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INTERVIEW: Jesse Cash & Sean Price – Erra

A band once described as the ‘spearhead’ of the progressive metalcore movement, ERRA have long been at it in the US, in support of bands such as BORN OF OSIRIS, AUGUST BURNS RED and TESSERACT. Since the release of their third album, Drift, their appeal has turned to the global market, and thus we caught up with guitarists Jesse Cash and Sean Price backstage on their first UK and Europe tour, in support of NORTHLANE, to talk touring and the plans for their new album.

So, this is ERRA’s first time in the UK. What do you think of it so far?

Jesse: Yes, it is. We started out the tour in Germany, in Hamburg, and we played London last night.

Sean: London was insane. The crowd reception was nuts. It was at Electric Ballroom and the crowd participation was sick, everyone cares more here than in the US. When we tell people to do something they do it.

How long have ERRA been touring the US for now?

Sean: Six years.

Yeah, I’ve been into ERRA for years now, so I think everyone’s been waiting for you to come over.

Sean: We’ve definitely waited longer than most bands would.

Jesse: It’s weird that we haven’t been yet, for sure.

Sean: The reception is better than we expected. I do miss the sunlight, though.

Is this laying the foundations for a possible headline tour of the UK and Europe?

Jesse: For sure. Maybe not the next time we come back, but definitely within the next two years we should probably come over and do a headlining tour.

So, what are your views on the reception of Drift since it came out?

Sean: It’s been everything we wanted it to be.

Jesse: I’m happy with it. It’s pretty different from the other two [albums], but I think people have received it well and embraced a lot of the changes. Overall, you can tell the same band wrote it, it’s just a bit more melodic. It’s tough to make that change and make things more accessible, because we’re a metal band, and there are a lot of young metal fans, and I feel that young listeners can sometimes have a harder time with a band changing. But, it’s hard to tell completely but it seems that everyone has taken it really well. We’ve seen nothing but growth since it came out.

Was the progression in sound from old material to new material a deliberate decision or was it more organic?

Jesse: It was honestly more organic. It was more of a reflection of what we were listening to at the time and what felt right. I didn’t really know how different it was until I was showing early demo stuff to other dudes in the band and they pointed out that it was pretty different, and that was the first time I really realised it.

Sean: Also, when you’re writing new stuff, you don’t really listen back to old stuff that much, because you’re trying to get ideas for new stuff. You get older, start writing more mature stuff and think that’s what happened.

In terms of those influences, what sort of stuff were you listening to when you were writing the record?

Sean: There was a lot of DEFTONES around that era, no pun intended.

Jesse: NORTHLANE was a big influence, and with Node they definitely took some chances, and even though Drift doesn’t sound like that record, the one thing that really influenced it a lot is that they were willing to take that risk. That was pretty motivating for us, and it impressed us that a band would take such a huge chance on something that they liked, despite opening themselves up to some huge criticism, and that’s what put us in a position to feel comfortable writing what we wanted to write, and not think too hard about it, you know?

I am seeing a lot of movement towards this organic mindset at the moment.

Sean: The problem with the industry is that it’s super saturated. Anyone with a Macbook can record an album, really.

And a seven string Ibanez.

Sean: [Laughs] Well, I mean, it should be an Ibanez. I think the only way for us to make ourselves happy is by playing what we wanna play, and that’s gonna translate into our music. If we’re passionate about what we’re writing it’s gonna come out right.

Does that mean you’re enjoying playing the new stuff more than old stuff live nowadays?

Sean: That kinda happens over time anyway. I’ve been playing some of these songs for five years. But, if people are having fun at shows, I’m gonna have fun playing them.

Jesse: I think we’ve definitely had a jump in listeners for the new stuff, but I think that the new stuff had enough good stuff in it to make people go over the older stuff and look back. The old stuff still comes through really well too, I don’t really feel like anything translates better than another live.

On this [NORTHLANE] tour there are a few bands that are making waves at the moment, to say the least. What are your opinions on some of the bands you’re touring with?

