If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a firm believer that Eternal Fair is one of the top acts coming out of Seattle currently. I was fortunate enough to meet up with Andrew Vait (vocals), Chris Jones (bass, vocals), and Daniel Nash (drums, vocals) and chat with the guys about their debut album, The Horse That Carries The Wheel. (You can check out my review of said album in our March issue!) This trio is incredibly passionate about the work they put out and I couldn’t be any more excited for them. Without further ado, I introduce you all to Eternal Fair:
Wyndi (WM): Hey guys! It’s so great to finally meet you! Give our readers a little background on Eternal Fair. How did you guys get together?
Andrew (AV): It was a long process. I started the band in 2009 as an off shoot of my solo project. I produced a 6-song EP in 2009 called The Pros & Cons of Drowning. Then I put a band together to support those songs and that was one of my first bands. We played for a while as Andrew Vait & The Eternal Fair and then we split right around when Daniel joined, we split Andrew Vait and Eternal Fair into two separate entities. For a while it was a five piece group and we changed formats a couple times. We brought in Brent Rusinow from Allen’s Band who took over for bass and when he left for Allen’s Band, we got Chris on bass.
Daniel (DN): When Brent left, I had known Chris for almost eight years. We met on a cruise ship playing a big band gig. We did tons of freelance gigs and we played in another Seattle band for five years. It was immediately obvious that I had to bring in Chris. It’s tough when you lose a guy like Brent who is a multi-instrumentalist, great singer, and brought a lot to the table. It was great to snag Chris. Brent had huge shoes to fill, but it was pretty easy with Chris there. I pitched that to Andrew and we all played together. And that was about a year and a half ago.
AV: Yeah, we did our first gig on the Marty Reimer Show.
Chris (CJ): There was only one rehearsal…
WM: That’s always awesome…
AV: It was a totally weird format where we were doing jazzy versions of our songs. So the rehearsal was this big electric rock rehearsal, then that wasn’t how the performance went.
WM: *Laughs* Good times. You guys have come a long way to the one rehearsal performances, that’s for sure. In fact, you guys just completed a Kickstarter campaign to help release The Horse That Carries The Wheel, tell us a bit about your experiences with that.
AV: The idea to run a Kickstarter campaign was Daniel’s idea.
WM: Well done, Daniel!
DN: Thank you!
AV: We basically put our heads together and got really serious about what our reach was collectively as a band. We put some numbers together on what we thought we could reasonably project for a potential outcome. I was running the projections off other successful Kickstarter campaigns from local Seattle bands. They were asking for about what we were wanting to ask for and they found success, and we thought we could do that as well. We had a manager at the time who managed the campaign and helped us organize internally. It was a lot of work — a lot of reaching out to people personally.
DN: It was pretty stressful honestly. You start out with a big leap, then there’s a 10 day lull in the middle where you get $10-$25 a day. You just keep hitting refresh, refresh and nothing is happening.
AV: It’s great because you can see the stats as it’s going. I think we raised $2500 in the first 36 hours or so. We see this spike and we’re like “Yeah, we’re gonna be one of THOSE campaigns that raises $100,000 when we only asked for like $250.” But then you see it go 15 days where nothing happens.
CJ: All this while you’re in the process of recording the album you’re trying and hoping to fund.
DN: Ultimately, as professional and gigging musicians, we needed help. The Kickstarter was a great way to ask for help and when it came down to the wire, we really didn’t have the money to fund the album, but we needed to move recording wise. So, we asked for help and ultimately reached our goal and exceeded it by about $1,200. It was a great experience working with Kickstarter. We talked about it last night and we’re never going to do it again, but that was the one push and that’s what we needed. But it’s great, and a lot of artists really do need that help.
AV: It’s really taken care of us. We finished all the production, mixed it, mastered it and we’re getting a box of cd’s tomorrow and putting in a vinyl order next week. And that’s about it, from there, we’re spent. But the whole process of finalizing the album was great. You look at all these expenses that normally take you way into the red.
