13880309_10154356392349242_5366538561898016320_nEarth are back in the UK for an autumn tour. Louder Than War caught up with Dylan and Adrienne for an in depth interview with this most idiosyncratic and original of bands..

First here are the tour dates..

06 November – Newcastle @ The Cluny 2  
07 November – London @ Koko (supporting Neurosis)
08 November – Birmingham @ Rainbow Warehouse
09 November – Manchester @ The Ruby Lounge  
10 November – Bristol @ The Fleece
Tickets + details at https://thronesanddominions.com/shows



With a dark and brilliant introspective music that draws you into its spectral landscapes, Earth are operating on a dynamic of their own. Currently combining Dylan’s Carson’s haunting guitars and Adrienne Davies hypnotic slow drum beats Earth are the masters of the form.

With a series of stunning albums released in two phases since their formation in the heady days at the heart of the surrounding grunge scene in Seattle, Earth have reshaped and remoulded the possibilities of rock music. The band, formed by Kurt Cobain’s close friend, Dylan Carson in Olympia in  1989 with Slim Moon, Greg Babior and Dave Harwell initially invented the drone rock form whilst also At this time, Carson would often make “sonic collages” with his then roommate Kurt Cobain.

Early Earth pretty well invented this drone rock staple that has inspired so many bands since then that has created some of the most breath taking and interesting music in the ensuing decades. With a band name taken from the original monicker for Black Sabbath it was pretty obvious where their stall was set and those astonishing early releases bucked the surrounding grunge trend for an idiosyncratic clutch of stunning dark droning masterpieces before the band burned out. A burn out after Carson became mired in heroin and perhaps the pain of his best buddy Cobain’s death . Cobain himself had sung lead vocals on the song “Divine and Bright”, from a demo included on the re-release of the live album Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars. The raw wounds were doused in opiates and saw a rapid burn out for Dylan so it was a pleasant shock when he returned in 2000 with a different line up and a markedly different sound.

Earth’s return after a gap of a few years saw them create a curveball series of albums that criss crossed  Americana, country, soundtrack, dark blues with their sound without ever sounding like any of those musics. With a still music that was all underpinned by drummer Adrienne Davies superb slow tempo, hypnotic, drumming. Somehow they kept the darkness of their original incarnation and fused it with all kinds of styles on a series of mystically entitled albums that are as brilliant as they are dark and a perfect companion to their surrounding landscape of rain and mist and giant trees.

Initially they were at the heart of but always running parallel from the grunge scene, the band – who were initially based in Olympia before moving to Seattle – were working on very different set of possibilities than their contemporaries.

The only constant member, Dylan Carson, was once room mates with Mark Lanegan and Kurt Cobain and that key trio are very much the core of the best musics that came out of the tumultuous times in the city. This intense creativity didn’t come without damage with Cobain finding superstardom and then a tragic suicide and then Carson, along with Lanegan, spending years adrift on drugs, both sensitive souls seeking solace in chemicals and perhaps an escape from the fierce white light of the burning spotlight.

In the grunge era, instead of cashing in his chips and connections and forming yet another chancer grunge band in the wake of his contemporaries enormous success, Carson went in the opposite direction and created a new kind of music. Working the aforementioned drones that are at the heart of all music but often lost to the ear, they exaggerated  them into long and dark pieces that were released on Subpop. Their music sounded revolutionary at the time, forgoing the wam bam thank you spam of most rock music for landscape inspired soundscapes that were hypnotic in possibilities and atmospherics.

These astonishing records are the ground marker in what is currently an international scene of drone rock- Earth inspired bands like Sunn O))) took the challenge of creating a rock that worked opposite to the trad dynamic and used Earth’s inspiration to create a future music that is part and parcel of the modern musical landscape as rock bands discovered the power of the drone and the escape route from the high velocity. Dylan, himself, sighs when he talks about rock music’s rat traps.

‘Back then bands wanted to be fast all the time. It was like reducing music to an athletic event and it was same again later on when people wanted to be the slowest band on earth. It was again making music like athletics or a sport.’

For Carson himself slowing the music down was an obvious exit or even extension from the rock music that he had been obsessed with since his youth as well as being his reaction to his own state of mind and the mystical dampness of Seattle.

