2016 Earthside interview with Jamie van Dyck
If you have not had the good fortune to discover Connecticut’s Earthside yet, consider this a belated Christmas gift. The visionary progressive metal quartet, or cinematic rock; as they refer to themselves, released their stunning debut album, A Dream in Static, this year. The record was three years in the making and found the band recording in studios on both sides of the pond. They even managed to persuade the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra to perform on the record.
Three of the group members grew up together. Guitarist Jamie van Dyck has known keyboardist Frank Sacramone since grade school. The two connected with drummer Ben Shanbrom a few years later. All have played together in various forms in different projects over the years. When their previous band, Bushwhack, no longer felt right, they added bassist Ryan Griffin, and Earthside stepped into the world on wobbly legs in 2012.
The band put complete focus into making A Dream in Static everything they wanted it to be, and the journey to completing the record is where the album’s title came from. As Jamie van Dyck recently shared with Metalholic:
“A Dream in Static, both the album and the song, I think, have a meaning that embodies how we felt while we were writing it. It was this idea that we have this lofty aspiration–this vision for what we want our lives to be and for the music we could be making, and for our place in the world and for a purpose in our lives. But it would be like feeling that we were static: Like we can’t move towards it no matter how much energy we put into it, we’re not getting there. There were a lot of times where I think it felt like it wasn’t going to happen, and that we sort of had to muster another ounce of courage to push through and believe that it was. Even early on that was very palpable and I think that effected a lot of the writing and angst, so to speak.”
Earthside has no vocalist, and only half of the album’s tracks include vocals. For that the band reached out to a list of singers they felt would best serve the songs, including Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust), Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), Eric Zirlinger (Face the King), and Daniel Tompkins (Tesseract). The album’s first single, “Mob Mentality” features Witherspoon on vocals along with the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra. The track gave Van Dyck a chance to work with one of his idols:
“Luckily, ‘Mob Mentality’ came to fruition, not exactly as I planned, but in some ways better. Working with Lajon was a total dream come true. Sevendust was probably my favorite band back in middle school and high school. His voice always just has such an expressive quality to it, for me. It just always resonated with me. So to have his voice on the song that was my personal baby on the album, that was so cool. And because of all the complex counts in the song, I was in there, in the vocal booth, basically conducting him. Giving him the dynamics and the cut-offs. It was almost like he was my opera soloist–my tenor.”
A Dream in Static has been hailed by critics around the globe as a stunning progressive opus, landing the band on many year-end “best of” lists (including our own). The guys recently completed a North American tour with Soilwork, Soulfly and Shattered Sun, and look forward to whatever the next stage brings them.