Instrumental San Diego power trio Earthless are set to shred Australian stages this summer, and in the lead up to their current tour Anthony Gebhardt chews the fat with guitarist Isaiah Mitchell and drummer Mario Rubalcaba (who also plays with the equally awesome Rocket From The Crypt, Hot Snakes and OFF!)
So you guys seem to be quite the regular visitors to Australia these days. What is it that brings you back out here so regularly?
This will be our third time over, we all love Australia. We dig a lot of Australian music from a bunch of different eras. The people of Oz have been very kind to us and we have made some amazing friendships from coming here. So why not come back?
Outside of Earthless you guys are also involved in a whole heap of other bands and side projects. Is it ever a challenge multi-tasking all of your musical outlets?
Yes it is at times, for me personally (Mario) sometimes I have three other projects to work around (Rocket From The Crypt, Hot Snakes and OFF!) Whether it be others tours, one-off shows or recording, it can get tricky and ultimately it’s not gonna always work out. When Isaiah was in Howlin’ Rain, I had just started touring with OFF! so it was a logistical nightmare trying to get any Earthless activity going, our schedules just did not match up. I’m glad that we are changing that now.
In your twelve years together as Earthless, have you observed a noticeably growing interest in the more retro flavours of psych/classic/cosmic rock from music fans around the world?
There is definitely a younger crowd that has embraced this whole sphere of music and they are hungry for it. I think it’s great not only for new bands but also for older bands like (doom metal pioneers) Saint Vitus, that were absolutely hated for the most part when they were initially active. It’s great that they can now play to a crowd that really loves them.
Isaiah, given your status as a modern day guitar demi-god, who are your guitar deities, both past and present?
My guitar heroes are (deep breath!); Jimi Hendrix, Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Robert Johnson, Peter Green, Rory Gallagher, Chuck Berry, Ry Cooder, Mark Knopfler, Robert Cray, Frank Zappa, Jerry Garcia, David Gilmour, Muddy Waters, Townes Van Zandt, Freddie King, Johnny Winter, John McLaughlin, Paul Brady, Eric Gales, Richard Thompson, Lightning Hopkins… to name a few.
I see that awesome Brisbane music store Tym Guitars stock a specially designed Earthless fuzz pedal. How did this ‘collaboration’ come about?
Our good buddy Tim Brennan of Tym Guitars fame is the best. I approached him via internet and wanted to see if he had any recommendations for a fuzz pedal that would suit my style of playing. And he just flat out said “Why don’t we build you a custom pedal?” That’s something I always dreamed of and really never thought would be possible. Tim makes dreams come true! He asked me what kind of fuzz sound I was interested in and then whipped up the Earthless pedal. He also added one of his ‘Boost’ pedal circuits into the housing to bring it up a notch during a solo, so it’s really two pedals in one. He was able to make the fuzz really loud so that when you turn it in you don’t lose a bunch of signal. He’s the best, one of the absolute nicest and most helpful people you’ll ever meet. Brisbane and Australia are blessed to have such a man.
I was wondering about the track Uluru Rock, from your new record From The Ages – was it inspired by the big red rock in the centre of Australia, and if so have you made the pilgrimage to visit it during your Oz travels?
The track Uluru Rock was conceived during one of our warm up/intro jams at our Tym Guitars in- store in Brisbane during our last trip over. I know that Uluru is a sacred sight for the Aborigines and it seemed like a fitting title for the song. When you listen to music and close your eyes all sorts of great visions can happen, especially in instrumental music. For me, listening to this song and visualizing long ago when the natives were paying homage to Uluru with their rituals and what have you… I think it’s a wonderful match.
Do you have any plans in place yet beyond your Australian tour for Earthless in 2014?
We have a few one-off shows going on, we are playing the Austin Psych Fest in May – that’s gonna be insane! And we are hoping to get back to Europe again and maybe South America.
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Those with a penchant for epic, cosmic jams would be wise to get themselves along to Crowbar (Fortitude Valley) on 3 January to witness Earthless in their free-form, guitar drenched glory.