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Published: 2009/02/22
by Amy Jacques

EOTO’s Dance Party Music For Your Own Personal Spacecraft

Known for a rigorous touring schedule and an otherworldly sound of original, danceable beats and multi-layered textures, the former String Cheese Incident percussionists that comprise EOTO have hit the road again. As Michael Travis and Jason Hann embark on the first leg of their North American tour with some 80 shows scheduled already from February through April they look forward to the rhythm of the road and the experience of playing some familiar haunts as well as a few new venues. With stops in California and Canada and everywhere in between and a Florida spring break run that includes stops in the Keys the duo may be setting the pace to pass 2008’s string of 189 live dates.

On the even of its Felton show, EOTO or “good sound” in Japanese pulls the tour bus over at In-and-Out Burger off of a California highway to grab some fuel for the road. Here, jambands.com speaks with Jason Hann about life on the road night after night, going back to the studio to record a new album and the quest to find tickets to see Phish in Hampton.

AJ: Tell me about this upcoming tour do you have a favorite venue or particular city that you are most excited to play?

JH: Our biggest crowd, playing with EOTO, has been out in Minneapolis. The promoter and the kids that get the word out do great job from our first time out there, it’s been really happening. The thing that’s great about playing all of these cities is each one has something different or a little special to offer. And it makes us play differently too, trying to read the crowd, and seeing what they’re into and what they’re going for.

It’ll be interesting to see Charlottesville, VA we’ve never played there before. And Huntsville, AL people have been telling us to go there for a long time. Most of the other cities we’ve been through before.

We are also doing a week down in Florida a Spring Break run, which we’ve never done before. So we’re going down to the Keys, Miami, Delray Beach, Palm Beach and Gainesville Florida is a really nice state to tour. I’m from Florida, so I’m looking forward to going back down there. And on spring break there are a million kids down there looking for things to do every night [laughs] so we’re hoping to catch a lot of people around there.

AJ: Do you have any plans for live painters on this tour?

JH: We don’t usually schedule that per se. But we know painters in several towns and when they know we’re coming to town and they’ll get in touch with us about coming down to a show. We’ve had four painters show up to paint with us at the same time before. It’s really great all different artists and seeing what visuals they come up with night after night too.

AJ: Do you guys have any festivals on the horizon for this summer?

JH: We’re definitely doing Wakarusa. And probably ROTHBURY. And then there are quite a few festivals in Oregon that we will be doing the Garden Party and of course Sonic Bloom that we do every year out in Colorado, also Camp Bisco and probably Starscape out in Baltimore too.

AJ: This past year Michael Kang and Kyle Hollingsworth often sat in, do you anticipate a lot of collaborations on this tour?

JH: We just played in L.A. and Steve Molitz from Particle, who’s played with us quite a few times before, sat in for a little bit. And we’re going to do another show in Chicago this year with Kyle and Kang joining us. And Kang is going to do another show with us later down the road in Birmingham. We’ll do most of the tour as just the two of us, but as we run into people or someone comes to the venue that we know, we’re always happy to have them come up and play with us it always makes us play differently too.

AJ: I saw that you played 189 shows in 2008, which was the third highest of any band reported. How do you keep momentum going night after night?

JH: Wow. I’ve never heard of it in any kind of context like that regarding what anyone else is doing. For us, I think part of it helps that we are making up all of the music every night. Some people are like, Well, how do you do that?’ [laughs] But it’s one of those things like painting or writing if you’re doing it everyday, there comes a point where you either get tired of what you’re doing and you force yourself into an area of finding different ways to get inspired or finding different ways of creativity. And you get used to that part of the journey as much as the music that you’re making every night.

It’s stimulating the creative process to really use your whole brain on a nightly basis. And that part of it is super exciting as well as getting the people to dance and getting that party atmosphere going. It’s equally exciting just to be creating music night after night. We would both rather be playing than not playing on any given night of the tour. It’s nice to have a night off once in awhile and go to a nice place on the beach somewhere or up at Mt. Shasta or something like that. Other than that, we would rather not be sitting in a hotel room for an entire day.

AJ: You mention the beach and the mountains what do you do in those few moments of down time that you have on those off nights?

