Shroud Eater is a three piece band from Florida that sounds like an excavation project taking place in your sound device. The band (Jean Saiz -guitar/vocals, Janette Valentine - bass and Felipe Torres - drums) recently put out an interesting EP of stoner rock and hope to have their debut CD out later this summer. Jean took some time out to answer a few questions about the band and what they're all about:
antiMusic: Shroud Eater grabs onto a riff like a pit bull. How does your material come about? Do you keep jamming until you hit upon something interesting or do you hear the riffs in your head at various times when you're not even actually playing?
Jean: The majority of times riffs will come to me while I'm not playing - usually when there's no instrument around. Lately I'll just record ideas on my phone, and then flesh them out on an acoustic guitar, then present them at rehearsal. Other times at rehearsal, when you're listening to what your band mates are playing, or a certain rhythm or whatever and ideas come about that way - so we do a little of both.
antiMusic: Most of the music I've heard (3 track EP) is instrumental. Is this by design in that you don't want to get in the way of a great riff or just that for your band, lyrics/vocals take a back seat?
Jean: I guess it is by (subliminal) design that our music tends to be more instrumental - for myself, I'm more of a guitar player than a vocalist, so for me the riff is greater than the vocals. However, I do love writing lyrics, just not having to necessarily "sing" them. When we first started playing, we didn't have a vocalist and I wasn't 100% comfortable taking over the responsibilities. About a month before we had to record I decided to step up to the challenge and do it because I was fed up with feeling I had to depend on someone else to put a voice to my thoughts - so most of our songs now are vocal-lite because I was still trying to get comfortable in that role. The newer material we've been working on I'm trying to incorporate more lyrics and vocals but still having portions of the songs remain instrumental.
antiMusic: Can you please introduce us to the band and give us a bit of history?
Jean: Shroud Eater is myself on guitar and vocals, Janette on bass, and Felipe on drums. Janette and I have been playing music together for the past 7 years - when our last band officially called it quits, we were put in a sort of forced hiatus. We had these handful of songs that we were writing with our previous drummer that were heavier, and at that point we just put them in the back burner and began experimenting with stuff at home. All our equipment was spread throughout the house so there was access to stuff all the time - we were fooling around with drum loops and some keyboards and that sort of thing, but eventually we got that itch to crank up the amps and sweat it out in a band again. So we did some perusing through Craigslist.org and found this ad from a drummer with some rad influences - Bill Ward, Jon Bonham, Slayer, Motorhead, etc... That's how we met Felipe. We met up to jam and that went really well, so a year and change later here we are still bashing it out!
antiMusic: I wasn't expecting the cool, almost psychedelic, guitar on "We Are Beasts". There's obviously a lot more in terms of influence than say Kyuss. What sort of areas, musically speaking, are fair game for this band?
Jean: It's hard to say - we listen to a lot of different styles of music, and perhaps those styles peek through in subliminal ways. When we write or jam or whatever, the general vibe we're on has that sort of Black Sabbath-y, metal-esque feel. On the other hand, Janette and I listen to a lot of 80's new wave, post-punk and goth rock. Felipe is very much into different percussion heard in world music. So, if surprises pop up every now and again it's mainly due to these varied interests and being open to different styles of music.
antiMusic: Coming from Florida, can you say if geography (and therefore temperature) plays a part in your musical makeup, since your music is pretty sweat-inducing?
Jean: Miami is a frustrating city to live in the heat, the humidity, traffic, people
it lends itself to becoming a boiling pot of aggressiveness and negativity. Being in this environment can make one feel frenetic and crazy and in turn a weird, harsh, frantic riff is born. Or another day the heat has absolutely drained the life out the air, you don't have the energy to play and end up jamming on some slow, heavy sludge riffs... that happens to us a lot.
antiMusic: You're currently an indie band. Are you receptive to labels or do you just want to carve out your own path?
Jean: We have the mentality that we'll be doing this on our own but we're open to a label taking interest in us. If worse comes to worse, I'll start my own damn record label!
antiMusic: I would assume that a Shroud Eater live show might contain some jams that are pretty much dependant on the crowd and your mood. Do you like to visit some uncharted territories during shows or do you actually keep pretty close to the original songs.
Jean: Playing live we stick to the original songs we like to keep the energy up and not really give the crowd too much time in between the heavier riffing. At rehearsals we'll sometimes jam for extended period of time - we're actually thinking of incorporating some of those "jam" type elements into our album.
antiMusic: What are 10 influential albums (collectively speaking) that would construct a musical skeleton which makes up the beast known as Shroud Eater?
Jean: This is an incredibly hard question - the results may differ depending on when you ask us, but here goes, in no particular order: Kyuss Blues for the Red Sun, Black Sabbath-Black Sabbath, The Cult Electric, Joy Division Substance, High on Fire Blessed Black Wings, Alice in Chains - Dirt, Jesus Lizard - Shot, The Cure - Pornography, Led Zeppelin - I , Judas Priest - British Steel.
antiMusic: OK, I have to ask. What's the story behind the name? Vampire fans anybody?
Jean: Well, every band name you've basically ever thought of is taken, apparently. We had a list of names we kept cycling through but never really fell upon anything we liked, and the stuff we were mostly fond of was already taken. I was checking my email one morning last year and noticed this story National Geographic was running about the "Vampire in Lazzaretto", a 16th century skeleton found in Italy with a brick shoved into its mouth. Before vampires were romanticized, they were believed to be a corpse which attacked and killed its prey from the grave when suspected graves were excavated, they would find the corpse with a hole "eaten" through its burial shroud, and its mouth brimming with blood, hence the term. Anyway, I found the story fascinating, the name really stuck out to me in a gross and macabre way, and to seal the deal there were no band names out there listed as Shroud Eater so it basically stuck!
antiMusic: When might we look forward to a full-length CD? When you go down that road, will you be treading much of the same kind of material as the EP, or might there be other avenues that you like to try out?
Jean: Starting this July, we'll be re-recording the 3 tracks from the demo, and 3 from our regular set when we play live. Additionally, we're working on 3-4 new songs as well. I think the songs have a certain aggressive, moody-metal stomp meets psychedelia meets noise rock elements - but we've been toying with some other ideas as well - I don't like to give too much information as I like to keep the element of surprise with these things.
antiMusic: Anything else about the band or EP that I did not ask you, that you would like to mention (note we will have a link to the website at the end of the interview).
Jean: We think all grounds have been covered, thanks for taking the time to check us out!
Morley and antiMusic thank Jean for taking the time to do this interview.