Earthless have shone on their previous studio albums with long instrumental tracks full of guitar solos that are just as long. This mixture of retrorock and psychedelic is also represented on "Black Heaven", the fourth album of the trio from San Diego, but the total of six tracks have become shorter and four of them even have vocals. But of course all the guitar solos are still in focus. eclipsed spoke to guitarist Isaiah Mitchell.
eclipsed: The tracks on the new album are much shorter than on the first three albums. Why this development?
Isaiah Mitchell: This time we had written so many songs and many were just worth it to get on the album. They literally screamed for it and so formed the album. The album just wanted it that way and we listened to it
eclipsed: You don't feel like 15-minute guitar solos anymore?
Mitchell: Oh, yes. I love that and I will continue to do so. Live we will play the long, improvised jams anyway.
eclipsed: You have already pointed out the difference between improvising and jamming. While jamming has no real goal, improvising is more goal-oriented. How did the tracks of "Black Heaven" originate?
Mitchell: "Electric Flame" is a jam that was created during rehearsals. Mike [Eginton, Bass] and Mario [Rubalcaba, Drums] have been working on "Black Heaven" for quite some time and the three of us developed it further. End To End", "Gifted By The Wind" and "Sudden End" are my scaffolding. Together we made what ended up on the album out of it
eclipsed: On the new album you suddenly have vocals that you have taken over. Do you suddenly have something to say?
Mitchell: We just wanted to mix it in a bit. We didn't think that four of the six songs would have vocals, but those songs just felt the strongest for the album. It was refreshing that we tried something new with the singing. We have added a new facet to our style palette. It makes us more versatile as a band.
eclipsed: It has taken five years since the last album. This is shorter than the seven years until the penultimate album "From The Ages" in 2013, but five years is still a long time. What took you so long?
Mitchell: That's really damn long. There's no particular reason for that. We all have a life next to music that demands our time. We also toured a lot and simply didn't have the opportunity to work on new pieces in between. It's that simple. I don't think we're gonna waste that much time again.
eclipsed: Why did you previously refuse various offers from different singers who wanted to join you?
Mitchell: So far we have been satisfied with what we have been able to achieve with our instruments. That's why we never wanted a singer. But since I can also sing myself, we always had a singer. I was just too busy with the guitar. Before we integrate a singer, we would probably rather accept another melodic instrument like the guitar.
eclipsed: Who are your "guitar heroes" who have influenced you?
Mitchell: Billy Gibbons, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Frank Zappa, Richard Thompson, Ry Cooder ... the list is endless.
eclipsed: In March you start for a world tour. What are you looking forward to the most?
Mitchell: I'm actually looking forward to playing almost every evening. I think that's great. A good show to play for the people who come to see us.
eclipsed: You will play again at the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg. But this year as "Artist In Residence" on all three evenings and once even with Damo Suzuki.
Mitchell: This is an honor for us. Ten years after our first appearance at the Roadburn Festival, which we also released on an album. I can't wait to play all three nights with our friends there. Damo Suzuki is one of our great heroes. He's a reason why Earthless exists as a band at all. I'm very grateful for this opportunity.
*Interview: Bernd Sievers