Earthrise Interview with Tom Hillmann - by Grim Gaijin

First of all, thank you for the opportunity to interview your band. For me, Eras Lost was one of my favorite albums of 2012 and even ranked up on my year-end Top 20 Metal Albums for 2012. Tell me how Earthrise began (i.e. origins of the bands).

Jimmy, Mike, and Andy were all in a band prior to Earthrise. Mike was a founding member of that band from like 40 years ago. He's an old piece of shit. Mike and Jimmy started jamming slow, drunk, stupid riffs together outside of practice for that band. They wrote some stuff and eventually got Andy involved on bass.

Warp back in time to 2006. I (Tom) knew Jimmy through some mutual friends. He and I ended up going to see a lot of the same bands. He actually played drums for a little bit with some guys I had a shitty garage band with in high school. We hung out occasionally, he charged my iPod once, but time and distance would see us drift apart. Fate would bring us back together years later...

Travel, if you will, to 2011. The other guys started doing more legitimate work towards the Earthrise stuff and had most of the music written. At this point I saw the 3 of them fairly often at local shows, parties, etc... They saw me jump on a microphone at a show that Iron Thrones was playing here in Minneapolis. Apparently my ass looked nice that night, because they asked me if I'd be interested in trying vocals for them sometime.

Long story short, we met up, drank a lot of beer, and played around. They liked the cut of my jib and told me to join them in making some music. We made Eras Lost, played a bunch of shows, and here we are today.

I was lucky to find you guys on Bandcamp one night! With today's DIY approach to releasing music, do you feel you have an advantage over bands say 20 years ago?

Bandcamp (http://www.earthrisemn.bandcamp.com) is an incredible tool for bands, especially ones who are just starting out. We owe a lot of our success to that site, and the wide array of people it has allowed us to reach. We have reached more people than we ever expected by having our album available for free. Or, if you're a really kind, attractive, and intelligent person, the price of your choosing!

"We are all fun people who enjoy meeting fellow headbangers and beer drinkers. I think we all do a great job just being personal and having fun with people. Adding that personal touch and being nice to people pays off in a big way."

The music industry is a vastly different place than it was 20 years ago. You weren't able to teleport music electronically across the globe. People had to have it in a physical format, or hear it on the radio. That definitely limits the ease of access people have to finding out about your band compared to today. The internet has gotten so fast and so immense that now we can have any album we want in a matter of seconds. Shows and events can be promoted to thousands of people through a wide variety of social media. The outlets to get your name out there are endless these days.

Is this necessarily an advantage? That's debatable for a lot of reasons. As amazing as the internet is, it has also created a giant sea of music that is pretty daunting. This means you have to work extra hard to make your name and music stand out. Attention spans nowadays are extremely thin. Marketing your band strategically has become even more important if you hope to break through and be discovered in the mountain of bands that exist.

How much advertising/marketing did you do yourself for the release of Eras Lost?

We are not signed, nor do we work with a PR or marketing firm of any kind at this point. Any marketing and advertising that anyone has seen has been from us, fans and friends, or outlets that we have invested in ourselves. It has been challenging, but very rewarding. We have a really great system of doing things in our band that was never really delegated. We just all do what we are good at, and it has worked out really well.

Mike is our booking maestro who slaves over emails tirelessly. That guy works really hard to get us a ton of great shows. In our first year and a half of existence we have been lucky enough to play around 50 shows across our state of Minnesota and those surrounding. He's only getting better and we have tons more lined for the rest of the year already!

Andy is our money boy who handles our finances, insurance, and other boring grown up stuff of that nature. He also keeps our big dumb van at his house, thus pissing off his neighbors and getting complained to all the time.

Jimmy has been our lead in terms of our image. He did most of the work with the artists who did our album art and t shirt designs. He designed our Bandcamp and various social media outlets to all look very neat, professional, and sexy. He has taken the reigns with the layout for our vinyl and he killed it. Jimmy just has a really good eye for those things, and has not had a misstep yet.

I guess I'm not sure what to call myself. I really think the only reason I'm still in the band is because I know the guys in Intronaut. The rest of the Earthguys have a huge hard on for that band and are probably just keeping me around in hopes that I can hook up playing with them... Haha. I take care of mailing out our merch orders, on top of being lead guerilla marketer. I'm always bombing the world with our business cards and talking to as many people as I can.

We are a very new band, Eras Lost being our first release. In terms of marketing for the release of the album we basically just spread the word ourselves to whoever would hear it. We played a bunch of shows in front of a lot of great people who enjoyed us enough to keep supporting us and be excited to hear us recorded.

Since the release of the album we have definitely stepped up our marketing game. We've sent emails to just about every music blog and website on the internet. All of us post and stay in touch with people on Facebook as much as possible. My personal favorite is posting ridiculous, probably immature stuff on our wall and then getting an insane amount of hits on it. Mike gets mad initially, and later shakes my hand. It's a very rewarding experience for me.

We are all fun people who enjoy meeting fellow headbangers and beer drinkers. I think we all do a great job just being personal and having fun with people. Adding that personal touch and being nice to people pays off in a big way. I have always loved meeting bands I enjoy, and when they are cool people I love them that much more. We will always do our best to show our appreciation for the people who support us. That in itself advertises you as cool people, and people are always more supportive of musicians they respect and enjoy as human beings.

