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Ealdor Bealu is a four-piece psychedelic rock band from Boise Idaho. Their 2017 album Dark Water At the Foot of the Mountain is everything you want from the genre: deserty guitars, haunting ethereal vocals, compelling bass lines, and tight and tribal drumming when called upon. Featuring dual vocalists Carson Russell (guitar, vocals), and Rylie Collingwood (bass, vocals) therein lies an interesting dynamic between the soothing trance of Rylie's spectral lines and Carson's abstract and sagely foreboding tones. With additional guitar by Travis Abbot and drumming by Craig Hawkins this is a band not to miss.
Below is a short excerpt from AudioHammock's interview with Ealdor Bealu. We talked about a myriad of subjects from the infancy of the band, their latest tour, upcoming shows, and of course their new album Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain. Post interview we left the recorders going and had an enjoyable time going off topic on some of our favorite Boise bands and venues before ultimately opening up and discussing how nerdy we all are by being addicted to the video game Diablo and our love for Dungeons and Dragons. Read on below and check out the podcast for the interview in it's entirety.
Russ: Take me through the band name? Ealdor Bealu, proto-germanic? My interpretation is old evil. Close or?
Ryley Collingwood (bass, vocals): You're the closest anyone has gotten.
Carson Russell (guitar, vocals): The definitions that we've found that we've liked are necessary evil or vital evil. It's kind of like the idea of pulling of a scab or ending a bad relationship.
Ryley: Setting a bone.
Carson: There's things you have to endure in life that are negative yet necessary for the greater good. It's kind of a melancholy idea and the music echos that.
Russ: I looked up your band name and somehow that took me down a long path, I started with Beowulf, somehow got to Lord of the Rings, eventually some Dungeons and Dragons. Before I knew it I had been on this path for about an hour and half before I had to ask myself, what was I originally doing?
Ryley: We talk a lot about all of those things.
Carson: Gandalf quotes!
Russ: Take me through the infancy of Ealdor Bealu. Carson, how did this project come about?
Carson: There were six of us in a party-punk band. It just fell apart, people moved or did other things. It was chaotic, destined to destroy.
Craig Hawkings (drums): It was lots of fun and we got drunk.
Ryley: We take it a little bit more serious now, trust me.
Craig: We don't slap wine bags before recording.
Ryley: Or have paint fights because I had the hiccups.
Carson: We practiced more often back then but it wasn't really practice. It was more just show up and hang out with your friends.
Ryley: Fifteen smoke breaks in two hours.
Carson: After the band disbanded we took about a year hiatus, Craig moved abroad. I wrote some precursor tracks for what would become Ealdor Bealu and Ryley and I worked on them. Basic guitar and bass parts. Our original drummer who is now in Texas (Alex Wargo), was the bassist in our party-punk band so we brought him in. I had my eye on Travis Abbot who I had loved from his last band Obscured by the Sun. He's one of the best guitarists in Boise, very creative. We were lucky enough to bring him on and he liked the music and his additional melodies and guitar playing really helped cement our sound.
Russ: Definitely a distinct shift in sound, what made you guys switch genres?
Ryley: We went through a lot.
Carson: Growing up. Ealdor Bealu started fresh. In the last few years I've really gotten into heavier music, ambient music. I enjoy bands like Mark Laneghan, Chelsea Wolfe, Earth, and Black Mountain. I wanted to make music like that. The band came around and it was really cool to see that happen.
Russ: How would you guys say your sound has evolved since your first show?
Craig: I would say when Alex was in the band they just kept getting tighter and tighter. I wasn't in the project at that time but we have a shared practice space and I was often cheerleading and going to the shows. They wrote a couple songs like "Behind the Veil" and "Behond the Sunrise" where writing seemed to have a shift.
Carson: Initially 5 of those 7 tracks on the album were almost exclusively written by me. Here's how they go and how we're going to do this but now we're at the point where I'm writing material, Travis is writing material, and the proccess is more of a group effort. Ryley co-wrote a couple songs as well.
