are great for exposure and we usually get a good response and we always get a great response at the gigs in DC and Baltimore.
One of the typical questions that I've to ask every band, that comes out of the MD/DC area is about the connection between all the old and new bands/musicians. I think there's no other place on this earth where you find so much high-quality Heavyrock bands. What do you think about it and is there maybe a special reason for all this inspiring relations between mostly all musicians that are living in MD/DC?
I haven't a clue why bands in this genre evolve from the MD/DC area but, musicians don't interact as much now as in the past but, of course, we are influenced by much of the same music.
What are the band's plans for 2002 ? Is is possible that you come over to Europe and will you release more stuff like shirts etc.?
Our plans for 2002 are to play lots of gigs and write new material. (2002 is half over)... We will have new merchandise and hopefully we will reach Europe.
Thanks a lot for the answers. I hope I see EARTHRIDE soon in Germany, maybe with one of the other great MD bands.Is there anything you like to say at least?
In closing, I'd like to say Thank You for the interview and sorry it took so long to answer.