Sean: Ok, so first off - thanks a lot for doing this. The response from fans has been overwhelming.
EJ: No problem. Should be fun.
Sean: First question is from Stephen: So, my question would be (if Eric is going to law school) what kind of work he plans to do when he is done. And, if he plans to continue writing music for the Spooky project. (Does Spooky play any shows?) If he does plan to continue with music, what plans does he have, if any, to meld the worlds of music and law?
EJ: I will do either criminal defense or prosecution, leaning towards defense. Preferably in the public defenders office where we represent the indigent. I've seen people get screwed over. I definitely plan on continuing with Spooky. I obviously don't have time right now but definitely in the future. I don't play shows, wouldn't know how with the way I record. I don't plan on meshing music with law, wouldn't know how to do that either.
Sean: You mentioned to me that you were planning on hanging out with Mark and Matt over Christmas break. How are those guys doing? And what are they up to?
EJ: The whole band got together, it was great. Matt is working at an outdoor shop selling climbing gear and stuff like that. You know, he's a rock climber. Mark is working in a bike shop and going to school. He was taking computer classes but he says he doesn't like them so I imagine he'll move on to somthing else.
Sean: Is Matt is playing in a band? I hear rumors that he is, but it seems kinda informal.
EJ: Matt is playing in two bands: Manband and shit, I forgot the name of the second one but it is heavy metal and its got some funny name but I forgot what it was. Something with umlots (sp)?. Manband is indie rock. I don't think he plans on pursuing it as a career but I haven't asked him.
Sean: Everyone's been dying to know - any chance of a reunion? Especially since Dinosaur Jr., The Pixies, etc. have all had success with them.
EJ: Very little chance of a reunion. Too many different things going on. But it's not an impossibility. We jokingly discussed it over Christmas, but that was it, jokingly.
Sean: Fair enough. We will all keep our fingers crossed on that one. Madison wants to know: How did Archers of Loaf actually get together? And how did you decide on your name? Do you mean loaf as in to spend time lazily or aimlessly; or loaf as in a shaped mass of food?
EJ: I introduced myself to Eric B. on a college school bus. It was very awkward, but I had heard him and seen him play and just thought he was great. And I heard he was looking for people to play in a new band with. So that's the way it got started. Name? Always hated answering that one. Basically it was a last minute thing. Had a gig but no name. We didn't do so well did we? I'll never crack on anyone else's band name. Well, I take that back, sure I will. That's all I will say on that subject: it is a "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you" type thing.
Sean: At long last, the mystery revealed. I'm not sure who asked this one, but he wanted to know about your gear and what your influences are playing wise. I've never heard anyone play guitar like that. How did the band come up with their unique style?
EJ: Did he want to know about mine or Eric B's. It just said Eric. I'll try to answer both.
Sean: Yours, but both would be great
EJ: I started off using a Strat through a Boogie. I've always used a Boogie amp, great for distortion but not that great for clean sounds... but then, we rarely used clean sounds. If I had to name guitarists that influenced me I'd probably say The Edge, Stuart Adamson (Big Country) and Joey Santiago (Pixies). There are tons of others but they are the ones that spent a great deal of time in the upper registers and I've always felt that it gave the band an extra layer. I've never understood bands with 2 guitarists that play the same thing all the time. Some of the time, sure.
EJ: I'll answer for Eric B now.
EJ: I nearly forgot. Thurston Moore is my favorite guitarist of all time.
EJ: I can only guess as to what guitarists influenced Eric. When I met him he was really into Sonic Youth but I've never thought he sounded anything like Thurston Moore. His style developed as he learned the guitar. When I met him he hadn't been playing a long time but before long he was "better" than I was, at least as far as being more prolific and using different styles... and you see what he's doing now. He strings his guitar by moving the high E down below the low E for a droning sound and at times an octave effect (eg, Step Into the Light). He used homemade guitars built by Reuben Coxe and some other guitar that I forgot the name of, but not a well-known brand. I also used one of Reuben's guitars. They were really nice.
Sean: That was my next question regarding tuning. I guess Josh wanted to know where you guys tuned on your albums?
EJ: We used all sorts of weird tunings. The one I used the most was simply dropping the low E to D and dropping the B to A. Eric usually used the standard tuning but with his weird string arrangement. There were other tunings used. I used the "Schizophrenia" tuning for Acromegaly.
EJ: Oh, I almost forgot, Eric used a really funky tuning for Acromegaly and Form and File (and perhaps some others) but I don't know exactly what it was. It had a lot of the same notes in different octaves.
Sean: OK, we've got some more technical questions from folks. Waldrop wanted to know about Icky Mettle - Would you please give us the details regarding the production / recording of that album? What studio(s) was it recorded in? On what system was it recorded - what software? What drugs?
