7 Questions with Dylan Carlson of Earth

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by Ryan Meehan

Earth is an American musical group based in Seattle, Washington, formed in 1990 and led by guitarist Dylan Carlson. Earth’s music is mostly instrumental, and can be divided into two distinct stages. Their early work grew out of the Seattle-area grunge scene and is recognized as pioneering the genre of drone doom — an experimental offshoot of doom metal, characterized by droning, minimalist, lengthy, and repetitive structures. Earth’s early albums were usually recorded as a duo (Carlson and a bass guitarist), and could be seen as a variation of the experimental doom-influenced metal of The Melvins. Earth currently features a markedly different sound, slow-paced and lengthy, but now with a drummer and featuring strong elements of country music and jazz. Dylan Carlson founded the band in 1990 along with Slim Moon and Greg Babior. Carlson has remained the core of the band’s line-up throughout its changes. Current players have included: Adrienne Davies on drums, Lori Goldston on Cello, Karl Blau on bass, Steve Moore on keys and Don McGreevey on bass.  Their new record is entitled “Primitive and Deadly”, and I am pleased to have Dylan Carlson of Earth as my guest today in 7 questions.  

RM:  So far, what’s the best part about being married?  What was the wedding like; and what was your favorite moment from the ceremony?

DC:  I have a partner in crime!  (laughs)  I get to be with my best friend all the time. She is a Wiccan so we had a hand fasting, and my friend Corey Brewer officiated the ceremony.  It was small (35-40 people) mostly my family and friends – as it was in Seattle – but we are going to have one in England as well.  We planned it and pulled it off in three weeks on a small budget but it was still really nice and lovely. Walking down the aisle to Nazareth’s ‘Rose in the Heather’ before entering the magic circle, saying the vows, and walking out to Heart’s ‘Love Alive’ was pretty cool. My family and friends being there, my friend Melissa’s paper flowers and magic chocolate boxes…so many things.

RM:  Why do you think these variations of doom or stoner metal have become so popular among fans of heavy music over the past few years?  Is it more than the desire to hear music that is laid-back in nature; and how much of the genre’s current popularity can be attributed to wanting to hear more of the doomy classic rock style that bands such as Black Sabbath made so popular in the seventies?

DC:  Even though some bands play slow, it doesn’t mean it’s less intense than other music. And in the ‘metal’ genre the bands are committed or sound committed, all the other forms of rock are infected with irony and sound half-assed to me.

RM:  What’s the story behind the title of your newest release “Primitive and Deadly”?

DC: I thought it was a great lyric by Mark Lanegan.  It’s a great mission statement, a perfect description of where the world is headed, and sounded like a record title the Scorpions might’ve used.

RM:  What was the most significant difference with regards to the way that album came together as opposed to the “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light” records from a few years back?  What made you eventually decide to work with Randall Dunn on the production of this disc?

DC:  It was more thoroughly composed and less improvisatory than the “Angels” record.  It was also written with a power trio line-up in mind as well.

RM:  Are there any floor or rack effects that you feel are absolutely necessary to Earth’s signature sound?  What’s your most prized outboard effect that you absolutely cannot live without?

DC: An MXR Dyna comp or my custom compressor. My new ‘Engine of Ruin’ distortion + with variable diode by Tym’s guitars in Brisbane is amazing. I love it, and I love the MXR micro chorus.

RM:  You’ve said before that you wouldn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of eventually singing on one of your records, but also that it’s doubtful that would happen…When putting together new Earth material do you ever feel as if you’re hearing vocal lines that would add layers to and then instead put other guitar tracks to those melodies; and do you ever hear to your own records years later and hear some of those words over the tracks as you’re listening to the finished product?

DC: I would write lyrics (as I did on “Rooks Across the Gate”) and I don’t think I’ll ever have the voice to lay down vocal lines as  instruments, so I don’t really think of them that way, I’d get someone like Jessika Kinney for that.

RM:  Over the years, you guys have had the chance to share the stage with some of rock n’ roll’s hardest touring bands…Out of all of those artists who are the three that you seem to get along with so well; and why do you think it is that you have such a connection with those particular troops?

DC:  Wolves in the Throne Room, King Dude, True Widow, Sir Richard Bishop, O Paon, Wow…I mean we got along with them all!  (Laughs)

RM:  When was the last time you recorded material for your solo venture DrCarlsonAlbion?  For those aren’t familiar with the subject matter of that project, how would you put it into words; and why is doing that so important to you?

DC:  Well, there’s the gold soundtrack, though that was just going to be Dylan Carlson, but DrCarlsonAlbion got put on the cover, and there’s the kickstarter project, but that is ‘Coleman Grey’…I’ve got too many alter egos.  (Laughs)

RM:  What’s up next for Earth in the remainder of 2015 and beyond?  Anything big in the works that we should know about?

DC: Earth has 3 new dates in July, and we’re playing the Necronomicon August 22nd, touring the Eastern US, and ending at Ellnora Guitar Festival in Urbana, IL on September 11th.  DrCarlsonAlbion and Coleman Grey are finishing the kickstarter between July 22 and August 22, and then hopefully I am taking a little break to write more stuff and move to England.

Official Website:  http://www.thronesanddominions.com/

Earth on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/thronesanddominions

Earth on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/earthseattle

Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.

Meehan

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