earthtone9: “We wanted to strip off some of the fat and change things up”

By on 11 April 2013


With the release of ‘IV’, earthtone9‘s first full length album in 13 years, Darren Sadler spoke to frontman Karl Middleton to find out what’s driven them to produce some of the best material of their career.

At what point did you decide that you were going to make a new album?
We had a couple of unfinished songs from the ‘For Cause & Consequence’ writing sessions that we thought had great potential. We decided to finish them and see where it led. The songs sounded really good and we thought we had more in us creatively speaking and that committing to writing an album would give us the scope to explore all the musical facets that make us what we are rather than the limitation of a four or six track release.

When did you get the bug back after so long?
As soon as we started rehearsing for the 2010 Sonisphere show it reminded us of how much we enjoy playing our songs. 

Was the ‘For Cause & Consequence’ EP a catalyst?
Writing for the EP made us realise that we have strong creative chemistry and we should keep working together because it’s fun.

What has inspired you this time around – musically and lyrically?
The overriding inspiration was the desire to prove that we could better everything that we’ve done before; focus on keeping the material high energy and inject some positivity into the lyrics. Metal tends to focus on the negative elements of life and I wanted to bring some hope and thankfulness to the table this time round.   

What hopes and aspirations do you have for ‘IV’?
We’ve made a great metal influenced heavy rock album that stands head and shoulders above our previous releases. I want as many people as possible to hear the album, enjoy it and spread the word about the return of ET9.

After the names of the previous albums, ‘IV’ is rather more straight-ahead…
Yeah, we wanted to get away from some of the things we’d done before; to strip off some of the fat and change things up. We’ve done the abstract titles thing to death and wanted to keep it direct and simple this time around.

What have you got to say as a band in 2013?
Plenty dude. We’ve got killer riffs, grooves, and great songs. 

How surprised were you that your fans have stayed with you enough not only to raise cash to record an EP but also a full-length album a decade after you split up?
We are stoked that we still have a hardcore fanbase that actively supports the band and have enabled us to keep recording and releasing music. It’s amazing and we are incredibly grateful. 

A decade ago ET9 were renowned for big beards and Karl’s ‘clingfilm’ outfit at The Lost Weekend at Docklands Arena in 2000. Looking back at that time, how was it for you? to what extent were ET9 slightly ahead of the time in terms of beard rock?
Beard rock?!? Is that really a genre?? It was an exciting time, we were able to be a full time band for a couple of years and it was great for a while. We toured with some great bands, met cool people and visited new places. The downside was we tried to do too much, too quickly with too few resources and it killed the band.  

In the halcyon days of underground Brit rock and metal – a scene that incorporated Medulla Nocte, Raging Speedhorn, Charger – to what extent do you think ET9 were leading the pack of a burgeoning and unique vibe in the UK? What happened?
Aye, there were many great bands around at that time. All of us were really different stylistically and it was exciting to be a part of it. We (ET9) never thought of ourselves as leading it though. I have no idea what happened dude. I guess that not enough people bought the albums that were released by these bands and eventually they all gave up the ghost. 

How do you think that has changed now – where do ET9 sit?
I’m not sure it has changed. UK bands get talked up by the UK press every now and then but that media interest rarely translates to album sales. We are avoiding being sucked into that world. We’ve made a record for our fans, we put a shitload of hard work into the songs it sounds great. Whatever happens beyond this is out of our control.

What has changed for ET9 – you’re older, more mature…
We’re more tolerant of each other I suppose. We give each other more space and there’s more trust. It’s a cliché but I’ve known these guys for over 15 years, they’re family to me. 

You spent years in the back of a van – how do you look back on those times? Would you do it all again?
They were eventful times, let’s just say that, haha. I think about it fondly now but I’ve done it once, I have no desire to revisit those days. I’m all about looking forwards.

What regrets do you have and why?
None dude. We had and continue to have a great time doing what we do. We made some mistakes and the band fell apart but all the shit stuff makes what we’re doing now all the sweeter. 

To stream ‘IV’ in full or to buy a physical or digital copy, head here.

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