East of the Wall Discusses Tour With Name and Debut Album "Ressentiment"
New Jersey progressive metal band East of the Wall is currently on their Metalunderground.com sponsored US summer tour with Name. I was able to catch up with the band and ask them about their tour and debut album, “Ressentiment,” which will be released on July 20th, 2010.
Zack: For the readers who may not know, what is the history behind the band? From Postman Syndrome years to Biclops and now East of the Wall. How has the sound changed with each lineup/band? Why did you settle with the East of the Wall name over Biclops?
East of the Wall: The history of this band is pretty long and ridiculous. I was going to try to type out the entire band history, but it would literally be too much to be published. The short and dirty answer is that everyone who is currently in East of the Wall, with the exception of myself, started out in the Postman Syndrome. Eventually that band broke up and split into 2 separate projects, Day Without Dawn and East of the Wall. Day Without Dawn went through several lineup changes and eventually became Biclops. Due to some more lineup changes and various logistical concerns, we decided to merge the 2 bands into one late last year. All of these bands pulled from one common pool of musicians, and that's why it ultimately made sense to really consolidate our efforts and focus on one project.
The Postman Syndrome was a hard band to characterize. It was metal, but had a lot of hooks and a certain pop-sensibility. That band was also a little more overt in attempting to blend a lot of different genres. Day Without Dawn was similar to an extent, but incorporated some more post-rock elements and was a little less all over the place. East of the Wall started out as an instrumental, epic post-rock trio. As the band kept adding members over the years, the sound got heavier and more complex. The record that will be coming out on July 20th, Ressentiment, was actually originally intended to be the debut Biclops record. When we merged the 2 projects, we decided to take that record, which was already finished by that point, and put it out under the East of the Wall banner. So for those who are familiar with our earlier instrumental work, such as Farmer's Almanac, it may be a little of a surprise that there are vocals all over this record.
I think as far as the band name goes, we just preferred East of the Wall. It wasn't a whole lot deeper than personal preference. Plus it was simpler for us and Translation Loss because East of the Wall had already signed our contract, so I think changing the band name might have made things a little more complicated.
Zack: What can we expect from the East of the Wall debut?
East of the Wall: Ressentiment is a pretty dense record, and I think that people who are so inclined will be able to peel back a lot of those layers and find some interesting nuances that don't come through on the first listen. The record walks a pretty fine line between being really heavy and really spacey and pretty at other points. I don't want to say there's something for everyone on the record, because I think that's sort of a cop out. But if you want to hear something with a lot of twists and turns and a lot of sonic diversity, you should enjoy it.
Zack: Can you explain the concept of the record? Is there any message you want to express in your music?
East of the Wall: I'd hope that everyone finds their own meaning in the music, so I don't want to say definitively that the record is about one thing or the other. I think that it's a fairly dark record, and there's a lot of frustration apparent in some of the lyrics. But I don't think it's designed to bum you out or cheer you up. To me it's more about coming to grips with the way the world is than finding hope or lack thereof in it.
Zack: How do you go about creating the music? is it done through jamming and/or demos, or is it more structured and thought out by a member writing a song and bringing it to the band?
East of the Wall: Every song we write is completely different. Sometimes someone will bring in a completed piece of music and we just learn it. Other times one of us come in with a riff and we just let the song develop naturally in the room from that seed. We do demo our material pretty religiously. That has 2 purposes. First, we use it as a tool to help us write. More importantly, a lot of times we'll start working on a song and then get wrapped up with playing shows or doing whatever else and if it's not recorded already, there's a good chance that one or all of us is going to forget their parts. For example, our bass player Brett was on tour earlier this year with another band called The Binary Code. We had been working on a new song before he left in December and we were probably a little over half way done with it. Brett was gone for about a month and a half, then we left for a month-long tour a few weeks after that. Since then, we've played a bunch of random shows and worked on some other new music. Now we're on tour for another month, one of us is getting married right after we get home, then we leave for Europe a few weeks after that. So long story short, we might not get around to working on that song again until November or so, which would be almost a year from the last time we touched it. So if it wasn't demoed, all of those riffs would be lost to the ether.
Zack: What was the hardest part about setting up the tour?
East of the Wall: To be honest we're just not a very big name at this point, so venues are sometimes less than enthusiastic about booking us. And it's understandable to an extent because we don't have a lot of fans in some of the areas we're playing. I do think our name recognition has increased alot since we signed to Translation Loss, and I think that once these venues see that we come in, put on a great show, and act like professionals they're more willing to have us back. Unfortunately for us, on this tour we are playing a lot of cities and venues that East of the Wall has never been to before, so it took a little more legwork to set up a lot of the shows. Chris gets all the credit for that. He works really hard at doing our booking work. We all pitch in to a certain extent, but he certainly does the lions' share and coordinates all of our efforts as well.
Zack: What can fans expect from your live show on your upcoming tour with NAME?
