I had the great pleasure of interviewing all five members (now down to 4 members) back in 2015 around the time their album Five came out. I decided to query guitarist/vocalist Eugene Suh about their brand new release, Past, Preset and Future. He was kind enough to provide some interesting background on this great record.
Why are all the songs 3:33? Is that a take on 33-1/3 for vinyl?
ES: Historically, we've always written a lot of long, sprawling tunes that take time to build and decay. A lot of reviewers mentioned the length of our songs with our last release, Five. During the time we were releasing Five, however, I read an article stating that the perfect length of a rock song is 3:30. Anything less is a half-baked idea, anything more is self-indulgent. I challenged myself to write a batch of Echodrone songs that were exactly 3:30 in length (with a 3 second gap in-between each song, hence the 3:33 track length). It was an interesting experiment to see how we sounded in such a concise time frame.
Do you still compose via the Internet for people in different cities? What are the challenges of that? I listen to this music and it's so ethereal and hard to imagine that it was strung together at different times.
ES: We still compose entirely via the Internet/file exchange. Brandon is living in Petaluma, CA, Mike lives in San Luis Obispo, CA, Rachel lives in Austin, and I'm in the Boston area. Over the years, through trial and error, we've figured out a process that works best for us. I usually write songs/record guitars and send out the ideas to Mike. He lays the drums down, then sends to Brandon to lay down bass. Once Brandon has put down his bass parts, it comes back to me and/or Rach to add vocals. Once all of the essential parts are in, I usually assess what "sonic space" is left and add guitars/synths/etc. as needed to complete the idea.
In regards to making things sound cohesive, we owe a lot to our engineer, Colin Christian, at The Sound Saloon. He’s able to take tracks that have been recorded in all different types of environments and make it sound like we were in the same room the whole time. He’s pretty incredible!!
The hardest challenge is figuring out how to communicate ideas/creativity. It's so much easier to sit in a room and provide instant feedback (i.e. "try hitting the E on that chord" "oh, I liked what you did there with the dynamic build!"). The instantaneous feedback on the 100's of different ideas that occur in one practice is a luxury we don't have. In Echodrone, our ideas have to get thrown out to each other with a healthy dose of trust. I trust that Funk will listen to my ideas and come up with a rhythm that compliments it perfectly, once Funk is finished, we trust that Brandon will come up with the perfect low-end melodies/textures, and so forth.
They are all such great, creative musicians - I'm always blown away by the ideas they add to each song!
Did you all ever get a chance to play live?
Echodrone has not played live with this current line-up. Our last show was in 2009 if I remember correctly. We would LOVE to play live someday, though! Hmmm...I'll have to talk to the other Echodroners :)