Friday, August 11, 2006

Mini-Interview: Earlimart

No conversation about the LA independent music scene would be complete without mention of Earlimart, one of the East Side's brightest and most influential mainstays.

And beyond Earlimart's significance as a band, lead Aaron Espinoza is also known for his production and engineering work (The Breeders, Grandaddy, Irving) and helping start The Ship collective, a group of local bands who not only practice and record at the nautically-themed studio in Eagle Rock, but ... gasp, is this really the every-crumb-for-himself City of Angels?! ... help each other out.

We recently spoke with Espinoza about all of these things. And more.

Hi, Aaron. So, you just released a limited edition 7" on Suicide Squeeze Records with two songs off of your new album and an exclusive track for them. (And their new 10th anniversary two-disc cd comp has that extra track on it, too.)

You’ve said in a previous interview that you when you're engineering you want the music to sound like the time you had while making them, whether you were drunk or sober or sad or happy or rich or poor.

What were you during these three songs?

Let's see... Pretty much drunk, happy and rich!

How’s the rest of the album coming along? What was your experience creating and recording these songs?

Well, it's pretty much finished… just a few more songs to mix. This record was pretty difficult. It's taken the longest to finish (write and record, etcetera). About 9 months officially. Kinda like a pregnancy.

It definitely has been very up and down for us in the past year. Getting out of our deal with Palm, shopping for a new deal, getting two deals, losing two deals, huge writers block, losing band members, gaining band members, getting engaged!, getting beat up by the bouncers at El Cid.

The list goes on and on. Good and bad.

How are they different from your earlier albums? Would you still call it end-of-the-movie music?

I dunno... Maybe more like between Act II and Act III music. A bit more pivotal? A turning point in the story. I don't know.

It's been really great to get to the end of this thing. Through all the hard stuff the band endured, it's made us closer, creatively and personally. It's much more of a collaboration between Ariana, Joel and I than ever before. Pretty great.

When’s it due out?

Well, as these things go... We are still currently unsigned, so don't know the exact answer for that question. We’re hoping very early next year. The sooner, the better.

How did The Ship collective come together?

In the beginning (in 1998), it was a necessity for us. We needed a place to record, rehearse, and hang out. That's what The Ship studio basically was... Earlimart, Irving, Pine Marten, Silversun Pickups. Nobody was making records for us back then.

And early on... not a lot of people came to the shows, so we became our own little support group. Recording, playing together, crying on each others shoulders. That sorta thing.

Now I think The Ship has changed a bit. The bands and artists and friends associated with it have all gone on to do a bunch of great stuff outside of our little group. Silversun and Irving don't always record at the ship, The bands tour nationally and internationally, bunches of people come to the shows.

Everybody has found some level of success within their own thing [and] I think that's great! I think that was the whole point of starting this in the first place.

How do you balance out your time between your engineering work and your own music?

I'm trying to do a bit more of the engineering/producing stuff lately. When Earlimart released Everyone Down Here and Treble, we toured constantly for three years. That kinda took me out of the studio for a while. Now we've got some down time before the next release, I'd like to record some other bands or have more bands working at the ship besides Earlimart. I guess I just try to find time between making Earlimart records and driving from California to New York over and over.

What’s your favorite song that you’ve ever worked on? Why?

That's tough... I really have a fond memory of working on this e.p. that was a Grandaddy/Earlimart collaboration. It was a lot of fun and not fun all rolled into one.

It was really about working with people really close to me: the Grandaddies and the Earlimarts. Just a real big weird family. The idea was that the members of Earlimart would work on a couple of Jason Lytle's songs and vice versa.

I think it was a total of five very long days at The Ship. A couple years ago now, maybe? But there was this one tune that Lytle had I Heart California, and it was so fucking good. Period.

It was really really fun to watch/record Davey (Earlimart) playing drums on the song and Ariana (Earlimart) singing back ups in an Arnold Schwarzenegger-style voice, "I love California." It's seriously so so fucking good. I hope that e.p. comes out soon.

But that's a whole other conversation.

What’s next for you?

The finish line.

Last question: Who are some of your favorite bands in LA right now?

Besides the obvious... I like Giant Drag, Tigers Can Bite You, and The Eagles.

That's all. Thanks for your time, Aaron.

Now, here's the title track off of the Answers & Questions 7" on Suicide Squeeze Records.

MP3: Answers & Questions


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