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Evacuate The Earth Look to the Apocalypse

May. 30, 2017
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Photo Credit: Artistry of E
How’s this for truth in advertising: Evacuate The Earth’s self-titled sophomore album does, indeed, end with an evacuation. After a half hour of compositions influenced by the more avant-garde corners of prog-rock, No Wave and free jazz, the record finishes with a five-movement “Evacuation Suite,” detailing the race to a spaceship and culminating in a blastoff.

Evacuate The Earth probably wouldn’t consider themselves a political band, but they’ve made an album that speaks to the times. Intentionally or not, their self-titled record captures the sense of perpetual crisis and looming dread that’s defined the first months of the Donald Trump administration and the longing to disassociate from it all. With the prospect of nuclear war more real than ever, it’s hard not to fantasize about escaping every now and then.

The band was fixated on the apocalypse long before Trump took office, though. The three musicians first started playing together with little sense of what they might sound like. As drummer Darrin Wolf tells it, his background was in punk music, while bassist Daniel Kern was more of a classic-rock guy, and saxophonist-singer Erin Brophy had played in a ska band. The resulting sound, to use a word that Wolf returns to often when describing the group, was intense. “It’s definitely a stew of different influences,” he says.

On their self-titled album, produced by Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Recordings, they dial up that intensity even further, piling on sound effects, overdubs and unnerving Theremins. Actual space recordings help hit home the sci-fi vibe. “NASA made all their sounds available for free on their website, so we took advantage of that,” Wolf says.
From time to time, the group lets a little whimsy slip into their songs. With its dueling saxophone and bass leads, “Interplanetary” struts along like an imagined team-up between Morphine and Primus. But more typical of the record are tracks like “Arrival” and “The Eyes,” which end in blasts of feedback of distressed saxophone squalls.

For a band that’s decidedly an acquired taste, Wolf says the group generally goes over pretty well live. “I don’t think we’ve ever cleared a room,” he says. “Usually people will be walking by when we’re playing, and they’ll stop and do a double take because they haven’t heard anything like us before, so the response is usually extremely positive.”

Even if there wasn’t an audience for it, though, Wolf says it’s rewarding playing music this heated. It’s cathartic, a kind of musical equivalent of punching a pillow. “I think if I didn’t play in this band I would probably be in a nut house right now,” Wolf says.

Evacuate The Earth hosts a listening party for their new record at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 3, at Puddler’s Hall. They play a release show in Chicago on Thursday, June 8 at The Emporium.


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