Earth Drive interview
Portuguese masters of spiritual psychedelic doom spread their enlightened vibrations for almost 13 years now.
The current lineup consist of Luis Silva (bass), Sebastião Santos (drums), Hermano Marques (guitars, vocals) and Sara Antunes (vocals). Their discography embody EPs Known By The Ancients (2014), Planet Mantra (2015), LP Stellar Drone (2017) and a brand new album out via Raging Planet Records. Earth Drive are back with a new studio work Helix Nebula. I asked Hermano Marques (guitars, vocals) a couple of questions.
Hello Hermano! How are you? What’s going on in Montijo?
Hello Aleksey. I’m OK, thank you!
Well here in town the things are quite calm for now and people are respecting the isolation rules. People are feeling some anxiety and fear, but that’s normal in times of uncertainty. I’m completely isolated here with Sara and we get out to go with our cats to the vet or to buy food or something really necessary.
How do you keep your sanity?
We are trying to keep our minds busy with some books, music, a few meditative introspection periods, cooking, playing guitar, trying to work for the band as much as we can and put ourselves available online for free to help anybody who need to talk in this strange period. I am a psychologist, so I thought it was the right thing to do in this atypical situation.
Sounds like you feel comfortably in this situation. Raging Planet Records have released Earth Drive’s new album Helix Nebula on 13th of March. Did you have an opportunity to play release party or did quarantine block all opportunities to promote the album?
No, we did not have the opportunity to play live yet. We had the record release show on 13th (Lisbon @ Sabotage Club) and 14th of March (Porto @ Woodstock69 rock bar) and some more show’s to promote the album, but everything was postponed.
Helix Nebula remains in the spirit of your first EPs Known By The Ancients (2014) and Planet Mantra (2015) as well as LP Stellar Drone (2017).
We just try to be honest with what we play and put out. There is no overthinking about what genre we should play. It’s just something natural that reflects what we listen. Usually what comes out is always the primordial print of what we listened as kids and the mix with what we are listening today and the whole life experience that we have as beings. So it’s all like a mix of what we are and what we are living that comes out in that same old authentic spirit.
But you have common ground with other Earth Drive members? Which musical tastes do unite you as the band?
Sure there is common ground between us. We are all into rock, metal, alternative and progressive genres mainly and other stuff that can derive from classical to jazz, trance music or even trip pop. There is a lot of music gravitating around us but it’s definitely in rock, metal and progressive stuff that our sound expresses with all the other stuff giving a little more color or warmth to it.
The band’s music is sometimes described as “psychedelic doom” or “space doom”, did you support this concept with lyrics? What are your songs about?
I think we are a very optimistic band and we always try to bring some message of hope naturally and the songs are balanced between light and darkness. That’s what we are as humans (shadow and light). So we try to learn from our deep shadow and from our light. We like to embrace the process of personal development through music and use the band to grow in that way. If we have the opportunity to help someone in this process we would be very happy. The songs are basically about all of this internal and external process of personal evolution, growth and awakening.
A few new tracks are inspired by Buddhism – ‘Dharma Throne’, ‘Nagarajuna’ and ‘Sience of Pranayama’. What’s your attitude towards this Buddhism?
Well it’s just the influence of some books that we have read and helped us getting over some personal issues and that made sense for us to use in the lyrics. We are not Buddhists, but we find a lot of helpful learning that we “drunk” from there.
“Change, awakening and personal development.”
The artwork of Helix Nebula compliments artwork of Stellar Drone, what meaning do you put into these cosmic schemes? Do you see new material as a direct heir of Stellar Drone?
Yes this album comes in the sequence of a lot of things that we were talking about in the band about Carl Jung synchronicity. Stellar Drone was all about it and the name Helix Nebula and his concept occurs to us in a very synchronistic way. So it was very easy to continue with the same artwork aesthetic and concept. The last artwork was the fusion of two images from Daniel Martin Diaz that represented the “hierarchy of conscience” and gravitational waves graphics and “black holes” and on Helix Nebula we have the fusion of Daniel Martin Diaz “cosmological mysteries” with one image from the Helix Nebula. In this all we find some synchronicities with a very meaningful power. We found that the helix nebula was in the constellation of Aquarius and there is a lot of astrological knowledge that tell us we are in a great shift of ERAS from the Pisces ERA to the Aquarius ERA. So this was all symbolism that we found and it gave us a very insightful empowerment and meaning for what we were living as a band and as humans. There was a change within the band and there were some personal changes and transmutations in our personal lives and in the whole society. It’s weird how things get synced with the all world situation that we are living in. So it was basically all sequences of events that made us get here with Helix Nebula and it represents change, awakening and personal development.
