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Interview: Eighth Ground

Eighth Ground
Questions Answered By Jason Roberts (Guitarist)
05/09/01
Interviewed by Brian Webb

Related Links:
Official Website

PRP: Lets start off with the basics, how did you guys get together?
Jason: Well, I met our first drummer at school when I was 16. We actually started out both jamming on guitar, just fucking around. One day he mentioned that he used to play drums, so went to a local rehearsal studios and rented a kit. We would go up there and play about once a week for a whole summer. I met our 2nd guitarist (now our bass player), Roger, at a party. I persuaded him to come our and practice with us, and it just worked out that he kept coming back. Then we decided to find a singer and bassist. We found Jacob(vocals) through an add in the local paper. He didn't want to come try out because I was 16 at the time and our drummer was 18, so he figured it was going to be a bunch of whiny high school kids. Somehow we not only convinced him to come out, but also to bring his p.a. equipment. I couldn't even hear him the first tryout, but he had amazing energy and aggression. We decided to stick with him because of that, and that he was a nice guy. We won't talk much about bass players...we actually went through 2 of them before Roger decided to switch to bass. We recorded "Demo '99"(rare 3 song demo) with the first bass player, and "New World Order, Same Old Lies" with the second. Soon after recording "New World Order..." we decided it was time to part ways with our current bassist. It worked out for the best that Roger decided to step up to the job. Our current drummer is Jacob's brother, so he was easy to find, and here we are...

PRP: Whats the story behind the bands name?
Jason: It was Jacob's idea for the name Eighth Ground. It comes from a book called The Art Of War. The book describes nine grounds of war. The eighth is basically when you are in a large number, but are in a situation where you are vulnerable to a small groups attack...only escape being victory. We look at it as the situation that we the people of the world are in. Citizens are in larger numbers, but are vulnerable to the attack of the elite...so we must prevail. It can also be taken socially, in that large numbers of people are greatly influenced by the media and celebrity figures, attacking every part of their lives. Everyone looks the same these days. What happened to individuality for the sake of being an individual?

PRP: How would you describe your band both as people and your sound musically?
Jason: As people, I would say that we all four strive to be good individuals. We just wanna live our lives. We don't care about media attention or being in the spotlight. We just want to positively influence people. We all have our different things going on, but we are all wanting to better the world through influence. I guess we're just all four on our own paths. We are seeking to help to balance out the evil in the world through our music. I don't really know how to describe our sound. Our first EP was a good attempt, but it showed a lot of our influences, and we were trying to get everything to mesh. Our newest EP, "Omnipotent Mechanism" took that a step further, shedding a lot of the skin that we had. The 3 reworked songs showed the difference that John and Roger made in the music. Those 2 EP's are heavy, with a touch of melody. I think the current sound is something that no one is expecting or has heard come out of us.

PRP: Listening to the songs and lyrics its clear that you are a fairly political band. Is this an aspect of the band that will always be there?
Jason:Actually, Jacob's lyrics are moving away from the political angst that was found in the last 2 EP's. I would say that the lyrics are becoming more positive, insightful, and spiritual. By no means are they of a lesser scale though. They are actually much more effective in portraying our message. We've always been on a quest for the truth, but instead of being angry at what we knew to be true about the world, we are using it for positive influence now. I would say that the band is experiencing an epiphany, both musically and lyrically.

PRP: Coming from Austin, Texas has that been a blessing or a curse so far as getting out there and having a supportive scene?
Jason: Actually, I wouldn't say that it's been either. We actually don't play many local shows, or shows at all for that matter. Months will go by that we don't play a show. A lot of bands here play locally ever week or so, and it just gets old. Why go see them, when you could see them in 2 weeks. We like it the way we are doing it. Right when people think we broke up or something, we play a show. We have never opened for any big bands, so we get the crowd that we and the other local bands bring. Usually the crowd is good and supportive, but of course we have our shitty shows. We get no radio support here at all, which is fine because I don't know anyone who listens to the radio here anyway. The only thing that this town has is the SXSW music festival, but even that doesn't do much for unsigned acts. Austin is a good place to play for the fans, but we've yet to have an A&R rep. stumble into our show hah.

PRP: How do you feel the band have developed over the two records you have already put out?
Jason: Well, these 2 EP's have definitely helped us realize our strengths and weaknesses. Neither of these 2 EP's has captured what we are capable of, but we are always growing. I like both of them, but I like "Omnipotent Mechanism" much better. I feel that it showed more of what we have. I have listened to it a lot, whereas the past one I didn't. The next one is going to be much better than the both of them put together...