‘In a sense the environment has an effect on what comes out musically. The surrounding environment shapes our lives and world view but in many ways we were the odd band out at the time – we were like the red haired step child of the grunge scene. When we started we were trying to play metal and what we ended up with was quite different – it was just the way that it eventually came out. For me, it was also the fact that hen I was younger, I would hear a riff in a song that I liked and I would think, that’s a killer riff and I thought why don’t they stay on that riff instead of changing it? I hate it when people always change the riff to another one so I thought what if I just stay on that one riff and when I did that I really liked its hypnotic nature. I have always been drawn to that kind of thing. I would find bits of it in other musics and it always appealed to me. Maybe it’s an atavistic bagpipe thing and I was hooking into older drones in music. When I first started I was really into metal with bands like Slayer and stuff like that but as soon as I got into early King Crimson and then this drone and repetition idea. I loved hard rock and heavy metal riff orientated music like Sabbath and obviously UFO but I would listen to a riff and I thought I really like just that and what if we just did that one riff….’

The affable and highly intelligent Dylan Carson speaks in a higher purer voice than expected although why we expected him to have a deep, guttural voice is kinda cliched. He barely sings on any of his albums so  it’s fascinating to hear him talk in his own voice.

The youthful Dylan had been one of those classic rootless forces kids. His father was in the US army and based all over the world. Constant travel and movement and lack of roots has sparked so many future musicians whose own lives are, perhaps, one part of continuation of this constant movement and another part an attempt to find some sort of community, continuity or sense in a world that was marked by a shape shifting childhood.

His current music is these brilliantly built soundscapes, dark and hypnotic pieces that are packed with tension and brooding atmospheres -a mixture of a distant echo of that smoldering darkness of the initial drone material criss crossed with added instrumentation like cellos or occasional use of vocals or whatever added instrumentation he fancies and always underpinned by that hypnotic slow groove of his former wife Adrienne’s dragging drum beats that are as key to the band’s sound as Dylan’s laconic melancholic guitar lines that are a reflection of his musical adventures.

‘Definitely… obviously I listen to a lot of different kinds of music and the music you listen to influences the music you make. The  Angels Of Darkness record was heavily influenced at that time was making it by my listening to Fairport Convention, Pentangle and Mr Fox – that era of music. My current solo work as Dr. Carlsonalbion is definitely heavily influenced by that as well. As a musician everything you do or you are interested in or what you encounter and experience has an influence on what you produce.’

Saying that it is still a very idiosyncratic music that you make.

‘To me I try to make the music that forms in my head. Music is not what genre it is. The genre is for other people to attach to it. Again, to me, that’s the problem. People leave out the music side of it because they are so concerned about things around the music that they forget about the music itself. That’s the thing I was trying to convey by focussing on the music rather than letting the music direct where you going and what you do. I’m trying to make a music that’s timeless rather than specific to an era. To me that’s the best music, a music that is timeless  and it seems like it has always been there. That’s why something like politics and music together is a really bad idea because it really dates you.’

From the beginning of Earth Dylan had a very clear idea of what he wanted.

‘I had been in a couple of other bands before that didn’t go anywhere so when I started Earth I had ideas of what I wanted to do at that point in time. An idea of how this is and how we are going to do it. It was definitely a concept by its very nature of being conceptual. When I started the band again I had been exposed to and was into far more music than when I was doing Earth the first time round when I was younger. Although already when I was young my mom had turned me onto bands like Velvet Underground so I already knew there was far more out there. I then found out about La Monte Young, Terry Riley and the minimalists and this was by a mixture of reading about them as a metal kid – a little knowledge is a dangerous thing! This musical journey from metal doesn’t seem to be an unusual process either, interestingly I met this guy recently who plays in folk music and we were interested in the folk tradition of stuff in Suffolk and we were laughing because both our first concerts were Saxon concerts and we had both been metal heads when we had started.’

This journey, this process is on going – from his roots in metal Dylan Carson has been digging deeper and deeper. He has delved back into folk music – arguably the metal music of its day – and particularly some of its roots in a long lost Great Britain.

‘The bulk of my off time from Earth is spent reading about that stuff and that era from, I guess, the Tudor era to the English Civil War. Around that time is definitely, if I had favourite time in history, my very favourite time – is that era they call the early modern era. I guess it’s interesting in that it shaped a lot of things – maybe because it was when printing and literacy first arrived so there is more sort documentation of the surroundings I guess – there is more to know! I like a lot of the witch trials, stuff like that and the records are captured by the information then.’

Digging deeper into the folk past has seen Dylan Carson become fascinated with not just the music but the folklore and then faeries and an otherworldliness glimpsed just beyond the shadows.

