Saturday 19 October 2013

Chris Markwell Interviews - The Earls Of Mars

It's time for one of our intriguing interviews with one of the UK finest and upcoming metal bands. The crazy and insane - THE EARLS OF MARS

These progressive crazy rockers are gaining a lot of publicity for their live shows and their soon-to-be released debut album via Candlelight Records on Oct 28th 2013. So we sent our roving reporter Chris Markwell who reviewed the album to get an interview with the band.

Chris said this about the album "Just throwing it out there, but the Earls of Mars have some fantastic hair. And moustaches that match their truly bizarre Steampunk metal sound. Following on from their 3-track EP ‘The Skies Are Falling’ (released in October last year), the Earls’ self-titles debut full length album is a delightfully odd, macabre and ultimately unique experience. Let’s delve into the fog-filled depths.

The Earls of Mars are a truly odd bunch: part jazz, part Steampunk, part metal; they really are a marvel to behold. They are fine purveyors of odd metal masterpieces, and I suggest you don your best top hat and monocle and get listening right away. Jolly good show!"

So lets see what Chris has discovered from The Earls Of Mars. Is Earth primed for a Martian Invasion. Who knows.....

But Read On!!!

Q1: Hello Earls of Mars. How are you fine Martian fellows, and where are you today?

Champion! I'm currently sitting at the control desk onboard The Earlship Endeavour, listening back to rehearsal room recordings of some new songs we're working on. Album no.2 is in progress!

Q2: Would you mind telling the Sludgelord a bit about yourselves: how old are you guys, where you’re from?

I'm from London but live in Hampshire. Dan's from Hampshire but lives in London. Dave is from Hampshire but lives in Surrey. Si is from Hampshire but lives in Hampshire. We cross paths, but rarely on the same day. Collectively, our age spans fourteen decades!

Q3: How did you guys meet up and become the Earls?

Me and Dan have known each other for aeons. Previous attempts at musical endeavours led us to share the same stages, bars, campfires and bodily fluids across the years, but never in the same bands. It was actually Dan's idea to kick this off. He had the name and a huge stockpile of material that he allowed us to plough through to create this record. I'd already been jamming with Si and Dave, mostly playing Dollar covers to ex-members of Status Quo in the backroom of the village pub. It often escalated into violence. Dan saved us from ourselves.

Q4: Where did the band name come from?

The darkest recesses of Dan Hardingham's mind. I heard that it came to him during a meeting of the “Meditation for Manifestation Truth Seekers Alliance”. He was dragged from the room, foaming at the mouth and speaking in tongues. Many believe he was framed by a Venus Fly Trap enthusiast named Wyndham. Never trust a carnivorous plant.

Q5: Could you tell us a little bit about your local scene and how easy or difficult it is to become established in your area?

We've all spent years gigging around the London circuit in various bands, with varying degrees of success. There's a lot of competition, but also a lot of opportunity to play. It means we knew enough people to get things up and running pretty quickly with The Earls. We got lucky when Orange Goblin took us out on tour with them before we even had enough material to fill a set. I was writing lyrics in the back of the van on the way to the shows! Fortunately for us Candlelight records offered us a deal off the back of that, and the rest will one day be history!

Q6: What bands inspired you while growing up, and what bands inspire you now?

Christ... the older I get the more difficult that question becomes. There's so much good music out there. I'm discovering something new every day. Currently loving obscure 1940's gospel acts. Some of those loons are such religious freaks they sound darker than any black metal band I ever heard. Twisted Sister was the first 'proper' band I got into. 

From there it was the usual journey, getting ever more obscure and heavy and unlistenable. After a while I found the link that connected it all is not a distorted guitar, but that loose, chaotic feel that Motorhead did so well. You can hear that in a lot of non-metal music too. Certain blues and jazz musicians tap into that manic-ness. I've been getting a few Tom Waits comparisons lately. Guess it's pretty obvious that I'm a fan of his. But that man knows how to experiment. Have you ever listened to a recording of a mass of crickets slowed down? The harmonies are ethereal.

Q7: Are you full-time musicians now, or do you still have jobs?

We're a long way from being full time. It's near impossible to get to that level. I know so many incredible bands who tour then head back to work fixing toilets or some shit. These fuckers never get a holiday. It's like a disease. You can get governmental assistance for a drug or gambling addiction. They need to start recognising “musician” as a medical affliction.

