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Interviews : Eagle Twin – “things were getting pretty dark and low in our lives” (An interview with Gentry Densely)

By on September 28, 2012

Guitarist Gentry Densley and drummer Tyler Smith of Eagle Twin

Eagle Twin – Gentry Densely

Eagle Twin are one of the most exciting bands to emerge in modern sludge and doom metal. The Salt Lake City duo’s sound is monolithic; their approach to song-writing cerebral and progressive.

With inspiration drawn from Ted Hughes‘ The Life And Songs of Crow, Federico García Lorca, Howlin Wolf, hardcore punk and free jazz, you can probably guess that these guys bring something really unique to heavy music.

Eagle Twin are kicking off their Australian tour with Russian Circles tonight at The Corner Hotel, Melbourne. Be sure to catch them when they come through your town, and to pick up their incredible new album “The Feather Tipped the Serpents Scale” on Southern Lord.

I was lucky enough to chat to guitarist and vocalist Gentry Densely.

Metal Obsession: How would you describe the difference in approach between ‘The Unkindness of Crows’ and your new album, ‘The Feather Tipper the Serpents Scale?’

Gentry Densely: I would say the biggest difference is that we had a more specific arc for the overall album and narrative. We ended up with the birds burning in their battle with the sun, turning into snakes. We wanted to eventually evolve the reptilian back to the avian in the end.

To us it was just an extension of our previous methodology with more emphasis on transformation or progression. Theme and variation with a specific purpose.

MO: What do you hope to achieve with your music? What is the ‘point’, if there is one?

GD: This album was very transformative for us. When we started playing the snake songs things were getting pretty dark and low in our lives and at a point we made a conscious decision to turn the snake back into the soaring bird. It helped us turn things around in our own lives… but yeah, was it art imitating life or the other way around influencing the other heavily? I’m not sure. Playing live the point is mainly catharsis, but also it gives us a chance to retell the stories and connect them in different ways.

MO: From the lyrical content of ‘The Unkindness of Crows’, it’s apparent that the Ted Hughes collection ‘The Life and Songs of Crow’ has made quite an impression on you. Are there any other poets or authors that you feel resonate in a similar way?

GD: Yes, the new record has some translations of Garcia-Lorca, another one of my favorites for sure. Also been a long time fan of Denise Levertov although it hasn’t shown up in the music. Hughes was the primary inspiration for the band. But the resonance extends through history to T.S. Eliot or William Blake who was influenced by the Icelandic Sagas and the Edda and Milton and it resonates back to The Illiad and The Bible. We also draw for Native American myth but yes there is a mythic connection through all these things. The universality of myth… and riff.

MO: What draws you to the style of music you play?

GD: You can feel it physically. It has a presence, its fun to fill up a room with monstrous riffs and tell some tales.

MO: Who would you say influences you vocally and/or lyrically?

GD: Howlin Wolf, Hun Huur TuCaptain Beefheart, King Buzzo.

MO: Every musician seems to have at least one defining moment that forced them to reassess their entire approach to, and understanding of music. What is yours?

GD: Probably when I was studying music at the University, I wanted to know everything about music. I was studying music from every period of history and all the different theories and traditions, music from all countries and cultures and I realized I could never know everything. Its an infinite quest. I decided to build a foundation in my own tradition and play to my strengths but still leave room for anything I learned or discovered and liked to inform and be internalized in my specific approach.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tWWHg9HTaU&version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0&w=480&h=360]

MO: I know there are a fair few Australians watching your work with Hex Cabs very closely. How’s it all going? Have you got any plans to make your cabs and heads commercially available?

GD: We brought a head over, one of our Model T clone / tribute amps, and its gonna live in Australia now. We do everything on a very DIY, boutique level so they’re all pretty special. We do it for ourselves as much as anything. We love building them with our own hands, and are very particular about the details and don’t want that to get too far away from us. We’re very proud of the stuff we build and will build for pretty anyone who wants … they may just have to wait a while cause were damn busy these days.

MO: Have there been any new bands that have particularly interested you recently?

GD: I saw Chelsea Wolf in my hometown and was very impressed. Just saw Norska with YOB and dug it. Listening to the new Hooded Menace. Also we have some cool things happening in Salt Lake City… Gaza and INVDRS and new things like Oxcross.

MO: Lastly, just what is that monster of a guitar you play?

GD: The one I played last time is an Electrical Guitar Co aluminum neck baritone that we modified electrically and built a new body for… in the style of a BC Rich Eagle of course.

I have a few guitars I’ve modified for Eagle Twin. This time in Oz, I’m using a customized Eagle Delüxe. The vintage high end BC Rich guitars are some of my favorite instruments to play. Mostly the ones named after birds.

Russian Circles and Eagle Twin Australian Tour 2012

Russian Circles and Eagle Twin Australian Tour

Friday 28th September – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Saturday 29th September – Fowlers Live, Adelaide

Sunday 30th September – The Bakery, Perth

Thursday 4th October – ANU Bar, Canberra

Friday 5th Octover – The Zoo, Brisbane

Saturday 6th Octover – Hi Fi Bar, Sydney

About

In his spare time, Lachlan melts cephalopods and sorts raw numbers. He runs Art As Catharsis, plays guitar in Serious Beak, Adrift for Days and Battle Pope and writes philosophy at Writing As Catharsis. Follow him on tumblr or Twitter.