If ye haven't heard, we slumbering scribes are putting out a compilation album on Oct. 2nd! Sleeping Village Caravan Of Doom (Vol. 1) is an exhibition of like-minded tracks that balance sludgy heft with an earthy stoner atmosphere. These are songs that would feel at home in the midst of a bog or mire, and we’ve brought them together, drenched in murk and algae, for your gloomy enjoyment. Pre-order here for the measly price of $1! That, dear reader, is a bargain.
In anticipation of the (increasingly eminent) release of Sleeping Village Record's inaugural compilation--a swampy collection of 10 previously released underground stoner doom tracks--we highfalutin peasants have invited the featured artists to our murky interrogation chamber for a chat. Number four on our list--and the tracklist!--is Denver's own earthdiver, who we previously interviewed! The following is republication of that prior chat, with a few extra questions added to the top to keep things fresh and relevant.
earthdiver's fantastic debut, Lord of the Cosmos came out earlier this year. If you like what you hear, instrumental track "Blood Moon" will be making a well-deserved appearance on the Caravan of Doom. Without further ado, I give you earthdiver!
Sleeping Village: Firstly, how has the pandemic altered the life, times, and career of earthdiver? Hope you're all doing well.
earthdiver: The pandemic has altered things quite a bit. I live in a home with people who are immunocompromised, so there has been no practice or rehearsal for a very long time. I guess you could call it a "forced hiatus." That said, a lot of writing, of riffs and otherwise, has been going on and I've had time to develop my side project Buffalo Tombs during this break, so not all is lost. I'm literally swimming in riffs. It's probably going to be somewhat difficult to break everything down and fully decide what direction they will go. We'll see.
SV: Thanks so much for the opportunity to have "Blood Moon" appear on our first compilation! Is there any particular story behind the creation of this (frankly underrated) track?
e: We're stoked to have a track on the comp. Sleeping Village was one of the first to really pick up on us a band and help spread the gospel of earthdiver. We truly appreciate all you guys have done for us. As for the "Blood Moon"... that one was a bit of a struggle looking back. It was born out of a rehearsal jam and was the first truly collaborative song we wrote. Everything else up to that point had been someone bringing in a riff or a song sketch and hashing it out. "Blood Moon" was pure inspiration travelling between the three of us. The earliest versions of it were 10-15 minutes long. In fact, we may have played a long version of it at our first show and decided to start cutting it down to give it a little more movement. It was also a perfect opportunity for a break in the set as there are no vocals and it starts off with a nice even pace. It was a resting point in the set. I recall it taking FOREVER to get right though. There were moments when I thought we might trash it. We really went back and forth on it for quite a long time. I always believed in it, just judging from how moved I was by the early recordings. I had to really sell it to the other boys and prove that the crowd dug it. It ended up being a setlist favorite once we finally nailed it down.
SV: We Villagers have been quite impressed with the success of Lord of the Cosmos within the underground stoner/doom community--not to say that we doubted your abilities, of course, but you seem to have made a splash with your debut effort that many bands don't accomplish within such a short time frame. Is there a particular factor you attribute this success to, or are you just, y'know, kick-ass by default?
e: Obviously, we just naturally kick ass, so that helps a lot, but it was a ton of work spreading the word and setting everything up for the album release. We really worked our asses off writing and tightening up the songs not only in rehearsal, but honing them live as well. I've found that what you think works in a garage might not 100% go over with an audience. The first time we played things live, it was always an experiment. I think the only songs that didn't change were "Leave Something Witchy," which I had been sitting on for a couple of years, and "Apparatus de Cultus," which I wrote fully formed and just like it is on the record in about 10 minutes. Other than the strength of the material, and the artwork being a HUGE selling point, we worked the fuck out of Instagram. Liking posts, making friends, sending out early copies of the album, and just posting regularly. We built our reputation live, but spread the word almost wholly on Instagram.
SV: From an outsider's perspective,Forbidden Place seems to have their finger on the pulse. What's it been like working with them?
e: Forbidden Place has been amazing to work with. Tony and Cale know their shit and keep their ears and eyes open for great music that might otherwise get overlooked. They hit us up very early on and showed interest in putting out our full length not long after we released the Leave Something Witchy EP. After finally finishing the album and meeting Tony, we were totally sold on working with them. I mean, it couldn't hurt to be labelmates with Mephisofeles, Burn Ritual, Space Coke, and all the rest, but what really sold me was the wide range of music they work with. They aren't a doom label, but they do doom. They aren't a noise rock label, but they do that too. If it's good, unique, and they think people need to hear it... they'll put it out. Their reputation is growing just by the sheer number of bands they are bringing into the fold. Everyone needs to go take a peek at their website and just see what they have. There is not a single release that isn't good. Forbidden Place is definitely a label to watch for 2021.
