Earth Tongue: Interview with the Primitive Prog Rock band from New Zealand… Ged Babey talks to Ezra Simons – Drums/Vocals, about influences and soundtracks.
Heavy psychedelic / fuzz band who formed in 2016 in Wellington, New Zealand. A male/female two-piece who play loud, energetic, disorientating songs, often with space and/or occult themes. What do you get if you cross Black Sabbath with Stereolab?
…is how I introduced the review. I wanted to give them the right to reply and find out a bit about their influences, musical and cinematic… and see if they were as cool as I imagined them to be. Well, they’re even cooler. Straight from the fridge daddio.
(Gussie Larkin, the female singer and guitarist no doubt gets a disproportionate amount of attention, so it was drummer/vocalist Ezra who replied. )
How do earthlings so young get into (a style of) music which is so old?
We’re influenced by so many different genres and eras, new and old, but in terms of our playing we’re both drawn to off-kilter time signatures and riffs that catch you off guard. We both come from music loving families, so naturally were brought up on 60s and 70s classic rock, and as we grew up we both went through different musical phases, but that psych/prog sound from the early 70s is what we always go back to. As well as the sound, we really love the artwork and aesthetic associated with that period so that makes it even more appealing.
What was your ‘journey’ of musical taste and discovery?
My journey was pretty typical for a small-town angsty kid from New Zealand.
Age 10 I was into Snoop Dog, Nelly, and whatever else was fed to my vulnerable mind by commercial radio. I was also into Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine and Blink 182 at this time, thanks to my cool older brother. I remember watching Woodstock 99 footage on VHS and freaking out at how cool it was.
At age 12 I started to learn guitar, and soon discovered Metallica and Pantera, which sent me down the metal spiral. I guess I discovered Queens of the Stone Age around this time too – their first 4 albums were all very important to me, and still are.
Around age 14 I discovered Black Flag, Minor Threat, and punk rock in general. I then played in a punk band for years and got pretty deep into that.
At 16 a family friend burned a copy of Black Sabbath’s first album onto a CD for me and that’s where my 70s proto-metal and psychedelic period began.
Today my taste is really varied. I’m a bit of a crate digger – there’s no better feeling then finding obscure, forgotten psych, kraut and disco gems.
is being a two piece reasons of economy or because you just don’t need a third/fourth member?
When you want to play live as a two-piece you really have to get creative with the way you write songs. We both like the way this works. Simple riffs, complex time signatures, interesting melodies – it just works with our style. The financial side of it is a huge bonus too of course. We’re pretty ambitious with touring, and if we had more members this would simply be unachievable.
Do you read a lot of sci-fi fantasy books or graphic novels?
We’re both really into 70s and sci-fi films more than anything. Logan’s Run, Silent Running and Holy Mountain are some of our faves.
Favourite ever movie?
Favourite ever movie is tough! Recently I saw Repo Man and had a really good time! Also Rosemary’s Baby is a must.
Have you watched the classic old sci-fi movie Silent Running ? (hope so) if ever there’s a remake you should do the soundtrack …..
I seriously didn’t read this question before mentioning it in the answer above! Yes we’ve seen it. And yes we’d love to do the soundtrack but in all honesty, remakes are very rarely good!
what kinda movie would you like to soundtrack?
An animated version of Barberella. Animated by René Laloux.
How far out was I with the Black Sabbath meets Stereolab comparison?
We weren’t actually too familiar with Stereolab when we read your review. But we listened to them and we approve. Being compared to Black Sabbath is always a compliment, so thanks!
is Primitive Prog a fair descriptor?
We usually go with the descriptor ‘Heavy Psych/Fuzz’ or similar. I feel like we’re not quite virtuosic enough to claim the ‘prog’ title – but we’ll take it!
Thanks Ezra. I picked a few video clips from YouTube to illustrate your musical journey and influences and it makes a great selection, Earth Tongue to me seem to be a band following their own path, irrespective of trends or fashion or hipness. It’s a completely shit comparison but White Stripes conquered the world so there is no reason Earth Tongue can’t do the same.
And I just can’t wait for the animated Barbarella soundtrack!
Earth Tongue are not just another girl and boy from another planet. They are a band who are simply out on their own and out of this world.
All words Ged Babey