THE EARTH AND I: Sweet Bangers & Sad Tunes

The Earth And I

New York-based progressive metal / djent five-piece The Earth and I released their debut album ‘The Candleman‘ earlier this month, a seven-track album that is soon to receive a successor. The band plans to release their sophomore effort titled ‘The Curtain‘ in early 2018.

About this all, The Earth and I tell us in the interview below. 

Define the mission of The Earth and I.

We like to think of ourselves as a small, regional non-profit organization focused on the relationship between individuals and the natural environment. Though music may not be the most economically sound medium, it’s the most universal—one that we hope will help us spread our message. The Candleman is a high-concept, low-fidelity adventure about the most profoundly environmentally-friendly behavior of all: eating other human beings.

Tell me about the creative process that informed The Candleman and the themes it captures.

We realized that we wanted to jump on the djent bandwagon right around the time that Periphery‘s second full-length came out, but we were never that well-funded, and that’s really, we think, what people are referring to when they suggest that we have our own sound.

From the outset, we wanted to continue a story we’d started telling as early as the band we shared in high school, the naissance of which was as a cover band of Coheed and Cambria, perhaps best known for their sequence of rich plots, dense like mid-19th century Russian literature. The lessons they (and other progressive post-hardcore artists of their ilk) taught us were hugely informative nearly a decade ago when Dan, Nick, and Suss first started sharing the stage.

For this album, we wanted to strip away some of the plot and focus a bit more on the characters. In the context of a story that might be considered horrific, we wanted to evoke an emotional response other than fear.

The Earth and I - The Candleman

What is the message you are trying to give with The Candleman?

We’ve got some sweet bangers and some sad tunes written by cuddly men with beards. So bring the whole family, ya hear?

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Guitar Pro 6 and a shared Dropbox folder was a great boon to us. There exists sheet music for every instrument on every song on this record.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

It’s funny that you use the term “architected”, as the story’s protagonist, or perhaps antihero, is called the Architect. In a song like “Little Frames,” for instance, we dive into the Architect’s psyche and inner conflict, and the instrumentation very purposefully reflects that.

That wasn’t the case for every song though. Once, our guitarist, Liam, was tasked with chewing a full printed sheet of lyrics down to a wet wad and spitting the ball into a homemade roulette containing a random assortment of key and time signatures. After somehow accruing a sizable gambling debt, we scrapped that idea.

Whereas songs like “Little Frames” contain music and lyrics that ebb and flow in emotional tandem, others have an intentional contrast. Look at the most upbeat song on the record, “And Now for a Slight Departure.” The lyrics are depressing as hell.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

Shane Stanton at Architekt Music in Butler, NJ did an incredible job tracking our drums and vocals. That man has nice preamps. So many pre’s. Pre-pre’s. He can turn a mic-level signal into gamma radiation.

Daniel Siew, our guitarist, handled all of the stringed instruments at home, spending most of his time focusing on the one-stringed phonofiddle we used for backing tracks on almost every song.

How long was The Candleman in the making?

Four and a half years is really our best estimate. The chorus to “Little Frames” was written as early as May of 2013. We spent many years writing the music, but I think there were two key components that caused the process to be artificially long and arduous. The first is that we spent a good amount of time keeping our ears to the ground for the right vocalist and, as it turns out, this is a terrible way to find a singer, unless they’re super fat and like to jog or jump rope. Or maybe if they sing via sonar through their heels. Anyway, Kendyle Wolven was the right choice.

Secondly, we jointly recorded an entire additional LP at the same time. It’s called The Curtain, and it is very much a direct companion to The Candleman. The Curtain will be out in early 2018.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Without reaching too far back, we’d sincerely like to thank Periphery, TesseracT, Monuments, Skyharbor, Exivious, David Maxim Micic, Coheed and Cambria, and Circa Survive for sharing their music with us and with everyone else. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and to that, we respond: our record is very flattering.

What is your view on technology in music?

I think we embraced the tech we could afford on this record. We’re making music in the now, and if we hadn’t adopted and adapted new technologies or new styles or new techniques to our music, then we would have merely pastiched yesterday’s art.

Tech doesn’t make music better. It certainly didn’t make our music better than, say, Steely Dan‘s music, but hopefully the technological and stylistic space we’re living in will be somehow apparent to anyone still kind enough to spin our record thirty or forty years from now. We want to participate in something relevant to us, and to the music lovers around us. We probably couldn’t have done that exactly the way we wanted with less. And, sure, there are many very evocative, emotive, resonant songs that are also relatively minimalist, or relatively old-school, but we’ll take some amp modelers, a cymbal stack, and some polymeters instead, because that’s what we have. Maybe that will make it beautiful to fans of those things right now, and maybe it will be beautiful decades from now for entirely different reasons having in large part to do with nostalgia.

Writing something genuinely timeless would be an incredible feat, and we continue to have our eyes set on that goal. For now, we’re humbled to finally share our music in 2017.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

We’re big fans of David Maxim, and he has sort of a mantra of “Music for the Sake of Music,” which I think all of us try to embody. We just want to make music that’s meaningful and purposeful to us. If it loses that resonance, it stops being music. Anything else is icing on the cake… but we looove icing.

That, and we’re told it sets a great rhythm for cultist rituals.

What are your plans for the future?

The Candleman‘s sister LP The Curtain will be available in early 2018. We’re looking forward to sharing a selection of playthrough and music videos over the next six months. After that, we’re on to LP3, which, we were just informed by our lawyer, needs to be presented as a formal apology for the first two.

The Candleman is out now; order it from Bandcamp. Follow The Earth and I on Facebook and Instagram.

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