Los Angeles’ rock outfit Tombstones in Their Eyes have announced the upcoming ‘Fear’ EP, to be released via Send Me Your Head Records. With this five-track release, the four-piece manage to embrace a wide range of influences, from the stoner rock of Kyuss to the warped neo- psychedelia of the likes of Spacemen 3 to the cavernous and doom-laden sounds of Electric Wizard and beyond.
Tombstones In Their Eyes’ current line-up is John Treanor (guitar, vocals, keyboards, songwriter), Josh Drew (guitar, backing vocals), Mike Mason (bass, guitar) and Stephen Striegel (drums). Their musical influences include The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Elliott Smith and The Melvins.
Recorded at L.A.’s Kitten Robot Studio with Paul Roessler (Nina Hagen, The Deadbeats, The Screamers, 45 Grave), this EP follows up their huge sounding ‘Bad Clouds’ EP (2016) and debut album ‘Sleep Forever’ (2014.
The band began life as a demo swapping exercise between John Treanor in L.A. and his childhood friend James Cooper, now in New York, but soon coalesced into a full fledged band. But collectives are always more than what you see on the surface. In John’s case, writing and performing songs is also a way of dealing with severe anxiety and depression, a way of talking about the subject without being the centre of the conversation, and a way of being subliminal rather than direct.
While such a starting point could easily see the music devolve into melancholy and self-absorption, here Tombstones in Their Eyes instead manage to move beyond that place and create music laced with celestial grandeur and a fuzzed out psychedelic majesty that looks out into the universe just as much as it looks inward toward the soul.
We spoke to frontman John Treanor about everything Tombstones.
Hi John. Please tell us about your new album.
This new EP is a bit of a change, in some ways. I Want To Fly, Separate and Fear are sort of different than a lot of the other stuff I’ve written. Trying new sounds, new pedals, new song structures. I wanted a bit more drone, so that’s where the song Fear came from. Always There and Another Day were older songs from the demo stash, but fit in with the newer stuff. It’s another step in the evolution of this band.
Tell us about one or some of your favourite creations to date?
Really, the Tombstones In Their Eyes stuff is the most dialed in I’ve ever felt. The other bands I’ve been in have been fun, but these songs are where the real stuff came pouring out. A lot of that has to do with my musical compatriot, James, who doesn’t play with us who provides encouragement, and helps me pick out what’s good and refine it. So, the answer would be: the recent Tombstones stuff – the Bad Clouds EP and the new Fear EP.
Tell us about an event from the life of your musical project that we don’t know about?
It’s been a while since I was on the road, but one favorite memory from those days was playing pinball with Sonic Boom in Saarbrucken, Germany back in 1988. I was so out of it I kept banging my head on the glass of the Kiss pinball machine. I was a huge fuck up of a young man, haha! These days, not so much. A more recent memory also involves over-consumption of a different sort. While trying to quit smoking, I didn’t realize that nicotine gum could be a problem, so was chewing the 4MG ones like candy. It created a massive amount of anxiety to where I literally felt like killing myself one day. I went down to the basement and picked up a guitar, out of desperation, and a pretty decent song came out in one fell swoop, complete. (My Head is Fighting Me, from our first record Sleep Forever). It was super healing and got me out of that one. Sorry for the long anecdote, haha – feel free to cut.
What inspires you to create the music you create?
The whole cycle of songs written over the past few years was informed quite heavily by a long bout with depression, something I’d never experienced before. So, during that period, I churned out tons of demos with James. It was really helpful, but the material was dark! During that time I was listening to a lot of Brian Jonestown Massacre, Built To Spill, Dandy Warhols, Love, Electric Wizard, this great, fairly unknown shoe-gazy band Guitaro, Sleepy Sun, Woods, The Black Angels, The Great Northwest, Catherine Wheel. A lot of other stuff, too, of course, but those are some of the mainstays.
Which song (by someone else) do you wish you had written yourself?
So many! Tough question. Let’s go with Old Man by Neil Young.
If you had to describe your sound as some kind of food, what would it be?
Sad potato chips. Haha. No, maybe a morose hamburger. More filling.
What’s next for you? What are you planning in the near future?
More recording. We record with a brilliant local musical icon – Paul Roessler. The process is so much more relaxed than anywhere I’ve ever recorded so I want to keep doing it while we’re on a roll!
Apart from making music and performing, what kinds of things are you into?
I’m pretty tame these days. As I get older, I don’t spend as much time in clubs, etc. A lot of hanging out with our dogs and cats (we have a lot of ‘em). A lot of reading. Work, unfortunately, but I am an IT consultant and work with a lot of very nice, cool people, so that’s not so bad. I listen to a lot of music.
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