CJ: You usually put it on a credit card and whoever makes that initial investment takes years to get out of it. It tends to cause a lot of stress among band mates where the person that makes that investment is the one taking the full pay cut from a gig.
DN: We set our intention for success from the beginning of it. We were originally thinking of a lower number but shot for a higher number because we really needed it. There was sometimes that moment of “Are we gonna make this?” “Yes. We’re gonna make this. We have to.” That was our mindset all along, that there wasn’t a chance of failure. It takes everyone being on board to do that and we worked really cohesively. It also showed that a lot of people love us.
AV: It’s an empirical statement of what you’re worth as a band.
CJ: What you’re friends and family think you’re worth
AV: This is real money that people will put down on you. Well, at that time, we were worth about $8,750.
WM: Well, you guys are worth much more than that in my book. You guys knew you wanted to record a new album, but what inspired The Horse That Carries The Wheel?
AV: It’s a body of work that spans a pretty significant time period. The oldest song from the record is probably from 2010 or a little earlier. The songs from the record tell a story that covers relationships between people and other people, relationships with yourself as you grow older and become more aware what projection your life is on and if you’re okay with that, and the relationships we’ll eventually have with our kids when we’re old. It has a lot to do with dreams and the cosmic beyond and what happened before we were here and what’s going to happen after we leave.
DN: In general, the album is a human experience, different levels of emotions, things we go through every day. I don’t even know what some of the songs are about sometimes and I talk to Andrew about where the concept came from. It turns out being about a friend he had in high school that he lost touch with or certain relationships he had when he was younger. Andrew writes all the lyrics and we write cohesively as a band all the music. I can say, musically, it’s an album that has a lot of heart. It’s totally us speaking from the heart. It covers the full emotional spectrum.
CJ: The most emotional moments I’ve had with this band came from the influence of one of the songs we have. We did a workshop for kids in Alaska and these kids were just nailing us with the most hardcore questions of all time. They were asking Andrew what it was like to take one of his songs and hand it off to other people. All these people grew up with Andrew and knew his family.
DN: There was an individual that Andrew wrote a song about called “Michael John.” He was the son of Andrew’s mentor, Howard Hedges. Howard passed away and Michael John was left. It was one of the coolest experience I’ve ever had with a kid after a show. He was like, “Man, I live with Michael John and my parents aren’t around and I have no support. We live in a trailer together.” I know that he would feel incredibly blessed to feel that people are looking out for him and people care outside the circle. We wrote this song for him and it was really cool to hear. He was almost in tears when he said that to me.
WM: Oh wow, that’s pretty intense. Who knew that kids would have the hard hitting questions. That actually goes right into my next question. I noticed a lot of the tracks are titled after names.
AV: The names are changed.
WM: Well I figured, didn’t think you guys would Taylor Swift it.
AV: Yes, they are actually about Taylor Swift.
AV: *Laughs* Sorry, finish the question…
WM: *Laughs* Is each track about a different person or is there an ongoing story?
AV: They’re more theoretically about people. “Michael John” is the only one that is about someone specific. The rest are more narratives that could be about any person that you may know. The vehicle I use to write is to create fictional characters that inevitably exhibit traits that you or your friends will exhibit. “Tommy Moore” tells the story of a man who lives in his basement apartment. You learn he hasn’t left in a really long time. It makes you start to wonder if he’s ever left at all. His view is through a basement level window where he can only see the legs of the people walking by his apartment. He gets himself ready every day, sits in his chair, and watches people walk by. That’s his entire existence as far as the audience knows. That’s a theme that appears variously throughout the record. The idea of what if we do grow old and we’re lonely, who do we really have in our lives? Who will remember us when we’re not here?
WM: Gotta love music that makes the listener think. In comparing the EP, Eternal Fair, Vol. 1, to this album, you guys have gotten a lot more mellow in sound. What triggered that or was it even intentional?
