Ken Morton | Aug 16, 2019 | 1
Echodrone: Across Space and Time
Echodrone: Across Space and Time
Echodrone are one of those bands that fit in the Shoegaze realm, yet sound like no other band out there today. Textured and dreamy, mysterious and eclectic, always thrilling, Echodrone’s latest album Past, Preset and Future sees the band tackling the perfect pop song length and finding that their idiosyncratic sound can indeed work in a shorter time frame. I sent some questions to singer/guitarist/composer and “Project Manager” Eugene Suh and he got the whole band to explain how they make such incredible music.
What challenges did you have making your songs shorter for your latest album? 3:30 being the perfect pop song length, did you have to brutally edit yourselves and your compositions? It must have been quite painful. I imagine there’s lots of great music left for an EP or for extended versions.
Brandon Dudley (Bass): I was expecting a lot more issue with our song length restrictions than actually occurred. We like getting into a riff or groove and I really like repetition and drones in particular. I thought that shorter songs were going to deprive me from the trance I can get into playing repetitive figures but it didn’t turn out that way for me with Past, Preset and Future. Eugene probably had some issues though since he created the initial song ideas. You know, we tend to use every idea that we come up with for an album. I think that’s a byproduct of how we record – we aren’t a jamming band since we’re never in the same room together and every idea tends to get an airing. There are a couple of songs from way way back that were never recorded and they will stay that way.
Eugene Suh (Vocals/Guitar/Synths): It was definitely a challenging process trying to fit song ideas into a 3:30 time frame. When I came up with a rough song idea, I’d flesh out a skeletal structure on paper, then pull out a stop watch and time myself playing it on the guitar. Through repeated attempts, I’d finally land on a song structure that met the 3:30 rule haha! The most challenging part, by far, was figuring out how to write an Echodrone-type song that fit in such a short time frame. Historically, most Echodrone songs have not followed traditional song structures (i.e. verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-etc.) Maybe that’s due to what Brandon mentioned above about our love of repetition and drone. Whatever the case, we’ve always explored unique song structures. When I started writing songs for “Past, Preset and Future”, however, an interesting thing happened; the 3:30 rule was forcing me to write a traditional, verse-chorus-verse structure with every idea I had. I just went with it for some songs, but I found ways to play around with structure on other songs. That was definitely the most challenging aspect of this album.
Mike Funk (Drums/Electronics): Challenges?! I’m the drummer. The songs are shorter which means I didn’t get tired as easily.
Rachel Lopez (Vocals): The trickiest part for me was finding the right words to say within a song structure. I tried to condense a lot of things into a simple line or message. So I used a “Less is More” approach in hopes that lyrics can reach people in an accessible way. Also, I realized how hard it is not to rhyme…. But rhyming just works so well sometimes.
What was the most difficult song to put together and the easiest? Is there a song or performance you’re particularly happy with from you or the band?
Brandon: For me, Snowdrift was a little difficult as it was hard from me to find a way into the song. There’s usually one song on our album that I have trouble with finding a space for a bassline, so this wasn’t unusual. Recording for Echodrone is usually pretty easy for me – Eugene does the heavy lifting in terms of putting a coherent song idea together and all I have to do is come up with something that complements the idea well enough. It’s truly a pleasure to play in a band like that, where you get both a structure and all the room to play with that you’d want. A byproduct of our method is that each album contains many happy surprises. Eugene will send an idea out with layered guitars and we build the song from there, pretty much without much influence from others. As you can imagine, the finished song sounds much different than its beginnings and represents our individual takes on a particular song. I really like this aspect of things because each song really represents both individual expression and a shared vision.
Eugene: I think I spent the most time on Dystopian Story. The second half of the song started from a late night of experimenting with pitch shifting 7 different ebow parts. I landed on a temporary chord progression that night, but I spent about a week or so trying to refine that progression into something that sounded more melodic and organic. The easiest song for me was The Past or the Present. Mike asked that we make a fast song for Past, Preset and Future. After he requested that, I literally picked up my guitar, hit record on my DAW and went with the first chord arrangement that came out! In terms of arrangement, I am really proud of how Failure came out. It’s a droney, simple song, but everyone added textural components that made the song flow in a really interesting way.
Rachel: Failure is a bit emotional… I still get a lump in my throat sometimes when I listen to it. The trickiest one lyrically was Low because I had writers block for that particular song. It’s also a bit of an emotional one. I think Open Your Mind was the easiest one for me to write, & I really liked how it turned out.