EOTO’s music can be pretty genre bending stuff. What kinda of stuff are you guys listening to these days, and what do you consider to be EOTO’s biggest influences musically?
Oh wow, that’s a good question. Well you know there’s kind of a thing where I’ll listen to music with EOTO in mind, but I also do solo DJ sets in a lot of the same genres. So I’m trying to keep up with the latest releases, it can’t help but influence the things I do in EOTO. Travis also has his tastes in music that he’s checking out all the time. Before, when we would spend a lot of time together as we were forming the project, we listened to a lot of the same things. I think our tastes were on a similar path. Now it’s pretty cool because he listens to a lot of different things that I don’t and i do the same. Some of the guys that I’ve been listening to now while keeping EOTO in mind are KOAN Sound, Blunt Instrument out of Australia, TriFonic who has one release that came out a couple of years ago. I just started listening to it and wow, it’s so fresh, if it were put out today it would still be amazing. DCarls, DCarls is great. JOBOT, another one that I’ve been listening to. I really enjoy Skeptiks. Also there’s things like Tipper. I’m can’t really thinking of other stuff right now. Oh and Gaudi, and that’s a good roundabout, as far as music in the electronic world. And then when I’m not doing that I listen to a lot of world music and jazz. There’s not a particular favorite that I have, or artists that I need to check out or read a review of, that’s all over the place.
EOTO has toured all across America but electronic music is huge all around the world. Are there any plans to take EOTO international any time soon?
Yeah! We’re right on the cusp, it feels like. We have lots of connections and we have fans in different countries that keep saying “You guys gotta come here.” But you know, you gotta wait til a promoter hears about us and they work to bring us over. Right now it looks like we’ve got a solid offer from Australia and in this past year we got an offer to do Moscow and Israel but we had to turn those down because those were times when String Cheese was trying to rehearse and some shows happened. So it’s give and take, we’re not in any kind of rush but we’re definitely anxious to go worldwide because of what you said. Electronic music is a lot bigger in other places in the world and it would just be so great to go down to South America or out to Asia or Europe and partake in those amazing electronic festivals that they have there.
I saw EOTO at Electric Forest this year and it seems like there’s always another festival on the horizon for you guys. What’s the wildest festival you guys have ever played at?
The wildest! We’ve played some crazy ones. All kinds of adventures go down, and personal adventures, but as far as one festival that stands out. Of course there’s Electric Forest and Horning’s Hideout and those kinds of places. I would say that easily one of our favorite festivals is Shambala in Canada, British Columbia, just above Spokane, Washington. That’s probably been the most influential festival on us, almost 85% of the people on the lineup aren’t even big out there, and the way that they treat the property and leave room for kids to have fun and the way they go about policing it is just everything you’d ever want in a festival. It feels so free out there, as far as people keeping themselves in check and hearing the most unbelievable music that just isn’t going to hit the States for another few years. That’s what influenced us to start doing dubstep, back when we started playing dubstep in 2008 it was because of a performance that we saw at Shambala and it was really incredibly. And dubstep didn’t really catch on in the states til probably late 2009. Shambala Festival is really great in that the DJs and producers bring out their best, latest, newest stuff to Shambala. Along the lines of underground bass and breakbeat and that kind of thing. Europe owns the whole techno aspect of things, but Shambala just opens my ears so much any time I go there. Easily the most inspiring festival.
You and Michael Travis are also members of the String Cheese Incident. Do you think a bit of the EOTO sound has found its way into the new String Cheese sound?
Well that’s a funny question because when we – well there’s definitely a lot more electronic music in String Cheese world as far as we might play two or three electronic bass tracks per night. It’s funny how when a lot of String Cheese fans start to hear String Cheese do a little electronica they say “Oh that’s any EOTO moment” or something like that. But its really a misconception because, in EOTO, Travis is playing all the melodic parts and bass sounds and I’m playing the drums. So when String Cheese does an electronic moment it’s usually because I’ve programmed all the synth parts that might be running in the background and Travis is playing drums. It’s definitely a different thing, there’s a lot of electronic influence but a lot of the guys in the band, like Kang, are alway wanting to do something different with some songs. It’s very influential from Kang, to have these dubstep moments in songs that the fans really cherish, like when we did our cover of “Kashmir” at Electric Forest last year or when we did “Desert Dawn” and put a dubstep part at the end of that. I mean it was gnarly and we’re just loving the fact there’s gonna be a lot of people who really hate it but there’s going to be a lot of new fans who really love it.
That’s kind of how String Cheese has done it it’s whole career. Starting off as a bluegrass/calypso band with no drums and then all of a sudden Travis starts playing drums and Kang starts playing electric mandolin and Kyle comes into the band with his jazz and funk stuff to where the sound changes significantly and the old schoolers at that time were like “Ahhh they’re leaving their happy bluegrass and calypso place and going all electronic”. Then when they actually started incorporating electronic stuff, which the band has been doing since 1999 or 2000, at least trying to jam that way, there was another transition and people said “Oh my god, they’re bailing on their roots” but I think String Cheese as a band has always been about progressing and working in different styles according to what the band wants to do. A really good example, on the electronic side, is Billy had brought a song to the band. It was kind of a traditional real song and he’s like “so here’s this thing and I wanna do something different with it, so what can we do that’s really different with it?” I suggested that we do an Indian type dub track, and I had produced some music that was like that so I threw that out there and he was like “Well what does that sound like?” I played some examples and he was like “Yeah let’s do that” and that turned into a song called “BollyMunster,” which is one of our more electronic tracks. But you know it just came out of a desire to explore what else is out there and what can we do differently that we haven’t done already and not constantly recreate the same thing we’ve done before.
Well my next question was actually going to be about that Electric Forest “Desert Dawn.” That was my favorite moment of the whole festival. I was going to ask you who was behind the crazy new take on that String Cheese classic.
You know we did our song and then there was some point there in the conversation, I’m pretty sure it was Kang – me and Travis almost never suggest the electronic stuff because we do that thing with EOTO all the time so its expected of us. “What do you wanna do?” “Oh let’s do some electronic” So we almost always leave that open. Kang stepped forward and says “Let’s make this really gnarly” and we hadn’t done it before and people could not see that coming out of anywhere. It was like, “How can we out-Bassnectar Bassnectar for about five minutes?” So I went in and did the programming for the bass sound, the wobble sound and we just knew that the effect that we wanted was a little bit of everything else that’s out there. So we can bring our little groovy stuff but we can also bring just the nastiest of the nastiest stuff that you’re gonna see out here.
With the “Kashmir” and the “Desert Dawn,” the whole crowd went wild, nobody saw those coming.
Haha, it was just so far out of left field. We just thoroughly enjoyed it and smiled about it for the longest of times because that’s shaking things up, doing something different.
Does EOTO plan to continue touring for the foreseeable future What’s next for EOTO?
Definitely touring. This tour is going to effect a lot of things, as far as our approach to the next tour. It’s the first time trying this whole weekend regional approach, with us flying out to the region, touring the region, and then flying home. And we’ll see how that goes. It’ll effect whether or not we get back in the tour bus and go on a full blown playing every night without a break type of tour or if we keep this up. Right now, for me and Travis, its amazing to have any home time at all because we’ve been going so hard the last six years, but really the last five years we’ve been on the road 250 days a year, and with String Cheese rehearsals out in Colorado, since I live here in California. There’s a point where you just have to work on being home and just know that that’s the part that’s going to nourish you for getting back out on the road on the weekends. It’s just really important to get some family time back in there.