“Earthbound’s mission statement is we want people to have a good time, to dance and to feel uplifted when listening to our music.”
Evergreen is the latest offering from Earthbound and it immediately went into my top 10 releases for this year. Jake Kershaw and I had a lengthy discussion about the EP, pushing boundaries, video games and our beautiful friend Ralph Brown. Grab a cuppa or a beer and find a comfy spot because this is a bit of a lengthy interview!!
We were coming off our last single and we wanted to get something out reasonably fast which obviously didn’t happen. We like writing our songs about our favourite games, we did that for Ember and Continuum. So we thought why not carry it on for this one but this time we picked games that were a bit more near and dear to us. Tom and I do a lot of the writing for Earthbound and these stories have resonated with us so much. The games that we are referencing we play very regularly so we wanted to immortalise it, give something that has given us so much happiness a life through our music as well. Lyrically that was where it was going.
Musically however I wanted to see what would happen if I could make metal a bit more dancy and upbeat. Let’s put aside the mosh for these tunes and let’s have a boogie. For myself, my musical influence comes from progressive metal, post hardcore, that kind of stuff. I’m a big fan of guitar lines that are really intent and have a hell of a lot going on.
Who influences you?
Dance Gavin Dance. Periphery, Haunted Shores, Erra, Wage War, Currents. All of the bands that I listen too I like the sound of, but I was striving to find a way to put all of them into it and see what I could do with it. I found that bouncy, upbeat sort of style with the low growly breakdowns mixed in with high chords, like the beginning of Eden. Juxtaposing those two things on the guitar was something I was really looking to do sonically. And then Tom just comes in and makes the song so good with his vocals. I sit there and record and I am just in awe of him.
When I was beginning to play 7 string guitar I watched so much Mish Mansoor it’s not funny and I learnt how to write drums from Matt Halpern online
He is my drum god I could watch him play all day
It’s actually insane that the man can control all four of his limbs individually. The last time they played here I did the meet and greet. It was awesome, I don’t usually do many meet and greets but I had to do this one. I got introduced to them when I was about 16, a friend told me that I had to listen to the new album Periphery ll, and it changed my life. That and Fortress by Protest the Hero really shaped my musical journey.
So the EP was ready to go before Covid hit?
It sure was. We recorded with Chris Vernon from Belle Haven. He’s a great bro and we loved every second recording Evergreenwith him. We actually had it done at the end of 2019 and ready to go. We were waiting on some promo pics and merch. It was also festival season, so we like to take that time off. So from mid-December to the end of January we usually take off and just enjoy Xmas and New Year with our families. We kicked back into gear and we were just that little bit behind the mark with getting everything ready and then the world ended! This pandemic has been the killer of productivity and creativity so I’m really proud of the boys, Maddii (The Venom Collective) and everyone involved for getting through and getting it done. We would be lost without Maddii and Steve (Future Artist Development). We did Coach’s eight week course after Continuum and honestly it changed us as a band. I have endless amounts of love and respect for those two and what they have done for the Melbourne music scene.
It’s also been great to see the creativity of some of the bands getting their music out there. Drastic Park are a classic example. The amount of stuff that those guys have been able to achieve is amazing and the amount of promo work they do!! I loved Work of Art. Then you have Gloom in the Corner doing really cool stuff to promote themselves too. Seeing bands adapting to what is happening with the new rules around covid has been really cool. And like you mentioned everyone supporting each other. We are very lucky to have such a great industry where a world shattering event such as this has been able to have such a positive silver lining as well.
More people are listening and digging deeper into the bands too
I’ve done that with a few bands. In my house we all have our computers set up in the dining room, we have music on all the time. We get so many different genres playing. It’s been good discovering all the new music that I probably wouldn’t have if I was just going out to gigs every week. Having this downtime has had an upside.
How does song writing work for you guys?
