Rub my sticks

Don’t misunderstand Earthless: they just want to shape your mind.
  • Don’t misunderstand Earthless: they just want to shape your mind.

After three studio albums, countless shows, and a fervent following, what (if anything) are people still misunderstanding about Earthless? Drummer Mario Rubalcaba responds: “That we are not a stoner rock band.” Asked for their influences, including any that might surprise listeners of this instrumental trio, Rubalcaba elaborates how “Our influences travel far & wide...anything from Neil Young, Guru Guru, Chrome, Rory Gallagher, This Heat, ZZ Top. What might surprise some Earthless fans? Well, I can proudly say that the whole band loves VOID.”

The band’s latest album, From the Ages, released October 8, took form at San Francisco’s Lucky Cat Recording. “My favorite aspects of the new LP,” explains Rubalcaba, “are that we got to record live in a big room and play loudly. We got to record it with a friend [Phil Manley] who gets what we are about. It just makes the whole process run so much smoother.... It’s fun to tweak things in the studio and add stuff on to the songs. We didn’t go crazy with that kind of stuff but it just adds some atmospheric living to it.”

Asked about his favorite gig the band’s played so far, the drummer remembers “the Roadburn festival we played in ’08. It was pretty surreal to plan on playing to a crowd capacity of 250 then suddenly, last minute, get bumped up to the main stage and play to 2500 stoned-out freaks in Holland. It was the perfect timing for us to shape their minds that night. Luckily, it was recorded and preserved on the Live at Roadburn LP.

Oddest crowd? “Might have been playing with Iron Butterfly at this weird resort gig in Irvine. We played on a stage that had this white picket fence around the whole thing except for a little stairwell from the crowd to the stage. A very drunk woman kept walking up to my drums and taking my reserve sticks. She would then start dancing like a cheap stripper and proceeded to rub my sticks all over her saggy breasts and in her armpits. It was gross. The crowd didn’t get us.”

Rubalcaba looks forward to Earthless’ first Japanese tour: “Early ’70s Japanese bands like Flower Travellin’ Band, Blues Creation, and Shinki Chen are part of the reason why Earthless exists.” And that, in one arbitrary nutshell, is where they’re coming from.

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