West Lafayette basement band brings celestial, shoe-gaze influence - Purdue Exponent: Features

West Lafayette basement band brings celestial, shoe-gaze influence

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Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014 10:00 am

Right in Purdue’s backyard, Earthgrazer defies the basement band stereotype, creating a feel and sound that you would more expect from any big-name band.

The three-piece band, composed of guitarist Evan Fife, bassist Mike Ashenbrener and drummer David Woods started when they were all students at Purdue in 2008.

“We joke. We call ourselves Earthgrazer 3.0 now because we basically completely discarded all of our older songs,” Ashenbrener said. “A shoe-gaze influence kind of permeated through a bit more recently just because we need to sound big — it’s kind of in our blood.”

Earthgrazer started playing as soon as they got situated in the basement of their house. The first chord rung throughout the house. The guitarist loved his pedal board. Echo, looping, distortion, reverb — every song incorporated at least three different effects.

Ashenbrener said the band has gone through a lot of changes stylistically since they began. The band draws influences from a variety of artists, ranging from Radiohead to Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

Earthgrazer’s most recent songs have a unique sound summarized with one word — the band used words like “elemental, celestial,” and even “spacey.” Most of their songs are written as a collaboration, building off of the band’s individual inspiration and energy.

“We are a lot more about the musical aspect versus the singer/songwriter aspect,” Ashenbrener said. “We will meet up and play, just the three of us, and a song will come up from us jamming.”

Being a three-piece band isn’t the easiest job, Ashenbrener said. The band has tried working with other people, but it hasn’t worked out.

Coordinating their time has proven to be difficult too, considering only one member of the band still lives in West Lafayette. The rest of the band travels several hours across Indiana from their day jobs to practice and play shows in Lafayette.

“There were a lot of times that we were playing in a noisy basement and it would sound great to us just because it is just noise and we’re having fun,” Fife said. “Then we would get on a stage outdoors and we would play and we would sound so much more naked.”

The band has released three EPs and a single. The first of its releases, a self-titled album, was self-produced and self-released in 2011. Just in time for Christmas of 2013, Earthgrazer released its most recent five-song EP called “Skyward.”

“Wildfire” on “Skyward” showcases some complex bass lines, providing a solid base for the playful guitar riffs and wild solos. You can tell from the chaotic vocals, the song is meant to represent a more fast-paced side of the natural world.

In a sharp contrast with “Wildfire,” the Radiohead-like song “Moon Shot” follows with a stray piano and impressive vocal harmonies. The song’s lyrics come off as very introspective. It almost makes you want to lay and watch the stars.

However, Earthgrazer isn’t focused solely on its recordings. It has been working on its live sound from the start. One of the most prominent influences in the band’s stylistic change over time has been its insatiable need for perfection.

Earthgrazer exudes a passion that is rare; it cares about the music and passing on its inspiration to its listeners.

Earthgrazer’s music can be found on its bandcamp website, and its most recent album can be found at Von’s on record store day.

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