interview: eastern hollows
Eastern Hollows is one of those bands that you’re just waiting for to make it big. Their brand of shoegaze, indie and rock is totally refreshing and undeniably good music. Their kind of DIY, community-oriented attitude reflects a love for Brooklyn that can best be summed up as awesome. The band’s warmth shows through in the interview dialogue I was able to have with them over the past couple weeks. Read on below to learn about the band, their unique perspective on women in music as an all-male outfit, their ideas about social media and the internet, how they feel about being in Brooklyn and much, much more.
[note: all questions were answered by three-fifths of Eastern Hollows: SEAN GIBBONS (lead guitar), TRAVIS DeVRIES (vocals / guitar) and JEREMY SAMPSON (drums). MARTIN GLAZIER (guitar) and BRIAN BRENNAN (bass) have opinions of their own, but they aren’t included here.]
After listening to your single Summer’s Dead and EP Days Ahead, it’s clear that your music is an original mix of shoegaze, psychedelic rock, indie and dream pop. Is genre important to you, or do you feel it is limiting?
TRAVIS: Genre isn’t incredibly important but we don’t mind getting defined by one. I think it’s easier for people to define a band and it’s not a bad thing because it reminds them of all the music they liked from other bands they’ve grouped in that genre.
JEREMY: I agree with Travis- it’s nice to have something for people to immediately relate to. A genre classification can be beneficial in how it sort of distills a whole slew of perception, preconceived notions, value judgments and criticisms, etc into this convenient little pre-packaged pill of a label. So it can help people become familiar yet also limit you within those same previously defined boundaries. That’s the two sides of it, I guess. For better and for worse.
How did you come up with the name ‘Eastern Hollows’?
SEAN: Travis was previously in a band called The Turn-Ons back in Seattle and they had written a song called Eastern Hollows and when I saw the name it just felt perfect. Everyone either liked it or didn’t hate it so… that’s how we became Eastern Hollows. Interestingly enough, it’s also in the first line of the song Fire in Cairo by The Cure which we found out after the fact.
JEREMY: What Sean doesn’t mention is the arduous process that was us deciding on a name. It’s such a silly thing, band names. But they are pretty important, or maybe we just put too much emphasis on it. It was hard to find something that 5 people could all agree on – Eastern Hollows meant something because of its connection to The Turn-Ons and it sounded cool, so it won. A band name is something that can be such a point of contention or difficulty but then once you’ve locked it down it’s like, ‘why was that so hard?’
Was there a particular moment or artist that made you want to pursue music when you were growing up? Who were your early influences?
TRAVIS: For me it was initially the aggression of metal which hit me, but then I heard the same aggression and noise with a beautiful melody and that just changed everything. That was the Jesus and Mary Chain.
How long have you been playing together?
SEAN: Travis and I first met about four years ago when he had just moved to NYC to start playing shows to support his solo album, which he had just released under the “deVries” moniker. There were some ads posted around and some line up changes, but over the course of a couple of years we settled on the current line up. At that point everything started to gel and we were writing material collectively that would eventually become our EP and new full-length, so we left deVries to be Travis’ solo thing and named our band Eastern Hollows.
How do you feel about the music scene in Brooklyn? Where is your favorite place to perform?
SEAN: It’s a great scene. We’ve become friends with many of the bands we play with which has really given us a sense of community. Bands like Dead Stars, Heliotropes, The Veda Rays, and Quiet Loudly have been really great friends to us. As for our favorite places to play, Glasslands has the best sound but Big Snow is where the party’s at.
JEREMY: Yeah I feel like we’re incredibly lucky to be part of this rich and thriving scene. I guess Brooklyn is sort of this place where people come to play music, so it isn’t that unexpected. Really rewarding and inspiring to be surrounded by so many creative people – I’m really into local bands Grand Resort and Life Size Maps and Hippy and Haybaby and I could go on and on… Insanely talented people. My favorite venue (aside from Glasslands and Big Snow, which are indeed amazing) was this awesome warehouse that our buddy Danny had over the summer called 171 Lombardy. He runs this magazine called 1.21 Gigawatts which does a superb job covering the art/music scenes in these parts and the warehouse was sort of its home for the summer and they hosted killer shows. It was a great time that sadly came to an end.
Are there bands you find you are constantly being compared to? If so, does that bother you or are you encouraged by it?
