Photo credit: Ian Christmann.
Later on this year, Earthside will be releasing their debut album. Eager to find out more about the band, we caught up with drummer Ben Shanbrom for an insight into the band. Check it all out below!
Can you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about the band?
Despite being what many people would call a “new band,” the core of what Earthside is has existed for close to a decade. We’ve gone through a couple bass players (bizarre gardening accidents don’t just happen in movies…) and some different names, but after all this time, it finally feels like we’ve executed the truest vision of our sound—a modern, artistic band that vigorously refuses classification and pushes emotion to the forefront—which is something we miss in a lot of current music.
We recently recorded our debut album with David Castillo (Opeth, Katatonia, Bloodbath) and Jens Bogren (Opeth, Soilwork, Devin Townsend) in various parts of Sweden, which was an incredible experience. These gentlemen helped us truly hone our sound from a bunch of stupidly ambitious demos into a really moving beginning-to-end experience.
How did you get started?
As hinted earlier, Jamie van Dyck (guitars), Frank Sacramone (Keyboards), and I started off playing together early in high school as a band that made much weirder music—we’ve always had that “we don’t care—we’ll do it any way” spirit, but we’ve honed that defiance over time into a more cohesive, yet still very eclectic vision. We used to do a lot of things for shock value, but now we always ask—“what does this part add,” or “how can we make this better?”
Ryan Griffin, our bass player, joined us right around the time we shifted gears to our current sound and officially became Earthside. His groovy, percussive playing and gorgeous, flowing locks cemented this new identity.
Who are your influences and role models?
When asked this question, a lot of bands list groups they want to be compared to or aspire to reach the prestige of—in our case there is really no simple answer for this. We don’t want to be “the next (insert band here)” or another “for fans of XYZ;” we want to tread our own path and ultimately break down the barrier that keeps art music from reaching many people it could strongly resonate with.
There are a lot of modern bands we deeply respect, but there are no idols in our camp—just personal tastes and inspirations, which are VERY diverse, and I think say a lot in describing the open-mindedness of this project. I will preface this list by saying that we are not “trolling.”
The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza
Tower of Power
Three 6 Mafia (their keyboard production and beats are SICK)
No, seriously, I’m not kidding.
Later this year you’ll be releasing your debut album. Can you describe your writing and recording process?
Writing a mountain of material and arbitrarily picking “only the best songs” has never made sense to us. We always prefer to work with fewer ideas, but to really take our time with them and make sure every moment has a purpose and communicates exactly what we intended. This was the slow and agonizing process we chose (laughs).
We write both as a collective in practices and individually with our own brainchild songs. This diversity in composition is clearly reflected in the final product—no two songs on the record sound alike, and that’s exactly how we like it. Some songs are instrumental, some have really tremendous vocals performed by some of our favourite singers, some tracks have orchestra, and others feature gorgeous ethnic instruments. It’s a sprawling sound collage, united by a singular creative drive.
A real challenge was finding a producer who was comfortable taking on such an intense workload and managing a project with so many unconventional parameters. David Castillo immediately stood out to us as the prime candidate for the role with the incredible work he had done with Katatonia and Opeth and his genuine enthusiasm for what we were doing. In every way he put his heart and soul into this project, just as we did. He also creates a very relaxed and productive atmosphere where creativity can really flourish.
What has been your best experience in the industry so far?
Thus far, travelling to Sweden to work with these incredible people and really experiencing a different way of life over there tops it for us. People are interesting in Northern Europe—there’s so much talent, but almost everyone is humble. Swedes can come off a little cool when you first meet them, but once they get to know you, they become very friendly and this goofy, mischievous side comes out. Our drum tech told us to walk around Stockholm saying “jävla fågelholk” to everyone we met—there were some funny looks for sure. It’s also such a beautiful part of the world; one can’t help but feel inspired when taking in its grandeur.
Also the very positive responses we’ve gotten from people across the industry have been very rewarding. We can’t wait to unveil the full scope of what we’ve done.
What’s the most difficult thing about the industry?
I think a major challenge for bands today, whether they’re signed or totally DIY, is the fact that more than ever before, your group has to be masters of every aspect of the operation. The “I just want to write and play” mentality is truly a thing of the past. You have to be able to run your show seamlessly on the technology end, you have to have a keen understanding of social media and online marketing, you have to be logistical experts, and you have to play manager/booking agent in a number of situations, especially earlier in the game. Labels and many of the big industry players want to see a lot of this stuff before they cast their chips, and that can be really hard for a band, especially a group that wants to break from the norm.
And finally what’s Earthside’s plans for the rest of 2015?
2015 is definitely going to be an important year for us. Right now we’re currently in the midst of a couple PR campaigns that will transition soon after to full on promotion of our debut album, A Dream In Static, which will be coming out later this year.
In this time we will be playing out extensively and launching a lot of interesting new content for everyone to check out, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.