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Echo Movement is based out of New Jersey, not a spot typically known for bands in this sound. How is it received over there?

Stephen: True, as far as NJ artists Bruce Springstein, Bon Jovi and Frank Sinatra should be the first to come to mind, so Echo Movement being the pot-smoking reggae hippie surfer dudes might not make sense to some. However, the garden state has been falsely typecast. "Aside from being one of the most diverse states in the country, we have a 127 mile stretch of beach called the Jersey Shore where we surf year round." The New Jersey beaches are a way of life here even dating back to the Lenape Indians who were the original inhabitants. Our NJ shows are a lot like our California and Florida shows and we bring out fans from many different backgrounds that just want to have a good time. Don't get me wrong, we have had the stereotypical jeans and leather jacket guy yell out "Bruce" at shows, but it doesn't happen that often. The herb state has love for Echo Movement.

The band started off with just the two brothers and now has flourished into a full 7 piece band. What can you tell us about this whole transition?
STEPHEN: Yeah Dave and I formed Echo Movement in 2004 after college. Our first live shows started out much like the first album, I was on lead vocal and drums and Dave was on keyboards and bass keyboards...we were a two man band! Because we were still experimenting with our sound we played a lot of the instruments in the first two albums and we pulled in guest musicians for the rest. We had worked with several different lineups, but the vision of what additional instruments we wanted took a while to figure out. We had strong lead guitarists, female backup vocalists, percussionists, horns and more before we ended up with our current seven piece.

We took the first step to find permanent players in late 2005 with the introduction of Colin Bell on drums. He was a little new to some of the rhythms we were writing, but he is a such a solid drummer and there is little he can't play. Soon after in 2006 we got two other long-term players Matt Lepek on tenor sax and Ed Davidoski on guitar. In 2007 Dave gave his left hand a rest from bass keyboards and Dan joined us on bass guitar. Our seventh instrument is trumpet, but we are still looking for a permanent player.

Can we get some background on all the members? On your personal life, music career, etc?
DAVE: We're all very serious players and interested in music as a way of life. We're all college-educated, but five of our degrees are in music. Not that they're needed to qualify us in the industry, but that training facilitates communication and makes us better as a band. The seven lives are a bit inextricable for explanation here, but I'll give you some taglines:

Steve- degrees in architectural studies, loves board sports & politics, is a well-informed health and nutrition nut, and sings in a reggae band. Steve is also a Freethinker (atheist).

Dave- degrees in music and journalism, is the primary writer for Echo and does carpentry on the side.

Colin- post Drum Corps savant, middle school music teacher and a marching band instructor with an amazing record of excellence.

Dan- our diverse musician...a drummer since childhood, plays bass with Echo and has a degree in classical guitar (you can hear his nylon guitar on "Nobody Dies In Vain" and "Gravity High"). Dan is also a music teacher and our token Cuban.

Matt- the baby of the group, he's the product of summers at band camps and having a great ear for classy saxophone, even though his first instrument is oboe (that's him on "Gravity High"). We use to call him the Boy Scout because he always shows up on time and is always prepared.

Ed- insightful, cunning and one of the most personable people you'll ever meet. He's often a voice of reason in Echo, and we turn to him for level-headed input. We wish him the best though as his last show with us is December 19, 2009 at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ.

Your song "I Think God Smokes Weed" off the recent release "In The Ocean", sparked negative attention from a few critics. Can you elaborate on this, and has the criticism died down?
STEPHEN: Who said something negative? (laughing) When my brother first sent me the scratch track of the chorus, I knew immediately two things: that one it would be the hit off the album, and two that the song would be hated by its conservative critics. The people that are most offended are those that take a literal translation and skip the open dialog it was intended to create. Some people have a squeaky-clean image of their creator and any idea that challenges that can unfortunately spark some negative feelings. Again Dave wrote it, but for me I like to interpret the song as if it was written from a pantheist's perspective in that god and nature are one in the same.

But oh yeah..to answer your question, we have gotten criticism but not as much as you would expect. This is only because the song has mostly been played to open-minded markets like the Vans Warped Tour, NORML's Stash Radio, musicbailout.net, etc. and it flies under the radar of popular culture. If it were on MTV I am sure we would get a lot of hate mail.

stephenThe new album "In The Ocean" is really great lyrically. What inspires the writing and are there any particular themes you make it a point to touch on?
DAVE: First off, thanks. We aim to make such strong musical vibes that people often overlook the vessel content...which is fine, too...but I'm stoked when someone digs the lyrics.

The word are written on long walks or in complete solitude. That helps me reflect on the situation and break it down to usable phrases. Nine out of ten times, I'm capturing my emotions in real-time and writing at the height of an experience. All the lyrics are very intentional and mean a lot to me.

Songs like "Keep My Head HIgh" and "All I Can" are products of desperation...the general metaphoric theme being that when you're at rock bottom, the only way to go is up. "All I Can" was rewritten at least two-dozen times in the past ten years. When the right words finally came out, I re-read them and cried. They track my utter frustration in making a living through music and the tremendous sacrifice that come with my choice.

"Nobody Dies In Vain" means a lot to me and Ed. Paul really was my boy in college and Seth was Ed's friend, and they both died in the war. I never met Seth, just asked Ed a lot of questions and eventually poured out the verse. It was an unsettling process, to put it politely, and I didn't talk for a solid day after finally getting it all out. It's...well...I'm proud to have FDR clean it up in the following track.

