Earth – A Metal Odyssey Interview With Adrienne Davies
ADRIENNE DAVIES OF EARTH – When a band can stop you in your tracks by making you slow down and think about their music, that respective band is standing out amongst the crowd. Step in… Earth. This is not a Doom Metal band that is going to thunder stump their songs through live sets, nor are they about churning out songs for wide-spread commercial consumption. Instead, Earth is a band that is representative of their music and shows respect for song, putting forth awareness to the brilliance of experimental, drone and Doom Rock. With an existence that encompasses over twenty years and six albums, founding member, songwriter and guitarist Dylan Carlson has crafted Earth into a non-conforming band of widely respected musicians.
One of these skilled musicians is Adrienne Davies, the drummer and percussionist that has been a focal point of Earth for ten years and counting. With the current release of their newest studio album, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (Southern Lord Records) on February 22, 2011, Earth has only strengthened their respect among the Rock Music community for their unique style and sound. The repetitive beats and drone tempo, combined with the atmospheric tones of Earth can lead the listener to wherever place they can imagine or want to be. That’s what I embrace most strongly about the music of Earth… and this band takes you on a slow ride, cause sometimes I like to take it easy.
Adrienne Davies took the time recently to talk about Earth’s new album, how their songs come together, drumming, Earth’s diversity album to album, her fellow band members and even Slayer. Soft spoken, polite and as friendly as a favorite cousin, Adrienne was a true delight to interview. The love she has for music, Earth and Dylan Carlson flowed from her answers with ease… and Adrienne presented herself with a trueness that I can absolutely respect. Here is what Adrienne had to say:
Stone: Organic, atmospheric, experimental, drone and Doom Metal are styles used to describe the music of Earth. What is your interpretation of Earth’s sound?
Adrienne: It’s more intricate than it seems. Earth has been around for over twenty years, I’ve been in the band for ten years. You have to look at this band’s history, album to album. The first few were specifically Heavy Doom or had Metal bass lines to everything. “Hex” (from 2005) was a very strategic departure from heavy for heavy sakes. The trombone (played by Steve Moore) gave a western soundtrack feel of “Hex”. I’ve learned, melodies that are least contrived can be the most dark than most of them. Our new album is organic with an English Folk vibe to it. This album centers around drone and repetition, it has a soothing quality.
Stone: In your own view, who really are the “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light”?
Adrienne: Dylan (Carlson) has credit to that title! Conceptually, this album title can represent crazy, old Medieval magic from years past. Musically, we’re simplifying and letting open spaces fill. We (Dylan and I) have no computers or cell phones, we’re stepping away from technology and going back to times when things were simpler. It’s like being the park in the middle of the city.
Stone: In the event Earth’s new album was to have been named after a country, which one would it be and why?
Adrienne: Album wise, “Hex” was very much Native American, with an Idaho, Montana and West Coast Indian vibe. I’m gonna take it literally and go with Old England, somewhere towards Wales, with grassy knolls and cottages. I like old throwback English Folk bands, the fairy tales and magic of all that.
Stone: You would certainly like living in Northern New England then. Vermont, New Hampshire, rural Massachusetts and Maine pretty much are this country’s representation of Old England.
Adrienne: You know, I never thought about that and you are right! New England can resemble Old England in ways.
Stone: Can you describe what it’s like during a brainstorm session with your band mates?
Adrienne: Generally, the last two albums, especially this one, we brainstormed. We come up with riffs and song structures. We want to leave some parts as improv. The drums and guitars are the anchor of our songs of where we want to go. We’ll pull in the cello, along with counter lead melody instruments that are essential to our lineup, the Wurlitzer, trombone and pedal steel.
Stone: How far has Earth come to creating their ultimate signature album with “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I”?
Adrienne: Well, let’s see, it’s never what you think it is. It’s in the ear of the beholder. We try to leave it up to other people to decide. What I’m comfy about with this new album, is it’s a new direction for us in many ways. The studio has always been about obsessive perfection and moments of release. This time we were carefree, very creative and able to improvise. Creating this new album was obstruction free and the best time ever for us in the studio. Our songs get a little slower live, so most of these songs represent what Earth is about live. We seemed to capture what we do with our live shows on this new album.
Stone: It’s interesting that your songs get played slower live.
Adrienne: Our songs change dramatically live!
Stone: Is the band collectively on the same page when it comes to other musical influences and musical interests?
Adrienne: When your stuck on tour with the same band and don’t kill each other, you have commonalities! We have a kaleidoscope to draw from with influences. Lori (Goldston) can play cello with an avant-garde and experimental style, making it sound like an electrical instrument, it’s like having a second guitar in the band. Karl (Blau) has a Rhythm and Blues feel with his bass. We take all these influences, put them together and hopefully get the result we are looking for.
