This is a first here on naturalismo: the first time we’ve interviewed the same band, or at least a representative from the same band, twice. If you don’t remember, we interviewed Espers many moons ago — but loving Espers as much as we do, there was a eerie compulsion to track then down once again to see what has transpired since their last release and to get a little perspective on their freshly-minted LP, III.
Naturalismo: It’s been about three years since your last release, II. As a six-piece band, each with solo/side projects, what was the inspiration to rejoin under the Espers banner once more?
Greg Weeks: Well, it wasn’t really a rejoin scenerio. Espers never stopped being, nor sat quietly in the wake of other projects, the band just operated in its own deliberate, slow pace. Which leads us to now.
N: What about this band is special, not necessarily more or less, as compared to other projects?
GW: That’s kind of a weird question to answer. Whenever you get a group of musicians together something new and different comes of it. Under certain circumstances, with the right people, that “something” is, for whatever reason, special. That’s what we have with Espers.
N: How was the writing and recording process different for III than for the previous record?
GW: Mmmm …. it really wasn’t all that much different. Its more like we all changed, so the process felt different, even though it was roughly the same.
N: As I just mentioned, each member of Espers has many creative outlets outside the band. Over the last three years, how have your individual pursuits changed your outlook on the creation of new Espers music, and how is your own creative evolution reflected on the new record?
GW: Man, I dunno. The more years spent as a musician the more beat down one feels. At least that’s how I feel. The better I get at the craft aspect of music making the less time or energy I have for it. Espers III reflects a lot of that, I think. I hear in it fatigue as much as I do growth and renewed energy.
N: Espers III, though an entirely new vision from II, remains loyal to the band’s unique blend of psychedelic and folk-inspired sounds. What do you think originally drew you to this sonic palette, and what about it continues to pique your imagination and hold your interest?
GW: Its us. And we don’t change much in that regard. We like now what we liked then and we’ll likely continue liking what we like now. None of us are caught in the trap that the original progenitors of this music found themselves in, being forced to tailor their sound to fit the next hot trend, like disco, or synth pop. We could continue on like this forever, or stop tomorrow, and we’d likely be coming from the same relative place. If we shifted taste or direction in any significant manner as individuals we’d likely find another venue for the expression of those musical ideas.
N: As the first decade of the 21st century draws near to a close, what are your thoughts on the evolution of the decade’s popular independent music?
GW: I see no evidence of evolution, just a fast disintegration of the previous support system. This system was a mirage to begin with in some ways, but it at least allowed for some degree of reward for effort and stick-to-it-ness. And it definitely kept some of the chaff out of the wheat pile. Now there are no checks, just one open gaping maw; a musical free for all.
N: Why do you think Espers and other like-minded artists, if only for a few years, tapped into the popular/critical zeitgeist of independent music in the mid-2000’s?
GW: I don’t think we did. The endless problem with niche music fans (and bands) is that they think what they support is a part of popular culture. When a band sells less than 1000 copies, and (if you live in a big city) there are easily that many residents on your block, you aren’t reaching even an infinitesimal portion of the culture.
N: Are there any touring plans in the works to support the release of III?
N: In a time where synths, loops, midi-keyboards, and macbooks dominate the typical independent music stage, what role do you think “organic music” — define as you please — will play in the independent music landscape of the coming decade?
GW: It will continue to find its way because we are all human, not cyborg.