Metal Insider has partnered with the David Lynch Foundation, Sacred Bones Records, and Saint Vitus Bar to present two shows to benefit the Foundation. On September 25th, drone pioneers Earth will headline Saint Vitus, with Cult of Youth and Dream Police. Then on October 4th JG Thirlwell and Sarah Lipstate, Soft Pink Truth and Dominique Leone will play another show. While the first show is sold out, tickets still remain for the second show, with proceeds going to benefit the foundation, which brings transcendental meditation programs to at-risk populations. We caught up with Earth’s drummer Adrienne Davies to talk about the band’s new album, Primitive and Deadly, the similarities of TM and Earth’s drone rock, and Davies’ memories of playing New York.
So let’s talk about Primitive and Deadly. There are more vocals on it than a normal Earth record. How did that come to be?
Yeah, any vocals are more vocals than normal. We just don’t usually use them. Well, we’ve been wanting to work with Mark [Mark Lanegan] for many years, and we were both never available or super busy or just not in the right place to be able to make it work. But this was kind of… everything fell into place. Everyone was able to spend some time, get in the studio, get it done, and he was really excited about working with us and vice versa. Super happy with the way it turned out. And also, we got recommended Rabia [Rabia Shaheen Qazi] from Randall Dunn, and she’s just a great female vocalist. Low raspy tone, and she’s able to sing in the lower register at slower tempos, so that alone is a pretty decent trick for a vocalist.
Was it a conscious effort to have more vocals or did it just work out in terms of the people you wanted to collaborate with?
We were just trying to think of things that were more interesting to us, and something that we thought could serve the song, and that wouldn’t be like, “Oh, here’s a vocalist and a backing band.” We wanted it to feel very integrated and almost like it was its own instrument, as opposed to being just a vocalist. Some albums we bring in a cello, bring in a trombone, pedal steel, banjo, whatever it is. This album, kind of in a weird way, the vocalist was that extra instrument brought in.
How do you plan on backing it up live?
Yea. That’s a very good question! We were actually really lucky. On this last European tour, we had a couple festivals in Croatia and I think, Vienna where Rose Windows which is Rabia’s psych band she plays in from Seattle here, we were both playing the same festival so she was able to come perform live with us for both places and it was great. And Mark Lanegan’s gonna be singing with us for our L.A. show coming up, this next week. We’re actually leaving very soon to go on tour. We just played last night here in Seattle and he’s gonna be able to come play the L.A. show. It’s the Masonic Lodge and the graveyard. It’s gonna be a really cool show.
I guess when you come to New York it’s gonna be an instrumental show?
It will be instrumental by that point, yeah. Actually, last night we were lucky to have two basses. So, we had drums, two basses, and then guitar. So, needless to say it was a ton of low end going on. We’re gonna try that again in Bellingham, and then we lose one of our bass players and go straight back to the power trio. The guitar, one bass, and drums.
It’s gotta be interesting to be able to do that. To be able to switch things up.
It’s great. It keeps everything super exciting and you hear stuff differently. Same songs, heard differently. I love anything that keeps it fresh. We’re also gonna have Brett Netson who played second guitar on the album he’s gonna play with us in Boise, at Neurolux. A lot of little guest pop ins and pop outs for this tour, which is kind of fun. We usually do that on albums but not so much live touring so this is kind of weird and fun and cool.
You’re like a living, breathing organism.
Yeah, a little amoeba that sucks in and spits out.
Let’s talk about the David Lynch Foundation. Were you familiar with TM before?
I am not super well versed in it. I’m aware of the general practicalities of it, but not by any means an expert or a super well versed on it. But it sounds cool. I’d like to know more.
That’s what a lot of this is about, trying to educate people and letting them know that this exists, while raising funds for it. Do you see any kind of similarity between the drone music that you’re sometimes credited with being a pioneer of, and meditation in and of itself? I’ll preface it by saying that I recently interviewed the executive producer of DLF Live and he said seeing Earth at a festival made him realize, “Hey, this is really not that far removed from TM. I really wanna get this guys on the show.”
Oh cool man. I didn’t know that. That’s great. For me, as a drummer who plays… In Earth I almost exclusively very slow and even slower tempo. I very, very rarely even get to mid tempo. Everything is such a relaxed flow, delayed, almost a behind the beat drag. Basically live performances, I had to discover early on, I had to find my own way through and it ended up being a lot like mediation. Getting the heart rate to completely get below a certain beats per minute, otherwise you literally cannot play that slow if your heart is beating through your chest, and nerves or nervousness, or anything. I’ve over the years developed my own little thing I do every live show. It’s pretty of involved, but it’s just getting myself centered and getting my thoughts clear, and being able to visualize what I’m gonna be doing night to night and just being very in touch and aware of the body, not just brain. I don’t know how much that relates, but I’ve definitely been much more interested in the idea of meditation and anything that gets you more in touch in yourself and outside of yourself. Just that kind of… going to the center of things.
I don’t meditate either but hearing what he had to say about it and having listened to Earth enough , I can understand the similarities between the two. How do you feel about being cited as a pioneer of the genre? The kind of drone-y type genre?
It’s cool when anyone comes up to you and says, “Something you did affected me in such a way that it inspired me and creatively gave me ideas.” Just something where it affects someone’s life, That’s always great. And Dylan’s been doing this longer than I’ve been in the band. The very, very formative drone influence you could date back to ’89, when he first started. I didn’t come around until 2000. There’s some missing years for Dylan there. Since I’ve been in the band, we kind of took it in a new direction. It’s still droning, but it was a lot more jazz, folk, country influenced. A little less metal until this last album. I always think it’s cool. Music is just this continuum. I really don’t like to lay claim to stuff or feel like, “This is mine. I came up with this.” It’s all interrelated. Everyone borrows from everyone else. It’s cool to have people notice when you’ve been doing something long enough but I don’t like to claim it as my possession.
Exactly. It’s a fundraiser for that and there’s a separate show a couple weeks later, being held at the same venue, Saint Vitus, in Brooklyn. Do you have any particularly good memories of playing in New York or Brooklyn?
Yea. We’ve done a lot. What was the… Le Poisson Rouge? That’s the weird French club? That was a great show. We were female only other than for Dylan at the time. We had Laurie Goldston on cello, Angelina Baldoz on bass, and then me on drums. It was kind of cool to be this all female… But you don’t see a lot of… You see female singers, female bass players, but it was kind of cool to have three odd, and then just Dylan at the front and it was a great show. One of my favorites of that tour. Really fun.