Or the re-birth of 8-bit shoegazing mathematicians.
I•m not ashamed to admit I made a mistake in my review of The Eaves debut album. Go back and take a look at it then come back; we•re not going anywhere. It looks like decently high marks from Mr. Aaron doesn•t it? So am I now retracting my praise and getting ready to damn the band for wasting my time? Hardly, I•ve come back from a month long holiday beautifully soundtracked by the band to set the record straight and let everyone know that The Eaves is the best album of 2003 that they have yet to listen to. As atonement for my music critic novice-ness and because they are fine, upstanding members of the indie rock community I conducted this interview to spread the gospel of The Eaves. If this is not enough I•ve also promised them my first-born child, but there•s no time to discuss that now. Read on!
How and where did the band form?
Jen and Quentin met in college and played in a band called Flex Lavender. I met Jen at a bar. She was sort of tipsy (as was I) and was sort of bullshitting and asking my friend Patty if she could play drums. Patty pointed her towards me and The Wolves were formed. It was Jen, her brother Nick, Quentin and myself. When the brother/sister musical relationship finally gave way, I demanded a “promotion” to guitar (my preferred device). We changed our sound to a more “cinematic” focus and The Eaves were born.
When I mention The Eaves to other people my bite-sized assessment is usually “Lush playing Interpol songs, over vice versa.” It’s a very simplistic assessment, I know, but I hear a lot of 4AD, post-punk, and even a little 8-bit Nintendo (I mean that in the best possible way) influences in your music. Where do you feel your music sits on the modern music spectrum and what influences do you draw from?
Like most musicians we were drawn together by certain common musical threads. We are apprehensive to bow down solely to our affection for the shoegaze/4AD era because we fear we’ll be lumped together with so many other NYC bands that sometimes come across as fashionable recreations of those records we all have lurking in our collection. Like most people our tastes are varied and as a band we will probably not stick to any one genre, but attempt to pull from our wide musical tastes and hopefully put our own spin on whatever influences are present.
Actually, it strikes us as a bit odd that so many people have made 4AD comparisons to this album, because when we initially plotted to make this album our biggest concern was that the songs were too varied and somewhat disjointed in style. Songs like •Bird Lawyer• and •Summer Gold• have this new wave/disco ala Altered Images thing going on, then you have •Special Feeling• with so many stops, goes and time signature changes that you’d think we were recovering math rock geeks.
As for the Nintendo sound… OH YA, there were similar jokes made when we decided on some of those sounds. I think for the first three weeks my personal title to •Bird Lawyer• was “AirWolf 3000” as it was to be the opening theme song to the futuristic sequel to the hit TV series AirWolf. I think we try to have a sense of humor about our music… but not to the point of making Ween songs or anything. I think it•s more of a way for us to make each other laugh.
In regards to where we sit on the modern music spectrum, we’ve always felt that it•s the listener or the writers to decide. If you plot out to draw a certain audience or subscribe to a known style, then you’re bound to it and it will interfere with the creative process. Its weird when you make a record and the reality sets in that, “Oh crap…someone is gonna buy this and think [fill in the blank]”. You can get lost in that sort of mindset. I think each member of the band has a different idea of what we’re trying to do, it•s just a matter of the “happy accident” when those ideas overlap or collide that I think we strive for.
For the most part the lyrics seem more imagery based than straight narrative. Does your lyrical inspiration come primarily from personal experience or from outside sources such as film, books, etc.?
Not being the lyricist of the band I can only speak from some of the conversations Jen and I have had regarding lyrical content. She has told me some of the underlying stories behind a lot of the songs but we both agree that we enjoy obscuring a direct narrative with poetic metaphor and imagery. It•s a device that enables the listener to apply the mood or emotion of a song to their personal situation. When I think all of my favorite Cure songs from when I was young, I don’t think I knew what half of them were really about, but I got out of them what I wanted. I do know that Jen is very well read and is influenced by literature more than film or any other external media.
Are there any songs on the album that you are particularly fond or proud of?
There is a bit of an “ugly child/parent” thing involved with such a question. We think they are all good songs. I can say that some of them were closer to what we wanted than others as far as their recording. If we could play you the version of •Top Drawer Man• that exists in our imaginations, we might be up for a Grammy… well, OK, maybe not, but you’d be fair warned not to operate heavy machinery or mix with alcohol.
Personally, I like what we got out of the album•s recording of •Summer Gold.• There were ideas that came about during the recording process that got me from thinking, “Alright, this one•s sort of fun.” to “Good Lord! We’re brilliant!”
What has the band been up since the album was completed? Touring? Working on other projects? Day jobs?
We were very excited to get on board the Damo Suzuki tour, until we arrived in Chicago and found out that Mr. Suzuki was not the most intelligent traveler. He wound up getting deported before the first date, because he neglected to take care of any of his travel/work papers. The few dates that followed were something not unlike an indie rock Spinal Tap. Now we’re back in New York trying to ply all of our old pals in more successful bands for brief rides on their coat tails, so as that our first tour won’t be all about “Who likes us?” Of course if none of our connections are feeling generous we will go out on our own and we’re sure it will be fine. Beyond The Eaves our drummer Tim likes to pick up his guit-fiddle and lay down some of the sweetest old time-y music you ever done heard. I sometimes play drums in electronic bands. It•s my personal ode to John Henry… Man VS Machine or something. Quentin moonlights as a teen movie writer… or just a writer in general. Jen is full time Eaves. We all have day jobs, some of us just barely.
When I spoke with Jen earlier she mentioned an upcoming tour in the fall. Many of the songs on your album sound fully fleshed out with keyboards, bass, drums, and at least two guitars. How difficult is it to re-arrange these songs for a three-piece band to play at your live shows?
Jen does triple duty, with guitar, keyboard and singing, I just play guitar, but with a load of outboard gear, Quentin is in charge of bass and the dance steps and then Tim Wright has joined as our drummer (Thank God!). Most of the songs were written live as a 4 or 3 piece. When we were writing as a three piece I would do double duty on drums and guitar.
As a band, what would your dream project be?
No day jobs and a studio with engineers –other than me– at our disposal 24/7. Or to tour via Jet Pack, either way…
When can we expect to hear the next Eaves album?
We don’t know, hopefully soon. There are so many new, great songs it•s just a matter of us having time and money. We’ve considered leaving New York to lighten our financial burdens so that we could play more music, but then you feel like you’re away from the action and your audience. So it•s kind of a toss up. Personally, I’ll probably start going nuts if we aren’t back in a studio by November.