I wrote Eden in March last year. I’ve talked to a lot of people about song writing but my method is a bit odd. I doddle around on the guitar for a bit and write it down into guitar pro and then all of a sudden I might not write a song for two weeks and then I’ll write one in a day once I get that idea. Eden pretty much wrote itself, after the initial riff and the verse it really did just write itself. When we wrote Liquify I would write the song and then go cool Tom here’s the title write whatever you want. To an extent with Evergreen I’ve used the song titles kind of like an essay question! Like what does this word mean and how can I express this word musically, what am I doing with it and how does it make me feel. That’s basically how all the songs came about. The only exception is Evergreen for some strange reason and I can’t believe I’m going to say this!! Evergreen came out of a Dance Gavin Dance lyric that just happened to work with everything we wanted to say. Originally it was just the title of the EP and we had the last song on it which is now called Evergreen. We were like what do we call this song. I think it was unnamed for about one month after we recorded it. I said to the guys why don’t we call it Evergreen and then the guys were like why didn’t we see that!!
The song Evergreen is actually very funny lyrically because one of our favourite band pastimes is playing a game called Civilisation V. Essentially it’s a turn based strategy game, everyone plays at the same time and you get a turn. You build cities and your civilization has to outlast time essentially. We were recording on my 23rd birthday and I said to the guys hey let’s play Civilization tonight for my birthday. So we were having drinks and playing, and I messaged my partner about the game and saying how I was about to kill Tom and she messaged him and told him. The guys all ganged up and killed me off and strangely it was a great bonding time for the band. We went on to write Evergreen about it.
With the lyrics of Evergreen what we aimed to do with them was, we had the story of the game and we wanted to give it a real world application so you can take it as the game or you can give it your own meaning. That was the way we really wanted to have our lyrics come across. When you listen to Thrive, and this is a fun one because no one would ever picture this, it’s about Mario Cart. We wrote it in the persona of someone who plays Mario Cart but it’s also about paranoia, being challenged, about staying on top. The lyrics at the start ‘They want to see me fall, To take me down is their only goal’ and there’s a line at the end about ‘Witness the falling star, Invigorate my drive, Guide and protect me’ will be understood by anyone who has ever played Mario Cart. Evergreen is written from the perspective of being attacked so it’s very much an overcome adversity story.
The lyrics we write are game based, but we wanted to give the application so that you could give your own meaning to it and take what you wanted from the lyrics.
I think having the video game references is a personal thing to us because we get to relive the games. I know when I’m writing I play all the games again and will get my vibe through it. It’s like it’s taken from this, but it also has this element to it. I think every song has its own meaning within the game.
Art is subjective so there is no right or wrong way to interpret the songs. Although for us that’s how we got there, via the medium of video games that are near and dear to us. But, like you’ve said it and Maddii’s said it, there will be 1000’s of people listen to it that have never played any of the games. Even gamers may not have played some of them, but they will all get their own meaning. And that to me is the coolest thing. You’re able to form your own opinion to what you are listening too.
That was another very big emphasis on what we wanted to do with Earthbound was have elements of something for everyone. From the cool guitar components, to the catchy chorus’s that will get stuck in your head, there’s break downs to mosh and melodies. Every instrument gets a bit of the spotlight at some point. When we did Evergreen the guys literally just said to me make something weird, I put every ounce of guitar I had into it, there’s a bass break in it, cool drumlines. We just wanted to showcase each band member as well. I really wanted to inspire other up and coming musicians to try cool stuff. I think having something for everyone and creating an uplifting space with upbeat tracks was really important to us. Then lyrically having that element over the video games which ties all the band members together as friends was a super important thing to, because that way we all have something we can connect to as well through our music. It would be so heart-warming to know that the feeling I got when listening to Protest the Hero in art class happened to someone else listening to something I wrote.
It’s super heart-warming to know your ‘brain baby’ is out there for the world to hear. Like this came out of our brains, we created this. It’s cool to see people react to it in such a positive way. I’m super keen to play shows, especially to play Eden because like I said before the biggest thing for me with this song is fuck the mosh off and come have a dance. As much as I love the mosh I just want everyone to come in close and have a fucking dance with it. For me that is the essence of that song. The other tracks on the Evergreen the chorus’s and the way the songs are structured it’s very indicative of dance. Earthbound’s mission statement is we want people to have a good time, to dance and to feel uplifted when listening to our music.
One thing we wanted was, with 2020 being so dark and shit, if our music can be positive and just let us have a moment to just dance then that’s a win for us. That’s exactly what I want Earthbound to be.
