While instrumental rock, in all of its forms, has been enjoying a place inside of the fringe as opposed to merely skimming the outer edges, psychedelic rock has undergone a fully fledge resurgence. A band like Earthless could be lumped into the nostalgia category, accused of reliving the old while never creating the new, but that’s just plain wrong. The trio manage to create a sound that is just cutting edge enough to remain fresh while honouring all that they love.
“I think that each of us as players definitely have our influences,” Mario Rubalcaba begins. “But at the same time we steer clear of just aping a style. It’s all about taking your influences and inspiration and turning it into your original creation.”
Both the friendship between the three-piece, and the energy that comes to life when they play together in a room, has a lot to do with successfully creating something original. Rubalcaba reminisces on the formation of the band and life in those early days. “Well, at the time, I had moved back home to San Diego and shortly after had met Mike Eginton,” he says. “We had a lot of similar tastes in music that wasn’t too popular amongst many of our peers at the time. We talked about playing, got in touch with Isaiah, and once we finally got into a room, it was on. There was an unspeakable chemistry from the get go; it’s pretty rare to come by actually.”
The influences of youth, however, always seem to trickle into an artist’s work. “For me personally, I was brought up on Led Zeppelin and a lot of the early hard and heavy rock stuff – Grand Funk, Deep Purple and the like,” he explains. “My playing reflects some of those chops that these guys were laying down when I was just a young tyke just taking it all in. As far as inspirations go, there are always new things being discovered – old as well as new – and that stuff goes a long way.”
A band with such a freeform and organic sound can give the impression their music is created in a smoke-filled room, ablaze with ideas (and perhaps the odd visual distortion) and little in the way of structure. Yes that’s a purely romanticised notion but only Earthless really know exactly how it comes together. With a growing collection of studio recordings, eventually these creations have to be pinned down in some way. Often a band can find recreating their recorded sound a challenge in the live environment while a band like Earthless are more likely to find it difficult to harness the freedom of their live shows within the confines of the studio. The best option is to make the process as close the stage experience as possible. “Production-wise we just record live and then we add some subtle layering over wherever we feel it needs some spice,” he says. “A little salt-n-pepper never hurts ya know?”
The unforgiving tick of time means that firstly, there never seems to be enough of it, and secondly, priorities change. “Touring gets harder the older you get,” he admits. “Two of us are dads now so we are much more aware of schedules and the importance of trying to be home enough for family time. We aren’t much in the party animal department so that’s not an issue. We rock when we want to, not because we have too.” But that rocking involves a lot of projects and at one point or another, things simple have to get put on hold. “It’s been pretty hard this last year as both Isaiah and I have been logging in some serious touring time with other bands lately,” he says. “But everything worked out perfectly this time around and I must say we are really happy to be back in Australia.”
The plans for the future aren’t completely without focus but at the same time, Earthless seem content with taking each moment as it comes; a refreshing contrast in a word of five-year plans. “We’re just going to enjoy the moment and appreciate that we are back together and doing this kinda stuff again,” he says. “We haven’t toured as Earthless in two years so it feels great to get it on again. We are gonna have a lot of fun as we go.”
BY KRISSI WEISS