David Bain checked out EARTHSUIT.
Those discerning enough to be at Stage 1 to catch Earthsuit's performance at Greenbelt this year will testify that the unprecedented hype surrounding this team from New Orleans is well deserved. Seldom has a band brought forth such accolades, dc Talk's Michael Tait swooned, "Earthsuit excites me beyond words. They are the first band in the longest time to bring brilliant energy to the stage," while Martin Smith was equally complimentary ("One of the most exciting bands I've seen over the last few years"). With their debut album 'Kaleidoscope Superior' available briefly through Alliance Music last year but now getting the big push from Fierce! Distribution, everything seems set for Earthsuit, with their eclectic blend of hard rock, reggae, jazz and rap to make it to the premier league. I spoke to the band in London prior to their breathtaking Greenbelt performance.
Paul Meany (vocals and keyboards) recalls how Earthsuit originated in the first place, "It began about six years ago when Adam Laclave (vocals) and I started playing music at a coffee house, which a church had opened up for an inner city mission. We played music there every night or so, for about a year and a half. During that time we met the other guys in the band. We would jam together and soon realised that we made quite a team, so we started writing music as a band. There were a few lineup changes in the early days, but we have been as we are now for the last three years. Roy Mitchell plays bass and does all the programming, Dave Remsey plays the guitars and David Hutchinson plays drums."
"The name 'Earthsuit', Adam explains, "came from a revelation that we are in an earthly body put here by God. We hope that our music expresses the idea that there is more to life than what the world sees and knows."
The album features a tight mix of diverse styles, thrown together in an innovative way. Adam explains that the variety in the music comes from all the band members, "We all love different kinds of music. I think this has made our sound unique. We also find that it helps because when we play gigs we try to cater to the kind of music that the audiences are into." Paul cuts in, "At the end of the day, an Earthsuit audience will be like no other audience. The more we play at gigs, the more we hope people will catch onto our sound. Maybe what is also useful about having such an eclectic mix in our sound is that the listener can pick out the parts that they like and relate to that." Roy adds, "Our influences range from Stevie Wonder to Sting, to hip hop grooves and all points in between."
I point out that the track "One Time" has been a bit of a hit at Cross Rhythms and generally in the UK. "That always works the best live," says Adam, allowing Paul to explain the meaning behind the song. "It's mainly based on the revelation that this life is a one time shot. Life is something God has given us and it's something we should hold very precious. In the song we are celebrating that and are giving it back to God and asking him to fill us with his love and power so we can use effectively the years that we have here to glorify him. It's a party song, just enjoying life, it's quite simple!"
We look at some of the other tracks on the album. Adam takes the hot seat: '"Against The Grain' was written when Paul and I first got together. It was a reflective look at what was happening in our lives. You see, both of us grew up in a religious situation and I think, at that time, God was showing us the problem with religion. The song is pushing forward the message of how being a Christian is all about a relationship and not being religious. 'Osmosis Land' talks about 'what we behold, we become,' that line kind of sums up the song. We are living in a land that is full of so many things happening that try to affect us. So the song is a warning, to watch out that we don't become like the worldly things around us. 'Schizophreniac' is a song about a guy who grew up in a church and who created different personalities for different situations, like one kind of guy for school and another for church. Again, this is a warning song, saying to stick to the person God has made you and not to play the Pharisee."
Adam goes on, "Sometimes the music comes first and then the words follow on. But other songs, like 'Schizophreniac', start with a definite concept already in place and then we'll find the music that fits with that idea. All the lyrics we know are definitely inspired by God. Musically, the bottom line for us, when we're hashing out any given song, is, 'How's this going to rock, live?'. That question is sort of our musical centre."
'Kaleidoscope Superior' was released last year (reviewed in CR59) through Sparrow. I ask why they have chosen to switch to the ever-expanding label, Fierce!? Dave explains, "Sparrow is based in the States and they can only do so much in regards to distributing our music over here in the UK. Fierce! recognised that and believed in us and wanted to see more of what we as a band can do. So they decided to pick us up and re-release us, in a new way, over here." Paul expands on this, "I think they definitely recognise the actual practicalities of selling to a UK market, more than Sparrow do over in the States. Now that we have gone through with that, we have been concentrating on this European tour in order to promote the album and get more people hearing our sound." Adam talks about what it's like working in the band: "It's definitely hard work, and there's no lie about that. We sometimes feel that every day we are questioning whether or not we want to carry on doing this type of thing. It's a matter of going back to why you wanted to do it in the first place, because when you realise what you're doing, it's worth the sacrifice. Even with all the pain and lack of sleep you get with this job, in the end, it's worth it. We want those people that come to our shows to have their emotions tapped into somehow by what we're doing or saying, though ultimately that's up to God, not us." Roy adds, "What's encouraging for me is reading the guest book on our website. We had people write about how they've been touched and moved to change their lives after going to one of our gigs. It's then that you begin to realise how the band is affecting other people's lives and that we must be doing something right."
Now that the album is out and the European tour is almost over I find
out what the next step is for Earthsuit. "We want to do some more writing
when the tour ends," says Adam. "The new album should be out by next
spring." In regards to the future as a whole, Adam speaks for the band
saying, "I would like to see us having an influence on music as a
whole, not just CCM, while still speaking relevant things to
Christians in the Church and also being a voice in the mainstream."
Paul adds, "That's one motivation that happened on the first record,
when we were writing the songs. You know, we weren't sure how things
were going to go, whether we were going to make it as a band, but God
took us through that step. Right now I think it burns within us all,
more than anything, for God to give us the language and the music that
is relevant to our audience, the Christian market and the music scene
as a whole. We want to spiritually make a connection with people, or
somehow channel what God has done for us to them. That's always at the
heart of what we're trying to do."