Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ethos Interview with Austen Earp

Several months ago, a friend of mine suggested that I check out a band that was quickly gaining recognition that from a town near where I went to college in North Georgia. The band was Ethos. Immediately I found myself drawn in by their heavy mixture of modern, electronic sounds with classical sounds.  With such a diverse sound combined with honest and meaningful lyrics, Ethos seems to have something for everyone. This band really has the potential to be great, and I am really look forward to their release of Vessels, this summer(2011).  
For the latest news on Ethos, check out their FaceBook Page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/ethosATL
Cliche one, where did the name Ethos come from? Is there a story how it was chosen?
Actually, I really love telling this story because the name is so much a part of our music. Matt and I were sitting in Music History (before we were music school drop outs) learning about ancient Greek music and the idea of “ethos,” which is the power of music to influence or move people in a very real way. At the time, it was just the two of us and I said to him, “That’s perfect! That’s what we want to do right?” We were already so in love with the idea of writing music that made an impact and unlocked some of the mysteries of music and sound. So that was it. No questions asked. We were Ethos.
How did the project begin? How did the group assemble?
Matt and I met in College. I had been in several local bands in the area but was hungry for something different. Matt sought me out, we had English together. He wanted to “jam” and that terrified me because that idea is always so awkward. What if you don’t like them or they suck, you know?Anyway, we locked in perfectly. I showed him a few things I had started writing on the piano and he picked it right up. When I wrote them I couldn’t even picture any electric guitar but what he played was perfect. We finally picked up Nick and Tribb after a year and a half. We had recorded a demo, just the two of us, and were sending it to locals, trying to get people to audition and after Nick heard it he brought Tribb in to audition. They had been playing together for over eight years or something stupid like that. They’re like Siamese twins. I’ve never seen anyone pick that kind of music up that fast. It’s funny because Matt and I used to joke about having them join our band cause they were way too talented.
What can people expect when they see you live?
I’ll tell you what I expect of myself, maybe that will help. First and foremost, I hope people hear incredible musicianship. We may not be jumping off of amps and swinging microphones around our heads, but we’ll be delivering top notch sonics every time. We’re musicians, that’s what it’s about for us; sound. The performance side of it really involves four guys connecting their hearts to their instruments. In my opinion, people connect to that more strongly than the showy stuff. Our stuff is fast-paced, catchy, and new. It makes us want to move.
Who are some bands/artists that you have looked up to in the past, in terms of stage presence?
That question is tough for me because I have my head in so many different places musically. I saw Muse in Cincinnati last year and was blown away by the amount of visual aesthetics they tie into their live show. On the other hand, Thrice puts on a really great, raw, rock performance. They’re not trying too hard, you can tell they just enjoy doing what they’re doing. As far as front men go, Freddie Mercury has to be my the top in my book. He was alive and real on stage, not to mention he was an incredible musician. You can’t look at him without knowing he was born to do it. I admire that because it demands your attention, you can’t ignore truth.
How does the writing process normally pan out for you guys? Is it a collaborative effort?
It’s definitely collaborative. Sometimes Matt and I will studio write a whole idea and bring it to the other guys. Other times we all just end up jamming on a riff we discovered while warming up. Either way, we end up tearing our ideas apart over and over again before we’re through with them. Once we like the structure, we throw some scratch tracks down in the studio and I write vocals. A lot of people ask how we come up with this riff or that concept and the only thing I can say is that we take praying about this process pretty seriously. I don’t think we’ve written a single song that wasn’t God-breathed.
How do you see your faith impacting your music?
My faith has everything to do with everything I do. You can’t separate that. A lot of people ask if we’re a Christian band and I tell them no. We don’t correspond with that genre of music and to be honest, I think that a lot of bands that do are sub-par and I’m not the only one. Labels like that mean 10 different things to 10 different people so I try to avoid branding as much as possible.Is God the driving force behind this group? Absolutely. Matt and I dropped out of school to chase this dream, probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s okay because God is preparing every step of the way. We’ve been through some crazy times as a group and none of it is coincidence. I believe we were all created with gifts and purpose and this is mine. That fact is still crazy to me. I’m just a guy, you know? I’m not Beethoven. I hadn’t even sung before except for in Church when I was a kid, or whatever, but I wasn’t particularly good. Actually, I sucked. I was a classical pianist. But I knew I had to become the lead singer for this thing, I just knew. So I started praying real hard about it. I’ve become completely committed to this idea. There is no other option in my mind. I believe that kind of commitment demands success because no amount of failure can stifle that.
How has the recording process for the upcoming album been? Who have you been working with?
It’s been really great. You hear things differently when you record. Writing is definitely my favorite part of being a musician and there’s nothing like sitting back and listening to something you’ve written and saying, “Wow! That’s pretty good.” This whole thing is being produced by us. That’s why it’s taking a bit longer than most bands our age tend to take. We’ve got a home studio. It’s humble, but it does the job. We decided we didn’t want to put out an OK demo or EP with 3-5 songs; We wanted people to hear more than that. Our stuff is hard to sum up like that. We wanted to put something out that we could be really proud of and that would be a little crazier than typical. So we raised some money and bought some more gear and I taught myself how to use Logic. I’ve been working part time just so I can spend more time producing. It’s definitely time consuming and I don’t really know a thing about it but that just leaves more room for God to do something insane.
Who are some of your bigger influences right now?
Classical composers have always been a huge influence for me, that won’t change. Chopin is probably number one, followed very closely by Beethoven. They were both so innovative. I like innovative music. I don’t care what kind of music you write as long as you’re doing something different and you pull it off. Today’s music gets really messy because up and coming artists see the success of another artists’ idea and try to ride off of it. I totally disagree with that concept. Then this question becomes “who do you steal most of your ideas from?” Goethe said, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.” And so to answer your question, I’m really digging Thrice, Brand New, and Karnivool right now. Circa Survive’s “Blue Sky Noise” has also been on my iPod. People tend to hear a lot of Muse in my writing but I think what they actually hear is the classical influence. Belamy and I both share a classical background. I love Muse, they’re phenomenal, but I don’t want to play their music. Same with any other artist. I want to offer the world something it never had, I want to create my own unique sound.
Do you have a time frame for the release of the album?
We’ve set Summer 2011 as our goal. It’s all self-produced so that complicates things, especially when you’ve never done anything like this before. We’ll post a date as we get closer to wrapping it up. What that means is, it will probably be near the end of summer. Like August or September.
How important is social networking/media for bands like yourselves?
It was huge for us. You’re looking at a band that started with two guys recording tracks in a home studio with over a three thousand plays on myspace and several hundred facebook fans at the time. We didn’t play live but people knew our music. We were together for over a year and a half before we ever played live, but people were singing along at our first show. Even now, people love being able to keep up with what we’re doing in the studio or what our next big move is. I think people like being a part of the process. In fact, I don’t think it would be possible for us to release a self-produced album as an unsigned band without the online distribution that social-media networks offer.
Any shows coming up?
We’ve got a few shows booked for the summer. We’re mostly focusing on recording but I’m itching to perform so we’re going to do as much of that as we can too.
Perfect day, driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to?
“The Devil and God...” by Brand New.


  1. This is great! I'm so proud of you!

  2. I bet if you broke out those songs that me and you recorded that one time then people would REALLY be impressed. That's probably what got you started. You're welcome.

    Your long lost sister,
    Lindsay nolongerharbison Gomez

  3. Well if I wasn't convinced to check out Ethos before, I am now. Great interview.