Black Sabbath-influenced stoner-metal has been on the rise in underground music since the 70s. Locals Dark Earth take all the best elements of this sound—loud meaty licks, bluesy grooves, howling vocals, and create something fresh, but still familiar. We asked the trio (James Sotelo—guiars/lead vocals, Bobby Daly—Bass, Kevin Boockholdt) about their upcoming releases and how they write their songs:
Tell me a little bit about your recent record deal with F.U. Hollywood? How did that come about?
KB: Our friend, Dave Nevin from San Jose Rock Shop, introduced Greg Brodick to us. He liked our music and has been looking to put out a vinyl featuring San Jose artists. He offered us a deal to put out a 12″ split vinyl with Bibles and Hand Grenades, as well as a potential full length album release. The split will have some of the songs from the 42012 EP, along with a digital download that includes the complete 5 song EP.
It seems like there’s been a lot of bands this past five years that play 70s Sabbath metal. Why do you suppose this sound is making a comeback?
BD: I think it’s been going on under the radar continuously since the 70s, but it’s definitely gotten a lot more attention lately. This is our favorite music so we’re a little biased. It rules, that’s why!
Your songs, while obviously rooted in this old sound, have a vibrancy to them. What do you do to give it a modern edge, or is that even needed?
JS: We don’t really think of it that way. We just play what we feel at the time and write songs that come out of those jams. From the beginning, we’ve been improvising whole practices and pulling music out of that. We improvise a lot of parts live but that’s part of what makes playing a visceral experience. We each bring different influences to the table.
How much of what you play is deliberately creating new sounds versus specifically paying tribute to the music you love?
KB: We can’t separate ourselves from our influences, but we’re not a tribute band, in any sense. Our music comes from moments of inspiration while we’re playing together. Improvisation!
Tell me a little bit about the band name, Dark Earth. Where does the name come from?
KB: Honestly, James came up with it while working. James and Bobby were working at the same place and James approached Bobby and asked him what he thought of the name Dark Earth. We agreed that it suited our present reality.
So many different subgenres of metal have evolved from the 70s metal sound, the most extreme being thrash. You guys are taking influence directly from the source. What do you think you and other more “modern” metal bands have in common?
KB: It’s hard to compare across so many subgenres what makes us more or less like the other bands outside of our differing influences. Everyone feels like their own thing is different from everyone else in their own minds. We are just playing the music that we enjoy and comes naturally to us.
Tell me a little bit about your live shows. The style and sound you play, typically makes for some heavy, intense shows. Is that what yours are like?
BD: We play really loud live. We play loud all the time because it’s the best way to play! We bring high volume, our music, and ourselves to the shows.
I find the idea of the power trio interesting since everyone’s role in the band is critical to the band. How do you think that being a trio has shaped your sound and songwriting?
BD: As a trio, we play off of each other. It’s easy to jam and improvise.
Dark Earth play the Caravan on Thursday March 21. The show starts at 10pm. It is free.