Q8: For those unfamiliar with the band, how would you describe your sound?

Blindfolded midgets having a drunken dance-off at dawn in the suburbs of Croydon. If you've never heard the sounds they make, you haven't lived my friend.

Q9: I reviewed your self-titled album and I absolutely love its heavy oddness. Have you been pleasantly surprised by what reviewers have been saying about it?

It's been incredibly well received so far. We didn't expect it to be going down so well, especially as we don't really fit in to any particular scene as such. We have elements of Doom and Stoner, and a dash of Thrash, but there are no grounds we won't play with. Metal is our heritage, but Metal has always been the most inventive of genres, at least until the copycats get hold of it and ruin everything. But it's that innovation that has always kept the heavier genres more interesting than the more commercial ones. I think people get that about us. Even if they don't like us, they generally seem to appreciate where we're coming from.

Q10: If you had to pick one track from the album that people should definitely listen to, which would it be and why?

It depends on personal taste. There's a fair amount of diversity in there. If there's Jazz in your Soul then you'll understand the story told by The Swinger. If stage diving is your bag, then The Ballad of Ben Ayre is for you. Personally, I'd start with The Astronomer Pig. His tale is a very corkscrewed one, and not for the feint hearted!

Q11: Is there a principle songwriter in the band, or do you all contribute to the process?

Pretty much all the songs so far have grown from the mind of Dan. He has a collection of ideas that can only be described as 'mountainous'. Like Shakiras breasts. Every time we need a new song, I drive over to Dan's house with a crate of beer and we raid his demos in search of a verse and/or chorus idea. That then gets dragged into our jam room and each of us add our seed to the mix. There's enough material in there to cover 10 Earls albums, and he's still churning out more. The man is a machine.

Q12: What were the first guitar/bass/drums you owned, and do you still have them now?

I was born with my instrument and I still play with it daily.

Q13: Do you use a lot of social media/blogging sites to help spread the word about the Earls of Mars?

Not really. You kinda have to have a facebook page these days as the whole world is on there, but we don't go out of our way to market it. You hear all the time about people paying for 'likes'. Then record labels invest in these terrible bland bands (blands?) who have 100,000 pretend best friends, who never buy the records, because they're not real people, so the blands fail and the labels are too scared to sign anyone. A&R people need to start using their ears again, not doctored facebook figures. That shit is doing more damage to the industry than downloading ever will. The liars are getting exposed.

Q14: What venues have been your favourite to play?

All of them! The whole Orange Goblin tour was a blast for us. Their people took to us and made sure we always had a beer in our hands. Many great nights were had and many strange and wonderful stories were collected. Bloodstock was a lot of fun too.

Q15: Where would you guys like to play next?

Europe. USA. Japan. Australia. I can't afford a holiday, so the only way I'm gonna get to see this planet is by touring. Got my fingers crossed for a few festival's next summer. I love being a punter at those. Playing just pops the cherry on the top!

Q16: Where do you guys see yourselves in 10 years’ time?

Dead. Or drunk. Or dead drunk. Maybe playing piano to 3 old hookers and a dog in the backstreet bars of Hamburg. I'll have some stories to tell those bitches.

Q17: What bands have you really enjoyed playing live with?

So far we've played with Orange Goblin, Non, and that's about it! I keep trying to arrange some gigs with Dÿse (their drummer is the voice on Some Place) but it hasn't happened yet.

Q18: What do you love and hate about being in a band?

I love the amount of free booze we get, and I hate how I can never remember any of it because I was too drunk. It's a quandry. But it's the need to create that keeps me at it. The best stuff always happens in the jam room when new ideas are scuttling across the floor, among the ashtrays and empty bottles. Everything else is just a bonus.

Q19: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about the music industry?

Lemmy once told me, when I was just 14, to cut my hair and get a proper job. He was probably right, but I'm too stubborn to listen to an educated opinion.

Q20: Finally, do you have any shout-outs you’d like to mention or anything extra to say to your fans?

Yeah, Lemmy... you were right mate! Sorry. 

Interview by Chris "Take me to your leader Earthman" Markwell

Thanks to The Earls Of Mars for giving some time to talk to Chris. And for Darren at Candlelight Records for arranging this interview very quickly. If you haven't checked these guys out then take our advice - DO SO!! - As they are an incredible band to listen to.

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