Congratulations on the release of To Speak, To Listen. It has definitely exceeded my expectations and from what I’ve read so far, most of your fans share that feeling. You must be thrilled! What was the writing process like for this album? Was it different this time around?
Well first, the response has been amazing. Honestly we weren’t anticipating that. We knew that a lot of our niche fanbase really liked Degeneraterra and got immersed in that, and they had a lot of high expectations and not a lot of hope that we’d exceed them. So it was nice to hear that the hard work that we did kind of translated to those guys. So it’s been awesome. The response has been great! The writing process was actually a little bit different for this record. In previous records, I would sit down with an acoustic guitar and write a bunch of guitar lines and melodies to write the skeletal structures of songs. Then I’ll take them to our drummer and then we’ll kind of hash out the little details to solidify everything. Then we’ll take it to the rest of the guys and they’ll kind of jam their own parts in and we’ll do a little bit of collaborating, and I’ll come to the table with a lot of guitar two ideas, a lot of bass ideas, and we’ll kind of solidify it that way. With To Speak, To Listen, we did a lot of that same process where I wrote everything initially and wrote all the lyrics and the melodies, the bone structures. But the way that we changed it up was that we actually…instead of waiting to do our pre-production until the songs were written, we actually did our pre-production as we were writing the songs. So we would record everything in Pro Tools. We would have all our stuff set up, and we would record drums and guitar live, tracked. And then what we would do is we would have James, Matt, Brandon come in, and we would all collaborate in a room on Pro Tools. We would all plug in and just try a bunch of different things. If something didn’t work, we’d on the spot be like, “Okay, we can hear that this doesn’t work, we know that this needs to be changed,” and we’d change it on the spot. So it was a lot more collaborative process that way and a lot more clarity in the writing.
That collaborative effort can absolutely be heard because you definitely lifted the level of every detail with this album. It’s even more technical than Degeneraterra, and level of complexity in the lyrics and vocals has been lifted as well. Was that a conscious effort or just a natural progression and maturity of the band?
Yes, absolutely. Kind of our mantra in Eidola is just to write music that challenges us, write music that pushes us. Whether that be technically or classically, in terms of trying new meters or trying new, weird key changes we never thought of before, pushing the vocal melodies, trying new riffs and runs. I think all of us on this last cycle made a conscious effort to learn at least one or two new ways of doing something. Like for me vocally, I challenged myself by…I was a lot more R&B focused on this record. I was listening to a ton of 90’s R&B and soul and learning new riffs and runs and ways to do things that I had never really thought of before, ways of pushing myself in the right direction. Same thing with our drummer. He really delved into a lot of rudiments and a lot of different things that he’d never done before. Matt, our screamer\guitar player, he’s just been working his ass off pushing himself to new heights. He picked up some Jon Petrucci material and started learning some more. He’s never been classically trained, he’s self-taught, so with this last record he was like, “Maybe I can learn a little bit, I can learn something new that’ll really challenge me.” And all of us really made that conscious effort to push it in a new direction and like you said, trying to up the ante every time.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is “The Familiar.” Can you share the inspiration for the song and how it fits in with the concept of the album as a whole?
Sweet! I love that song! Yeah, so “The Familiar” kind of has two semblances. So it has a conceptual meaning, and it also has some nods to a Mark Z. Danielewski book series called The Familiar. Mark Z. Danielewski wrote a book called House of Leaves, and he wrote another book called Only Revolutions. They’re both amazing books. I would highly recommend both of them. They really push fiction\non-fictional writing, which I’ve always been interested in and kind of tried to apply to my own writing, so there’s a nod to that, for sure. If you get a chance, definitely check out that series. But the real inspiration from it came conceptually from Paganism. Like really focusing on rituals and a sense of rituals, even in modern day society, whether or not you believe in Wicca or Paganism specifically. There are a lot of these incantations or invocations that people will use, or even mantras in Hinduism that people apply in that context. So it was really focused on that and the protagonist really exploring that. So you get lyrics in the beginning and the chant sung in the middle, “Conjure me, cast a circle, rouse my soul, say my name.” That’s an invocation, straight up. So it definitely focuses on that, and we tried to capture that vibe in the music, too. It’s kind of got a bluesier, but still dynamic vibe. It really sits in a cool pocket. I’m glad you like that one! That one’s been getting some love. That was one of my favorites.
Can you tell us a little bit about the album artwork?
