Echo Movement is a band that goes deeper than just playing music for fun, when listening to your lyrics it seems like each song is made to send a message. What exactly is it that Echo Movement tries to accomplish when making music for your listeners?
Stephen: I love that you asked that because that is at the core of why we do what we do and why we say what we say. We put a lot of thought into what our message is because as an artist you need a message and I think a lot of bands out there don’t think about stuff like that. Our message is one of positivity, progress, peace and humanity. Those are the basic concepts we try to include in everything we do whether we are talking to people off stage, talking in between songs or writing out our lyrics. All together we are all on the same page with the message we try to send, when Dave and I decided that we were going to do Echo Movement we spent a lot of time talking about what we were going to say, what we wanted our message to be and what kind of contribution that we wanted to make to art because it is art. There are a lot of bands out there that easily get lost in the lifestyle of partying, having a good time, getting chicks or whatever and I mean all that is cool and it’s a fucking blast but at the end of the day it comes down to what is you purpose and what is the message you want to send. So I’m glad you asked that question because we spend a lot of time thinking about that. Stephen: "Our message is one of positivity, progress, peace and humanity. Those are the basic concepts we try to include in everything we do"
The band was founded by brothers Stephen and David, what was it that made you decide to start making music?
Stephen: For Dave and me music has been something we’ve been doing since we were little kids and has always been a huge part of our life. Almost everyone in the band has been a musician since they were young.
Colin: Yeah like Stephen said music has been something that has always been in my life. I was like 8 or 9 when I started playing drums and it goes even further than that, I mean my whole family has always been kind of involved in music. My dad is a drummer and even my grandfather was involved in music, they were really involved in Scottish music so that was kind of a unique upbringing for me so right of the womb it was always music, music, music.
Dan: For me it was the same kind of deal, I played a lot of different instruments growing up and I have a lot family members playing music all the time. I grew up hearing a lot of odd combinations of music like traditional Irish influence to American folk music and also a lot of Afro-Cuban traditional music so that sort of got me inspired to pick up a few instruments as a kid. Music is kind of a way of life for all of us and it’s all we really know because everyone in this band has been a musician before they can remember.
Stephen: Dan makes a good point, I wouldn’t say music is all we know because half the band is teachers and we all went to college and have college degrees but most of us teach music. Music is the drive for us because it’s something we all want to do and is our passion. Dave and I grew up in a house of music, our parents actually met in a band so music is just something that is in our blood and I think everyone in the band can say the same thing.
Can you describe the story behind the name Echo Movement?
Dave: We are collectively referred to as the Echo generation (or the Y generation) and are successors of the X generation. The initial foundation of the band was kind of like a celebration or a small kudos to our entire generation. The fact that we are the partakers in the advent of the first global village due to technology has allowed us to communicate and communication is the number one most important aspect of human progress. So I give our generation a lot of credit for creating the digital era and I think our generation is fucking awesome.
You guys recorded and released Echo Movement’s debut self-titled album in 2005, can you depict the process of making and releasing that album all on your own? (Instruments, recording process, etc.)
Stephen: Basically it was when we were first starting to develop a unique style that incorporated all the artists that we loved and kind of bunched it all into one genre and in the end the result was the formation of Echo Movement. Dave started writing some music and I started writing some music and we basically sat down and analyzed what kind of sound we had and realized that it was a very unique sound, a sound that only we had. When we started to actually lay down some tracks we both got very excited of what we had. That whole first album was an experiment though, we went into recording with the idea in our head of let’s just play some music and see what happens.
Dave: That album was extremely experimental and we did not have nearly as much direction as we do today in part due to the fact that it was just the two of us. I mean we’re not really even the same band anymore and if you listen to our music now it’s really a completely different band. The lineup of musicians now is the sound that we ultimately felt best represented what we wanted.
The self-titled album features one of my personal favorite Echo Movement songs “Red Sunday”, can you explain a bit on the inspiration behind the creation of this song?
