Eastern Block

28 Oct

“It’s a great thing when you have that strong of a connection with other musicians and everyone feels free to experiment and throw out ideas.”

I don’t think Eastern Block needs much of an introduction. Four talented men came together and formed a solid band that’s so unique, making their sound stand out above many others. When living in Nashville, it’s important to stand out and many musicians can easily get swallowed up in the city that holds some of the greatest musicians around. Eastern Block strides above the rest, while sticking to the goal at hand, make the music they love. Fresh from the release of their EP, Wing Walker, if you’re lucky, you can catch an Eastern Block show. If you’re not lucky enough, be thankful that the internet delivers such a powerful form of sharing. Here is my interview with funny men, Jonathan and Aaron.

Q. You guys have some creative nicknames for each other. What’s the story behind these?

A. Aaron: It’s true, we have names for each other but they change all the time. We’ve called Jonathan everything from “Two Four” and “Tinzing Norgay” to “The Disappearing Man” and “Crime Fighter.” At some point I will legally change my name to “Cactus Danger-Motercycle Jenkins”…doesn’t that sound more exciting than Aaron? Really most of our nicknames come from The Beard; he’s our man. He drives the van, helps us load gear, etc. He’s got the names. I’m “Double A”, Jon is “Swifty”, Jonathan’s “JW” and Sean is “Cool breeze.” As far as a story behind a name…I can say this about Jonathan, at any given moment he will vanish! We will be starting practice or about to go on the road and he just disappears, seriously, the guy is off fighting crime somewhere.

JW: This is true, I won’t deny any of that. The Beard is definitely behind the names. Sean floats on an invisible cloud of “cool”, waiving his peace signs around, so Cool Breeze is only fitting. I don’t know where the whole Cactus name comes from, but my first son will bear that as his middle name, fact. Swifty comes from Jon’s uncanny ability to creatively pick up anything very quickly, and he also wears 5 finger shoes, so he can probably beat anyone in a foot race.

Q. Currently, you’re all living in Nashville. What are a few of the key essentials of not getting swallowed up in the big music city?

A. Aaron: Yeah, we’re all in Nashville. This is the best place for music; as a fan AND a musician. There are SO MANY bands here but to me that really creates a better “scene.” There doesn’t seem to be a “cool table” like there once was…or maybe we just stopped caring about that. If you love what you do then you can’t get swallowed up.

JW: I definitely think that worrying about getting swallowed up is where you get trapped. It’s important to be very aware and encouraged that there is a crazy amount of talent in this city, but “making it” in the Nashville music scene shouldn’t be the ultimate goal by any means. We are musical baby dinosaurs and Nashville is a warm incubator…(what?)

Q. How did the four of you meet to form Eastern Block?

A. Aaron: Jon and I were in a previous band together and we continued writing when that group ended. In 2008 we were in the studio and needed a drummer so I called up JW; he and I grew up in close families (our fathers toured together). While in the studio we convinced him that we were awesome and he left the other band he was doing. Shortly after that session, he called up a friend of his (Sean) and what started as a bass audition ended as a 6 hour jam/snowball fight.

**OR** You know those times in a movie when people spontaneously burst into song and dance? That’s how we met. We were extras in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and really hit it off. We decided to form a band to showcase our dancing but it slowly evolved to feature a more indie rock feel.

Q. What do each of you bring to the table and how does help in creating your music?

A. Aaron: Well, I harness the power of wind, Sean is Earth, Jon is fire and JW is heart. Together we combine to make music that protects Gaia and stops the Eco Villains every Saturday morning. Also, there are certain bands and genres that each of us listen to more than others and that seems to influence our overall sound.

Q. If you were to each choose one song that has gotten you through good times and bad, which one would it be and why?

A. Aaron: I’m going to assume you want us to choose any song not just one of ours so I’m gonna say “Across the Universe.” That is my favorite song and it has gotten me through a lot. Also, I love any Delta Blues. It reminds me of my family and my home in Lafayette, Louisiana.

JW: This may sound strange but I would probably have to say Clair De Lune by Claude Debussy, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. If we’re choosing more than one, just about anything by Bill Evans or Thelonious Monk.

Q. Your new album, Past Palace, is filled with ten really great songs. What was one of the most memorable things while recording that album?

A. Aaron: Thanks. Well, we were a brand new band when we started that record and as musicians (and even as people) we were still getting to know each other, so my favorite thing I think was seeing that friendship grow. We’re like brothers…like that movie with Andre 3000; we’re that now.

JW: Definitely agree with AA on that. I know for me, it was the first time I felt like I was a part of a creative group effort. Everybody was feeding off each other. It’s a great thing when you have that strong of a connection with other musicians and everyone feels free to experiment and throw out ideas.

Q. If you could go back and re-record a song on your album, which one would it be and why?

A. Aaron: Honestly, I don’t listen to “finished” Eastern Block music because I’m always in that state of mind; I would re-record half of those songs. I’m very proud of that album, but yeah, always critiquing.

JW: I, unfortunately, do listen to finished songs. But I’ve been getting better at that. That album was so much fun to make, but I would probably re-track 9 out of the 10 songs. I think we all try to find the middle ground between self critic and over confident.

Q. A few of your influences range from Interpol, The Killers, Sigur Ros, and Radiohead. If you had the choice between those four bands, who would you open for?

A. Aaron: The Killers. I would try to sneak into their dressing room and steal a feather off of Brandon Flowers jacket. It would go great with my Brandon Flowers hair doll. That being said, the greatest show I’ve ever seen was Sigur Ros at the Ryman, almost cried.

JW: Definitely Radiohead. I want to join the band as their dedicated shaker player.

Q. What is one of the best compliments you’ve ever received about your music?

A. Aaron: Haha, probably something like “Hey man, my lady and I do it to your music”

JW: Drunk guy in large orange puffy jacket after show, “Maaaaan, I’ve nev–I’ve never heard nunything like that before. Serisly, how long you guys been dugether?” Long pause… “Weshould get to–weshould get together n jam sometime, ya know?” Single tear.

Q. If you were stranded on an island for the rest of your life and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

A. Aaron: There’s no way I would bring any songs with me singing on it. Can I just bring a guitar? Actually, here’s my choice: I would burn “Peace Train” by Cat Stevens to a CD and write Eastern Block on it, that way I played by your rules AND I won’t go crazy.

JW: I’m sorry that I’m actually answering this, but I would have to say “Espionage”…BOOM! That is the only one though.

Here is “Terrible Fantastic. If you like what you here, head over to their website here and download some music for free.

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One Response to “Eastern Block”

  1. Jonathon November 13, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    I saw Eastern Block this past Thursday night in Nashville and really dug them.

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