E-Tap Gone Wild: An Interview with Eternal Tapestry

November 20, 2012
By Steve Dewhurst

A World Out Of Time is the second Eternal Tapestry album of the year following June’s Dawn In Two Dimensions and their seventh since 2008, making them one of the most prolific bands working as well as the most consistent. Bringing together elements of classic rock, psych and Krautrock, the album flows together beautifully but never sacrifices their radical departures into supernatant psychedelic bliss, making it the strongest Eternal Tapestry album to date and maybe most accessible. I spoke to Eternal Tapestry’s sibling core of Jed and Nicholas Bindeman about how A World Out Of Time was made, the riff to ‘Apocalypse Troll’ that I just couldn’t put my finger on and what it’s like to be the craziest brothers in rock since, I dunno… probably Hanson.

So, A World Out Of Time is out. It sounds great. What was it like to make?
Jed Bindeman: It was really fun working on the new record. Despite what a lot of press have been saying, we in fact didn’t record this entire album as a whole, but edited it together from various sessions like we usually do. There were a few differences from how we normally work, though – one being that we wanted this album to work as a narrative whole; not the normal structure of a record where it’s one song following another, but where everything is stitched together into an entire piece. We also did a lot of overdubs and processing after the initial tracks were recorded, instead of everything being fully live to tape, like most of our recordings.

Nicholas Bindeman: This album was a slightly different process in that we started recording with the concept of a patchwork in mind. So while we did piece it together, all the material was conceived and put to tape with a unified notion.

OK, immediately the first thing that stood out for me was the riff in ‘Apocalypse Troll’. I couldn’t put my finger on it for ages, and then I caved in and asked. It’s ‘Summer Breeze‘ by Seals and Crofts and you’ve rocked the hell out of it.
NB: There’s a touch of history to the co-opted use of a 70′s jam riff. Eight, nine years ago I played in a skronky, no wave group called Hustler White, and I would inevitably end our sets by riffing out on either [Iron Butterfly's] ‘Inna Gadda Da Vida’, [Cream's] ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ or the break down riff from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’. Not usually a pretty sight, but we were, ya know, all about a good time. I’ve always loved the riff from ‘Summer Breeze’, so I thought “let’s rock it the fuck out, right?” And so ‘Apocalypse Troll’ was born! You don’t think they’ll sue us now that I’ve admitted that do you? They’re pretty chilled out Baha’i dudes if I’m not mistaken…

Going back to the first question, you mention having a pre-planned concept for the record. Is there a story behind it at all?
NB: The Faust Tapes has always struck me as a very unique piece of music. It was recorded over several years and draws on insanely disparate influences and yet they managed to collage together folk songs, free blasts, prog riffage and electronic sounds into a 43 minute album that evolves on its own path and manages to continually relate to itself without becoming too stale or wandering astray before bringing you back. We had no intention of making music that sounds like The Faust Tapes [but] what we took from it was a desire to spread out our sound a bit more. We’re into so many sounds as a group [that] it’s easy to stem off in a million directions, so we took a shot at giving new intentions to our recording sessions and seeing how far we could go out and still sew it back together cohesively. While we got more out than is evident on A World Out of Time, on the CD-r that accompanies the album’s pre-order (Prometheus Rising) you can hear one of the more ‘concrete’ tracks that didn’t fit into the assembly of the final album. The idea of the collage edit style has been appealing to me for some time though, especially as it relates to the album coming off as a journey with destinations in mind!

There’s a definite Krautrock influence though, beyond the concept. As well as the psych, there’s some pure Neu! motorik in songs like ‘When I Was In Your Mind’ I think.
NB: Yes. Yes there is. At this point there isn’t so much a direct relationship with Neu! or Faust or Trad Gras Och Stenar or any particulars. We all have many things in mind at any given time, and while we do sometimes talk about intention and theme before we hit record, we do most of the composing after we hit record. As the music evolves on it’s own, each of us is pushing and pulling individually to make up the whole sound. I find improv to be endlessly fascinating as a compositional tool. There’s an openness that exists within the parameters of each improvisation that allow for a subtlety that’s beyond intention: accidental music. There’s a language that’s invented each and every time two or more players make sound together. The more you play with someone, the more the language develops and flourishes, allowing for more subtlety and more independence. Eventually, once the language is more tenable, you can just float on the music that you improvise. Sure, we’re a psych band, but more than that, we play improvised music in a psych/ kraut/ burnout vein.
Early orders of the album come with Prometheus Rising, a CDr of exclusive material.

