Interview with Eidola vocalist/guitarist Andrew Wells

Eidola just released their latest album, To Speak, To Listen, in June. We caught up with songwriter/guitarist Andrew Wells to talk about the history of the band, the philosophies that drive them, and their new album.

First of all, how did you meet as a band? Did you have any common musical loves that drew you together? How did you come up with your band name? 

We all kind of met each other in various ways over time. Four of us went to high school together and eventually became friends. I think some common bands we all enjoy are bands like Circa Survive, Thrice, Coheed and Cambria, Snarky Puppy, and Intervals. Outside of that we all have different tastes in a lot of ways. We came up with our name after working through so many different titles. We originally wanted the band to be called Jagannatha and had a song called Eidola at the time. We decided to swap the two when we felt like Eidola moreso encompassed what we really felt like as a project.
You are from Provo, Utah. The first band we ever interviewed on our podcast is also from Utah- Advent Horizon. My sense is that there is a growing scene for progressive leaning music there – am I right? 

We are from Provo, and Advent Horizon are homies of ours. I would say that the local scene for progressive music is growing in Utah, but it still needs a lot of work. Even bigger bands in the progressive post-hardcore scene tend to avoid Utah more often than not because people just don’t come out to shows like they do in bigger markets. There is an overwhelming amount of artistic talent in SLC and Provo, and some bands do well operating at a local level in that niche. I think that with the right venues, promoters, talent, and collaborative vision, Utah could turn itself into a massive hub of artistic success. The scene could be huge.

Let’s talk about your writing process. Your music is really involved and impressive technically! Major props. Do you have primary writers, or is it a more democratic writing process? 

Thanks, we definitely took some liberties in the tech department for the new album. I am the primary writer for Eidola, but everything is very democratic in the process. I come to the band with the song structure and guitar written out, usually with lyrics and melodies written as well. [Matt] Hansen constructs the drum parts around the structure and does the initial editing. Then we take it to the rest of the band and collaborate on all the other parts.

The latest album, To Speak, To Listen, is the third in what you have described as a series of concept albums. Here at Proglodytes, we delight in bombast, so we would love for you guys to explain a little bit about the different concepts of your previous albums, as well as how the latest album fits into that narrative. 

I’ve done two track by track interviews about our two most recent albums, as well as a two hour podcast for To Speak, To Listen. They all go very in depth about the trilogy and the future of the concept, so I’d recommend checking those out if you have the time. To Speak, To Listen is a very personal and practical step forward for the concept, while revisiting themes from both our previous records.
I’ve spent some time with your catalog, and I am impressed at both the subtle and the obvious differences between each album.  Did you initially start  with an overarching conceptual idea for the three, or did it sort of develop this way? How would you characterize each album sonically?

Thanks again for taking the time to listen to our catalogue. We had initial themes and concepts we wanted to explore, but the grand scheme has developed over time and experience. Sonically? The Great Glass Elephant was very exploratory. The production was pretty raw and the ideas were there, but we hadn’t quite figured ourselves out yet. We wanted to hold on to some of the Portugal. The Man, The Doors, Black Sabbath influence that we had recently come from while exploring more modern territory. Degeneraterra was the first album any of us had done with proper production, in a proper studio. Our vision was clear, our abilities had improved, and our songwriting was still experimental but a bit more honed in. Sonically that record is very chaotic and bombastic, ambitious and ravenous in a lot of ways. Our newest album To Speak, To Listen took a look at everything we’d done previously and poked at everything we could do to improve, consolidate, refine, and manifest more directly. We continued to push our technical abilities to the limit in order to write a challenging, dynamic, and concise piece of art that explores all the motifs of our past while still pushing our sound forward.

In reading through the lyrics, I notice a lot of heavy, philosophical, existential themes? What would you say are your biggest philosophical influences for the album? Would you say that you are a band that has a message to share?

Lyrically, our songs are deeply and conceptually rooted in a lot of existential themes. I would say that some of my favorite books are Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxely, Be Here Now by Ram Dass, and various subjective interpretations of The Bhagavad Gita.

On this latest album, I have to give props to your sound engineer/producer, Dryw Owens. There are numerous highly technical, polyphonous passages, and the audio production both highlights the technicality and allows the sounds to coalesce into a stream of sound. Was Dryw brought on to realize a specific, intentional sonic vision, or did the sound engineering side develop over time?

I’m going to send him this interview as soon as it’s up, haha. Dryw will be happy to hear that. We absolutely loved working with him in every capacity. It was a big project to take on sonically, and we felt like he was the perfect fit for this album. We all kind of fit together like a glove so everything seemed pretty smooth from start to finish.

I noticed you were on Blue Swan Records, which was started by Dance Gavin Dance guitarist Will Swan. I also noticed he produced your previous record. What has it been like working with Will? What do you think of the “swancore” label?

I personally love working with Will. I’ve known him for a while now; I’ve written, recorded, and toured with him. We work well together, and he’s been very good to Eidola. Personally I think the “swancore” label is just that, another label. It’s a way for people to pigeonhole a group of bands because that’s the easiest way for them to define things. I wouldn’t use the label for Eidola because I think we’re doing something very unique, even in our scene, and I don’t like over labeling things into all these sub-sub-sub genres. When you do that, you’ll have positives and negatives from all sides, people that say “oh that’s a swancore band? I need to support them immediately!” Or “ick, swancore? That’s  just a bunch of DGD rip off bullshit”. I don’t think either extreme is healthy for building a thriving artistic community. You should choose whether or not to support a band based on how they subjectively affect you and how you view their art objectively. Not by the label they’re grouped into at that point in their careers.

Finally, maybe the most important series of questions in this whole interview:

    -Would you rather live in a virtual reality where all your wishes are granted, or the real world?

The real world. I’m a glutton for punishment apparently, haha.

    -Would you rather always have shirts that are too big, or always have shirts that are too small?

I try to work out every day and treat my body right, so shirts that are too small for sure.

    -Would you rather be able to eat anywhere for free, or be able to travel anywhere for free?

Eat anywhere for free! I love food so much. It’s one of the biggest perks of touring for me, and if it were free I’d never stop trying new restaurants.

Buy Eidola’s latest album, To Speak, To Listen, here.

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