EROS AND ESCHATON are one of NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION‘s favorite up-and-coming finds of 2013. A husband-and-wife team (most recently) based out of Greensboro, North Carolina, they have the a sound that is like 90s dreampop shoegaze updated: singing about universal themes like love, relationships and Terence McKenna (the philosopher from whence they get their band name) EROS AND ESCHATON bring the ethereal back to the form. We had the privilege of talking to Kate Perdoni (Adam Hawkins is the other half) and finding about their cross country road trip in search of a home, and making their album during nap times.
You two started the band two months after having a baby. For most people, this time is the most hectic and confusing, finding time to take a shower is a challenge let alone play in a band. Tell me about the idea to form a band and how you balance being a parent and a musician?
Before we had our son, we lived and envisioned a life of traveling and making music. Through the pregnancy, we both recorded solo albums and played shows with our former projects. Our last shows were just a couple of weeks before our son was born. He was born into a lifestyle of making music, and then that just continued. We enveloped him into the mix. We knew we wanted to tour a lot, so we bought a motor home and outfitted it for our son and took him on the road with our solo projects when he was very young. Really, it’s our son’s personality that makes it all possible. He is very easygoing, enjoys new places, and seems to like traveling as much as we do. Kids are adaptable, like everyone says.
The “time management” that you mentioned has been a constructive challenge. There’s a lot you can do when your kid is awake – sometimes we can practice, work on songs together, and sing them around the house – but some stuff has to wait for naps and bedtimes, like writing and recording. Our whole first album was recorded over the course of a year and a half during nap times and late at night after our son was asleep.
EROS AND ESCHATON: “The world of commerce and the artist’s world are barely cohesive.”
But music-making and child-rearing aren’t the only things we have going on. Before we went on this long tour we’re on now, we both had jobs, and one of us worked every day, weekends included, while the other stayed home. Some days we’d both work and we’d switch off. That kind of grinding lifestyle is hard on any family, regardless of how you spend your free time. We didn’t have days when it was just the three of us together for the entirely without someone having to dash off to work. The world of commerce and the artist’s world are barely cohesive. We straddle both, and find a lot of support from friends in doing so, because they are all doing that, too.
That’s why we enjoy tour so much – because we get to be together all the time. Not only are we playing shows, seeing old friends, and living our little dream, but we get to be this fluid, cohesive unit. We’ve routinely saved up money, quit our jobs, and gone on tour. Now, our tours are like big family vacations. Although it requires a lot more planning, it’s exhilarating to be a family on the road. We’re a close-knit family, and traveling together makes the blood run thicker, like a vagrant wolf-pack.
Lyric writing is intimate and personal. There are plenty of songs and music about relationships. What strange, fascinating, and awkward things come up when you are both writing music that could potentially be about each other? And how do you edit / deal with it?
It is intimate and personal, and in that way it correlates with a romantic relationship. We are used to sharing our vulnerabilities and emotions, and then the songwriting is an extension of that. Often one person will have an initial spark of an idea, then the other will run with it. Or we’ll sing a new melody back and forth for a month until something sticks. Or one person will write a chorus, and the other will write the verses, and then we’ll sit down and suss it out. It can happen any number of ways. It’s a really cool process that makes me feel as if we are drawing from a very old well. I feel so lucky to share my creative life with an imaginative partner. So far there haven’t really been any moments of “Wait, is that how you feel about me?” or like, “Should I read between the lines here?” [Laughs] It’s been pretty straightforward. We have an idea, a theme, or an emotion, and then we work together to clarify it. Our band relationship is a great space for us to really listen to each other and work together.
EROS AND ESCHATON: “I like that I believe these songs, that I believe in what they’re saying and I can sing them with conviction.”
There are a lot of lyrics on this album about our relationships to each other, and to the world. Songs like 20 Different Days and Carry the Water are about life-views and how a partnership plays into a larger life role. Don’t.Look.So.Sad is like a little instructional on dealing with depression as a fact of life. Over and Over goes back and forth between a bare, heart-on-sleeve song about repetition, fighting with oneself, with each other, and with the world, and verses about the magic and wonder and emotions associated with growing up and coping with living in a wild world full of conflict. Then the chorus swings back to the cycle of personal battles and conflicts. Every time I sing that song at a show, the chorus feels like a confession. And I’m glad. I like being emotionally vulnerable. I like that I believe these songs, that I believe in what they’re saying and I can sing them with conviction.
You undertook a multi-state road trip to decide where to settle down and raise your child. First, what are your hometowns? And what places were finalists before you settled on Greensboro?
Hawk is from the midwest (Iowa and Nebraska). I was born in New Jersey, then raised in Pennsylvania and Minnesota, with stints in California, Colorado, and a few other places. Because I’ve moved around so much, I’ve run into the dilemma of feeling like I’m perpetually searching for that “forever home,” while also realizing that home comes with you, so then, everywhere sort of feels like home. It’s problematic because I want to settle down, but there are just so many damn options. How do you choose “the One?” It chooses you. That’s the beauty of touring. You get to see a lot of different places. On the motor-home tour, we started in Iowa, then went up to Maine, then down the coast. We started to feel really cozy and at-home around Charlottesville, Virginia. That is the first place of that tour we thought we might want to live. Our next show was in Greensboro, North Carolina. We met some awesome people and then looked up rent on Craigslist and saw you could get a huge house for the same as a tiny apartment in most places. We were sold. Then everything just fell into place.
