The legendary String Cheese Incident has spawned several side projects, but none more current and relevant than EOTO, which features and is comprised of SCI alumnists Michael Travis and Jason Hann. In a recent e-mail interview I was fortunate enough to have Jason explain some things about EOTO. We started with the name.
“EOTO used to be End Of Time Observatory,” begins Hann. “We sort of pronounced it E-O-T-O for a bit and then started saying it as a word: EeOhToe. When we did that, some Japanese fans told us that it means “good sound” in Japanese. Since then, we’ve been the word rather than the letters.”
From the conceptual beginning, EOTO has approached music from a different perspective.
“We started just messing around with different instruments without a plan to form a project,” Jason enlightens us. “As we kept adding music gear, the music we were doing lent itself to electronic music. When we realized that, we began to create sounds and moods that reflected our favorite DJ influences.”
Somehow this managed to evolve into the freeform freeflowing live show concept?
“When we were first “jamming” without any strategy towards forming a project, we would regularly play until 4 or 5 in the morning,” Hann recalls. “It was such a free feeling and, as we kept adding gear, it became a natural thing to want to keep it open and in the moment. When we recorded some things that we did, we could hear that a song had been created in the moment. We figured if we did that a lot, we’d have an endless amount of music to play all night. It was also amazing to think that, as a goal, we didn’t have to practice songs or get set lists together – just go out and hit it. There’s a group that I had been listening to from the UK, called The Bays, which are also all improvised and they had always been an influence on me, to know that you can create dance music on the spot every night, and make music as relevant as any DJ set could be.”
How did this particular freeform format come about?
“It was tricky, at first, dealing with coordinating electronic instruments and stream of consciousness to create a live set of music for people to dance to,” explains Han. “We had a lot of growing pains, but it has been worth it. I remember when we were so happy to be able to just stack parts and manipulate them. We stayed on the same theme for 15 minutes at a time and we were thrilled. When we listened back there were some things encouraging about it, but it was unlistenable after a few minutes. That’s when we really started to pay attention to DJ sets and how long a DJ would stay on a song before transitioning to the next song/theme. We figured out that it’s all about pacing and keeping things moving. We try to switch to a new song/ theme every 3 or 4 minutes. It means that we have to dive in, get all of our parts recorded, build the theme, drop out, peak, do it again, and transition to the next vibe. All that and have it come off as effortless as a DJ pressing play on a new track.”
Do you see electronic based music as the natural way for music to be in the future?
“Right now that is the case,” Hann expounds. “Music has always reflected the culture, or created it, and this generation is a generation of computers and technology. It’s been incorporated into everyday life to the point where, when someone hears programmed music, they are not distracted by whether it’s electronic or acoustic. It’s just music that creates a feeling for them. Who knows if the future will bring another type of technology that we can’t envision right now that will become the norm for a later generation. Right now everyone’s hands are full manipulating synthesizers to do their sonic bidding.”
As a closing note, any words of advice for the aspiring musicians out there?
“Whatever you’re doing, dive in all the way,” Jason says. “The minute you’re finished learning is when you’re finished. There’s always opportunities for exploring your craft. If you’re making a go of it as a band, get a good understanding of everything involved (sound, management, booking, etc.). That way, when it comes time to hire someone, you can make a good judgment call for the benefit of your band and career.”
Nearby opportunities to experience EOTO live include April 15 at High Noon Saloon in Madison, April 16 at The Mirimar Theatre in Milwaukee and April 17 at The Cabooze in Minneapolis. More on the web at: www.myspace.com/eotomusic
CD: Razed Record Label: SCI Fidelity Records
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