"Some Girls Are Crazy" was originally "All Girls Are Crazy," but we were advised by the girls in our lives that it might be offensive. I still got my point across.

"Fifteen Minutes" was actually written while driving to a friend's house. He was going to smoke me out after I'd been scouring for bud all day long. And he did, times ten. I got excited and hit a gravity bong a bit too hard, marooning me in his room for about two hours.

I use to have these epic meltdowns and go for long drives to find a resolution. Sometimes I'd go with my girlfriend at the time. Those cruises became the inspiration for "Soul-Searching Drive." I wanted to keep it dubby, something that served as a soundtrack to other people's late-night cruises, too.

"In The Beginning" was inspired by Stephen Hawking's book "A Breifer History of Time." It was the first book that really made me understand a lot of theoretical astrophysics. I highly recommend it! Anyway, I decided to take the concept of the Big Bang from a more romantic approach.

I really like the song "Maybe Something's Wrong With Me". What's the story behind this song?
DAVE: It was initially inspired by The Daily Show. The show had a segment showcasing a series of very rough comments from Fox News or some other conservative broadcast. I was fresh out of journalism school and way into the integrity of news and information. To make matters worse, every now and then I would be at a dinner table or social setting and hear someone regurgitate opinion as fact...and it's frustrating to level with that kind of flawed logic. It's easy to forget that there are more than two sides to every story. A few times I tried to argue my points, but I was dubbed paranoid or passed off as a pothead liberal...yeah.

I also try to cover the concept of mass hysteria in the song. It's weird that the individual is a finely-tuned machine, but many humans bunched together can awkwardly stifle one person's perception. What the f is that?? If there are 100 people in a room staring at a blue wall, but 99 of them openly agree the wall is flamingo-pink, eventually that one person's integrity will break and they'll go against what they know as true...all in an effort to join society. I guess belonging is sometimes more important than truth.  I mean, look at any religion.

david 

Any particular songs you are most proud of off this new record and why?
DAVE: I personally dig the way "In The Beginning" came out, not only because of our efforts of putting that concept into song form, but also because of the way it closes the album. The Doors always did that- close each album with an epic saga. Also "Do It In The Ocean," for the same reasons, in addition to it being a nice and natural recording.

STEPHEN: That is really hard. I don't think there is any song off this album I am not really really proud of. Obviously the songs the crowds always scream out make me proud like "I Think God Smokes Weed", "All Night", and "Keep My Head High". I also think "Do It In The Ocean" and "In The Beginning" are feats for us musically. I look back at how those songs formed and how they finished and I am blown away at how far Dave and I have come, and how far the band has come.

You guys were able to jump on a few dates for the Warped Tour this past summer. Tell us a little about that experience.
DAVE: Warped Tour is another world. I spent a lot of time just trying to figure out the logistics of moving an entire small city every single night. I commend Kevin Lyman and everyone involved in this tremendous organization.

We worked hard on Warped, and realized it provided us with an opportunity to reach new fans. It also qualified Echo Movement in a way nothing else could- proving we're worthy of such a massive scene.

Warped has an electric atmosphere. We got up around 7 a.m. every day, set up our merch tent and started advertising our time slot and stage location. Colin, Dan, Ed and I went down the entry line with hand-held instruments playing "Jammin" by Bob Marley, casting a welcoming vibe to our show. "Every morning was a beautiful morning...everyone's excited and the music starts before noon. At night, all the bands get together to hang out in a backdoor world every kid dreams exists, but could never prove."

Were there any bands that caught your attention that you may have not heard of before?
STEPHEN: The Dirty Heads. I had seen their name before but I had never heard them. They were solid.

DAVE: Inward Eye played on the Kevin Says Stage, as well. I dug them...three brothers from Canada, good musicians and good guys.

I have read about Stephen and Dave being in a cover band before forming Echo Movement. How is it being a cover band and what songs were in the rotation?
DAVE: True story, though not our crowning life-achievement. Steve and I played in a cover band for about eight years before forming Echo. It actually served as the perfect primer, and we translated all that experience over to the original scene. It was good to learn about what gets an audience moving, what flops, how to talk to business owners, negotiations, song order and arrangement, etc...but at the end of the night, you just whored yourself in a dirty bar, your gear is sticky with spilled liquor, and you smell like smoke and perfume from...whoever. Not a good look.

The songs we played included a lot of Sublime, Bob Marley and Paul Simon, and a few other classics from Harry Belafonte, Yellowman, Toots and the Maytals, 311...a whole host of good stuff.

Any possibility for an Echo Movement covers album?
STEPHEN: Absolutely, we would love to do that. We already perform several covers live like "5446" by Toots and the Maytals, "Get Up Stand Up" by Bob Marley and "007" by Desmond Dekker. However, the only cover song we have officially released thus far is "Here I Come" by Barrington Levy which was on our "On My Way" album. We have been bouncing around cover ideas by some of our favorite artists like The Police and Paul Simon and we will probably include a cover in the next album...we will see.

What's next for Echo Movement?
STEPHEN: We are gearing up to re-record songs from the first two albums. Those albums were for the most part experimental, so we would like to re-record the more pivotal songs that helped define our unique sound. We are hoping to have it ready in time for another early summer release.

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