PRP: Have you begun writing a follow up? and can we expect any significant changes?
Jason: Yes, actually that's all we're doing right now. We have 6 songs for it so far, which are all amazing. We plan on writing a lot of songs, so that we have many to choose from. The next one will definitely be a full length. I would say that there are a lot of significant changes in our sound now. We are really exploring our melodic side, but doing it in a way that makes our heavy side stand out even more. We have a lot of really dark/melodic/emotional parts in the songs, but with just the right touch of crushing heaviness. The heavy stuff is almost more aggressive than the previous material. I'm really excited about what we have going on now. It is the best stuff we've ever written.

PRP: What next for Eighth Ground? It seems you've reached a point that your find hard to surpass without the support of some kind of label.
Jason: Well, who knows what's next for us. I guess if I knew that, it would kinda take the fun out of it. We just go on feelings. No label is in site at the moment, so who knows. I think each record we put out will surpass the last, regardless if they continue to be independent. Know anyone that wants to sign us? Actually, we really don't care if we ever get signed or not. It would be the best thing in the world to be able to play music for a living, but we're not going to sell our souls for it. If we never make any money at this, who cares.

PRP: You have had enormous success with mp3.com with such a prolonged and consistent stay in the heavy metal charts and being listened to around 200 times daily. What do you put this success down to?
Jason: I have no earthly idea how it happened. We had NO promotion at all. I uploaded the songs from "New World Order, Same Old Lies" about a year and half ago, and spent hours on the net promoting us (e-mails, IM's, message boards, etc.). I guess people checked us out and word of mouth spread. This got us to the top of the charts on MP3.com, which I assume caught the ears of sites such as yours. It's awesome to see that our music is getting out to so many people worldwide. I attribute this success to the fans and the underground sites that support us.

PRP: How do you feel about Internet promotion as a whole?
Jason: Without it, we wouldn't have 98% of the fans we have...

PRP: Have you ever decided to take a shit in the woods only to have berries and twigs thrown at you by passers by during your moment of defencelessness?
Jason: The twigs and berries were the least of my worries...

PRP: Who would you say have been major influences in your life both musically and non musically.
Jason: I would say that my parents were a major influence for me, especially my father's death when I was 11. I guess from that point on, I tended to keep things inside and not deal with them. I would say that our singer Jacob has been a huge influence on me, opening my eyes to a lot of injustice in the world. Also my girlfriend, Caitlin, has really helped me deal with my past experiences, and also given me a lot of joy that was missing from my life for a long time. Musically, there are so many things that influence me. All of the events in my life that have caused any kind of strong feelings have come out in my music. I think that I really express that in our new songs...there is a lot of feeling in them, both negative and positive.

PRP: What cd's have you been digging of late?
Jason: Well, right now I'm listening to Our Lady Peace "Spiritual Machines"(their new album). It's a really emotional CD. It's very uplifting. I was listening to a lot of Mudvayne "LD50", which I actually haven't listened to in a while. Lately I've been listening to a lot of lighter/emotional stuff. I've listened to Radiohead "OK Computer" & "Kid A" and Deftones "White Pony" a lot lately. Also I really like the Alien Ant Farm "Anthology" CD. I know most people think it's to poppy or whatever, but I like it. It has a lot of feeling, but yea some of the songs are on the corny side. I've listened to Ultraspank "Progress" a lot lately too...great album, to bad they got dropped from Immortal. I got back into Stabbing Westward "Darkest Days" lately. Other CD's include Earth Crisis "Slither", Fear Factory "Digimortal"(except for the rappy stuff), Sepultura "Nation", Downer "downer", Finger Eleven "The Greyest of Blue Skies", A Perfect Circle "Mer de Noms"...

PRP: How do you feel about the music scene right now and its possible acceptance of a band like yours?
Jason: I think the music scene needs something. There are some good bands coming out, but for the most part labels are just signing crap that all sounds the same. I've noticed that a lot of the "nu metal" bands are almost going for an 80's metal sound incorporated with their music. I just think this is sad. I don't think heavy music will die because heavy music is a feeling, not just distortion. I guess this gives us the room to be accepted. Labels don't seem to accept us though, which is fine...as long as our fans do.

PRP: Do you still watch re-runs of that old t.v classic DALLAS?
Jason: I've never seen Dallas as a matter of fact...

PRP: That's about it, any shoutouts or shameless self promotion?
Jason: Our newest EP, "Omnipotent Mechanism" is available at our website www.eighthground.com

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