Shroud Eater Interview
Miami, Florida, bruisers Shroud Eater impressed and pummelled the bejesus out of me with their self-released, self-titled, 3-track EP late last year, so in the interests of bigging them up and telling you people exactly what you should be listening to, I thought it would be a smashing idea to have a wee chat with guitarist/vocalist Jeannie Saiz…
Jean, do you want to give anyone who is unfamiliar with Shroud Eater a potted history of the band up to this point?
Shroud Eater is made up of myself on guitar and vocals, Janette on bass and Felipe on drums. Janette and I have been partners in crime for the past 7 years. We’ve been writing and playing together since we met and have gone in and out of a few bands over that time. When our last band officially called it quits sometime in ’07, we spent a while in musical limbo until eventually we decided that we wanted to form a new band. So we searched through craigslist and finally jammed with Felipe in January of ’09, and that’s basically when the magic happened and Shroud Eater formed. Since then, we recorded a 3 song EP, and have been playing shows locally through Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and the South Florida area.
What prompted the change in musical direction for you and Janette, from the more ‘grunge’ style of your old band?
I think our old band was already moving towards a heavier style – the “grunge” element had a lot to do with the vocalist that we worked with and the chemistry that we had as a band at the time. Now that we have a powerhouse like Felipe behind the drums, and me taking over the mic and and down-tuning my guitar to be able to bark my throat out, it’s given our music a heavier and more aggressive technicality that wasn’t present before.
What bands and players have influenced you the most, personally and collectively? What artists do you all touch base on?
We collectively touch base on classics like Motorhead, AC/DC, Zeppelin and Black Sabbath – Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Tony Iommi made a huge impact on us individually. As far as who has influenced us personally, Felipe worships at the altar of the power drummers – John Bonham, Bill Ward, Mikkey Dee and Ian Paice to name a few. He has more of a metal side to his style as well, as seen by influences like Judas Priest, Pantera and Slayer. Janette’s inclined towards players like David Sims, Sean Yseult, Jamie Stewart and Adam Clayton, and bands like Primus, Sonic Youth, Melvins, Pixies and the Jesus Lizard. For myself, speaking primarily as a guitarist and secondly as a vocalist, I’d have to say Matt Pike (I “found” my gravel-like voice after singing along to many a High on Fire album in my car) and Iommi are definitely the big two, but also Buzz Osborne, Ron Asheton, and Josh Homme. Bands that have influenced my playing would definitely be Hammerhead, High on Fire, Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, and the Melvins.
How is the scene in your area? There seems to be something in the water there, what with Cavity/Floor/Torche ,Green Sky and yourselves. Do you feel a kinship with those bands? Are there any other bands in the area we should know about?
Miami’s known as a melting pot of people and such is the case with music down here. There’s so much going on, mainly electronica, indie, latin, and hip hop. Punk and ska bands dominate the more “underground” music scene. However, I think the live music scene in general suffers from shady promoters, and a lack of venues for locals and out of town touring bands that aren’t playing some lame-ass schlock rock on the radio. Not a lot of heavier bands come through Florida, let alone down to Miami – so it doesn’t really warrant the occasion for a lot of people down here to go out to see a live rock show. Cavity and Floor absolutely laid groundwork down here for heavy, doomy, rockin’ goodness throughout the nineties and Torche now just totally kicking ass – so there’s definitely a kinship in the sense that we’re coming from a similar place of heavy music that not a lot of people down here make. There’s absolutely a bunch of bands here that are doing cool shit, too many to mention in fact and I don’t want to leave anyone out, so I’ll just say to keep your eyes and ears out to what’s coming from the south!
Have you played further afield? Do you have any plans to do so?
We’ve been playing locally in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. We’re going to be venturing up through Florida soon, and once our album is finished we’re planning on doing a mini-tour through the southeast. Hitting up Georgia, the Carolinas, D.C., New York, etc.
Aside from the CD cover and Shroud Eater website, do you have any other avenues of expression for your artwork? Is it something you do for your own amusement or would you like to take the art further?
The band is definitely my main outlet for artistic ventures. When I was younger I drew and painted alot more – now I’ve channeled that into doing graphic design for my day-job. I still enjoy drawing a lot, and painting when I have the time – I see being able to do art and design work for bands and music related endeavors as a great goal to merge my “professional” life with my artistic outlet since they’re so closely intertwined.
I like your style, artistically, it has a ‘decollage’ look to it – kinda like Pushead meets Max Ernst – who are your artistic influences/heroes/heroines?
My artistic influences are pretty varied – I really enjoy the surrealist and intensely personal themes of Frida Kahlo, the dark renaissance engravings and woodcuts of Albrecht Durer, Andy Warhol’s bare-knuckled, 2-color mass produced pop art, and the conceptual graphic work of Barbara Krueger. Once you combine all these elements it turns into the dark and absurd artwork I end up making, and in turn it’s also distilled through the music I end up writing. At present, people like John Dyer Baizley and Jacob Bannon are influences in the sense that they’re both great artists and incredible musicians who are able to be in bands and are still called upon to do artwork for records, posters, tshirts, etc. It’s a pleasant reminder that if you work hard at what you love to do, you may eventually be paid for it and in turn can tell The Man to suck it.
Have you had any interest from labels? Are there any labels in particular that you feel would be a good home for Shroud Eater?
We haven’t had any interest from labels as of yet. I really like the stuff that labels like At A Loss, Hyperrealist, Robotic Empire, and others have been putting out. While it would be incredibly rad to have a label support us, we’re definitely not the type to sit on our asses and wait for something to happen – you get what you put out so we’re still planning on recording, touring and getting our music out there to the best of our ability.
Do you write collectively, or is one of you the main writer?
We do a little of both, actually. We’ll jam, and develop riffs and ideas from there, or usually I’ll have a riff in my head that I’ll start to work on and develop as a song, and then present it at rehearsal in a loose structure. From there we’ll work on it and change or rearrange parts until it’s at a point where I have an idea or theme for lyrics and then we finish it up.
How do you see the band developing, musically? Do you have a clear vision or do you just let things happen naturally?
We definitely let things happen naturally – music should come from a sincere place, if we tried to be more of this style or that style, then the music would become convoluted and calculated. The three of us have varied influences that have a cool chemistry together, so building and developing on that interaction is really the only direction we want to take.
What’s next for Shroud Eater? Do you have any more recording plans?
Our next big plan is recording our full length this summer. We’re super stoked on it because when we recorded our EP, we had been together for about 6 months, and we only had the funds and resources to do the three songs at the time. So for this record, we’re doing about 10 tracks which we think give a pretty clear statement as to who we are and what we’re about as a band.
So there you have it. Thanks to Jean and Shroud Eater for their time and for submitting to my questioning, and get yerselves over to www.shroudeaterrocks.com and buy an EP and a T-shirt NOW. I HATH SPOKEN!
Interviewed by: Paul Robertson