On Eras Lost, I hear influences such as Godflesh, Isis, and Tool. Who are some of you guys' influences, and what kind of sound were you trying to achieve on Eras Lost?

Those are all awesome bands, so if you're hearing that, that's awesome! All 4 of us are big metal heads. What's cool is that Mike and Andy are both old pieces of shit, while Jimmy and I are young and virile. So we have a wide variety of tastes in the band, but definitely agree on enjoying metal. We all dig Converge, Cult of Luna, Intronaut, Deftones, Meshuggah, Every Time I Die, The Ocean, and so on...

The idea for Eras Lost seemed to have been born out of drinking a lot of beer between Mike and Jimmy. They wanted to write some fun, slow, drunk, heavy tunes. So that's what they did! Eras Lost is meant to be a fun album. We just wanted to make some stuff that people would love coming out to see live and headbang excessively to. Mix in a little delay pedal and some atmosphere for the stoners out there, and you've got yourself a party.

How much touring will you do to support Eras Lost?

As much as possible! We have been doing our best to extend our reach as far as we can go. So far we have been able to get to a lot of the Midwest, but we would all love to explore the country as soon as possible. We are working on a lot of out of town trips for this summer right now which will be a lot of fun. Things are going well for us, and if they continue, hopefully we can come visit our friends all across the country someday.

Any plans to tour overseas?

The plan as of right now is, yes, we would travel the world one day. Who wouldn't, the world is an incredible place. People from all over the planet have been great to us! I have sent out an insane number of packages to various corners of the earth, and it continues to blow my mind. Knowing that a guy in Iran is listening to our album, or that there is a guy in Paraguay wearing our T shirt... It makes me so happy. We would love it if things continue to go well for us and we can shake all those international hands!

As of right now we don't have an actual plan to make a trip over the ocean. But that's definitely a life goal that we would love to achieve. We will continue working hard and getting our name out there, and hopefully we get to the point where we can make international traveling a reality.

Will Eras Lost get a label release as well, or are you sticking to the DIY approach?

Eras Lost is going to be pressed on vinyl May 12th via Threshold of Pain Records, which is amazing! We are all extremely excited to have our music on a vinyl. It will be the only pressing ever done of that album on wax, so snatch that shit up!

If a kind label comes around that thinks we are loud enough to sign we would definitely be open to the idea. We will continue working hard and promoting our band as best we can by ourselves. We are a well-oiled machine that has done very well in our first 2 years of existence. We have been very lucky to have lots of websites, magazines, blogs, and fans who are willing to help get our name out there.

Even if we never get signed, we are having a blast doing this band. We have met so many great people and played with some incredible bands. We want to take this band as far as it can go, and will do whatever we can to get there.

I know that Eras Lost was written between 2010 and 2012, so are there any plans to start writing new material for album #2?

Writing for album two is well under way! It's sounding very heavy and awesome so far. I think I put up a picture on our Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/earthrisemn) of the white board which shows some building blocks of songs that we are putting together. We are hoping to be able to record and get it out late this year/early next year. We are taking our time with this one, but that's the plan as it stands right now.

With the first album we rushed a little bit to get it out so we could have some music to promote and play. It became a very stressful situation at times, but we made it happen and it turned out well. We al learned a lot from the experience of writing and recording Eras Lost.

Adam Tucker at Signature Tone is somewhat of a stepfather to a lot of bands here in Minnesota. He really helped the guys get the sound out of their instruments that they wanted. Steve Henningsgard of Iron Thrones fame did the vocal engineering, and he made the experience an absolute blast for me. I was nervous going in, but he made it a very comfortable, very hilarious atmosphere for recording.

This time around, there's no time constraint. We can relax and have fun making music. It's been going extremely well so far, I can't believe how much music is written already. Eras Lost was my first time working on a professionally recorded album, so I'm personally very excited to be working on our new stuff. I have some experience under my belt now, and I'm feeling very confident going into this new album.

The other guys have all stepped up their game. They have all gotten a bunch of new pedals; Jimmy got a new drum set, a couple new guitars... So all the pieces are there for shit to go well, I don't see why it will go any other way!

How much Pabst Blue Ribbon was used in the making of Eras Lost? LOL!!

In the band the other guys were in prior they really liked to drink Black Label, an equally delightful beverage. That carried over to Earthrise until around the time of our CD release show. Pabst was kind enough to help us promote that show and give us a bunch of free swag. Now we have converted to Pabst to support those fine people since they were so kind to us!

We have some pictures on our Facebook of the recording process. I think we have a picture of Rug using beer cans to make some crazy noises with his guitar actually. Beer was used both as a fuel in our bellies, and to make soundscapes, so beer had a big influence on the album.

Thank you so much for your time, is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

Our fans have all been extremely good to us. We have had so many kind words sent our way since our album came out, and it's a great feeling. Knowing something that you worked really hard on makes other people all over the world happy is amazing. Keep in touch with us on the internet and have a beer with us at a show. We will be working hard to make it to as many people in as many cities as we can. We hope to have a beer with as many of you as possible!

Tom HillmannDavid Loveless5/10/2013

Eras Lost
David Loveless5/10/2013

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