AV: *chuckles* I’ve heard that observation twice now. It’s surprising to me.
DN: I feel like it’s more energetic.
AV: As a core trio, we feel as if we’re hitting as hard, if not harder, as ever before. The songs are structured in a different way. They do tend to lay more in the mellower rock arena.
WM: It’s a lot more emotional…
DN: Yeah, I think it asks more of the listener. It’s easy to classify it that way but I think it’s an unfair judgment. The reality is, if you listen to the tunes, they peak about 85% of the way through. It’s a full work as opposed to a hit single that everyone likes to hear. The reality is, the peak of the tune, like in “Michael John” or “Brightest Star,” is later so there’s a lot more of an emotional payoff. The album is more emotional and there was a lot more thought put into it. Maybe that turns people off because you want what you want right now and you either like it or you don’t.
CJ: I can kinda see what you mean by that. The difference between the two is we approached the EP very simply, we were looking to see what we could take out versus what needed to be added. We needed to have a more patient approach so that when it peaks, it’s more intentional.
AM: Musicality wise, it’s a lot more structured.
DN: Yeah, I think that’s part of the payoff. You don’t get that moment until closer to the end.
AV: It’s part of the maturity of the band.
WM: It sounds like you guys are going in the right direction. This is your debut album, so I’m sure emotions are high. What are your hopes and expectations for this album?
AV: Any time a record comes out, you think it could be the one to make all your dreams come true. And it could be that. But realistically, we’re really proud of the work we’ve done. The response we’ve gotten is encouraging in a way that we feel we can set ourselves up to establish touring roots and start to collect an eager fan base. I feel like this record will do at least that – establish a loyal fan base that sees where we’re going and will anticipate our next move.
CJ: I think it really establishes our sound. I don’t look at it as putting out a record and hope it will give you something. It’s just clarifying where you are as an artist at this one point in time. A lot of the songs we recorded were from before I even joined the band. You put it out there and just wonder what people will think about it. We have gone top to bottom and analyzed it, but you just have to let it go. We’re going to be working hard to play it for as many people as possible.
DN: I haven’t had that moment where I really thought about my expectations for this record. I feel like it’s a really great record and a great representation as us as a unit right now. It’s the best representation we could put out. My expectations of the record are that we’re prepared to move on it. I focused more on us making sure that every base is covered and that we do everything we can do for any opportunity that may come up. The record really speaks for itself. It is what it is. I just want us to be prepared for it and are ready to go should something surface.
WM: Andrew, you talked about establishing touring roots, do you guys have a plan to tour outside the Northwest?
AV: We’re trying to think as big scale as we can. I go out to New York a couple times a year so I have a few connections out there. We’re going to try to cast a wide net. We have a manager now who will be providing us bigger opportunities outside of Seattle. We’re really excited about the prospects of getting on some support tours for national acts and establishing ourselves that way.
WM: Good deal. I think that’s all I have for you guys. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we head out?
DN: You should check out Eternal Fair. It would be a wise move. One thing we have on our team is a lot of experience. Music has always been a part of our lives. We’re lovers of the people and the music. We love the scene here in Seattle and we have a good influence on that.
AV: We’re interested to see what’s outside of Seattle. I’m really excited to share the product with the people who supported us through the Kickstarter campaign to show them that they invested their money wisely. We’re excited for what’s to come!
WM: So are we! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us! Good luck with the upcoming release!
Brent Rusinow from Allen’s Band is the fantastic new manager that will be helping spread the word on this phenomenal band. Brent has done a fantastic job keeping in contact with us here at the magazine and I know he will do wonders for Eternal Fair.
If you haven’t listened to The Horse That Carries The Wheel, you can now check it out on Spotify or buy it on iTunes or off the band’s bandcamp page: www.eternalfair.bandcamp.com
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