Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ethos Interview (Part 2)

Forming in 2009, Rome based band Ethos consists of Austen Earp (lead vocals, piano, guitar, synthesizer), Matthew Palopoli (lead guitar), Nick Riggs (bass, vocals), and Tribb Robison (drums, percussion). Their latest release, The Evergreen EP, features stripped-down acoustic versions of songs from their 2012 debut release, Vessels, along with a brand new song, the title track "Evergreen." The EP showcase the band's strong songwriting, breathing new life into some of their best songs and ultimately proving how diverse the band can be. 

For the latest on Ethos, check out 

How did you become involved in this crazy world of music?

Earp: I read an interview recently with Tom Morello of ‘Rage Against the Machine’ and when asked a similar question he said that he didn’t really choose music, music chose him. I know it sounds pretty cliché, but when I read that I thought, ‘Yeah, that’s it.’ The four of us share a love for music; listening to it, analyzing it, and creating it. Matt and I began writing music together in 2009, putting a demo together with the hopes of recruiting two more members. After about a year we asked Nick and Tribb to take a listen and they came out to jam. The funny thing is, Matt and I used to joke about how far fetched it was to have them join the band because of how talented they were. We learned we had a lot in common with each other musically, spiritually and personally, and they picked the sound we were going for right up. Not only that, they added something to the music that was missing, and when we began creating brand new music together, something truly incredible started happening. Anyway, I knew at that point that I wouldn’t find another dynamic like the one the four of us had together because Matt and I had spent the last year and a half dreaming about a group in which each member was irreplaceable and essential. I had a lot of faith in the future of this group so I withdrew from the University that I was enrolled at and Matt did too. For me it was all or nothing. If you’ve got a back up plan, you’ll always use it, so for me it was about taking an irreversible step toward the thing I was most passionate about. 

Who are your inspirations and what was the inspiration behind the album?

Earp: I find innovative music really inspirational. Goethe said “we are shaped and fashioned by what we love,” and I think that’s exactly right. I think artists have to be really careful to be inspired by something and not to impersonate it. Personally, I find a lot of inspiration in classical music. Why? Because it’s innovative. It’s timeless. Again, I love anything original, colorful, something that makes me think. I like a lot of rock music that toys with being impressive while maintaining a sense of musical impression. In other words, they don’t take it too far. Everything fits well together without being obnoxious.
The inspiration behind the album itself grew as time went on. We knew that we wanted to write music that had an empathetic relationship with the words, more so than what you would typically hear. We were inspired by this idea that music could create an atmosphere in the listeners’ mind that they can experience vividly. It was really cool too, as the artist, to take part in that experience as well. I listened to the music and wrote the words that it spoke to me. The music itself seemed to draw up personal experiences and emotions within me and that’s what I wrote about. I think that’s really special because it’s also what I hope it does for every other listener. I’m really obsessed, in a way, with creating something that people can get lost in.

Could you tell our readers about the band and what makes you different from other artists? 
Palopoli: Any musician will tell you they’re different from everyone else but have trouble describing why. I think that’s because genres are for listeners; artists just create.
Our sound, like many other bands, is a compilation of the stuff that we all four like to hear in our own stereos, though I think it's safe to say that we all like music that is original and passionate in any sense of the word. Not to sound weird, but we believe that because music is a creation, it comes from the soul--it's a piece of you, which is a piece of something greater, therefore it's special and absolutely has the power to affect another's soul in the same manner it was created. We just want to share who we are and what it’s like to create, and we want it to affect others. In terms of the sound, we have a lot of progressive rock, classical, electronica, hard rock, and metal roots, but we'd like to say our music has a special ‘color’ to it. It's a tight, solid sound, but at the same time it’s earthy and organic.

Tell me about the album?
Riggs: The music itself is a roller coaster ride of extremes, it’s definitely progressive. We created a sound that we thought could change the way people looked at music. The word ethos, after all, means to affect someone through music, so we tried to reflect different moods and ideas that people would identify with. Not that we tried to manufacture something, but it just happened that we were inspired that way. 
The title Vessels coincides thematically with the tone and lyrics of the album. The lyrics sort of revolve around the human condition and the idea that we are hosts for or embody something more powerful than we think. Love, hope, addictions, thoughts, are all powerful things that we become ‘vessels’ for. 

Where was it recorded, who produced it, and how long did the process take?
Riggs: We spent the greater part of 2011-2012 writing and recording this record; about fourteen months. We tracked and mixed it ourselves in our home studio at Austen and Matt’s place, which is a feat that none of us have ever taken on before. It started as a five track EP, and quickly became a nine track LP. We felt compelled to begin recording a full-length only after playing a handful of shows together. It was an idea that was contrary to what most bands do, but we did it that way because we wanted to share something worthwhile and to share passion. We took our time in the studio not only to perfect the parts we were recording (we wrote half of the material in the studio), but to grow closer as a band.

What's in store for the future?
Robison: We can't predict what's in store for us, but for now we’re enjoying the whole journey and looking forward to where it takes us. Writing and playing music is fun for us, so we just want to stay true to ourselves and write music we love. If other people like it, that's even better. We’ve been in the studio for the past month recording an acoustic EP and we’re right in the middle of writing our second full length in the midst of playing some live shows, so we're staying pretty busy. I think each one of us has a few rock n' roll fantasies and big dreams, but most important to us is expression; making music we like and letting that lead us down whatever path we're meant for.

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