East of the Wall: People can expect to have a good time. People tend to label us as a "prog" metal band, and I think there's a certain mental association people make when they hear that term as far what the live show is going to be like. We want our shows to be interactive, and we want people to be feeling good and enjoying themselves, not thinking about how "technical" our music is. Come out and drink beer with us. Learn some of the words and yell them. It will be fun. I promise.
We just met the guys in Name a few nights ago, but they're an amazing band and amazing dudes, and you should really make sure you come check them out.
Zack: Do you have any interesting stories from previous tours shows?
East of the Wall: Every day on tour is an interesting story. It would be impossible for me to narrow it down to one story. You live like an animal, meet the craziest and funniest people you'll ever meet in your life, and get into the most outrageous situations that you could possibly imagine. It's a complete fucking circus. I'm a real quiet guy for the most part, and sometimes the insanity can be a little overwhelming, but you just have to roll with it.
Without revealing too much information, the most interesting night I can think of happened deep in the woods in Georgia and involved crazy rednecks, hot tubs, late night drug runs, and women drinking their own breast milk. Being on tour fucking rules.
Zack: What's the best venue you’ve played? Best crowd/die hard fans?
East of the Wall: We recently played the Bell House in Brooklyn, and that's a really beautiful venue. I'm a big fan of Red7 in Austin as well. For local venues, we constantly play the Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ. We have a great group of local fans/friends that comes out and packs the house everytime we play. For that, we are eternally grateful and love playing there.
Outside of NJ, we have a very small group of the most unbelieveable, dedicated fans that you could hope for. They travel insane distances to watch us play, buy everything we put out and generally make this whole thing worth doing. I'm not going to name names, but they know who they are. It's great waking up every day and knowing that there are a few people out there who are willing to go to great lengths to take part in this process with us.
Zack: What do think is more helpful in the industry, connections or talent?
East of the Wall: The honest answer is connections. Some of the most talented bands I know don't have much in the way of connections and they're unfortunately not well know outside of their home areas. But that's how it works in almost all industries.
Zack: What are your opinions about file sharing, not mp3s specifically, but file sharing in general? Would you retain these opinions if you relied on music as a primary source of income?
East of the Wall: That's a tough question to answer. Our last record, Farmer's Almanac, leaked about 6 months before the record was released. Because it was available for so long for free, not many people bought it. On the other hand, the record got really nice reviews and I think the amount of times it was downloaded helped us build up a little bit of a buzz on the internet. Our current situation is a little different. Being on a record label, we're never going to make a tremendous amount of money off of CD sales no matter what. But if people download the record for free, it takes money out of Translation Loss' pockets, which means that ultimately they have less money to promote our music. So I guess at the moment we'd be hard-pressed to get real excited about people downloading the record for free. But at the same time, it's going to happen no matter what and there's nothing you can do about it. Hopefully the people who download the record for free at least come out to a show and buy a t-shirt or something.
I think any musician in our situation aspires to not have to have a day job anymore. So even though we clearly don't make any money on this band right now, it doesn't change how we feel about filesharing.
Zack: What do you think of the local New Jersey scene? Are there any bands that you can recommend that are worth looking into?
East of the Wall: The New Jersey scene is really weird. There are a ton of great bands in NJ right now, but the scene for live music is total shit. People just don't go to shows anymore. On top of that, a lot of venues do pay-to-play. We are very lucky in the sense that we have the Brighton Bar where we don't have to sell tickets in advance and we're able to bring out a good crowd, but anywhere else it's a real struggle for us to put on a successful show.
As far as bands go, I'm going to be a total whore and first recommend me and Seth's side band, El Drugstore (myspace.com/eldrugstore, facebook.com/eldrugstore). Check it out! Beyond that, there's a whole bunch of bands from NJ you should hear. Sassafras Spine, Zombie Club America, A Fucking Elephant, So Is The Tongue, The Binary Code, Delft, Abacinate, The Ghost In Black and White, Sydbarrett, Brock Murdoch, Aphonia, and I'm sure I'm being an asshole and forgetting at least one really sweet band that I really like. But whoever that unlucky band ends up being will have to forgive me because I'm really tired right now.
Zack: What are your plans after this tour?
East of the Wall: We'll be home for about a month and half, then we'll be in Europe for 3 weeks in September and October. Before the end of the year we'll be doing a weekend run through New England since we didn't get a chance to hit that area on this current tour. Then we'll probably buckle down for a few months to finish writing the next record and do another full-scale US tour next March. The goal is to hopefully have the next record done and recorded by mid to late 2011. That shouldn't be too difficult because we're almost done writing, but we're going to be on the road a lot between now and then, so we'll definitely have to keep busy in our downtime to make that happen.
Zack: Thanks for your time. Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?
East of the Wall: No problem! Go to our website, eastofthewall.com to see our webstore and add us on Facebook, facebook.com/eastofthewall for the most current news. Check out Ressentiment on July 20th from Translation Loss, and if you dig it come out to a show and spit beer in our faces. We'll love you for it. Thanks!
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