‘It was also when the antiquarian thing started and people were collecting those kind things and because of that a lot of stuff about magic and faeries and stuff appeared. I like that it was not tainted by the folklorist thing anymore. I don’t like that idea of, oh yeah we have to preserve it in amber like a museum piece. I see it is a belief system that was in existence as opposed to later on where it was skeptically viewed with disdain or written of as just crazy, quirky old people with mad beliefs. It was part of the world that was accepted and studied.’

It is this nether world that he is now fascinated by – a nether world that, on paper, is detached from the rock world he has inhabited for so long but one that makes sense when you look at the romantic hearts of so many musicians and this yearning for the power and almost shamanic truth of the old troubadour Add to this his deep passions and maybe that lost decade of heavy drug use that had left his frame weakened and susceptible to hepatitis and then add to that the rainswept darkness and folk magic tinged backdrop of the Washington state he spent his formative musical years and you can understand this fascination with the beyond. If there is plenty of the beauty of melancholy in Earth’s music there is certainly plenty in folklore as well.

‘Definitely,  for me, for the most part people on edge of survival and living in those times, there’s a darkness and a dark sense of humour and, you know, life on the edge. There is sort of a definite world view that went along with them and a belief in spirits was totally acceptable. To not believe in spirits was tantamount to atheism and there were  no atheists back then and a lot of the people back then, even people like scientists were interested in alchemy, science, anatomy and astrology and the same things like magic.

In many ways magic was the first example of the scientific method. In fact the magicians and the grimwoirs were the precursors of what were called experiments. They did them trying to see what would happen, like,  ‘what if I do this? would this happen?’ Science, now of course, has nothing to with any of that struggle to separate itself from magic. A lot of people who are revered as early examples of science, like Isaac Newton, believed in alchemy and angels and all that kind of stuff and there were well known figures then like John Dee who did all these things with maps and scientific stuff and was also spending a large amount of time talking to angels as well.’

Dylan Carson believes the world is not the monochromatic simplified version that most people see all around them. He thinks there is more floating around in our ether than we care to believe.

‘I think there is more that occurs in the world than we have boxes for and I’ve had the personal experiences that caused my interest in this field. Maybe that’s why its so it’s like an effort on my part to explain to myself or to initially start to try and understand it I guess. I think, like many things, – like our economic system – which has become unsupportable, is down to the idea that the evolutionary idea of history – the idea that things are getting better in a forward motion has now been seen to not be not true. Science can’t explain everything and many things are non explainable by a conventional world view. So there’s people that see things and experience things differently and they are sort of told that they are crazy, so forget about it.’

Maybe being a musician is a good conduit for this – living beyond bored ears, boundaries and conventions…

‘Being a musician, you are inheriting, I guess, a lot of stuff that other people would have held in previous society like shamans, mystics and magicians – you inherent  some of that. Musicians have always been the outsider and able to transcend origins and move through all levels of society.’

An electric shaman?

‘I guess, in a way though,  I’m more interested in the magical practitioners within a culture rather than people from somewhere else. This idea that it occurs elsewhere and that you have to go to the jungle to find it doesn’t interest me. People have ignored the traditions that exist within their own garden to find it because our society is created in the modern world and that was shoved  under the carpet. I’m interested in it, as a way, as a more north European concept – the Central European and Finnish traditions that influenced European tradition rather than the Amazonian.’

Is that because of your own north European roots?

‘Possibly. I have Scottish, Swedish and Finnish roots. Maybe it’s that modern American thing of that we are always interested in where we came from and how we all ended up here by various routes. My dad worked for the department of defence and we lived in Germany for a while, whilst my grandmother came from Scotland after the war and we would still visit relatives there in Fife. My brother is an archivist and he’s been doing that side of things, getting reports on genealogical things he’s found whereas I’m more esoteric.’

This fascinating journey was sparked decades ago when music arrived in his life with the wake up call of metal.

‘My first concerts were Molly Hatchet, Saxon, Black Sabbath, The Outlaws, Iron Maiden and Nazareth. The band that made me want to start playing music was AC/DC. Also obviously my parents era was an influence and I grew up hearing classic rock as they call it now – I still think it’s funny how Led Zep was heavy metal at one point and is now called classic rock!’

The heavy music was put into a sharper focus when he stumbled up a local band playing a gonzoid and idiosyncratic North Western and eventually influential take on metal, hardcore and punk called The Melvins..