What are some books that would reveal some additional background?
It’s our pleasure to share with you all the books that we were reading: Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright, Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time by J. Richard Gott III, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche, The Secret Story of the World by Jonathan Black, Poetry of the universe – A mathematical exploration of the cosmos by Robert Osserman, Becoming Supernatural by Doctor Joe Dispenza, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Karma by Traleg Kyabgon, Ayurveda: Ancient wisdom for modern well being by Geeta Vara, The Kybalian.
So there are a lot of things that may have come out in a very inconsistent process through the lyrics. There wasn’t any previously planned. It’s just something that is build from our interests and naturally are expressed through music.
Do you feel this message is integral Earth Drive’s feature? Will you keep on holding to it on the upcoming albums?
I don’t know, maybe it’s growing in us as a natural “fingerprint” in the lyrics and music, but there is nothing planned. Our art just captures the experiences we are living and we decide to “paint” this “portraits” for us to relate and balance ourselves and hopefully can be therapeutic for others to. Lets see what life bring us and how will we express it again.
Hermano, I bet you’ve heard about tritone dissonance which is basement of doom riffs, just like it was set by Black Sabbath many years ago. It was named “diabolus in musica” back in 18th century and as in opposition I could pose a theory of music’s healing power which manifests when it’s played with difference frequencies. Like healing vibrations of 528 Hz and so on, so on a higher plain trance inflicted by circulating doom riffs isn’t the same as trance born of inner focus or focus on ambient music. How do you feel your music from spiritual angle?
Yes we are very aware of the tritone dissonance and healing vibrations. We always have tuned our instruments in CGCFAD but we want it to get a little lower to 432hz to the heartbeat of the Earth, better known as Schumann resonance. Our Boss tuner can not get there, but someday we will tune in that frequencies. Well we are very into the power of music and sound to heal. That’s why we all love music, to make us feel better and get through a lot of shit that we live in. So it’s obvious for us that music and sound should be taken very seriously to help science to get us the knowledge to treat some health problems. We can’t separate the spiritual from the matter, and the mind from the body. It’s all integrated and it’s all functioning in a holistic way. That’s why we are very interested in spiritual literature and scientific content. Perhaps we can find more meaning and purpose in life integrating all of this.
Eternal Elysium founder Okazaki told me about his methods of getting 528 Hz vibe on his guitar. How did you get the ‘right’ sound in the studio?
To be honest, the guitar tone is something that I’m always in search for. Sometimes it’s something that we love, other times we are trying to reach something else. I guess you know what I mean. On this album, I wanted a tasty fuzz, but in a more clean way that won’t occupy the space for the drums, bass and vocals and give a sense of spacey atmospheres without aggressive mids and highs. We didn’t have much time to explore. I used the Pharaoe from Black Hearts, the MXR Blue Box Octafuzz with the Orange Th30 distortion and sometimes a big muff. I like the guitar tone very much and the producer Fernando Matias from the Pentagon Audio Manufacturers Studios helped me a lot to achieve that sound. It’s difficult to get ‘the right sound’. We need to accept that fact and be happy with all the process of making a record in all the dimensions that this precious moments requires and gives us.
There are few short instrumental compositions in Helix Nebula, did you see them as a necessary bridges?
In the composition process we were trying to experiment with some software tools, sounds and a lot of new stuff. So as we progressed in the composition process and in the pre-production of the album we align in the chronological composition order all the songs and little experimentation’s.
We listened to the pre-production a lot. We had that discussion if the bridges were necessary, but we understood the whole album as a unique landscape, a picture or photography that represent our existence in that moment, so we decided to go for it.
Do you see your band as a studio band now that all venues are closed?
The band is a very important thing in our lives and we love to play in the studio and do a lot of new stuff. We love to hang out with each other and with the busy lives, we find in the band that sweet moments. We miss all that and to go out and play live and share our art with friends, family and fans. COVID-19 will pass and for sure we will be together sharing good times with all of you. This band should be a band to go out there, to be with our people.
Thank you Hermano for the interview. Let’s hope your music will be one small element to help people go through COVID-19 trials. Would you like to add few more words for our readers?
Thank you so much for the opportunity to answer to all the great questions that always made us reflect about ourselves and our art.
– Aleksey Evdokimov