New York City's Earthquake Lights is a band to keep an eye on because of their blend of heavy guitars and soft tones.
The boys in the band are: Myles Rodenhouse, Cameron Underhill, Evan Douaihy, James, DiGirolamo, and Stephen Helms. Their debut album, Distress Signals, was recorded at Douglass Studios in Brooklyn, and Abbey Road, and is slated to drop early next year.
Due to the band's unique take on modern rock, including jazz and classical influences, Popdust spoke with Earthquake Lights to discover the source of their muse.
Earthquake Lights - Choke 'em Up - Live at Douglass Recording youtu.be
How would you describe yourself?
We would definitely call ourselves a rock band, plain and simple! We look up to bands like Radiohead and Grizzly Bear, and really feel that we make music in that style.
What is the most trouble you've ever gotten into?
As a band, we're pretty tame. We used to rehearse secretly on campus when we weren't supposed to be there and Myles got banned from it. Not so off the wall but that's all we got!
What's your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?
Belt is maybe not the right word - but croon in the shower is for sure a specialty. I like to sing old Sinatra tunes in the shower - that guy knew what to do. Maybe, "Fly Me to the Moon."
Who is your favorite music artist?
Picking a favorite artist is really tough. We all like a lot of different artists and what we're spinning changes a lot. Honestly it would be tough to even pick a favorite genre!
How did you get started in music? What's the backstory there?
Most of us grew up playing instruments, but we really got started as a band at college. Our individual focuses before then had been spread to classical, jazz, and rock. Cam primarily played Sax! Cam and Myles grew up in the same town, and the others all met through Jazz rehearsals at college.
What musicians influenced you the most?
There are the obvious influences like Radiohead, The Who, and Beck. But a lot of the material on the upcoming record is really influenced by Jazz records. Think of arrangements on records by Frank Sinatra and Joao Gilberto, Robert Glaspar, Miles Davis. Those recordings had a pretty tremendous impact on our sound.
How, if at all, do your musical influences shape and impact your music?
We take a lot of inspiration specifically from arrangements and harmonic structure. All of our melodies and progressions are painstakingly constructed from scratch, but the colors we use, upper chord structure harmony stuff, and strings and brass sections (which play a huge role on the upcoming LP) are inspired by jazz legends and rock greats. Our recording aesthetic is also massively influenced by Nigel Godrich productions.
What kind of guitar do you play? And why? What kind of drums and cymbals does your drummer play?
Steve actually plays snare drums that he designed and made himself, you can see one of his snares in this live video in fact. They're really awesome! Evan plays a PRS, which has a more midrange weight to it that works well for his lead guitar lines, and the neck lends itself to more delicate and complicated playing. Myles plays a Telecaster which he had outfitted with a humbucker at the bridge, so he can get a pretty huge sound from it through his Vox amp for rhythm stuff, without getting in the way of everyone else.
How did the band get together?
Myles and Steve were roommates in college, and they started recording covers and running recording experiments together. Eventually they had Cam join them for what became the first EQL recordings, which Steve showed to Jim and Evan to recruit to the group. Then we started writing and rehearsing on campus before making our first EP at Perfect Sound in LA.
What inspired your forthcoming album Distress Signals?
Distress Signals draws a lot of inspiration from themes of the ocean. The name is from codes and signals which are sent out in time of distress (as you might have guessed). Think "mayday" and Morse code. A lot of the artwork takes inspiration from bold shapes found on flags or raised on masts for communication at sea. The theme fits the emotional content of the record well. Pretty dark and moody!
"Choke 'Em Up" opens on a dark and dirty guitar with beau coup impact. How did the song come about?
"Choke em Up" was originally an experiment with a new guitar setup that felt like it would lend itself to this sort of blues thing. It just started as a simple groove that felt right for that sound. Never meant to take it too far, but after a few friends commented on liking the direction, we decided to just take it to the finish line and rock a bluesy riff song! But really, it was just designed to have fun with distorted guitars.
Who produced the album and are you happy with how it turned out?
The record was produced by Myles' older brother Jake, and Myles. Jake runs a recording studio in West Hollywood, called Perfect Sound. Myles got his start there and later opened Douglass Recording in Brooklyn. Together we put together the team for the record through contacts we made at each studio. We're really proud of the record, and we can't wait to share it and start to bring more attention to some of the amazing ensembles that we enlisted to help us. Especially the string group recorded at Abbey Road, they sound perfect!
What is it that makes Earthquake Lights different from other bands?
Earthquake Lights is much more painfully cerebral and perfectionist than a lot of bands. We really spend time with our tunes and have interest in styles of music that aren't as accessible to the average listener. Not that we're insanely educated or monster players or anything, but we try to make real music and have spent time learning to play together. It's not so much production focused, much more arrangement and harmonically focused.
Will you be doing any touring?
Yes! We're playing a few live stream shows with some friends at the start of the year, but we'll be playing a string of regional shows when the record releases in spring. We'll be promoting them and hitting our mailing list up with info as they approach.
Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.
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