Stone: How would you describe contemporary music to a visitor from another world?
Adrienne: (laughs) Contemporary good or bad music?
Stone: I’m glad you said that!
Adrienne: I’m not a fan of current contemporary music. VH1 and MTV are beyond un-listenable and it’s poisoning the ears of people who listen to this music. I would compare it to alphabet soup, with too many letters that are all broken.
Stone: If you could listen to just one Metal band while being stranded on an island, what band would it be?
Adrienne: Deep Purple is okay. If it’s only one Metal band, can I have all their albums?
Stone: Well, alright.
Adrienne: It would be Slayer! Slayer for certain. They are and always have been my Metal band! I like my share of Metal, it’s always in my heart.
Stone: When were you first exposed to playing drums or any instrument for that matter?
Adrienne: I came from a music oriented family. My mom had a band and came from a German family of musicians. I grew up the only girl with four brothers, one brother and three step-brothers. I first started playing drums in my fifth grade school band. At this same time of year, I was given a sixties Ludwig set of drums, a blue oyster color that was not in the best of shape. I fought my brothers off of it! I was happy that I didn’t play the flute, just because I’m a female. I did play guitar for awhile. I’ve become more serious in terms of drums, percussion and rhythm in the last eight years.
Stone: Well, you have certainly represented yourself quite well with drumming for Earth.
Adrienne: Thank you. To this day, there are not a lot of female drummers. Only recently there has been a burst of females playing drums. There’s no real role models for female drummers to look up to and we don’t get the respect of our male peers in the drum world.
Stone: That’s a shame, really.
Adrienne: It’s a notion that the best drummers out there play two hundred beats per minute and twenty minute solo’s. It’s really the musicianship that’s essential to being a good drummer. On the other hand, with guitar and Metal, speed is equated to technical proficiency with artistry. It’s what I don’t play and knowing what not to fill a song with, having a less is always more approach for drums and percussion that represents my style. I like to make it dramatic, rather than pummel a song to death. I want to play the technical side of drums, while always serving the music.
Stone: What does the touring schedule look like for Earth in 2011?
Adrienne: We’re looking at six weeks in Europe, then having a month off. Then it’s off to Mexico City, we’ll then hit the U.S. West Coast, down to the Southeast and head up to the Northeast U.S. in the Fall and end of year. The dates and venues are to be determined. We’ll be playing clubs. Who can fill arena’s anymore?
Stone: It’s an entirely different climate now for bands to play arena’s.
Adrienne: It sure is. Even with Ireland’s bad economy, touring Ireland didn’t affect our ticket sales. The big bands are really hurting for record and concert sales.
Stone: Will there ever be a female President of the United States in your lifetime? If so, who would you want it to be?
Adrienne: I’m at a loss on that one, yikes! Can I nominate a non-politician?
Stone: Of course!
Adrienne: Chrissie Hynde.
Stone: Cool choice.
Adrienne: (laughs) Very darn close to Hillary Clinton huh? Not that she (Chrissie Hynde) would want this to happen. She comes from a working class background. She could stand up to the big boys. Chrissie would do a real good job in The White House.
Stone: What are the events that take place or need to happen, for npr (National Public Radio) to stream “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I” in it’s entirety for fans to hear free, like they did?
Adrienne: It’s almost a mystery to me! We’re incredibly grateful, npr goes back to “Hex”, they were really behind us with our music and pushing that album as well. It’s great, it’s awesome! I can’t comprehend how big it all really is. On “Bees” (The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull) we had a guest musician, a Jazz guitarist named Bill Frisell who had an audience bigger than we’re used to having. I think maybe through his connection npr picked us up. iTunes are going to be doing a sale two weeks before our new album is released, they’re putting it on their Rock page! We’re honored by that.
Stone: That is just fantastic and well deserved, with all of the attention your new album is receiving.
Adrienne: Thank you. There’s so many bands and so many choices out there. Many are here today and gone tomorrow. We’ve been lucky. I’ve known Dylan (Carlson) for half of my life, he’s got crazy bizarre talent! Dylan has been around and making music for over twenty years and I thank my lucky stars everyday that he’s my man.
* For more info on EARTH, just click the link below:
LONG LIVE EARTH.
This entry was posted on March 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm and is filed under avant-garde music, doom metal, drone metal, experimental music, experimental rock, interviews, metal odyssey, Music, rock music, rock music interviews, rock music news with tags adrienne davies, angels of darkness demons of light I, avant garde music, doom metal, drone metal, dylan carlson, earth, experimental rock, metal odyssey, rock drummers, rock music interviews, rock music news. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.