Yeah, absolutely! So we have a friend named Glenn Thomson, and the guy is just amazing. I’ve never met him in person but I’ve always wanted to. He spent some time in Indonesia and a lot of these eastern countries, places I’ve always wanted to go to and explore. He’s just an incredible artist. So the mandala or the yantra that you see on the cover, the actual illustration itself, that’s hand drawn. So he actually did that all completely by hand, not edited whatsoever. You can follow him on Instagram and you can check out his pictures and it shows the picture with the pen right next to it. He’s done some videos where he’s drawing it and the guy is just insanely talented because he can do these really complex geometric patterns that like, takes a computer to do that in a lot of contexts and the guy can just go for days. So we found his art, and he found us randomly. He messaged us and was like, “Hey, I’m a big fan of Degeneraterra. I love the artwork, the concepts, and the music, and would love to do something for you guys in the future.” And we were originally thinking kind of like a shirt idea or something like that, some merchandise. And then he did that piece that’s on the cover. He had already illustrated that. It had been up on his page for a little bit, and I just kept coming back to it, like this thing is f—ing awesome, I need this! So I was like, “Do you sell these? Would you sell me this piece?” And he said he’d sell it to me for x amount of dollars, and it was like no big deal. We’ve paid way more than that for our work in the past, and it was just amazing. Then in the physical CDs, there’s a whole packaging that goes with the concept, which was my conceptualized idea. I did a little bit of graphic design for it originally, putting the universe scapes and stuff in the background, like all those blues and purples, all the colors. And I did the design and our label went and ran it by an actual graphic designer. And he was like, “Yeah, this is good, but…it’s kinda garbage.” [laughs] You know, stuff that maybe people wouldn’t see, but to the trained eye, it’s off. So we paid him to do the layout spread of everything and just kind of make everything really fit aesthetically with each other. So we’re really happy about it, and the vinyls too. It’s kind of coming together with the vinyl printing.
The vinyl have not been released yet, correct?
They’re being printed right now. So we actually just put up a pre-order form yesterday, and we were gonna do a limited run, and they sold out in one day yesterday. They completely sold out so our label was like we gotta print more. We were really, really happy to see that because we’ve been waiting on it forever. Our first week sales end tonight, so it was like a nice extra boost.
If Eidola had a bucket list, what would we find on it?
The bucket list is so long! That’s a really good question. When I was like 15 or 16, I had a bucket list, and I’ve checked pretty much everything off that bucket list at this point. So now at, I turn 26 in 2 days, and I have a whole new bucket list. It’s constantly evolving. So with Eidola, I would say on my bucket list I’d like to see for this band would be a couple venues I’ve played with Dance Gavin Dance that I would love to see Eidola headline at some point with a big audience. Like Union Transfer, I love that venue. The sound is amazing, the crowds are always so much fun. To see Eidola headline a venue like that, or headline Webster Ballroom Upstairs to a sold out room, or even Starland Ballroom. We played there, we opened and played for 2,400 people, and to headline something like that would be just a dream come true. And then in terms of places, I’ve always wanted to tour the UK with this band and there’s a ton of venues out there that I enjoyed playing that I think Eidola would do well at. And then I’ve never been to Japan. I would love to go to Japan. I’ve heard Australia is beautiful, I would love to go there. So those places I would say would be top of the bucket list.
And finally, I always like to ask this question because it really makes you think and stumps a lot of people. If you were to cover any one album in its entirety, what would it be and why?
To cover an album in its entirety? That’s a good question! I can see why it stumps people. Umm…damn you, it’s already stumping me cause I’ve got like 3 in my head that I would want to do! [laughs] This is a really, really good one. I would say probably On Letting Go by Circa Survive would probably be my top album. That album just is a huge reason why I’m here doing this right now because that album just inspired me. It was back in a time where like I could go to shows and it was just magic. I was blissfully ignorant, you know. I didn’t know what it took going into that performance. There was still a magical aspect of it of like how did they do that? How are they playing this well? Or how are they doing this, it’s like a spectacle. Whereas now, I’m like a jaded old man. [laughs] I go to shows and I’m like how can I do that? They’re using that gear and how can I do that for my show? You know, you’re just learning tricks of the trade because you’re just trying to make the best art that you possibly can. I would say On Letting Go just really, really mystified me when I was that age because I came from a background where my dad was listening to hair metal growing up like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, all that stuff. And I kinda got into some weird pop-punk, and it was just like a fleeting phase. And then Circa Survive hit me with those two records, Juturna and On Letting Go, and it just elevated me for sure. It made me want to do this for a living and pursue it as actively as I have. That would be a fun record to cover, too! Anthony just sounds so good on that record. All the guitars are super groovy and spacey and weird. You can tell there’s just so much heart and struggle in that record. With that record Blue Sky Noise, too, they’re shifting because Anthony started having kids at that point. And then meeting him and playing shows with him, like 10 years later, is the most surreal thing I could ever have asked for. I love that guy! He’s a homie now, but back in the day he was my idol 10 years ago. So it’s really cool to see how all that kinda works out.
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