‘The Melvins were local, they were from Aberdeen – where Kurt Cobain was from and he famously knew them as well. The band I was in right before Earth did their first show opening for the Melvins. Obviously I got them because they were local. I met them at parties and they were ubiquitous  to the area also the same they were different to what going on around them. The sound of the Melvins was also important. The first time I saw them they were really fast – they had started out playing really fast but the next time they had slowed way down and that made me think. watching Buzz and as well as Jimi Hendrix were the two things that taught me that the electric guitar is far more than just a guitar the instrument is also the sound and feel that you cannot play like on an acoustic guitar. Hendrix played sound. So many people told me to start on the acoustic and then play the electric and I never saw any reason to do that. I was more into the sound of the electric guitar and I still don’t own an acoustic guitar. Maybe some day I will do something with an acoustic but if I switched I would probably play fiddle because of the sustain or the cello – the big deep one…!’

The Melvins were the precursors of what became known as grunge and were also a big influence on another local from their home town of Aberdeen – Kurt Cobain – who would roadie for the band. Their heavier slowed down sound as well as the famous 1984 Seattle show by Black Flag – where the hardcore band turned up in town with a new slowed down, visceral, heavier sound were planting new musical DNA ideas into the local area. Add to this the inclement, down tempo weather and it would just need a revolutionary musical mind to take things one step further which Dylan Carson did with the early Earth music that bucked the local trend as well as making sure he missed out on the financial jackpot of grunge.

‘Seattle blew up and I quickly realised that I didn’t think we were going to be band signed to a major. That just wasn’t on the cards. That was a really weird era – because of that grunge thing we had one show where MTV came to film us and I’m still not sure why! And we also did a show in New York, and we didn’t know at the time, but all the A and R people came to check us out and they went away unhappy. We didn’t fit the mould enough for them.’

Adrienne also comes from the same grunge strata in the local rocks. Her drumming – which is slowed to the point of near stillness and sparseness is far harder to play than you could imagine . It also creates the hypnotic pulse that is immediately identifiable and the very core of the Earth sound. Once married to Dylan the pair of them remain very close friends.

Adrienne was living in Olympia when grunge blew up. She was the youngest of that circle of music fans and players who reshaped rock music in the early nineties.

‘I was from Seattle originally and moved down to Olympia after college and spent a few years there. It’s a small town and kinda feels like a doll house in way! Every time I go back there it feels smaller and smaller but when I was there it was a really cool environment and a very supportive place to play and see gigs. There was lots of all ages stuff going on and places to see friends in bands and it was a good environment to do stuff. It was, like, 100 people doing cool shit in what was then a cool town in the middle of a backwater area full of rednecks and it also had really cheap rent which made it easy to live there.

My boyfriend  at time was down there so I moved down, I didn’t go there to play in a band that was more like something to do. I was ahead of myself in Bellingham and on my own getting up to all kinds of bad stuff! I  was pretty straight edge at the time but I had a fake ID for getting into shows so I would be out all the time. I had a friend, a guy who was quite effeminate  and, at the time, I was going through an androgynous phase. He was a 28 year old male and Because of the way we both looked I could use his ID!  It worked for a while and I was not drinking because I was excited at the time by the music. There was lot of different ideas convening there. We were also going to Seattle like a lot of people, traveling back and forth. We were pretty mobile, like I say it was like living in weird little dolls house but then it got darker. There were a lot of street kids on heroin. When I was there it was more naive, innocent, a little less clouded but it felt a little less innocent the last few times I went there.

I’m amazed at the people who are still there – like Toby Vail. It must be strange to be able to stay there, like it’s almost that they are stubborn in a cool way and saying, I can do this thing from here as well…’

Adrienne had grown up in a large musical family.

‘I had four brothers and no sisters – three step brothers and I came from a musical family who had one drum set. I had to fight my brothers and be obstinate insisting on time on the drums as well as the bass, guitar and piano. I liked hitting things and was physical so it was always the drums for me. It was like a test of wills with my brothers on who could get onto the drums! Since I was a kid I was playing guitar and piano, bass – I can do it but it doesn’t come naturally whereas drums seemed like an easier road in some ways. I was listening to drummers as well. I really liked, in the seventies, people like Jim Keltner,  Steve Gadd – people who understand that playing less was the key and the importance of each note.’

At the same time that Adrienne was mastering her drums in Olympia, Dylan was caught up in the grunge thing that would eventually devour his close friends like Kurt Cobain. It may not have touched his creativity, as he was already defiantly creating his own take on rock music, but he saw close hand the damage that success can bring.

