It's been almost two years since jam juggernaut String Cheese Incident called it quits in 2007. Since then, things have slowed for some of the former members, while others have picked up the pace with new projects. The latter holds true for the String Cheese rhythm section of Jason Hann and Michael Travis with their current undertaking, EOTO (End Of Time Observatory).
While EOTO began as a side project, with the pair indulging their looping and appreciation of DJ music in between SCI gigs, it has evolved way beyond that. While this has been a great way to reach the massive String Cheese fanbase already in existence, the two have also begun to gain momentum with new fans. Hann was kind enough to take a few minutes from his hectic travel and tour schedule to tackle a few of our questions.
Read the full Q&A after the jump.
Midnight, Wednesday, December 30. White Room, 1306 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $10 in advance, $12 day of show. Age 18 and up; 305-995-5050; whiteroommiami.com
New Times: Looping was not a big part of the SCI show in the day, how did you and Michael find this niche and where did it all begin?
Jason Hann: Both being night owls, we were looking for something
to do after SCI practices. At the time I was staying at Travis's a lot,
and we wanted to play different instruments and sounds than our regular
pieces of the band. Travis also played guitar, bass and had one Boss
looping pedal making things a little more fun, eventually using an
echoplex looping pedal and just expanding from there with software and
more. We really just discovered that looping worked best with
electronic beats. After listening back to some recording they had down
they decided that it was pretty good and people might like to hear it.
There is a fine line between building up the themes and jams, layering for too long. In a genre where many bands struggle with this line consistently, giving live electronica and looping a bad rap, how does EOTO gauge the tension point of the crowd?
We listen to a lot of DJs and work off it by using more movement of the music with a magic, three-minute window, getting in and moving and moving on with three minutes of each part, if the audience isn't feeling it, move on. Ultimately, we're trying to get the crowd all riled up so we use what's working that night.
I imagine a lot of trial and error went into this. I'm sure you didn't start at as polished as what audiences are seeing now. What helped to craft it to where it is now and finding this three-minute window of perfection?
Lots of shows, trial and error. A lot like stand up guys like Chris Rock, they will book several shows leading up to a big one and try material out and finding the best stuff. We're no different.
According to your website, I see that EOTO really takes pride in not using any pre-recorded tracks and that everything is produced live. For those new to this artistic form, can you elaborate on this?
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Right. It's important that people understand that this is live remixing happening, not a Wizard of Oz thing with the man behind the curtain. Many folks not familiar with this genre really see this as nothing more than pre-recorded music with a drummer playing along with a laptop. People really can struggle with this as an artistic form. I think the Apple Store demo really helps this and the people loved it.
A more technical question here: I've seen several EOTO shows in the past and immediately noticed both of you wearing headphones instead of using monitors. I'm sure that's nice for travel not lugging monitors around and easy sound checks, but why this stage setup?
Yep, the only noise on stage is the drum set. A lot of times, we point the stage wedges at the crowd to give the front rows more stage noise to listen too. DJs listen mostly through headphones as well and we're just really doing the same.
-- Patrick Sites