SV: Beyond "Blood Moon," one track that has proven to be a grower is closer "The Crusader," a track to which the term "epic" genuinely applies. Do you forsee earthdiver tackling more of these long-form narrative tracks on your next effort?
e: I love epic songs. Songs that tell a story not only with the lyrical content, but also with the music, which I think "Crusader" does. It was a lot like "Blood Moon" in that it was born out of a jam and was truly collaborative. In fact, the first 3 and half minutes of that song are exactly the same as the first time we jammed it in the garage. Nothing changed at all in that section. Everything else was a fucking struggle. I've been writing songs and playing in bands since I was 14 (almost 25 years now) and "Crusader" was the longest writing process ever. I mean we worked on just the outline of it for months. To be 100% honest we played it for the first time as a whole the week before we recorded it. No one was really secure about it until after we got it down on tape, and even then, the other boys were worried that it was too long. At 11 minutes... in the doom world... it might as well be a radio single. I think I'm most proud of that one though all around. I put everything I had into it and I think the payoff was what I needed. As a side note, it's actually about a direct ancestor of mine that fought in the first crusade and ended up dying in Jerusalem. It was an attempt, on my part, to work through the fact that my ancestor likely shed innocent blood in the name of religion. The line "may his bones be ground to dust...and may the hardness of his spirit weigh him down forever" was from a curse that the Jews of the time cast on the Crusaders. May the curse finally end.
I probably won't be able to get the boys to go for another 11 minute plus track again... unless it just happens and I sell it to them. As for me... I'm not done with them. There is a 10 plus minute instrumental on the upcoming Buffalo Tombs EP.
(The remainder of the interview was originally published July 2019)
SV: Describe earthdiver!
e: The short answer: We’re a 3-piece stoner/doom band from the high desert of Denver, Colorado.
That said, I always hate to use genre tags for anything more than a basic description because I believe it’s super limiting and pigeonholes us into one set thing, and I refuse to let that be who we are, because we simply are not just one set thing. The three of us bring a lifetime of different experiences and influences to the table in an attempt to create something truly different and unique; something that, in the end, should be able to stand alone and speak for itself. Yeah, it’s heavy. Yeah, it’s doomy at times. Yeah, some of it has that stoner vibe… but… it’s a lot more than that too, which is a fact that will be a little easier to convey once people can hear more than just the 3 song EP we currently have out.
SV: One of the most intriguing elements of your sound--and the bombastic "Warrior's Plight" in particular--is that loose n' groovy bass. Are you influenced by any particular bands in regards to your liberal use of bass...or is this an earthdiver original?
e: Matt, our bass player, says that some of that comes simply from a big ego and a little bit of insecurity, as if he needs to be heard to justify his existence on the plane where the music lives. There is that, but bass is also somewhat underrated in the genre(s) we generally get listed with. In most cases it simply holds down the low end and makes the guitars seem fatter and heavier. There is definitely an element of that with us, for example, listen to “Genesis/Lament of the Elder Gods” particularly the latter half of the song. You’ll hear the guitar and the bass syncing up to create that big heavy doomy feel, so, we definitely have that on lock… but Matt is an incredible bassist and we give him free reign to run that frequency. I play the big chords and he makes the bass dance around them. I think it gives our music a little more forward momentum than a lot of other examples of the genre(s) we might fall into. Obviously, we’re not the first to create that sort of feel, but it’s not really something we set out to do either; it’s all very organic.
SV: From what I gather, you guys have been playing a decent number of shows lately. Has playing live affected your band as a cohesive whole? In a similar vein, what are your favorite aspects of playing live?
e: We’ve definitely been playing a lot. Part of that is by design. I don’t think a band can be great just by hitting the practice space. Sure, you can nail the songs in the garage, but being on stage in front of people, whether it is a dive bar or a theater, comes with its own unique challenges that have to be overcome. We’ve been playing almost everything that comes our way in an attempt to be the tightest live band we can be. We want to be consistent and play the best music possible whether we’re playing on the floor at Bar Bar with nothing but the most basic of PAs, or up on the stage at a place like Hi-Dive with mic’d instruments and monitors. Think about the bands of the past, most of them had regular gigs that pushed them to the limit and honed their playing, their songwriting, and their overall stage show. What we’ve been doing is our version of that, or at least as close as we can get with day jobs. It’s very deliberate… and if you talk to people who have seen us live, particularly lately, I’d think they’d say it’s paying off. In fact, just the other night the bartender at Hi-Dive said we sounded “tour tight,” like a band that had been playing in front of people for a few weeks straight. That was a HUGE compliment for us, as that’s exactly what we strive for.