Dave: “Red Sunday” was written in 2004-2005 and the inspiration came to me when I was going over a bridge over a bay in New Jersey and the melody was actually an embellishment of a Biggie Smalls song off of the album Life After Death (anyone who can guess what song, kudos to you!). The lyrical inspiration was more or less like a day in the life as you begin to recognize nature as the actual preeminent transcending influence as opposed to any religious influence. That’s exactly what it was too, in the beginning was where I started to recognize nature to be more important than anything else I was taught.
Drummer Colin Bell was a former member of Drum Corps International which is a very prestigious organization that is known to be extremely competitive. How did the relationship with Colin come about and what kind of flavor did he bring to Echo Movement?
Stephen: Well I actually found Colin on MySpace, back when MySpace was used haha, and we reached out to him because that’s when Dave and I started to take the band more serious and realized that Echo Movement needed a solid drummer because it was always me playing the drums up until he came along. We needed someone not only that would be willing to do some of the stuff we wanted to do but that had the skill to do it and had their own style that they brought to the table and Colin was it. Colin was coming from a jam/jazz background and he really didn’t play reggae but I looked at it as something that would make the band stand out more and I liked that. Dave was actually a little apprehensive about him joining haha and I kind of had to talk him into it.
Colin: Well to be fair I can kind of fill you in a bit of why Dave was a little apprehensive about me joining. Joining the band was a huge educational ride for me, and it still is, because I didn’t really play reggae, I mean a played a few songs here there but I didn’t know much about it. I come from a jam band background which is all about just throwing down notes and this is not the same, don’t get me wrong we open some things up sometime but it’s all about the groove and fitting in musically with seven other people. So I really had to hit the books again and get a little bit more educated on reggae music.
What class and corps were you a member of and for how long?
Colin: I marched from 2001 to 2003 in a drum corps called Boston Crusaders and that was really just an awesome experience. I marched percussion throughout high school and afterwards I went to a smaller drum corps for a bit. I actually met Chris Thatcher from Streetlight Manifesto through Boston Crusaders where we marched together so all in all it really was a huge impact on my life and I loved every bit of it.
Dave, you had the honor of being featured in an issue of Keyboard Magazine in which you covered the infamous reggae bubble rhythm (you even have a youtube video), can you explain a bit of what this rhythm is for those who are not familiar with music and how the opportunity of being featured in a magazine came about?
Dave: The rhythm itself is a traditional reggae keyboard rhythm that if you subdivide the beats and play a left/right pattern and when you hear the octaves and voicing’s play with each other it gives a very jumpy or poppy sound. When this rhythm is done with the right textures it gives a very driving percussive element that it adds. It’s something that I’m definitely huge on, the piano is classified as a percussion instrument and even though I would never consider myself a percussionist when you’re doing that rhythm you are as much in the percussion and rhythm as a non-drummer could be. The opportunity came up because I hit them up and it really was luck from there. I gave them a call and explained who I was and told them that I would be more than happy to share with them what I knew and they agreed to it.
The band’s latest release, In the Ocean, features amazing cover art. Can you give us a little bit of information about the artist and the art work?
Stephen: The artist is Jay Alders and we’ve known him for awhile and at the time we had known him for a year or two when we approached him about doing some work. I mean his work was amazing, he lived only a mile apart and we’re friends and we were hanging out all the time so we wanted to do something with him. We went to Jay with this idea with the basic setting that you see on “In the Ocean” and he took it from there. He started off with a few sketches and it evolved slowly, we didn’t see it almost half to the end but what he had led up to we were really excited about. We actually recorded a track at his place so he was listening to what we were recording and the two pieces of art, our music and is drawing, were just bouncing off each other and the result was just an epic cover.
Can we expect some of his art to be on the new album?
Stephen: Actually no
Dave: Yeah we decided to go with a stencil of a vintage recording unit which is the Roland RE-301. This piece of equipment was so much a part of this production that we thought the face plate would represent the sound qualities that will be featured on this new album.
The album also features the controversial song “I Think God Smokes Weed”, what was the thought process behind this song and did this song receive any criticism from fans?