‘Grunge changed everything in the city. The success changed things and people started doing stuff for other reasons than the music and it started to change the relationship to the music. I was questioning why do I want to do this? Other people were asking – is what I am doing going to sell? And commercial interest definitely changed whole relationships with what people were doing. I never got that because I never thought it would happen with us. Also the fact that we were on Subpop at the time and never went to a big label as it wouldn’t  made sense. It’s funny that when a band gets signed to a big label they never seem to understand that no money changes hands without the big label expecting anything in return. You get signed and you get this money and you will have to listen to some guy with opinions. A lot of them resisted the lure of the money and now that whole paradigm has gone there. It is not like the old days when you would do really well on an indie then go to a major. It’s now a whole different ball game. It’s way more independent and the pressure is all on you. You got to have your social media sorted out and be more direct in communicating directly with people now as opposed to being managed or presented by a label. You are now in charge of your own media profile and very few labels do anything apart from print your record. It’s not like the old days when they had PR and advertising departments. With social media I have had to became cogniscent   of how to participate in it and to learn how to do it. I have been fortunate that my wife Holly is younger than me and helped a lot with helping Earth get a social media presence. We also have new management-  Seargent House management and they are aware of that kind of way of working. Sometimes I feel a bit like a dinosaur with all this stuff but ultimately, we still make our albums in studios and go on tour and stuff like that.’

The fallout of Seattle left him unmarked as he was already entering his own downward spiral that was a cleated post the suicide of Kurt Cobain – a tragedy that he felt was misrepresented in the Nick Broomfield film, especially his role in his best friend’s suicide which was twisted in the film. In that period he was out of music and the end of grunge let him unaffected.

‘Because I left music for a  while it didn’t really affect me. I was concerned  with other  things for a few years, I had personal issues and stuff to sort so I’m nor sure how the end of Seattle affected people. A lot of people had moved to Seattle thinking that they would make it and didn’t. I left music as the computer started to rise and when I came back I had missed that big change and it was a very different world.’

The drugs didn’t work…

‘I would have been a lot more productive and effective and stuff if I hadn’t got involved in drugs.Music had been my life and now heroin had replaced it when I was in LA for three years. But also I would not be where I am now if I had not gone through that. I can’t really can’t go back and rewrite my life and stuff. This was stuff that happened and it shaped me and now I’m doing something from those experiences.’

Was it music that pulled you out of this time?

‘Definitely. When I focussed on music and not everything else the good stuff happened. If I get disinterested bad stuff happens. I went through a period when I didn’t own a guitar and I didn’t do music. I bought two records during that period –  one of them was Mezzanine by Massive Attack. I  sort of like wasn’t doing it and I just listened to music like I always had done – it was just that I was not participating. I didn’t have a guitar for a few years. When I started again it was more that I finally got a guitar and I wanted to play the guitar again. I didn’t have plans to restart Earth or do music professionally.  I just wanted to play guitar on my own and I guess once I had it I started playing I just carried on.  At work one day ran Randall Dunn and John stranrt said what you doing Dylan? And they said would you be interested in doing a show again and because I didn’t have any plans to start doing it again I agreed to do that and I started playing again and the rest is history!’

The unplanned gig turned out to be a catalytic moment.

‘I started playing again at the gig and it was literally one big long song. I jokingly call that era my therapy music era, a strange document of living at that period. The piece we played live and recorded was a big sprawling mess. I kind of view it as getting ready and clearing the synapses. At that time I was really into Sonny Sharrock and free jazz, bit chaotic, bit free form.’

Once I started I kept started and I was playing again. When you come back to it you don’t forget anything but it takes a while to get the chops back up. I practiced a lot, I went back just to play and I was doing a lot more and I used to practice for hours a day and that’s when I started learning other stuff and listening to lot of jazz, country and blues and improving my technique and, you could say, bringing that back down to earth.’


The interesting thing about your music is that despite so much of it being instrumental it’s actually quite lyrical in a way – I like to listen to it and it forms images and words in my mind.

‘The thing about doing instrumental music and it’s the one thing you have to keep in mind is that it still needs to have melody. That’s really important if you don’t have vocal line. You need to have something for people to hang onto. I think music and songs should have an arc – somewhere to start and somewhere to end. Same with an album it has to have an arc to it as well. I always try to pay attention to that as well, maybe to do so much that’s what I listen to- like I have vocals even if they are not there and, in a sense,   I imply a vocalist in our songs even when they are mainly instrumental.’

