An Interview With The Band EARTHQUAKE LIGHTS!
Posted On 21 Mar 2019
Everyone has experienced a great piece of music accompanied by a poor video, or conversely an underwhelming song elevated by an inspired visual. But when an equally imaginative filmmaker and a group of songwriters combine their crafts and creative visions, the result is pure harmony. That’s what we’ve got for you today: a collaboration between a few of the only genuine rock songsmiths left in New York City and a young director whose work has already been recognized by Werner Herzog. The band is Earthquake Lights. The filmmaker is Minu Park, a prolific Korean-American artist. They’ve brought their talents together for the first time and the result is “Moonlight,” a haunting clip for an eerie, unforgettable song.
“Moonlight” is a perfect representation of the enchanting music that Earthquake Lights generates. This track is delicate, hypnotic, and so appealing that it demands a second listen. The song is built on an intriguing chord progression – one that teases resolution but never quite reaches it. It’s that harmonic underpinning that allows the song to radiate such a sense of instability and mystery. Lead singer Myles Rodenhouse’s clear, pure voice guides the listener through the track, while the rest of the band imparts atmosphere, color, and drive.
To capture a truly classic sound, all the strings on Moonlight, as well as the upcoming Distress Signals album, were recorded at Abbey Road Studios. The rest was cut in Brooklyn at Rodenhouse’s own Douglass Recording, a recording studio that has booked artists like Cage The Elephant, Bombay Bicycle Club, rapper Talib Kweli, and is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the best sounding rooms in Brooklyn.
Like the members of Earthquake Lights, Minu Park is a New York City artist with a distinctive aesthetic rooted in a classic style. He’s a writer and cinematographer as well as a director and has made documentaries, short movies, and clips dedicated to fashion as well as music videos. “Escape,” his acclaimed short, was an official selection at the Roosendaal Film Festival in 2017, and he’s applied the same delicate touch to his clip for “Moonlight.” In the video, he tells the tale of two sisters who wander off into the forest. One is mysteriously lured away – and the other is left helpless in pursuit.
Connect With Earthquake Lights Here:
Learn more about Earthquake Lights in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
My pleasure! Just spent the weekend filming a new music video for our next single So Far No Luck, and the director, Minu Park, and I will start to go over the footage this afternoon. Really excited to get into it, the shoot went really well.
Now that a new year has started, what musical goals does this band have for 2019? What are you most proud of about 2018? Do any of you make any New Years Resolutions?
Yea! Our upcoming LP “Distress Signals” is a big focus for us this year. We’ve generated a ton of content for it, and our biggest goal is just getting through the release process for everything! Trying to pull together some great shows with a few really cool bands too. After that, we’re really dying to get back into creating new material.
I think we’re most proud of getting through the production of “Distress Signals” in 2018. We spent years working on the record, and finishing writing, tracking, mixing (etc.) really felt like an accomplishment on its own.
I’m afraid to rather boringly say, we aren’t much into making New Years Resolutions. But at year end, I’ve always planned to spend more time making music this coming year than I did last year. So far, I’ve lived up to that each year!
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on?
Stephen and I had been experimenting with recording covers and making music together for a while as roommates in college, and we had Cam help us out with a few originals. After getting through some of the first tracks that eventually would make it on our debut EP, we decided to pull together the rest of the band and make it a thing.
We’d originally called ourselves “Kids With Guns” after a Gorillaz track. But it wasn’t a popular name, and we didn’t care much for it ourselves. So we eventually renamed ourselves Earthquake Lights after spending weeks brainstorming hundreds of names. It WAS difficult to settle on something that we all could agree on. But that process gave us a name that really does define the group!
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
We’ve all been somewhat shaped by where we grew up, but I’d say that we’ve been much more shaped by our current hometown, NYC. The music scene here is really vibrant. Of course, everyone we look up to makes a stop in this city on tour, but beyond that, the NY Phil and Carnegie Hall are great places to check out classical music, and there’s an awesome Jazz scene here too! We’ve all spent a lot of time together at places like The Village Vanguard and Smalls. And there’s a rich history of music here too, Frank Sinatra comes to mind immediately. Anyway, I think we’ve all been really impacted by the sounds you can find in NYC on pretty much any given night.
How has your various musical backgrounds helped shape the sound of this band?
This definitely ties into the NYC scene too! We all met studying jazz and classical at college. Of course, we were all in various bands in high school, but I think we sort of all actually found the sound of the band through our shared experiences at school.
How do you think that you have grown as a band since forming? What has remained the same?
