Interview: Earthquake Party

Earthquake Party is great at rocking out, which is what I love bands to do most. Fuzzy guitars, thick keys and thudding drums are accompanied by melodic singing (care of Mallory, also on keyboards) and the smoky vocals of guitarist Justin, who punctuates his singing often with freak-out screams. I saw them play at Rosebud Bar and Grille last Saturday, where they covered some Nirvana tunes expertly (see above video), and oddly enough, I was editing this interview when we got hit by that earthquake last week, which must be a sign from God, or the other guy, that you should check them out–they’re playing all over the place regularly (see their site for the long list of gigs coming up), including TT the Bear’s on Halloween. Justin was kind enough to answer my questions.

How’d you get into playing music?

Got a guitar in 7th grade and couldn’t stop playing it.

How do you go about writing songs?

Usually I write the music first…I spend a lot of time messing around on guitar, melodies pop up sooner or later. When tracking demos, I’ll take a chord arrangement I’m working on and write and record a riff over it…then mute that riff and write and record another riff over the same arrangement…then go back and take out the chords all together, tweak the riffs a bit, and what’s left is a slightly more frantic/disjointed arrangement where the rhythm chords are absent but implied.

If someone were trying to get into starting a band, what advice would you give them?

Don’t worry about getting enough members, getting better gear, or practicing enough times before your first show…if you have good songs, go play them…the rest will work itself out.

How often do you practice?

Ideally, at least once a week…we’ve been on tour for the last three weeks though, so we’ve had a chance to play almost every night and really have fun with the songs.

Any horror stories or funny things happen during practice?

There’s a ghost that lives in our bass cab that only gets vocal when we are in our practice space…they shut up for shows though.

What was your first live show–what was it like?

It was just Mallory and myself at a beach-themed dive bar on the South Shore…we played really loud but with no percussion, just guitar and synth…we actually had another guitar on the floor hooked up to a practice amp getting feedback the whole time, sometimes I’d go over and kick it…it was silly.

Any horror stories or funny things happen up on stage?

Our gear blows up a lot. I break strings/guitar straps/pickups/fingers pretty often…

How do you record?

We have been really lucky to record with some very close friends with amazing resources and abilities. Mallory’s roommates Jeremy and Dan run esthudio in Brighton, where we recorded Vs. Pizza and some yet to be released stuff. Our last tape, Let’s Rock, OK? was done at Mad Oak Studios in Allston with our friend’s Ian, Joe, and Evan. At esthudio, we have done tracks live all in one room with vocal overdubs later, as well as completely separated tracking…drums first, then every instrument/vocal overdubbed afterwards. At Mad Oak, everything was tracked and mixed live…we had monitors instead of headphones, and once the take was done there was no way to adjust the levels of instruments or voices. We had all agreed to track to this ancient 1/2 inch 2 track tape machine, so we knew what we were in for…but it was still completely bonkers. I had so much fun recording that tape.

Any advice for a newbie trying to get into recording his or her stuff, either professionally or as an amateur?

Know what you want for your song, it’s really easy to waste time in the studio trying out a bunch of different gear or mixing ideas…that being said, never be too stubborn to at least entertain a new concept. Also, don’t choose a studio/producer because of what gear they have, actually listen to stuff they have recorded…chances are your record is gonna sound like one of those records.

Is there anything you experience when recording that you think would surprise a person who doesn’t know anything about the process?

Sometimes you don’t sound anything like you think you sound.

Any bands you’d recommend that are from the Boston area?

There’s so many…I really enjoy being part of the scene right now. Specifically, the Killer New Pretty and Nice EP comes out in about a month, those guys deserve all of your attention. I’m still playing the Speedy Ortiz EP (Sports) daily, and I can’t wait to hear the debut Bent Shapes record that is in the works.

Could you recommend one album by some other artist?

Bonsai Superstar by Brainiac.

Finally, is there anything we can do as writers to help you out?

Keep listening!

(Featured image source)

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