Eidolons: Perspective from the Basement

How I know them:

Well, I’m going to be honest with you. This is more like friends of friends with benefits. Joe Katz, darling that he is, gave his buddy, guitarist Sam Wenc, my email and a wink. Next thing I know, I’m blasting Eidolons and wishing I was in Portland, OR so I could become actual friends with these guys.

Eidolons ( pronounced: eye-doh-lons) is four Portland-based guys: Dan Byers (guitar, vocals), Sam Wenc (guitar, pedal steel), Kyle Moderhak (drums) and Ian Wollman (bass). They play indie music, but they’re really hoping someone will call their sound “croony basement rock,” so let’s be that someone. A band for about three years now, these northwestern charmers have wasted no time. 

They’ve released an EP and two albums all by themselves and all for free. The album released at the beginning of the summer, Skyhook, was recorded by friend of the band, Mac Pogue, in the comfort of their basement.

The band would like you to know that their music is free and guess what? You get a free download with a Baskin Robin’s purchase. They’d also like to me to inform you that they’re not associated with any frozen yogurt establishments, but “they music’s free, so you can enjoy it with a chill cone. Also, its pretty decent.” For dairy’s sake or for the sake of songs, the choice is yours.

They quit their jobs, graduated college, cleaned aquariums, sold cars, got coffee for lawyers and traveled to the western provinces of China before deciding it was time to hit the road and take their music beyond Portland. They’ve just completed a cross-country tour – hitting everything from Boise, ID to Missoula, MT, to NYC. They met up with their buddies, Big Hush, for a few shows on the East Coast. Take a look at their tour blog and check out the daytrotter session they did during their cross-country adventures.

Now, they’re back and rocking the Pacific Northwest, namely Portland, where they had their first show a week after they stared practicing together (see what I mean about wasting no time?).

They’re also working on a live recording that’s coming out later in the year via Banana Stand Media and they have a series of EPs in the works that should take a bit different form than previous releases. The first of which has a working title of “Hard Hang in a Deep Country.”

For the moment, they’re also working on building up their fan base, like so many emerging artists. So far so good, though. Sam said in an interview, while on tour in Washington DC, “Someone once threw a beer at our drummer while we were playing. So, maybe that says something about how many people like us. It wasn’t meant to be a gift, either, since whoever threw it opened it first.”

All attention is good attention? Maybe the beer quarterback in the audience just thought Ian needed a frosty beer coating because his drumming so hot? Maybe people get drunk at shows and throw shit? Either way, perspective is everything and its important to just go with it when you have to. It’s kind of like that time that they had a strobe light for one of their basement shows a while ago. Sounded like a good plan, until everyone got a stomach ache and they had to turn it off.

https://www.facebook.com/eidolonsmusicIf at first you don’t succeed, shut the strobe light off and break out the Tums. It’s just important not to limit yourself. Eidolons’s drafted their sound off this ideal. They look up to bands that refuse to attach limits to their brand of music-making – bands like, Yo La Tengo, Deerhoof, Women, Big Star, Wipers and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. They also get inspiration from their friends’ band, like music, such as The Mucks, Modern Marriage, Big Hush, and Jeremy Lee Faulkner.

Sam said, “We try to explore a spectrum between sweet music and tense noise and we’re influenced by a lot of different sounds ranging from silky-smooth gospel of Pastor T.L. Barrett to sludgy punk of Naomi Punk. Actually, I dunno.”

What Sam does know is that he loves touring, although its not all sunshine and puppy dogs. I asked him to tell Thought Pollution about his worst night as a band. Here’s his story:

“I think the worst night we’ve ever had was after we played in Phoenix last summer. We had arrived in the city at 7 a.m. that day and it was already over 90 degrees out. I don’t know how anyone can survive in that city without dying of dehydration. Anyway, we went to a public pool, but the water was at least 80 degrees, so we ended up walking around the empty streets like sweaty zombies. Eventually, we gave up and napped in a bar until the venue opened. The show was great, but when we finished the sky had turned green and a dust storm had rolled in. We didn’t have a place to stay and wanted to get the hell out anyway, so we just drove through the night to Albuquerque. That was probably the worst night, sitting in a tiny van crammed full of people and musical equipment, while everyone was cranky and hot and weirded out.

Bummer. Man stank and small spaces never seem to work out. But, this band is all about perspective (beer showers don’t always mean “we hate you get off the stage” – right?).  Sam left me with this:

“Despite what I just said, I’ve also had the most fun driving at night. There’s something peaceful about that time when nobody’s on the road but the truckers in their huge semis and us in our shitty van. After the final show of our tour last summer, we decided to drive through the night from Denver back to Portland. I was driving through the Columbia River Gorge as the sun was about to rise, listening to some crazy Sun Ra tune and soaking in the Oregon landscape. That was definitely one of my favorite nights, even if the rest of the band was asleep.”

See what I mean about wanting to go become actual friends with these guys? They make good music, they have perspective and hey – did you read the part about the frozen yogurt? C’mon. These guys are definitely a band to keep an eye on. At this pace, they should be sure to hit their 5-year-dream-goal of doing a cantina tour along the Florida panhandle with a residency at Boca Raton, or maybe go on our with this cool band, 16 Minutes from Beijing, China.

For more information on Eidolons, check out their Bandcamp or Facebook.

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