We’ve grown a whole lot. Obviously, after years of playing shows in NYC, we’ve gotten much tighter and we’ve learned how to play the room and listen to one another. But also, our tastes and understanding of composition have really evolved too. I think the contrast between our 2012 EP and the new material really demonstrates that.
But we’ve maintained some of the intentions for the music as well. The music has always focused on real instrumentation, and we’ve always favored recording music as much live/ together as possible.
Let’s talk about your newest single and video for “Moonlight”? What was the inspiration for this song? What was it like making the music video for it? How creatively involved were you with the making of it?
Moonlight was inspired by a few things, but a major source of inspiration was a story Steve and I heard on a radio broadcast about a group that got caught in an avalanche. They got split up and buried, and managed to dig themselves out of the snow and find one another. Moonlight is about the moment when you’re searching for one another and not sure if you’ll find one another or make it out.
Making the music video was pretty nuts! We drove a few hours north of the city to shoot with a small crew and cast. They were all great! They put up with a ton of abuse, spending a pretty considerable amount of time in freezing cold water to get the underwater shots.
Minu Park REALLY deserves a lot of credit here. We were really involved creatively with the premise and theme of the video. But Minu is an incredible professional, and we put the process in his hands almost entirely after working with him to come up with the story. Seriously, He’s incredible. And we can’t wait to share the next video we’ve shot with him for So Far No Luck.
When do you hope to release your upcoming album “Distress Signals”? How would you say that “Moonlight” prepares listeners for the entire collection?
Distress Signals is coming out April 12! We can’t wait.
Moonlight was one of the first tracks we wrote that really found the sound of the rest of the record. Since it was our first look at what was to come, we thought it would be a great choice to expose listeners to that track first as well! The minimal, harmonically complex, rock band with big string arrangements is something you’ll hear a lot on “Distress Signals”.
What was it like recording much of your forthcoming album at Abbey Road Studios?
It was awesome! Of course, the first thing you feel when you walk into that room (studio two – the Beatles room) is the incredible history and the insane acoustics and gear collection. But after that, it really just became focus on getting things tracked as efficiently as possible. We had a 23 piece string orchestra in there, and the players time is valuable (as is the studio time.) So we had to just keep our heads down and get through it. But even so, it was really special.
What are some other songs on the album that you are excited for people to hear?
We’re really excited to release “So Far No Luck” which is the same track we just finished shooting a music video for. I’m also personally really excited to share one called “Open Ocean” which is just 23 piece strings and myself singing.
How will you celebrate the release of it?
Some Champagne, and an evening of not thinking about what comes next!
Generally, how do you all go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
Typically, I’ll flesh out song ideas and bring them to the group to flesh out further. Both steps are really important to our process.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
I think that’s different for everyone in the band. Being an audio engineer and recording studio manager by day, I’m pretty comfortable in the studio! But the others get a lot of energy from being on stage.
Where can fans see you perform next? What do you think makes an ideal show for this group?
We’ve got a live stream show from Douglass Recording with our friends Eighty Ninety on Mar 30th, and our LP release show is April 13 at Pianos in NYC. An ideal show for us is one in a venue that sounds great! It’s that simple for us really.
Do you find that all of social media and keeping up with your fans has gotten so overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?
We struggle to keep up with social media. I think if we could, we’d probably just ignore it! But we do think it’s up to us to share things about the band personally rather than involve someone removed from our process. So we spend time creating content ourselves! Instagram seems to be where we get the most engagement, and for that reason, it’s probably the most rewarding to keep up with.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
Art is very personal, and the beautiful thing about it for us is that we don’t have to make it about politics. For sure it’s an escape from the stress and current state of things. We love making music, and what we love about music has nothing to do with politics! Melody and Harmony can unite us all regardless of where we come from.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
Radiohead is a massive influence for us. We’ve looked up to them from day 1 absolutely! How insane would it be to open for them? Grizzly Bear would be so killer too, and they’re much closer to home too (Brooklyn!)
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
We hope the music speaks to everyone in different ways. We’ve tried to capture emotions that we feel represent the songs, but in a way that can be relatable to everyone’s own perspective. Much of the record is a bit of a downer, but we really hope that it proves to be cathartic for listeners, and provides a positive outlook on the future!
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group?
Yea! Distress Signals is a record that we think deserves more than one listen. A lot of the harmonies and melodies are not immediately digestible, and we think the moods and colors become more clear with multiple listens. Please give the new stuff a few tries! We think it will pay off for those who invest in it.