Russ: With that, let's get into the album a little bit. It's called Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain. Very ominuous, forebording. The album opens with the song "Water Cycle" and includes a saxophone. In the genre of music you guys are playing a saxophone is somewhat of a daring move and you guys pulled it off really well. Can you walk me through how that came about?
Ryley: Alex is a music major. He's the kind of guy who comes to practice with this violin he bought at a thrift store and says "I'm going to learn how to play this". He just loves the details and intricacies and wants to make it challenging.
Editors' Note: Alex Wargo is no longer in the band since departing to Texas for continued studies.
Craig: Travis just plays that part now on guitar.
Carson: We took our time after Alex left and we went with Craig and I think it really added a ferocious dynamic. Alex had a lot of swing beats and Craig is more of a rock and roll drummer.
Russ: Craig how so? Just more triplets or?
Craig: No, Alex is the triplet master. I'm still working on that. This is the first band really that I've played drums in live. It was a lot of listening to the album and practicing it. Practicing rudiments and rhythm, using the metronome because I was originally a guitarist. Now I'm becoming a drummer.
Russ: I was explaining to a coworker today how I was going to interview you guys and when she asked me what genre I said, "well, it's psychedelic, but there's some desert rock, also a lot ambient textures and post-rock and I just kept going.
Ryley: It's hard to describe, we went into it with the idea of just making it dynamic. Instead of a grunge band, how about we express quiet and loud.
Carson: When Travis came in it really brough in a lot of post-rock. He's the master of building a riff that can just go and go and go.
Russ: "Water Cycle" segues into "Deep Dark Below" really really well. The whole album flows like you're floating down a river. So much so that I have to check the track listing to see if I'm still listening to the same track so I just want to compliment you on the album because it's very cohesive.
Ryley: Thank you, that's awesome.
Carson: It's definitely an album best listened to in it's entirety. It's hard to start with a track because each one is a transition.
Ryley: One time we played a show with Afrosonics. An afro soul band you know? There were all these old people there wanting to dance and we opened for them. Alex was picking up his drumkit and an old geezer elbowed him and was like "Ealdor too much RIGHT!?". It was the funniest shit. All these old people wishing we'd shut the fuck up.
Russ: Did you scare any of them off?
Ryley: I feel like I'm intimidating!
Russ: Haha. Alright, take me through "Deep Dark Below". It's really vibrant. Your most upbeat track on the album. A conscious decision to bring it up (mood) a bit or?
Ryley: That was the first song we (Carson) wrote together, before Ealdor Bealu even took form.
Carson: Meloncholy is the word that reminds of that song. It's not listing, it kind of feels mellow and good but not get up and dance. That one really breaks up the album, we've got songs that sludge along and this one gives you that nice changeup.
Russ: Craig, what's your favorite song on the album to play?
Craig: I like all of them. Certain songs have definitely gotten louder, slight variations. Some of the dynamics have gone up, there's still the shifting. The heavy parts I'm probably snapping my wrists a bit harder. Bigger gulfs between the loud and the quiet. I think "Behold the Sunrise" is incredibly fun. "This Too Shall Endure" is about 45 BPM (beats per minute), and it's simple; quarternotes - but if you fuck it up it's really noticeable so that's probably the hardest one. We have a new song called called "Isolation" which is really fun; the first song I helped write with these guys. It has three big sections that go from groovy into quiet when Ryley sings and finally a very loud section with tons of crashes and a break that ends with the fastest part of our set. It really moves.
Russ: How long is that song?
Craig: Nine minutes.
Carson: Yeah anywhere from nine to eleven minutes depending on the guitar parts.
Russ: Nice. Can we expect that at some of your upcoming shows?
Craig: We've been playing that one consistently.
Carson: We tested it out on tour and tested it out at both local shows we've had here so yeah.
Russ: Killer. I look forward to hearing it! Remind everyone where we can see you next and where to find your music.
Carson: You can find us on Bandcamp, Spotify, all the places you would normally find music and our next show is October 14th at the Olympic in downtown Boise!
Russ: Awesome. Thanks guys!
Eadlor Bealu: Thanks Russ!