EJ: Caleb Southern recorded Icky Mettle at "Craptone Studios." He's a guy who ran sound for Cat's Cradle at the time. Very talented. He also ran sound for us on the road quite a bit. Kraptone was really just in the Cat's Cradle after the night was over. We recorded that album from 3 in the morning til noon the next day over a period of about 2 or 3 weeks. It wasn't always easy finding the time b/c we all had day jobs. Sucked. Icky Mettle was recorded on tape but I'm not very technically savvy so I can't tell you what kind or even what board we used. It was 24 track, I remember that much. I used to think that was such a big deal! Not much drugs, lots of beer.
Sean: Icky Mettle was so well received by college radio and the indie rock community, did you have any idea that it was going to be as big as it was? I mean, was there a sense during recording that you guys were on to something special?
EJ: I thought we were on to something special, but I was biased. I knew that I loved it and my tastes weren't out in left field so I figured others would like it if they heard it. That was the key: "if they heard it." College radio really helped in that manner.
Sean: Chris was curious about your songwriting process. All the songs are so layered and full of amazing non-lead guitar lines. Would you have them figured out before going in to record, or work them out in the studio? Were your shows well received across the country? Or were certain cities wanting the rock more? Can you share a favorite song or two with us and why they're your favorites?
EJ: We wrote songs in and out of the studio, no rhyme or reason to it. I think some of our best songs were written on the fly. Freezing Point and Mutes in the Steeple for example. Eric B was the principal songwriter (in case you didn't already know) but ours was very much a democracy. We all did what we wanted to do and then tried to polish the turd once we had all of our parts worked out. Our shows were well received in most places but not all and yes, some cities were better than others. Chicago was like a 2nd home to us. Gainesville, FL was awesome. NYC was awesome. Boston. Cincinnatti. Iowa City. We never did well in Tennessee for some reason. Atlanta sucked for a number of years but improved. The 7" version of Wrong is definitely one of my favorites. It was just so explosive (I don't want to sound cocky, OK?). You could tell we just loved playing and we were pouring our souls into it. Not to mention it's just a good song. It really captured the way we sounded live at the time. The Icky Mettle version doesn't touch it. Greatest of All Time is another favorite.
Sean: A few people asked about "Density." Is that track available on CD, tape or vinyl anymore? And what are the chances of hearing some old practice stuff or old outtakes a la Speed of Cattle?
EJ: Density is a B-side too, I think, Vocal Shrapnel. I can't be sure. I didn't really like that song that much so I lost track of it. I thought the idea of just blasting everything full bore and getting just the fattest sound possible would be awesome but it just didn't translate. I'm sure it's still available somewhere but I don't know where. I don't have a copy. Maybe on a file sharing program. ha! We've got tons and tons of old practice stuff but it would be wrong to put it out. I've got some stuff of Eric and I playing together in my old apartment recorded though a jam-box.
EJ: We put nearly all of our outtakes of Speed of Cattle.
Sean: "Wrong to put it out?!?!" You just made everyone that's reading this salivate over the thought of hearing that stuff!
George wanted to know what your inspiration was for Harnessed in Slums?
And Eric has always wondered why you play guitar left-handed in the Harnessed in Slums video, but righty everywhere else? Do you have some kind of magic ambidextrous skills or is he missing something?
EJ: I don't know exactly what EB was thinking when he wrote the lyrics to that song. It was kind of an unwritten practice that we rarely quesitoned EB's motivation for lyrics. I don't think they were ever meant to "make a social statement" or anything like that. I can't believe someone actually caught I was playing left handed in the video. I just did it to see if the director would notice. He didn't. We hated doing videos.
Sean: hahahaha, amazing.
Sean: You never got curious as to what the heck he was talking about in some of those tunes?
EJ: Sure I did, but I also liked to give it my own interpretation. You know when you put a song on a mix cd for your honey b/c the words seem right? But you know the words weren't written for you.
Sean: Yeah, that's what I think makes your songs translate so well to so many different types of people.
Al Sauer heard that you guys were going to do a cover of "Major Tom Coming Home" for an 80's "one hit wonder" comp. Did you ever record this? I can't imagine what it would've sounded like.
EJ: Yes, we did do a cover of that song. It wasn't very good but it was funny. Mark P did the "4-3-2-1". I don't know where a copy of it is floating around. If I find it I'll post it on the Archers page if that's possible.
Sean: Sweet. Jerod R. wanted to know if you were aware that a band called, 'Give up the Ghost', does a cover of "You and Me"? If so, what did you think? If not, its available on Bridge Nine Records.
EJ: No, I didn't know that. I've had someone send me a cover of Web in Front and I know this guy who made Elevator Muzak versions of about 5 of our songs. It was truly hysterical.
