Containing both technical musical wizardry and compelling lyrical imagery, Erra is sure to intrigue all whom encounter their sweeping metallic reveries. Their debut full length album Impulse was recently unleashed through Tragic Hero Records, and the band is now readying themselves for a New Year touring and spreading the word on their exciting new magnum opus. We recently spoke with Erra guitarist Jesse Cash to uncover the sonic complexities of a band destined to become well known in 2012 and well beyond…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Erra, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Jesse Cash. I play guitar and sing the clean vocals in Erra. The band started the summer of 2009.
Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
Our band is based out of Birmingham, Alabama . The music scene is great there. Kids are always coming out to shows, and we usually get some pretty big names passing through. A local band I would strongly recommend checking out is Year One. They were recently picked up by Blk Heart Group and are fronted by As I Lay Dying bassist, Josh Gilbert.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Impulse?
“Elan Vital” is a phrase coined by a French philosopher named Henri Bergson. It translates into “vital impetus” or “vital impulse”. It represents many positive things such as development, growth, progress, and the universal relationship between all living things. A big message in the album is that experience and intuition is a greater tool for comprehending reality than rationalism or science. The album centers around struggles that we (and most individuals) have faced throughout our lives. The album addresses many relatable subjects including the relationship between science and religion, death of loved ones, divorce, and renewal of one’s self.
Select any two Erra songs and what inspired the lyrics.
Two songs worth mentioning are Seven and Heart. Seven tells the origin of our band name. It is the story of Erra and other characters in Akkadian mythology. Heart is the most personal song on the album. It is an elegy written for our guitarist Alan’s dad who passed away about ten years ago. It a song fueled by a lot of emotion, so we found it the most fitting song to dedicate to him.
How did you wind up signing to Tragic Hero Records?
One of the guys from our label heard our Andromeda EP and really liked it. He got Alan’s number from a mutual friend and asked us to be a part of their label. About 3 months later, we signed on.
Who produced Impulse and what was it like working with them?
Impulse was recorded by Brian Hood at 456 Recordings. We recorded with Brian for our first self-released EP and recorded a few other EPs with him in our past bands. The experience is always great. He’s very talented at what he does and always has good ideas to help make the album as solid as possible. He also shares our sense of humor, so a lot of memorable funny moments occur. This is pretty evident from the studio update videos on our Facebook.
Being from Birmingham, Alabama, did any of the Erra members ever attend or play Furnacefest? If so, what did you think of it and the Sloss Furnaces venue?
None of us ever attended Furnacefest. Unfortunately, concert events are held there much less than there were a few years ago. We’d love to see that place being active again, it is great. However, I think we enjoy going there most when events aren’t happening. Sloss Furnaces is definitely one of those places in Birmingham where every kid has gone at some point to goof off and explore. There is a lot of history there and alleged hauntings. There’s also a lot of things to climb and cool areas to find, so it’s definitely an interesting place to go to creep yourself out with a group of friends or just clear your head.
What could one expect from a live Erra show?
The audience can expect to a hear a band that really has their instruments down and performs very solidly in a live environment. Each member reveals a hint of their character while performing live, and it’s interesting to see when kids are able to connect with that as if they know you just from hearing your music and watching you live. Those fans just get it and just love what you’re doing and who you are because of it. That makes it all worth it, the kids who are just as passionate if not more passionate about your music than you are. The audience can expect solid stage presence and a particularly commanding presence from our vocalist, Garrison. He has all of the essential qualities of a vocalist and really gives the show a great level of aggression to balance the technical instrumentation.
Has Erra ever played in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in the future?
We haven’t made it there yet, but we expect to be touring out west starting in February.
Who did the artwork from Impulse and how much input did you have on it?
The artwork was designed by Aaron Marsh, who works with Tragic Hero, Sons of Nero, and Forefathers Group. He has designed albums and merch for several notable bands and is definitely one of the best at what he does. We didn’t give too much input on what we wanted the album to look like. We wanted to give him as much artistic freedom as he needed. The end result came out great, we love the way the artwork looks.
Will Tragic Hero be re-releasing your first EP Andromeda, and how does that one compare to Impulse?
No, Andromeda will not be re-released. We feel that Impulse contains all of the things that Andromeda may have lacked. The songs are catchier and more to the point while still maintaining the technicality that we are known for. Nothing is taken away or watered down, only improved upon. Even though we feel that Impulse appeals to a broader audience, Andromeda is still a great EP with a lot of interesting things to offer.
What’s up next for Erra in the New Year?
The biggest thing we are preparing for in 2012 is steady touring. We have a couple great tours in the works for February and onward. Everyone keep a lookout for posted dates on our Facebook to see if we’re coming through your area.
Any final words of wisdom?
Everyone keep supporting your favorite bands. Go to shows, buy merch, and spread the word to your friends. You guys doing this small part is a huge contribution to keeping up and coming bands like us on the road. These days, there is limited stability in being in a full-time band, so every little gesture of support is taken strongly to heart. Trust me on that. Every compliment we get on Facebook, or penny we make at a show, or album we sell online, is genuinely appreciated. You’re just as important to the bands you look up to as they are to you. We are no exception now with 10,000 fans, and we won’t be an exception later with 100,000 fans. We love our fans, and that is not something we will grow out of.
Garrison Lee- Vocals
Jesse Cash- Guitar/Vocals
Adam Hicks- Bass
Alan Rigdon- Guitar
Alex Ballew- Drums
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
Erra on Facebook