Interview: Mario Rubalcaba of EARTHLESS Talks Oz Tour

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By Jonathan Matthews

We recently had the chance to speak with Mario Rubalcaba, drummer of American Psychedelic Rock band Earthless. We talked about their upcoming Australian tour, their favourite memories from Australia, and their new record ‘Black Heaven’.

SR. Your new album ‘Black Heaven’ came out in March this year, how has that been going?

Really well. It’s definitely been the busiest year that Earthless has ever had, as far as touring goes and that kind of stuff. We’ve had the chance to go to some places we’ve never been before, and we’ve tried a bit of a different approach on this new album. It’s been a lot of fun, we’ve been going at it hard. We’re really looking forward to heading to Australia again, it’s been a couple of years since we were there last.

SR. What’s your favourite memory from the last time you were here in Australia?

We always have a really great time in Melbourne, and we always have a great time in Brisbane too. Over the years we’ve established some really good relationships with people over there. Even outside of playing our shows, we hang out with friends over there, grab food, have a good time, it’s definitely something we look forward to every time we visit.

SR. You have a song called ‘Uluru Rock’, that’s gotta be inspired by one of your trips to Australia, right?

Yeah, basically it goes back to one of our good friends in Brisbane called Tim. He owns a guitar store, and we were doing an in store show at his guitar shop. We were ready to play, but I had to go to the rest room before we started. Mark and Isaiah were on stage waiting for me, and while they were waiting, Isaiah came up with that riff at the start of that song. I came back in a sat down, and we ended up jamming and improvising, we made that song up on the spot. That’s where the song grew from, so later on when it came time to record it, we were thinking of called it ‘Ayers Rock’, which is one of the names it’s known as, but we wanted to keep it traditional and go with it’s real name. It’s based off of that in store show in Australia.

SR. Will you be playing that one on your Australian tour?

Yeah, that song has been one of the main songs in our set for a couple of years now, it’s well-loved. It’s a really good way to warm up,it builds slowly, and by the end it gets really intense, so by the end of the song we have our chops warmed up. It flows so naturally with the rest of the set, so you’ll definitely be hearing that one.

SR. Do you have a favourite track from the new album?

For me, personally, ‘Electric Flame’ is my favourite. I like that one because when we wrote it, it came out totally spontaneously. We were just in a room fiddling around with some riffs, and it came together really quick. I love it when songs just fall into place so quickly like that, out of nowhere.

“We thought we’d end up with just one or two songs with vocals, but then, out of nowhere, four of them popped up”

SR. Is there a different one that you prefer to play live?

I like playing them all live, Electric flame is fun to play live, Black Heaven, the title track, is really fun. They all have a different take when we play them live, we stretch them out and take them to a different level. It’s always a fun time playing live.

SR. What did you do differently on this album, compared to previous releases?

There wasn’t anything too crazy production wise, we always stick with recording most of the stuff live, and then going back and doing minimal overdubs. The main thing that was different on this one was the fact that it actually has vocals, compared to our previous stuff which is just longer instrumental pieces.

SR. How do you feel about the addition of vocals into your music?

I’m really happy about it. It was a natural progression for all of us, and it felt right to try it at this time. There were a couple of different factors, we didn’t have time to focus on making any really long instrumental pieces in the past, and we knew that Isaiah could sing, so we thought we’d see how the ideas would work out. We thought we’d end up with just one or two songs with vocals, but then, out of nowhere, four of them popped up. We ended up really liking how they turned out, so we went with it.

SR. Did you use any new gear while you were recording this album?

Yeah, I did. I recently got a new Ludwig kit, I’m endorsed by Ludwig, so I got this new kit a few months before recording. I had a bit of time to play some shows on it and get it dialled in. I was really stoked to take it into the studio and see how it went in that respect, and I’m really happy with it.

SR. Do you guys have any music videos coming out any time soon?

We’re not working on anything right now, we did one for the album for one of the short songs. Right now, I think if we were going to focus on something, it would take a little bit of time, just because the songs are longer, so it would entail a bit of a deeper, more complex concept and storyline.

Don’t miss Earthlesson their upcoming Australian tour! Check out their new album ‘Black Heaven’ on iTunes and Spotify, and make sure you grab some tickets to their show so you don’t miss out! To keep up to date with what the band is doing, follow them on social media or via their website.

Get your tickets now: davidroywilliams.com/tours/earthless/