Now, with the completion and subsequent release of our album, we’ve given up our home in Greensboro and again opted for life on the road. When we’re done with our tour, which will end up being three months long, we’re going to drive to the mountains of Colorado to work on our second album. After that, it’s more touring, and hopefully by then we’ll have figured out where we want to “live-live.”
Tell me about the road trip. What was liberating about taking the classic American car trip? What was the most depressing thing you noticed, from place to place?
Touring is incredibly liberating. The absence of routine becomes in and of itself a routine. Newness that was once novel becomes regular, creating a rhythm of mini-tales and coincidence. Since we’ve been doing it as a family since Lio was so tiny, we have a great ebb and flow to our travels. I love writing about our travels, keeping journals and making blog posts, and taking pictures – I’m a journalist by degree, and documenting is totally my “thing.” So for me, the self-expression is also the liberating part. The physical momentum of being in a brand-new place every day is very soothing for me. The similarity and mono-cultural presentation of the American enterprise is depressing. On one hand, America is gorgeous, historic downtowns, quaint small towns, and beautiful country landscapes, of which all are plentiful. Each city has its own special character, architecture, history, and old-school haunts. We love to explore. But it’s also depressing when every freeway exit, no matter where you are, looks exactly the same. And in every city, you drive through a part of town that has a Staples, a McDonalds, a huge chain grocery store, a Target, an AutoZone, a Shell, and on and on. As far as they eye can see, there are these giant, colorful signs that are indistinguishable from the giant, colorful signs in every other city. For a lot of reasons I maybe can’t even explain, I find that gives me anxiety.
You list a few influences such NEIL YOUNG and YO LA TENGO. Care to share favorite songs/albums? Why and what makes those exceptional?
I grew up in a NEIL YOUNG household. When I say “born and raised,” it’s no joke. I think as a whole Hawk and I tend to love artists who are diverse, and who do more than one thing. Same with YO LA TENGO. Both of these artists’ catalogs are incredible. We’ve seen YLT twice this year, and both times they opened with a mellow-ish chill-ish set, took their break, and came back to slam the decibels out into the atmosphere. Hawk and I are both mellow, introspective people, who are wild at heart. We’re the same kind of quiet and the same kind of crazy. So this dichotomy of music-making really appeals to us and makes us feel like we belong.
Your name references Terence McKenna. First, where you disappointed when the end times didn’t happen in 2012? Second, what attracts you to this writer/philosopher?
[Laughs] No, we rather like life! I think it’s less about an apocalypse happening all at once and more about a critical mass of all of the millions of tiny apocalypses blowing up the status quo. Terence McKenna appeals to me because he’s smart as hell, but also has an amazing sense of humor, and doesn’t think he’s better than anybody else. I feel like TMK knows, or knew, that there are as many ways to get to the source as there are people. And he has this wild way of tying together mythology, world history, ethnobotany, American culture, hallucinogenic experiences, and life lessons to create this magnificent Venn diagram of the patterns of the universe. I just really like his style. He came along at the right time and offered a lot of hope and inspiration, especially as an artist. TMK has said that it is up to the artists and poets to envision the life they would like to see. That is what the song “Terence McKenna” is about. “The future is ours to see/The harbinger is on the brink/Of everything there is to see/The future looks good to me.”
So in your video for “Don’t.Look.So.Sad” we saw you guys thrashing around in a couch fort, having a electric guitar war and spraying each other with a hose. In the PR you mentioned having an initial idea and the video ending up being more playful. Please elaborate.
We saw this movie “L’Iceburg” and it was instantly our new favorite thing. We had this idea that we wanted to emulate all these scenes from the movie for a music video. One of the hallmarks of that movie is this collection of super long, elaborate, slapstick, no-dialogue scenes of super mundane, ordinary things. So there is like, this two minute clip of a man yawning before bed. And a long scene where this family is just buttering their toast forever. There are some cooler thematic things too, like this scene where the main woman gets sprayed down with a hose by this other older woman, and is just kind of taking it as an atonement for her behavior. So we had like 6 of these scenes picked out that we wanted to basically copy. And then our filmmaker friend John Campbell showed up and he had thought the movie “L’Iceburg” was the most boring thing he’d ever seen and didn’t want to have anything to do with it. We shot a few “L’Iceburg” scenes anyway, and a couple of those things made it into the video, like the hose. And the yawn is there, it’s just broken up. Otherwise, the whole concept and everything is pure John. He had a vision for what he wanted to do and he really captured us at that time.
Our magazine is called NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION and we love to ask: what do hope and passion mean to you?
Thar’s the bread and butter of life, right thar! Finding what you’re passionate about and then getting your shit together enough to make it happen. If you’re really passionate about something, the rest will follow. You know when it’s happening, and it’s up to you to be true to yourself.