Playing live is the payoff to all the hard work writing the songs, perfecting them, and bringing them to life, you know? I can’t imagine not having that release. It’s like a drug really. There is the anticipation as you load in and wait for your turn to hit the stage, the buildup as you setup and sound check, the climax as you play your songs, and the long comedown afterwards. In every stage there is a feeling that runs through you that can’t be replicated with drugs, legal or otherwise. I personally have always wanted to play music in front of people, so every time that I do it’s a fulfilling of that desire I had the very first time I picked up a guitar and made a sound. It never gets old.
SV: What are some bands you've shared a lineup with that the Sleeping Village People should be checking out?
e: Oh god, yes! We’ve been lucky enough to share the stage with a lot of really great bands in such a short time as a band. I mean, we had the pleasure of opening for Year of the Cobra recently, which was amazing, and who everyone should be checking out if they haven’t heard them already. But, I would also recommend Sun of Grey from Colorado Springs, who do Denver Doom right, and who we’ve been lucky enough to share a bill with several times. Green Druid is another. Also DRUNE. Denver has no shortage of amazing metal bands, some we’ve shared a stage with… others we will eventually.
SV: How would you characterize the Denver metal scene?
e: Extremely rich and varied. There is something for everyone. I don’t know if it’s the access to legal weed or what… but the stoner doom scene in Colorado, and around Denver in particular, is huge. As the genre as whole continues to grow I think you’re going to see a lot of these bands get really big. I mean it already kind of is in some ways, but I think Denver is going to be a true hub of heavy music in the not-so-distant future.
SV: A particularly refreshing aspect of earthdiver is how unique and original your sound is, especially in a sea of bands that, frankly, sound the same. Do you ever find yourselves deliberately altering your songwriting so as to not sound like another band under the stoner rock/doom umbrella?
e: We are what we are and that’s all we’ve ever tried to be. I mean, obviously we have our influences and all those bands that shaped us over the years, but we have never really intentionally drawn on them in our writing, or really ever found ourselves deliberately changing something because it sounds too much like something else. From the beginning everything has been very organic and has fallen into place on its own. We really only write to please ourselves and to push ourselves to do better things. One thing we have focused on, though, is to not be so “samey,” as we call it. Without naming names or intentionally trashing anyone, there are a lot of bands out there that could have put out one album and called it quits because everything else in their catalog sounds exactly the same, i.e., same tempo, same structure, etc. We work really hard to NOT do that. We incorporate doom, groove, psychedelia, rock, thrash, and more so that we aren’t so one-dimensional. We strive to make our records and live performances varied and attention grabbing. We don’t want anyone getting bored or being able to predict where we’re going next. We want you to be on your toes!
SV: Given that you're such a new band, your social media presence is pretty damn impressive. Any advice for bands who are hesitant to dive headfirst into the world of social media?
e: Just do it. Make it a routine or a habit. Decide ahead of time when and what you want to post. Post often, at least once a day. People these days have a very short attention span. If there is any kind of real lapse, they’ll forget about you. It’s a lot of work, but if you want to be seen or heard, it’s definitely an important aspect of getting the exposure you need as a band to grow.
SV: Thanks for taking the time to stop by our humble Village. I'll leave the last word to you--anything you care to add?
Our meteoric rise was foretold in the prophecies of the elder gods. Keep your eyes open, as things with earthdiver are moving very, very fast. We’re no fly-by-night doom band. We’re very serious about what we do, and about being the best at it. We’re definitely it for the long haul and we will either boom or… boom… because there is no other option. As I said, it has been foretold.
Thanks for the time and platform to tell folks about our band and what we do. It means a lot!
Proceeds from this project will be split evenly between the bands and the label, with any of the Sleeping Village’s cut going to fund further compilations (or a possible physical release.) Pre-order here for $1! That, methinks, is a damn good price for an hour and a half of high-quality doom.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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