Stephen: Well the song was a collection of bits and pieces and before Dave had even finished the lyrics I knew we would have to think of a cleaver way to introduce this song so people won’t get the wrong intention. The thing about the song is that it’s not meant to be taken literally, a lot of people tell us they think God smokes weed too and we feel like some people get the wrong idea of the song like they actually imagine God sitting up in a cloud smoking a J and we hope that they don’t get that idea because that would be horrible. For the most part the band is free thinking and we are firm believers in science but more to the point we feel like that’s what makes the song an awesome trip for us because it opens up a lot of dialogue with people. People come up to us all the time and want to discuss this stuff which is something we enjoy.
Dave: With all respect, we’re glad the fans are listening and that they’re enjoying the music and they have the right to interpret it the way that they want but the song was written to have more of a free thinking tone. The phrase itself is preamble with the condition of I THINK, we’re not even sure haha.
Echo Movement was featured on the 2009 and 2010 Van’s Warped Tour, was there any attempt to join this year’s tour which features several reggae/rock bands?
Stephen: We had been on the last two years and we have a great relationship with Kevin Lyman and he’s a total fan of Echo Movement so it wasn’t like we weren’t welcome back or anything but we just felt like we needed to take a year off. We didn’t want to do it every year you know cause that would be boring so we wanted to take a little break but we were a little disappointed to see how many reggae/rock bands are featured this year. We’re supposed to be on next summer but nothing is confirmed yet so we will see what happens.
What kind of response have you seen from this year’s “Silver Surfer Presents: Echo Movement Summer 2011 Tour” and why was it decided to do this international tour alone and not with a support band?
Stephen: Well we have supporting bands in different areas so picking one supporting band through the whole thing is hard. Everyone has busy schedules and they’re trying to do the same as us trying to go across the country but at the same time try to work around their work schedule so it’s tough. Personally I like playing with supporting bands from different regions/areas because it’s exciting and it gives the opportunity for smaller bands to jam with us and also gives us the opportunity to play with a lot of our friends across the country.
Dan: We’ve seen a lot of passion from the fans on this year’s tour. Every city we have played so far we’ve had all kinds of stories about people driving hours away just to come see us. We’ve met a lot of good people so far and we love this tour.
What can we expect from Echo Movements next release Music Played On?
Dave: We have selected songs we felt that were not only the most popular but are also the best representation of our message. We’ve re-worked them and some of them we’ve completely re-wrote to help embellish our current band. So this album gave us the opportunity to make these songs living the way they should be. Like we said, the first two albums were pretty much an experiment and that’s why those two albums were discontinued because this new album will feature what we thought were the best of those two albums with the input of our new members and not just Stephen and I’s.
Colin: A lot of these songs are from the Dave and Stephen era of Echo Movement so this album gave us the chance to make old music new and for us new members to give our own touch to the songs. So we were excited to be a part of re-making these new songs.
It has been mentioned that Music Played On will feature binaural beats which are claimed to induce relaxation and creativity through altering frequencies, what kind of process was involved to incorporate binaural beats into your music?
Dave: Well it’s basically two frequencies with a very slight difference of only a couple of hertz. Dave: "I’m not saying you’re going to listen to the song and get an erection but we’re not saying that you’re not going to be making some babies haha."If you were to listen to both of those frequencies through one speaker you would get an oscillating effect because the two sine waves would be in an algorithm where eventually the two peaks would meet. If you have two speakers such as head phones the two waves are not mixing in the atmosphere but instead is a direct current to your ear drums and the ultimate effect is that your brain is making the beat. The effects can induce anything from anxiety to relaxation so it’s a very interesting subject. There is a lot of talk about different frequency ranges that can alter the effects but the frequencies that we chose just so happen to be referred to as the love frequency. I’m not saying you’re going to listen to the song and get an erection but we’re not saying that you’re not going to be making some babies haha. I can’t really talk about the recording process too much because that’s something that is tricky and something that I will be doing for our next album as well but I produced the frequencies electronically instead of acoustically so I created the tones in a program.
With each release the band seems to gain more members, can we expect any additional members in the near future?
Stephen: Haha no way man, I promise there will be no more new members but I mean we might have guest here and there. The lineup that we have has been tweaked over the years; we’ve added members and removed some members. We can’t have an entire orchestra up on stage so we have to pick and choose what sounds we wanted but what we have now is what we’re happy with.
Interview Conducted by Tim Castaneda