JH: Really I just try not to think about anything else. I think that’s the best thing about those types of places when you get that quiet time or that chill out time, you just give yourself a chance to recuperate. There is definitely a physical aspect to doing what we do many nights and being on the road so many nights and sometimes you don’t think about it until you get that time off. And then the body is like, Ahh, thank you.’ [laughs]. And then it’s just that much more rejuvenating when we play the night after that.

AJ: Do you and Travis have plans to attend the Phish reunion shows in Hampton since you will be in the area to play a late night show?

JH: If we’re up there, we will try to go. We’re having just as hard a time as anybody else getting tickets. I’ve never seen Phish live before, actually. And Phish is one of Travis’ more inspirational bands in his formative years of playing music he really looked up to those guys. So, I definitely want to go I’ve heard a lot about it. And I’ve seen some of their solo side projects a couple of times at other festivals and stuff. So, I’m down for the experience.

AJ: Do you have a particular Phish song that’s one of your favorites?

JH: I know a lot of words from songs, but I don’t actually know all the titles. We actually do “First Tube” with EOTO, our own sort of version of it. We don’t make it a part of any kind of setlist, but if we’re feeling it, we can kind of go there at a moment’s notice. But that definitely always gets a good reaction from the crowd.

AJ: How would you describe or classify your sound in just a few sentences?

JH: It’s definitely dance party music for your own personal spacecraft. That’s how I would say it, as any easy way to put it I mean we play a lot of different styles of music. Three days from now, I’ll find a different space than today. It’s hard to define it as just one thing, but it definitely is all about partying and the dance. And we bring a positive vibe with it. Sometimes at a hip-hop show or something, a lot of the music has to have cursing in it or you find that you have to have a lot of street credential from a rapper. But, for our thing, it’s about creating a lot of different textures, but it’s also about uplifting at all times. We’ll create textures and sonic soundscapes that are like digital jungles with animals crawling through and growling through them. And we definitely go to a dark space too, but that’s not a depressing space at all.

AJ: Who are some of your musical influences?

JH: One of our biggest influences is a guy named Tipper from the U.K. And Bassnectar has definitely been a big influence on us. We’ve also been listening to a lot of Dub Step lately and so some of the guys I like to listen to for that stuff are Excision and Caspa. And for some other music: Derek Carter, Daft Punk and Paul Anka.

AJ: Do you have a favorite musical moment or one that you’re most proud of?

JH: I got a chance to play with Herbie Hancock once in my life and that was pretty huge because he’s been such a big influence for me. I got to play about three songs with him at this party. And they had a piano there for him in case he would show up, and he showed up and we got a chance to play for awhile. Another moment was playing with Isaac Hayes in front of 100,000 + people in Glastonbury. Isaac and the band left us on stage for about 10 minutes while we did our percussion/drum solo in the middle of the set. It was quite the rush having that kind of cheering from that huge of a crowd. But there are a lot of different moments in music, and that’s one of the great things about it. All sorts of different situations come up that are huge high moments. And there have been many but that would be the immediate singular moment that sticks in my mind for me.

AJ: You guys put out Razed last spring. Are there any plans for an upcoming album any time soon?

JH: Actually, yes. We’re looking at going into the studio in maybe June. We don’t know exactly how we want to do it yet, but we’ve talked about doing a 3-disc set where each disc maybe has a different style of music like psych-house or electro or dub-step or downtempo. You know those are just some really distinct styles that we do. Sometimes live, we don’t get to just pick out one style for the night. So we sort of take the crowd on a journey and switch up the variety. But we got to play a downtempo set at a festival called Shambhala and that’s another festival we will play this summer up in Canada and we played an all downtempo set while the sun was coming up. It was just so beautiful. We could just be in that one mode and people were really digging it. So, I think we might aim toward that kind of theme a multi-disc set when we go into the studio next time.

AJ: What’s up next for EOTO anything else you wanted to share?

JH: All of our shows are available now for download. We’ve been doing that since the fall tour. Livedownloads.com and search for EOTO. It’s really great because you can review all the songs and you can see how much our sound changes throughout the course of a tour. The west coast sounds a little different and then we’ll hit Colorado… You can also tell the changes we’re going through with back-to-back shows. Certain sounds come up again, but also get filtered through and will evolve into something else.

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