And yet your music remains mainly instrumental…

‘With vocals, I have never been dead set against them. It’s just not that it happens in every song but I never say ‘no’ as long as I felt it fitted the song. When I kind of started on the last album I had ones with vocals and lyrics and Mark (Lanegan) did the vocals for that song and said can I do another one and I said, sure. If I feel it’s going to work and help the song then I will do it.

With Mark, we had known each other a long time – since 86/87 and he had wanted to work together for a long time and it worked out this one time. We used to share a flat years ago when I was doing the band I was in before Earth and played gig supporting Screaming Trees in 1986 and we became really god buddies – I even moved to his home town of Ellensburg a couple of hours away from Seattle for some time.

So with Mark we sent him the track and he did it on his own. I don’t exactly know his working methods. I just send him one song lyric and other song he did the lyrics for. He shaped it somewhat for himself.  There were more lyrics on that one song than ended up on there so I guess he removed  a few. With Rabia Shaheen Qazi there was more involvement. She came into the studio and she wrote the lyric and we talked about where it would go and we shaped the track from there.’

The other key to the band’s sound is that hypnotic slow drum beats from Adrienne who has spent years honing down those pulsating slow drum patterns that are key to the band’s sound.

‘I’m obsessed with the cymbal tones and tones of each drum. I always play the drums lyrically  and make each note count, especially playing minimal music where less is more, the overtones and sharps and flats become more weighted. You can hear it even if you don’t know it and you are hearing subtleties. I was much more trad set up in the way I play with Earth almost ergonomically. It’s  incorrect in so many ways creating a drag between your body and the instrument and have a more cyclical round movement that’s  not a sharp right angle like normal drumming which helps with the slow 2/4 blues back beat using a rocking motion, using your momentum.’

Bringing this all to perfection when she joined Earth in … For their …. Album .

‘It’s really counter intuitive to play like that, like what the hell is he doing up there it’ s not what I do at all. In other musical situations after years of playing it’s like call and answer with the slow tempos keeping the heartbeat of the songs. I have to  keep my body relaxed, playing drums is almost meditative and it’s crucial to play in the right state of mind. If the human body is tense, nervous or you think about other stuff then it’s difficult and no way to play. You have to relax to hold the slow tempo more. I was able to get my body in tune by focussing on yoga or whatever calms your mind and that’s been incredibly useful for live playing – to be present in the moment and having body and mind present. The pre show ritual started out as having any of these things.The physical part of rock music is drumming – even if it’s moving slowly! It’s like a sort of hot yoga. It doesn’t look like much but you can definitely injure yourself if you are not stretched out and not in sync with what you are doing Those things small X crappy backs thad room stretched. It’s like preparing for war in a weird way. I always felt odd about the friends that are at the show like I’m meant to be social and entertaining them until the second I go on stage but that doesn’t work with me. I need at least 20 minutes to centre myself. I’m always astonished when I see people that can play without preparation.’

Adrienne also likes the fluidity of the creative process in Earth.

‘It’s super fun writing new music and following different stirrings of possibility and not being afraid to go there. The songs are not set in stone. It takes everything to eventually let them meander and keep doing that like you are carving away at the fat to let the song talk to you and guide you and being very much aware of what you are doing.

Dylan everton E had little string and colour road try to include it all all cut out the riff raff sometimes We have a really good musical understanding and we know what kind of works or what doesn’t. When you find people who you can play with that have that unspoken understanding then where you can go is magical. Other music doesn’t came as easily as with this group of people  and it’s usually self guided and about staying out of the way.’

So used to doing this that I forget that there is a whole other way of doing this, a whole other way of speaking this language. Everyone you play with is a teacher and there are new ways of comprehending it. Your brain can understand it in a new way. When you play with as many people as I do or you can go and see a band – the worst band I’ve seen and even if they have a bad reaction, you still learn something.’

‘Live we always want the songs  to be recognizable and we can pull an old song out of the hat that  people need to recognize. If the music wanders I try to guide it back to the original as it can get pretty interpretive.

If I don’t know what song it is I always try to bring it back to the essential aspect of the song. We have never been the band, like so many bands these days, to play the exact version of the album –  what’s the point? We want to make it interesting for us as well and see the song’s ebb and flow that’s what makes it a live experience and much more fun drumming and guiding and giving it shape. I like to make an allegory of music being water deep and wide bs a narrow flute give it a guide an inherent structure but not to style it and choke it.

The drum important, you are the heart beat and you drive the train and you need the light touch when we play the heavier stuff it still has to have that open malleability  as if it gets too rigid you lose all the magic and it gets too forceful and continues to fall apart.’

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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