Sean: We’ve known the INVENT, ANIMATE guys for years. And Jesse did work in the studio with them, so we have a lot of history with that band. This is our first tour with OCEAN GROVE and we’re doing another American run with them in January through February, and they’re awesome. I have a lot of respect for them because they take chances. Not only do they take chances but they do it with such conviction that it’s amazing to watch.

The Rhapsody Tapes is certainly the opposite of what you’d expect from a debut album, they aren’t playing it safe.

Sean: It’s awesome.

Jesse: There’s definitely something to be taken seriously about a band for whom their music is a representation of how they are. We’re still figuring out how to feel about them, because we’re on day three of the tour, but even this early in the tour I can tell that they’re the kind of band that shows through. People are loving them live, as well.

Where does the name ERRA come from?

Jesse: Pretty much, it just sounded cool. It’s a Babylonian god of mayhem which means absolutely nothing to us, so it’s not a representation of where we are now, or anything, it just sounds good, it looks good on paper, it feels right. We’ve pretty much carried that mentality since the start of the band. What I would call the Cellar Door method, some dude a long time ago said ‘cellar door’ was the most attractive combination of two words, it rolls off the tongue. THE MARS VOLTA does that too, they’re one of my favourite bands, so that’s a big influence on how we name songs and stuff, even now.

Sean: We just take words, and if it sounds good coming out of the mouth, we’re like “we’re gonna use that!” [Laughs]

Yeah, I get that. Like Luminesce from Drift, it’s such a nice word to say. Like naming an album Plinth.

Sean: It’s a good way to go, though, because if you give something a name with no meaning it gives you the space to do whatever you want with it, you’re not restricted.

Jesse: It works with the opposite effect too. The new record, which isn’t out yet, it’s a bit darker content-wise, so some of the lyrics and the language used is like, way darker than what we’ve done before. So, there are some song names and some lyrics that hit you a little weird, which is different, because it’s a different kind of vibe. At the same time, having that smooth vibe and aesthetic to contrast the darker tones is always important.

Not much has been said about the new album before this, is it being kept under wraps for the time being?

Jesse: In terms of ‘under wraps’, it’s yes and no. We’ve definitely been posting studio videos from our personal Instagrams, but we’re not too outspoken about it from our band page. The new record is looking good though, it’ll be out early next year. That’s about as much as I can tell you about it.

Are you keeping the same sort of sound as Drift, then? Is ERRA staying in that progressive direction?

Jesse: It is for sure more of an extension of Drift than the other records, yes. It’s different in some ways, I feel like it’s a bit darker. Aside from that, yeah. If you like Drift, you should like this record.

Awesome. So, what’s next for ERRA? Do you have any major aspirations as a band, or are you just taking it one step at a time?

Jesse: The aspirations are definitely high, but when you have high aspirations, one step at a time is definitely a crucial part of the process.

Sean: We definitely look far ahead, but if you fixate on that and you don’t focus on the now you get discouraged, because the pace can sometimes not be what you want it to be, so you just have to enjoy the moment.

Are they any bands you hope to tour with in the future, or are you happy with your place in the touring scene right now?

Sean: I enjoy the scene, but there’s just a couple of bands that we still haven’t toured with yet. It’s kinda crazy that we haven’t done a run with PERIPHERY, they’re sick. They’ve always been listened to by us, and I feel like we’ve toured with every other band like them, that seem obvious – VEIL OF MAYA, AUGUST BURNS RED. I’d like to tour with TESSERACT again, we did it once before but it was during our heavier phase and now we’re kinda lightening up and I think their fanbase would respond to us better. That’s my favourite band.

That’s great. So, to recap – new, darker album next year and sights are set high for the future. Sounds good!

Jesse: Definitely. This is only day four of the tour so we’re still feeling it out, but things are feeling very good over. We’ll be back, that’s our plan.

Thanks very much!

Sean: You too dude.

Jesse: Thanks a lot man.

Drift is out now via Sumerian Records.

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