One of the things I like to do when making a record is to make the songs slightly harder to play each EP. To challenge myself with the technical side. I think one of my favourite parts is in the breakdown of Evergreen. There’s so many techniques that I have learnt that I wanted to add in. I’ll turn up to rehearsals and say ‘ Guys we have a new song’ and they’ll hear it and just be like ‘Fuck it’s too hard” I get this from my drummer a lot because obviously I’m not a drummer and I’ve learnt about it from watching Luke Holland and Matt Halpern, so you know RIP to my drummer!! Watching them is how I learnt how to understand what drummers do.
I hope this is how my band members feel about it as well, but when you learn something new on your instrument that’s all you want to do. It feels so cool to work out how to do this really cool thing. That’s why I wanted to add all the little bits and pieces in the songs so we can look back and be like hey we learnt to do that since our last record.
John Stokes (Drastic Park) did the visualizer for Eden. He is a wizz. We had a lot of stress doing that video. We had difficulty coming up with an idea and then finding a way to execute it. We finally got an idea and then Covid came along and then we couldn’t make the video. John swooped in and saved us all and we are very thankful for that. If anyone ever needs anything like that I hope people go to John.
How long have you guys been together as a band?
Daniel and I have been friends for 16 years. Our parents became friends and then that’s how we met David. I went to high school with our drummer Rhys and we played in school bands together. Eventually we were like hey let’s play some metal and Earthbound was born!
We started writing our first EP Solstice about 6 years ago. But our first song came out 4 years ago. We played our first ever show with Ocean Sleeper who are also from Gippsland.
Gippsland seems to be the place for music!
It’s crazy how much good music is out there everywhere, literally on your doorstep. Going to gigs and seeing all the up and coming support acts, which sometimes completely overshadow a main act.
Another one of our first big shows we played was supporting Saviour when they were doing the Never Sleep tour with Pridelands and Deadlights. Everyone on that bill was so welcoming and friendly and we were pretty unknown then. I need to put this out there, watching Deadlights do their soundcheck I’ve never been floored like that watching a band soundcheck. I can honestly say watching them and Periphery soundcheck have both blown me away. Wow just talking to you makes you realise how many amazing bands we have in Australia!
That’s why I’m so passionate about Aussie music. Why would you pay big dollars to see overseas acts when we have some of the best bands in the world at our fingertips. The bands always come and talk to the fans and mingle. It’s the best.
Yeah and they get just as excited as you to watch the other bands on the bill.
Did you guys have plans to tour with the EP?
We had tentative plans. They went out the window Covid happened. We’ve actually on ever played one show out of Victoria, so we were excited to play the capital cities for the first time. It didn’t turn out that way, but we will be doing the rounds as soon as we can.
If you could tour with three other Australian acts who would they be?
Oh that’s easy! Heartline, Infinite Illusion and Uni/Vs. I love Heartline they are incredible.They are one of the bands that we would love to play with. An honourable mention would also be Above/Below, and Days of Deceit both bands are really cool.
Days of Deceit should be a hell of a lot bigger than what they are. They are so good.
They are such nice guys. I chatted with them when they played here with ATLVS, who are another band that I would love to play with.
Of course Jake and I couldn’t have a conversation without talking about our beautiful friend Ralph Brown and the project Jake worked with Ralph on ‘Without Belief’.
That was a really fun thing to work on honestly. It was so good working with him because he had this clear idea of what he wanted. He would just tell me I want this, and it was so easy for me to write those songs because they had so much heart and so much emotion in them. Some of it was a bit more difficult. Acceptance was a hard one obviously. The songs where so near and dear to both of us in our personal lives as well. In saying that I managed to add some really cool Easter eggs into that song which really gave it life personally to me. If you listen Acceptance where it kicks in to the “You raised us well” part, every single guitar line and bass line are actually a recurring theme from every other song. I added the guitar line on the lead in to Denial, the bass is the main hook from Depression, the piano part is in Bargaining, But the cool thing was what we did with it was we wrote the whole EP in one key and then for Acceptance we shifted it up So it sonically already sounds different. The idea was the first four stages were grouped together but Acceptance was the part where you were supposed to move on. We wanted to have it be bittersweet with its key and have that change so it did stand out.
Evergreen is out now on all the normal platforms. You can also grab yourself a physical copy and some cool merch in the link below.