Bones of the Earth / Photo by Kyle Kaminski
The highlight of the last show that I saw in February 2020 was an absolute pummelling by Bones Of The Earth at George’s Majestic Lounge.
It’s no secret that the band (Erik Ebsen, Raif Box, and Cody Martin) is among Fayetteville’s best – and certainly the heaviest. They are continuing the noble lineage set by Arkansas’ metal giants Hundred Years War, Tem Eyos Ki, Deadbird, and Pallbearer. In Northwest Arkansas, Bones Of The Earth is our flagship band. They’re expanding progressive metal’s emotional palette, while refining its connection to punk.
On April 2, Bones Of The Earth will release their second record – II. Eternal Meditations Of A Deathless Crown. You can pre-order (link) and hear the new song “Peaceseeker” now. Trust me, you’ll want to do both immediately.
Who: Bones of the Earth
What: II. Eternal Meditations of a Deathless Crown
When: April 2 release date
Where: Pre-order at Bandcamp
I talked with Bones Of The Earth guitarist Erik Ebsen about the band – here goes…
I saw you last in February 2020 at George’s, seems like forever ago. What were your original plans for 2020 before the pandemic?
After our surprisingly hefty amount of shows we played in the beginning of the year, we had plans to go on tour with our friends in a band called RIG TIME! (sic) and then track our second album. When touring cancelled, we jumped straight to finishing writing and tracking ‘II. Eternal Meditations of a Deathless Crown’. Raif had been recording since we’ve started Bones but officially made Holy Anvil Record Co a website this month.
Did you record at Holy Anvil? What’s it like having a recording engineer in the band?
Yes! Part of how Holy Anvil started was because we wanted to make sure our music would come across the way we wanted it to. Much to Raif’s credit, he facilitated the means to start recording our band and put it all together. Our first album was the first one that Raif ever recorded as a producer. He only gets better every release and our newest record is the one I’m most proud of in my body of work.
Having him take the role of recording engineer is great because the environment is very relaxed. We’re just basically hanging out, anything we want to try we’re able to try. I have some production experience but Raif actually knows how to do stuff the correct way. (laughs)
What have you been working on during quarantine? Have you been able to get together and write?
I’ve been focusing more on being creative at home. I went to therapy and got on medication. Playing video games, going to work. We’ve still been having practice throughout the pandemic. We’ve recorded the album at Holy Anvil Recording Co and have just been using the time since we’ve had it. Bones has been writing music for our third album – although we don’t have plans to rush to record.
How has the pandemic affected you? What have you learned or done differently as a result?
I definitely have a greater fear of large groups of people, it’s important to know yourself in this period of isolation as well. Let the people you care for know they’re loved. I also hate driving and I get exhausted from how aggressive some people are. It got me way more into trying new things music wise that I wouldn’t have pushed as hard to develop.
Are you in other bands? Anything else you’re working on?
I play bass in a rock band called Fight Dream, it’s a little heavy but it’s not metal in the slightest. That and Bones are my only two real projects.
Void of Fenrir is something I have been putting off for a while but it was originally a concept I had for mixing stoner rock and shoegaze together into a band / studio project.
I’ve made music on my own in various projects spawning from single songs to entire albums over the past 12 or so years. I’ve recorded everything from ambient, rock, death metal, progresive metal, acoustic folk, drone, electronic, noise, shoegaze, meme music, everything.
I picked up keys again after getting a MIDI controller from a friend so I’m thinking about branching out for those elements in addition to guitar. I plan on using keys every so often in our newer material we’re working on.
I just love making stuff. One of these days I hope that I can do music composition for film or video games
What have you been watching lately?
My go to default are cartoons from the 90s like Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Courage the Cowardly Dog. I’ve been watching the reboot of The Animaniacs and it’s one of the best shows I’ve seen, highly recommend it. Also Queen’s Gambit was incredible.
For movies, I’ve been watching evergreen favorites like This Is Spinal Tap, School of Rock, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
I also watch a ton of YouTube video essays about random stuff, mostly video games or music concepts.
What are your favorite records of the year so far?
Genghis Tron – Dream Weapon will be a favorite once it is released, Knoll – Interstice and Black Sheep Wall – Songs For the Enamel Queen. March and April will be insane months for releases. I think it’ll definitely hit harder than last year for sure.
What are your favorite venues in Arkansas?
Smoke & Barrel, George’s Majestic Lounge, Vino’s, The Rev Room and Backspace.
What are your hopes for 2021 – as a band and otherwise?
I hope we can start playing shows and tour again, we’re not used to being at home this long (laughs). Just to also keep getting better than I was the day before. I also hope that when we do go to the stage again, that it’s better than any time anyone’s seen us in terms of our presentation and our performance.
Any surprising influences or guilty pleasures you’d like to share for the first time?
Outside of being a complete music nerd, I’m also a huge fan of video games. Video game music like Grant Kirkhope’s work in Banjo-Kazooie, Koji Kondo’s genre defining soundscapes in Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64, the crushing metal riffs of Mick Gordon’s score for Doom Eternal are timeless and legendary. Before shows stopped, Bit Brigade who are incredible – have played Arkadia Retrocade a few times and their Zelda, Mega Man 2 and Metroid albums are incredible.
I’m personally a huge Bring Me the Horizon fan. I don’t think Sublime is a bad band – it’s nostalgia, and I love Limp Bizkit unironically.
I’ve been getting into electronic music, which while Massive Attack and Portishead are popular artists, I’ve been digging Burial a lot lately. I also have an unabashed love for Kero Kero Bonito, their album ‘Time n Place’ is one of the wildest things ever made.
I also take influence from ambient music, I believe heavy feels heavier when you blend it with lighter touches. Every time I pick up a guitar I’m expressing the inner workings of my mind.
I found myself listening to more ambient music in 2020 too. What ambient music have you been listening to lately?
Chihei Hatakeyama is definitely the artist I dig most, William Basinski, Brian Eno, Noveller and I’m getting into Stars of the Lid. Also not purely ambient but post-metal bands like Russian Circles, Rosetta, Cult of Luna, Alcest are all super important too.
Does the music you write begin with a story you want to tell? Does the riff influence the lyric or vice versa?
We write the music first, but I always love recurring themes in music so I definitely like to reprise leitmotifs in an album or song. Raif and Cody handle most of the concepts and lyrics but we all sit and write everything collaboratively.
Most of the time the song tells us the story of what happens, we discuss how we see it and I think we simply try to explain it as much as the song allows us to.
When it’s safe to see shows again – who is the first band you want to see?
Black Sheep Wall. I want to just to see a band so loud I feel the place shaking and paint peeling off the walls. They’re also good friends and incredible people.