NB: Jed and me actually joked about what we might call this CD-r to get it flagged once people put it up on ebay. Our favorite by a long shot, and shockingly close to actually becoming the title was, “LaMonte Young Bootleg.” Perhaps a bit much, but it would’ve been worth it just to get on LaMonte’s sketch radar! Prometheus Rising is an assortment of tracks from the last couple years. A few that didn’t make it onto Beyond the 4th Door, a couple were extra from A World Out of Time, including the “concrete” track I mentioned earlier called ‘Bridge Over an Abyss’, and the last track was us live on Experimental Half Hour, our friend’s cable access show.

You all seem have a hell of a lot of side projects going on. How do you juggle them all and do they ever start crossing over?
JB: Yeah we do like to keep ourselves busy, to say the least. Since we all have really diverse tastes in music, there can be some ideas that just wouldn’t work for Eternal Tapestry, so other projects and bands can be the best way to create those sounds. For years I was working on Heavy Winged stuff with my friends on the east coast, but as time has gone on it’s gotten harder for our schedules to sync up. That project started a few years before I moved to Portland, so some of the ideas I had in a Heavy Winged context tended to shift over into my playing with Eternal Tapestry, especially in the early days when things were a bit more chaotic. Dewey [Mahood] and I had a band called Bloodbiker that lasted for a while. We played pissed hardcore inspired by the likes of old Black Flag, Flipper etc. Definitely material that would NOT have worked in Eternal Tapestry!  We’re all involved in a lot of projects, though, playing with various friends in different contexts. I have a new-ish shoegazy band called Helen, which is myself along with Liz [Harris] from Grouper and our friend Scott who used to play in Eat Skull. Then there’s Rattledick, which is a band Ryan from Eternal Tapestry and I have been doing with two other friends for about 4 years now. We play periodically and the shows inevitably turn into a huge mess. Everyone basically goes insane on instruments they don’t know how to play for 10 minutes or so and then it devolves from there, both literally and figuratively. It’s honestly quite satisfying in a really specific way. Those are just a few, though, as there’s lots of other things we’re all involved in. Basically what it comes down to is that we all like to play music as much as possible.

Do you ever fight? Like brothers in a band rolling around on the floor and all the other guys going, “keep out of it. just stay back and keep out of it.”
JB: Surprisingly, this is the first time anyone has asked us that in an interview.  Sorry to tell you, but we’re not quite like Oasis or the Jesus and Mary Chain or something. After six years I don’t think there’s been a single on-stage meltdown, along the “you slept with my wife” or “who ate my pastrami sandwich” lines.  Realistically, if someone DID eat my pastrami sandwich before a show I would probably have a major freak out, but who wouldn’t? Nick and I seem to get into minor quarrels on tour sometimes, but they’re always small and don’t last long.  It’s kind of inevitable with siblings, I figure.  He’s two years older than me and [he] still likes to remind me of that sometimes, but that’s what happens after you’re stuck in a van with your brother for 5 weeks.

I think you guys could make a killing out of a ‘secret’ Eternal Tapestry Brawl Shocker video ‘leaked’ onto the net. Real vicious shit. Like throwing sandwiches backstage and stuff.
JB: Yeah, the E-Tap Gone Wild video series will be starting soon.  Ryan’s bikini top “accidentally” falls off in the hot tub, Nick eats one too many pork rinds backstage. You know the deal – basic rockstar stuff.

So 2013′s rolling around pretty quick. What’s in the pipeline for Eternal Tapestry?
JB: We’re heading back to Europe in the spring, probably for about a month. The plan is to mostly play spots we didn’t get to last time, like Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Poland, as well as some other countries if time allows. We’re also playing the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, which is really exciting. Other than that, there are no specific release or touring plans for 2013. Since we will have released two albums on Thrill Jockey in 2012, we’ll probably take a break from releasing anything for a while.  We’d like to give the new album some time and space to really sink in; we’re really proud of  A World Out Of Time, so we’ll let that speak for itself for a bit. At the same time I’m sure we’ll record tons of new stuff though, since we’re always working on new things at practice. We’ve learned over the years to pretty much record everything and then sort it out later, because there’s nothing worse than having an incredible jam and then realizing afterwards that no one recorded it.

Eternal Tapestry’s A World Out Of Time is out now on Thrill Jockey

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