Sean: Wow. Muzak versions would be incredible to check out. You guys were road warriors, Mike Slaski wanted to know if you really toured 350 days in one year once. And what are some of your most memorable/ forgettable experiences from the road?
EJ: Ha! We once played 412 shows in one year. J/K. it felt like 350. I think our most was about 185, which is way too much. That is the secret to getting burned out. We once got mistaken for Pantera in Amarillo, TX. Got free breakfast at Cracker Barrel. We met some famous people. I got my picture taken with Paulina Porizkova. Touring with the Flaming Lips was pretty special. It was on their Transmissions tour which I think was the peak of their amazing career.
Sean: Matt Koop wanted to know what kind of conflict went through your heads when turning down your major label contract offer with Maverick Records, aside from money you'd lose breaking your contract with Alias?
Why did you guys decide to hang it up?
EJ: We COULDN'T break our contract with Alias. If it were just the money, we would have left Alias, but not to go to Maverick. Anywhere else would have been better ... except maybe Maverick. One thing that went through our minds was the fact that Alanis Morrisette and Candlebox were on Maverick. We did not want to be associated with those turds. We hung it up, I think, because we were burned out. We toured all the time, never wrote new songs (which is the lifeblood of being in a band), never got to spend time with our friends and families and girlfriends. Lots of different reasons. Some "direction" issues too. Obviously Crooked Fingers' first record was much different from any Archers record. It's cliche' but we were going in different directions.
Sean: Do you ever feel that you guys should have gotten more recognition, especially since Alias was a pretty small label? I mean, with the mediocrity reigning in music today, is there ever any sort of bitterness that you guys should have been bigger than you were?
EJ: Not bitterness, but it would have been nice to have made a more comfortable living. I think we would have stayed together longer if we didn't have to tour all the time just to keep food on the table. But maybe not.
Sean: What are you listening to these days? Are there any new bands out there that really move you? And what are your thoughts on file sharing? Do you believe it's hurting the music industry as the RIAA claims?
EJ: I really like Broken Social Scene but the new record doesn't touch You Forgot it In People. I'm a little disappointed even though I do like it. I'm listening to a lot of PJ Harvey. I want to marry her. I think file sharing helps artists and labels. RIAA has its head up its ass. People don't want to buy records because most records by popular artists only have one or two "good" songs on it (if you listen to that crap at all). If those artists had more good songs, more people would buy the records. Nobody wants to dish out $18 for a Britney Spears record if there is one hit song and 13 turds. Just download the "good" one and be done with it. I, for one, have bought more music since file sharing came out because I knew when I wasn't taking a chance. Some people just can't afford to drop the money on the counter for a record just hoping it will be good. If I get a chance to hear it first, and like it, I always go and buy it.
Sean: Right on. You mentioned when we were setting this interview up that you try to stay politically neutral. Do you feel that musicians should just stick to music or do you feel that they should share in the responsibility of speaking out and championing certain causes (i.e. Bono, Green Day, etc.)?
EJ: Ah, that's a good one. I think political neutrality is good, at least when it comes to the music itself. It's hard to stay neutral with what is going on in the world and how it is shameful to be an American with what all Bush has done to destroy any semblance of respect we still had in the world. But (how's that for political neutrality?) I think what Bono does is great. He's helping out; he's using his celebrity to help change the world in a positive way. What could be wrong with that? I don't know what Billy Joe does but ... well, good for him.
EJ: But having said that, I don't think they have a "responsibility" to do anything.
Sean: One of the guys in On the Take wanted me to ask you about the Batwing.
EJ: Ha!! A batwing is when you pull your ball sack taut in the southerly direction. When you do that, it vaguely resembles the wings of a bat.
Sean: So glad I asked that one
EJ: Me too. That's the best question so far.
Sean: Just a couple more and we're done -
Patrick wanted to know if there was anyone still selling Archers merch that you're aware of?
Do you have any advice for a twenysomething dude in a band trying to set up recording, distrubution, tours, merch, and keep it all together?
EJ: I think there is a place to get some stuff. Hold on. http://www.scarabcart.com/cgi-bin/archers/index.cgi Wow, I don't know where to begin with the 20 something dude. Maybe it isn't done this way anymore but, record a single, with your 2 best songs. Tour as much as you can afford to at first, then hope for an offer from a label. Be very patient and consider the label very carefully. Hire an entertainment lawyer if you can afford it; one who specializes in music. Never sign a contract for more than 3 records. Merch. Use this merchandiser, he's the best. http://themerch.net/
Sean: Thank you for all the great music you helped create over the years. You positively affected so many people. Do you have anything you want to say to all those die hard Archers fans out there?
EJ: Rock on baby!! And thank you for liking it. Thanks for asking me to do an interview, still flatters me very much.