EARTH SHIP – “A Filthy Joyride From Sweden To New Orleans With A Small Detour Through Seattle”
July 5, 2016, a year ago
German sludge/doom rockers, Earth Ship, combine monolithic riffs of bands such as Mastodon and Crowbar with soaring Alice In Chains-esque harmonies on its fourth full-length release, Hollowed (released June 24 via Napalm Records). Its 11 dark, heavy and thunderous tracks will get your blood pumping nicely. Earth Ship may not be a household name on this continent, but Hollowed is worth checking out if you’re a fan of Mastodon, Crowbar, Red Fang, Eye Hate God and their ilk. BraveWords writer Kelley Simms spoke with guitarist/vocalist Jan Oberg about the album and more.
BraveWords: How did you come up with your band name and what does it signify?
Jan Oberg: “I read an article about these stunning independent hippie houses called Earthships that are mostly made of recycled materials and really fell in love with the idea behind it. I thought it would be also a cool band name, which fits perfectly with our music.”
BraveWords: What was the writing process like for Hollowed? How did you go about creating the 11 tunes?
Jan Oberg: “Truth be told, we are not a band that is jamming around in the rehearsal room, as I am running my own recording studio (Hidden Planet Studio) in Berlin. I am just too lazy to bring myself up for a jam session after a long and exhausting studio day. So, it was me writing the riffs on a click track, putting the parts together and sending the final tracks to the other guys right afterwards, which of course took its time. When you listen to the tracks over and over again, you don't have to pay any money for the studio and have plenty of time. It’s quite hard to not getting obsessed by changing parts or mixes day by day. Finally, we are pretty happy with the result. Although there might be a lot of people who are surprised that there are so many different styles mashed up on just one album. There is actually a nice German phrase for it: ‘Eine Tüte Buntes!’”
BraveWords: Did you write more tracks in the demo stages than you recorded in the studio?
Jan Oberg: “Well, there are actually 14 songs. The vinyl contains 11 tracks, but we've got two bonus tracks on the limited CD digipak, an instrumental and a very special acoustic version of the track “The Edge Of Time.“ And there is also another one left for whatever.”
BraveWords: You seem to borrow that very dark-yet-melodic vocal harmony approach that made Alice In Chains so unique, and opener “Reduced to Ashes” immediately reminds me of them. What were you going for on the opening track and was it the clear cut choice to open the CD with?
Jan Oberg: “The whole band met for watching the funeral of Lemmy in Jan 2016 at our house. We were also listening to our 11 tracks again while having some Jack and Coke. Setting the final order of the songs, we all agreed right away that “Reduced To Ashes“ is the song that would represent Hollowed the most. Containing nearly all elements of the album, it gives you the perfect start for what you can expect.”
BraveWords: Besides Alice in Chains, who are some of your other influences?
Jan Oberg: “We all have a very eclectic taste in music. From Jack Johnson to Napalm Death, there are no boundaries at all regarding Earth Ship. I would say that bands like Crowbar, Mastodon, Red Fang, Eye Hate God, Entombed, just to name a few, have certainly a big impact on my writing.”
BraveWords: Signed to Napalm Records, what do you want to achieve with this release?
Jan Oberg: “Well, definitely to spread our music around the globe to reach more people. Getting the opportunity to play as many shows as possible, travel to places we've never been before and making new friends. That's pretty much our main intention.”
BraveWords: Which track on Hollowed in your opinion describes the quintessentialEarth Ship?
Jan Oberg: “I wouldn't say that there is only one special song on Hollowed that describes the quintessential Earth Ship. In my opinion, every song for itself contains its special Earth Ship ingredients. Heavy riffs galore and catchy melodies.
BraveWords: How would you describe your sound progression from your debut album Exit Eden to Hollowed?
Jan Oberg: “Good question. I think we started as a doomy, sludgy prog ’n’ roll band and added more and more different styles to our sound from record to record, including an occasional
hint at an old school Swedish death metal vibe. Warm, heavy stoner riffs or even ’90s grunge.
So, you can also see it as a filthy joyride from Sweden to New Orleans with a small detour through Seattle.”
BraveWords: How did you go about layering the instruments and the stacked vocal harmonies on the 11 tracks?
Jan Oberg: “Our band hasn't recorded live in the studio so far, so it's more or less that we're recording main guitar and vocal tracks first and then messing around with ideas and see what works best on the tracks. All step by step, there is no master plan at all.”
BraveWords: Production wise, what were you aiming for?
Jan Oberg: “On Hollowed, I was aiming for a warm, massive but also clear and rich production. As I am a big fan of the early ’90s stuff and really love the sound of so many great records from that era. I was definitely trying to create a similar soundscape like on some of my favorite records.”
BraveWords: What’s next for Earth Ship including touring plans, and what do you hope to achieve or accomplish in the future?
Jan Oberg: “We are about to hit the road in July for a short European summer tour with our Swedish label mates Mammoth Storm and the great High Fighter from Hamburg. Besides that, we are planning a bigger European tour for October and November this year. We're also looking forward to playing some bigger festivals in 2017. And to come to Canada, of course!”