Boogieing Aliens: We catch up with Earth Tongue

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After hearing Earth Tongue’s blistering new single Microscopic God we knew we had to reach out to Gussie Larkin and Ezra Simons for a chat to see what was going on in their minds. Fortunately the very next day, Gussie, the guitarist and vocalist for the two piece was in town with her other band Mermaidens. At Stolen Body HQ, who happen to be putting out Earth Tongue’s forthcoming LP Floating Being, we sat down with Gussie for a chat about Earth Tongue and aliens. Obviously.

How’s it going today?

It’s going great. I’m happy to be in Bristol, it’s such a cool place. It just feels like it’s got really great character in comparison to London. 

I guess it’s got a smaller vibe to it.

Yeah, like the big houses and I like hilly cities too.

Congratulations on the announcement of the new record, how does it feel to be so close to the release? 

It feels really good, yeah. It’s been such a thrown together, DIY recording process that we did over lots of different sessions. I’m really happy with the result. When we first recorded the songs we were so last minute with writing them, and some we were writing the structures whilst we were recording, it was a bit of a shambles. But that’s kind of always the way it is.

I guess it’s always like that, unless you have someone there to kick you in the ass and get on with it.

Yeah, exactly. It was really cool recording to tape as well. We did it on our friends garage in Melbourne. The whole experience of messing with the EQ on the actual mixing desk and hearing the affect straight away and knowing that was the sound that didn’t really need to be changed. That was really cool, I thought.

And I guess there’s something tangible about recording to tape. It’s like you can see the music being made. 

Yeah, I agree.

The new single, Microscopic God, is out. It’s quite heavy and there’s some prog elements to it, weirder time signatures, vocal melodies that match the jerkiness of the music. Tell me a bit about that sound and where it came from. 

Well, I guess Ezra and I both have a lot of shared love of 70s kind of proggy stuff, like Captain Beyond and King Crimson, and then that new wave of Ty Segall and Oh Sees, so I guess it comes from that. Ezra writes quite a lot of the guitar lines as well as he’s a guitarist first and foremost. He’s always played in really riffy bands. I guess the transition to him playing drums was because we wanted to make a two piece that we could easily tour with and cut out a lot of hassle. I think being limited to two people an just one guitar really affects the guitar lines I write because you’re sort of doing everything, you can’t pause and just be holding down the bass line or whatever.

I guess it’s easy to wash it out with a lot of fuzz or reverb, but for you it’s very precise. 

Yeah, I like the sort of precision and really jerky guitar lines. I want to capture people more than just having a big washy and trebly guitar sound that I think a lot of two people have. A lot of two pieces just don’t nail the guitar tone.

I’ve definitely noticed this real creepy sci-fi vibe to the sound. Is that a conscious thing?

Yeah, we don’t want to take the lyrics too seriously. I already have a band that’s sorta the emotional, metaphorical lyric band, so it’s really cool to have a band where the lyrics are just this crazy concept story about a hovering light source. Ezra does quite a lot of the lyrics too. We have so many books about supernatural happenings. It’s not the most original thing, a lot of people are doing the alien sort of thing.

Sure, but it’s a pretty big theme to explore. We don’t know anything about extra-terrestrial life, so you can sort of let your imagination run free.

Yeah, it’s kind of endless, but limiting too as we have this identity of what we sing about and everything has to fit into that idea.

If Aliens did come to earth, do you think the music of Earth Tongue would fight them off or would they be welcomed in by it?

Oh, I definitely think they’d be boogieing!

So you’d want them to come?

Yeah, yep, definitely.

On Facebook it does say you’re “space explorers”. I was wondering on your travels through space, what have you learnt?

Hm, as space explorers… well, I’ve got this really good book that’s in the new video called The Cosmic Pulse of Life. It’s just the most stupid book, it’s all these crazy theories about aliens and UFO sightings, really long and detailed theories about alien existence. I just find it really… funny.

Do you find it funny because it could be true? Like a coping mechanism to get to terms with the dangers that might be out there.

Yeah, I haven’t thought about that too much.

Well you’ve got some long drives ahead of you to think about it! So last year you travelled a bit closer to home, your first tour of Europe. How was that?

It was so fun, and really hard. We booked it all ourselves. We just did our tax return and the amount of money we spent was just ridiculous… but totally worth it. Now we get to put out this record on Stolen Body, and we got to play a bunch of little festivals and make good relationships with promoters everywhere. It was totally worth it and the most, I guess humbling thing to take your music to audience who don’t know you. We always know someone at the shows in New Zealand, and the first couple of shows we played at home I thought a bit, “will people like this? Do people just like it because they know us?”, and the music did translate really well. We ended in Italy and it was just the best experience.

What made Italy stand out so much?

I think it was just really lovely people, and absolutely amazing food and wine. The shows were kind of strange, none had support acts. Some were in weird places, one was in an underground bookshop which was like a thousand years old. You’ve gotta put a lot of trust in promoters.

So you recorded yourself, booked the tour yourself, it’s pretty DIY through and through. What’s does the do-it-yourself mentality mean to you?

It’s everything really. It’s the only way I’ve been able to make music. I don’t really know any other way, and even when I’ve had projects that have had government funding which New Zealand is really good for, it’s still just been getting the same mates and doing it DIY. Not having the money or resources just won’t stop us from doing the stuff we want to do.

And I suppose you’ve got to be more creative with the facilities you have.

Absolutely, it’s just the best attitude you can have if you want to survive in music. New Zealand feels so removed from bigger opportunities that you might have with things like radio and what not. It seem so out of reach for us to get on say, BBC 6 Music, so everyone just sorta does their own thing and I think that it sort of creates a really unique sound.

And it must create a good community too. In Bristol I feel like it’s a bit of a competition to be the next hot thing at the moment.

Do you think certain people are quite competitive here?

Yeah, of course. Bristol isn’t a big city and everyone wants to hop on a certain hype. It can be quite hard if you’re not part of the niche scene. I think some bands feel they can get a bit lost for support here.

Yeah, I guess with us it’s not as over saturated. We don’t have as many “filler” bands. Not everyone is doing say the Mac Demarco thing, there’s only a handful of people. We have some really weird and unique bands, especially from Wellington where I’m from.

With this new release what’s in the future for Earth Tongue? I hear you’re sticking about in Europe for a bit. 

Yeah, Ezra is joining this current tour in Paris and just be another pair of hands. We are getting a van in Paris so won’t be in the tiny car. Our first date of the album tour is in Warsaw. Then we’re just doing Europe and some of the UK, and back here for Astral Festival!

Check out Earth Tongue’s new single Microscopic God below, and head to Stolen Body here to pre order the record. Earth Tongue are back in Bristol for Astral Festival 2019 and tickets can be bought here.