What are your other interests/passions?
SEAN: Martin and Brian are probably the only two that have other unique passions outside of music. Brian is a developer for the Mozilla foundation so he basically builds the internet and loves programming. Martin is going for his PhD in philosophy and teaches at NYU. I personally don’t have any real passions outside of music and Travis has dedicated more of his life to music than any of us. Jeremy is really just passionate about everything.
Greatest achievement to date?
SEAN: Finding four other individuals who share the same passion for music and are able to make great music together. And we all like each other for the most part too.
JEREMY: I agree, but I’d also say physically recording our EP and the full length (out soon!) and seeing it progress every step of the way. I mean these songs all just started as little concepts in someone’s head, and then we workshopped them together and built more complex ideas and structures around them and built off each other. That level of shared creation is truly special. Then we were able to sit together and actually transfer these to a physical medium to be shared with others out in the void – to me that’s pretty mind blowing and amazing. I feel like that’s a real achievement, and I’m proud of it.
Do you feel that the music industry treats male musicians differently than female musicians?
SEAN: Yes. Even sound guys treat females like they don’t really know their own equipment or instrument. I think the Brooklyn music scene has some really great female musicians who are proving that wrong every time they get on stage. Check out Heliotropes if you want to hear some chicks that will really melt your face.
JEREMY: They definitely will melt your face. Make sure you have health insurance before you check them out; paying for a melted face out of pocket sucks. Here – I guess I can’t really speak through direct experience cause I’ve never played music as not-a-dude, but if there’s somebody up on stage and they’re wailing away on their instrument, who gives a shit where their reproductive organs are – that’s badass, regardless of sex. If there’s some entrenched sexism in the industry it’s foolish and dated – and most importantly it shows an utter lack of understanding of true talent and abilities.
A song I wish I wrote/played is…
SEAN: Shoplifters of the World by The Smiths. There are plenty more but this is currently on repeat in my head and I’m not sick of it yet.
JEREMY: I’m just gonna go ahead and say it – In The Meantime by Spacehog. Seriously. Kinda cheesy ’90s rock, but there’s just something about that song that is so captivating. The sounds are incredible and the whole thing just really kicks ass. I’d love to be able to write a song that is so powerful and catchy. But seriously, possibly worst band name ever…
What is your favorite part about being musicians?
TRAVIS: Having something captured in a recording that is so good and it’s completely yours.
JEREMY: Playing live in front of a crowd that’s really enjoying your stuff – incredible energy. Or maybe just playing in general with people you love and respect. I don’t know, both are amazing. I just love to play and there’s a point you can reach sometimes if you’re lucky where everything is just pushed out of your mind and you hit this sweet spot. There’s nothing in the whole universe but your present action and the song and the way everything comes together in unison. It’s great! Tough to hit that all the time though, definitely a high.
The best advice we ever received was…
As we are listening to a 95% complete tracked/mixed song in the studio on the monitors, in a slow, deadpan voice: ‘Man… This is really good… You guys should totally consider recording this stuff…’ – Chris Pace (our studio engineer). Love that guy…
How do you feel about the internet’s role in promoting your music? Do you feel that the sense of community you’ve created by putting your music online is tangible at your live performances? How important is social media for you?
TRAVIS: The internet has clearly changed the music industry in a huge way. We can share our music with the entire world basically for free without the need of a label. It has also allowed ourselves and other bands to connect with people without boundaries and vice versa. The Internet has sort of created this new revolution in music and has reinvigorated the music industry by destroying it. No one is really getting rich these days but we all get the reward of knowing that people appreciate what we do. Social media is important to us – we run our Facebook page, Twitter, Soundcloud, etc and try to connect directly with as many people as possible. If anyone is reading this – look us up on Facebook and say hi!
What’s next for Eastern Hollows?
SEAN: Finishing our record, international tour, marry some models, divorce the models, a drug overdose or two, break up, reunion tour and then… do it all over again.
Really though, we’d be happy with just finishing the record… Then we can take it from there.
JEREMY: I’m gonna refuse to do the eventual reunion tour until the band agrees to let me open every show with “Jeremy’s Solo Drumming Hour”. I’m just gonna play the snare drum for 25 minutes and then sit there for 35, drinking a Pabst. Very avant-garde. I’ll even wear a large feathered hat and a wedding dress. That’s what the audience really wants…