Life In The Dark

This Wednesday night Portland, Oregon’s Eat Skull will commence their first ever New Zealand tour. I caught up with Rob Enbom and his live band mate Hart Gledhill late one night as they sat around a computer in a dark basement somewhere in the depths of Oakland, California.

After apologising for taking so long to conduct the interview, due to time differences and an unusual sleeping pattern on Rob’s behalf… we start by talking about their New Zealand tour.

(EMJ) Will this be your first New Zealand visit?
(Rob) Yeah. I’m looking forward to it, I might not leave. New Zealand’s pretty strict about who they let in to stay in the country though.

I’ve read that you guys are fans of a lot of old Flying Nun music, was that a major motivation for your visit to New Zealand?
Music from down there was a big influence originally, there’s a ton of good bands from down there. I don’t think we sound like that but occasionally it can, like we accidentally ripped off a Clean song one time.

Do you know much about the other bands you’ll be playing with in NZ?
In New Zealand we’re playing with Pumice and The Axemen. I chat with Steve from The Axemen on the internet and I’ve met Stefan in the United States before.

The festival you’re playing in Auckland has a lot of country and folk music on the bill. You’ve got a background in country music right?
There’s definitely some of that going on, I don’t know how to say that, I mean there’s some of it we like.

Could you say that Hole Class (one of Rob’s previous bands with Beth from Times New Viking) was a country style band?
I don’t know if it sounds like country but we were definitely thinking along those lines. We were living in the country when we did that.

And you’re living in Oakland now?
I’ve been kind of nomadic since the summer, we come down here because this is where we have band practice and we have to get ready for tour.

What does getting ready for tour entail?
Well there’s new people in the band all the time, so you have to find out who they are, hang out, then learn all the songs again and stuff like that. This is a good line-up though, this tours going to be cool. It’s me, Hart, Ned and Oscar and Jay.

So the live line-up changes but the recording line-up stays the same?
It’s pretty solidly just me and Rod Meyer but he doesn’t want to tour so we’ve operated like this for a while now. We used to tour but he wanted to go to school. I think it negatively impacts his life to go on tour.

Do you do a lot of touring? Have you done much international touring?
Usually we don’t, but lately we have been. It’s been fun too. We had a couple of tours booked and I was like “Rod do you wanna do these” and he was like “yeah”, but then he was like, “no actually I don’t want to do these, I want to go to school”. But usually he’d do it, so we kind of got friends mostly and people who I’d played with before and we just figured it out and it ended working pretty good. That’s how it is right now, who knows what it’ll be like tomorrow.

It’s pretty tough to survive without touring isn’t it?
We live in a basement with no electricity. It fucks up your job because you have to give more to it and then if you have a job hopefully you can have a situation with your job where you can go and come back to your job so you don’t fuck up the rest of your life by going on tour. I already do it, I’m screwed now. I have to start all over pretty much if I decide to stop doing this.

You’ve been making music for a while now, so you’ve been following the musician path pretty solidly?
Yeah, with not much success. Although the amount of interviews we’ve been doing for this tour has been pretty crazy, but that’s probably just because New Zealand’s cool, the rest of the world isn’t.

Siltbreeze has a lot of fans here, so plenty of people know Eat Skull.
Yeah well Siltbreeze has always had a New Zealand connection. They weren’t even that popular down in New Zealand some of those bands, but they’ve definitely got (I’m thinking of The Dead C) fans here. Peter Jefferies has a cult following in America.

Touring is obviously what you’re focused on now?
We’re going to Australia and New Zealand and going to Europe because I’m ready to do that, I haven’t really got anything else going on. It seems like the best thing to do and we’ve been having fun with it so it’s been working.

Have you had time to sit down with Rod and work on any new music?
Rod and I have recorded something like 40 songs, or something like that. He’s been busy with going to school and other shit was going on too. There’s been delays in getting it done because we like to waste our time. We’ve been working on it, he might actually be down here tomorrow to work on a few overdubs, but we’ve got flakier since we don’t live in the same town. We have a new record that will come out, we’ve just been tweaking it and stuff. He wanted to learn better recording techniques, he went to school for that. So he’s been mixing things, but we still have a few overdubs to do and then sorting through the songs and figuring out which are the right ones to put together. It’ll come out this year I bet, we just kind of don’t care that much but it’ll come out. We care, we just don’t care when it’ll come out.

So the new record might be recorded a bit differently, because in the past you’ve recorded strictly to 4 or 8-track, is that right?
Mostly 8-track, very early on we recorded to 4-track because we didn’t have an 8-track yet. Some of it’s recorded on 8-track and some of it is recorded in a studio on 24-inch tape, but we tweaked it. We busted it back down to the 8-track, actually I don’t remember how he said he did it, he busted some of it back down from 2 inch tape I think down to quarter inch tape or half inch tape which made it sound better because 2 inch tape can sound real weird.

So Rod takes care of the recording  and you take care of the touring?
From one to the other I guess, as far as band activity. Because we haven’t been recording for a while although like I said, we have 40 songs recorded. We have a record, it’s just not done yet. It’s in all that post-production shit.

Have you played many shows with the current band ahead of this tour?
Sometimes we’ll play at a club because there’ll be club shows, but doing house shows… in Portland you can do that, and in Oakland as well. Oakland has got a lot of people living in warehouse spaces. They don’t have basements in California because of earthquakes. We’re going to play in Los Angeles this weekend.

Maybe that’s why New Zealand houses don’t really have basements, because we have so many earthquakes.
(Hart) That’s why California doesn’t really have them. It doesn’t make any sense in Portland though because everybody’s basement gets flooded because it rains so much there. Every house in Portland has one, and if you live in one or if you practice in one you’ve got to keep all your shit up off the ground.

Eat Skull New Zealand Tour Dates
April 20- Mighty Mighty, Wellington with Pumice and Full Fuckn Moon
April 21- ARC Theatre, Whanganui with Pumice and Sets
April 23- Whammy Bar, Auckland (Borderline Music Festival)

Posted by Nick Fulton under Oregon, Portland, San Francisco, U.S.A
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