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It’s no secret that Earthless love to be in Australia, so it’s a great thing we can welcome them again this March.
If you were looking at the California psychedelic band as a whole you’d largely class them as just that; a psychedelic outfit. When you get down into the intricacies of their music, particularly their fifth studio album, Black Heaven, Earthless are so much more than that. They are an experience, an immersive experience. “I’d say more so live,” agrees drummer Mario Rubalcaba.
“It’s a little bit more detailed than the obvious psychedelic, spaced out jam stuff,” he says, “We feel it has a lot more influences from the jazz and blues mentality. The sound of it obviously comes out the way it does but we’re able to take it so many different places because of those influences.
“Be it jazz, punk, or garage–a lot of our favourite bands aren’t psych bands, they’re garage bands, jazz bands—when you get into a room with that in mind it always comes out sounding how we sound.”
Taking to the studio it’s a subliminal channelling of influences for Earthless, with no real conscious effort as to what the result would be. “We could talk about trying to make a song that sounds mellow or talk about doing something in a certain sound in one, but once we get into a room and start playing together, it’s hard for us as a band to force something that doesn’t feel natural to play.
“We’ll know, we’ll look at each other and say, ‘meh, it doesn’t feel right’–we’ve never been one to force a situation. We’ll either come back to it, set it aside for a bit, or can it, move on to something else.”
That idea of keeping the process as natural as possible is a wonderful aesthetic for Earthless, particularly again, as Black Heaven does offer such an immersive experience. It’s not like you’re transported, it’s like you’re induced into a coma of just … chilling out. Every Earthless album marks a place for the band in time, professionally and personally–Black Heaven, almost a year since its release, has allowed Earthless as Rubalcaba says, some amazing journeys this year. “First up, before the album came about the band has changed a lot dynamic-wise compared to the last record.
We’ve been lucky that if we don’t play for a year, once we get back together it feels like it was a couple of weeks ago.
[ Mario Rubalcaba ]
“When From The Ages  was made we all still lived in the same city–we had the luxury of rehearsing a couple of times a week, whenever we wanted. That allowed for time to build these pieces and work on a song half an hour long. We didn’t have that same convenience for this record.”
With its members scattered around the state of California, Earthless had to be more disciplined, more focussed, in how they would go about writing new material. “We recorded a lot of the rehearsals and would take them home and listen, pick and choose the parts that would stick out to work on next time we got together. It was fun.”
Despite the distance Earthless have 17 years of off-again-on-again history so that when they did eventually get together to practice and record in the studio, it was as fluid an experience as any. “We’ve been lucky that if we don’t play for a year, once we get back together it feels like it was a couple of weeks ago.
“We’re lucky to have that kind of chemistry. It’s easy to play with those guys.”
Earthless also recorded From The West earlier this year, a live album of big, bold, vibrant textures and timbres—but recording and releasing a live album isn’t going to be an accurate reflection of actually being there and experiencing the band in person. “It gets close but there’s nothing like being at a live show,” says Rubalcaba. “Being in front of the amplifiers, in front on the drums, or especially that show the recorded was recorded from, this psychedelic live show.
“I think it takes it to another level, being there. The live record, we really liked it, and we thought it was cool to have a decent live recording with the new material on it to showcase a different vibe.”
So roll on, March! This Australian tour will be Earthless’ fifth round, and Rubalcaba says they look forward to performing here as much as ever. “We’ve been lucky that ever since the first time we went over there we’ve been lucky to hit a good crowd of people that have been nothing but really dedicated fans. Each time it’s gotten better and better I don’t know what that thing is but it’s there, it still exists.
“I love that through live music you can still connect with people, throw out this energy to make people have a good time–we’ve been lucky to really connect with the Australian crowds every time we’ve visited, formed some really strong friendships. I feel that’s something that counts as well.”
Catch Earthless at the following dates:
Thu 21 Feb // Max Watts // Melbourne
Fri 22 Feb // Valhalla // Wellington
Sat 23 Feb // Totara Street // Tauranga
Sun 24 Feb // Galatos // Auckland
Tue 26 Feb // Uni Bar // Wollongong
Thu 28 Feb // Basement // Canberra
Fri 1 Mar // Crowbar // Sydney
Sat 2 Mar // Narrabeen RSL // Narrabeen
Sun 3 Mar // Small Ballroom // Newcastle
Wed 6 Mar // Miami Tavern // Gold Coast
Thu 7 Mar // Crowbar // Brisbane
Fri 8 Mar // Barwon Club // Geelong
Sun 10 Mar // Amplifier // Perth