Halloween week is always met by some of the best shows. No matter where you live, there is almost always a great concert within a reachable radius. For the past four Halloweens, jam/electronic duo EOTO has been performing in Lawrence, Kansas, which fortunately might be turning into a tradition. Luckily, we got to catch up with Jason Hann, one of the band members, and ask him few questions while they were in town. From EOTO’s change in genre over the years to their musical influences, we made sure to get down to the nitty gritty.
The Dankles: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us tonight before your annual Halloween show in Lawrence. What makes you guys want to come back every year?
Jason Hann: I think the reason why is because it’s such a good Halloween town and kind of unique, ya know? During the day all the businesses are open on Mass Street and all the families are up, then at night it transforms- like okay all the kids are done with their stuff now it’s time for fun. It felt like something special so we just kept doing it.
TD: Do you guys have anything extra special or spooky planned for tonight?
JH: Ah extra spooky? Wow, there were a couple of things we were talking about with the projectionist, but I don’t know how much he has been able to work on it in the last few days. But yeah we have him laying out our lotus setup. So it will have to be a surprise.
TD: Speaking of your tour, it’s pretty obvious you guys don’t get a lot of down time. How has it been performing all the way through the spring, festival season, and now the fall tour?
JH: Well this fall tour is the first time where we’re playing for a particular time- like 3 days and then we fly home and we’re home for a week opposed to being on tour for two and a half months straight with a three day break. I think we’re really enjoying this more, to be able to be home more, getting alone time in. It’s not just all schedules booked in. We’re really trying to concentrate on shows and making them more packed opposed to doing shows early in the week and trying to make up for a lack of performance. We’re trying to make every show count more and have a better projection.
TD: Besides for your music, what other hobbies and interests do you have?
JH: Haha Besides music? Well, Travis really enjoys paragliding. On my side I’m a political junkie and I’ve really gotten into being active again. From working out, tennis or even running I like to stay active. As for politics, I love the games within it but I don’t especially like what it stands for. You know as far as changing things in the system or obvious lies and manipulations I just don’t agree with, but it’s fascinating to me at the same time.
TD: How long have you two known each other?
JH: we’ve known each other since 1969 very casually. But it was really in 2004 when I started going out to Colorado, for The String Cheese Incident and being apart of the band we created a stronger connection and spent a lot of time together both as a band member of Cheese and EOTO.
TD: When you decided to form EOTO as a side project of The String Cheese Incident, what was your vision?
JH: There wasn’t really a vision at the time. When we perform we don’t set anything up. Around 2007 when String Cheese was breaking up we were kind of like, well wow what are we going to do being a drummer and percussionist from String Cheese? It didn’t really make sense to put another group together that sounded like that because there was such distinctive song writers and singers in Cheese that it would be lame if we put it together like that again. But at the same time we have been jamming out on these instruments and we’ve been having a good time so lets just keep doing what were doing. So that’s when we got a little crazy with it and just wanted to see what happens with EOTO.
TD: Your influence as artists have had a big impact on music in general, who are some of your biggest influences?
JH: Oh just music in general. As far as personal music opinion there are some artists that influence us as EOTO electronically and others who are just overall influential. For me as far as creativity, Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, and Joe Zawinul (a keyboard player from the dead), all have very unique sounds. Also various types of music from different parts of the world are influential. As far as EOTO when we started out Ripper, Bassnectar, Lotus, Sound Tribe and a group called Siamese out of the northwest were inspiring. I don’t know there is so many. There is also this group called The Days who is probably one of the very few who have that improvised style like us, that’s really cool to see. They’re very euro and unique.
TD: What are some differences from when you performed as The String Cheese Incident and now when you perform as EOTO?
JH: Well besides for the obvious differences, you know String Cheese has song and lyrics that the audience really plays off of. Certain responses for different songs have developed. But with EOTO it’s so unpredictable and that plays off of audience interaction as well just in a different way. The style of music is different. Both allow everyone to have a good time. You don’t have to be more funked out than the other person, you know you don’t have to be a certain type of person to come to EOTO shows. It allows you to be yourself and be the individual you want too.
TD: Over the years the sound of EOTO has developed from electronic to dubstep, why the sudden change?
JH: The biggest thing of the switch over or reason we changed our sound a little bit is because we went to an incredible festival in Canada in 2008 called Shambhala, Shambhala is known for having a lot of international DJs and Canadian DJs and the music being worked with is beautiful. When we went in 2008, at the village stage, we saw this guy from the UK called DJ Skream, he was one of the originators of dubstep in 2000. Dubstep was only at raves and really mythotical. But Skream was one of the guys that started making more aggressive dubstep with Rusko and Caspa and we saw the set up at the village and everyone was loosing their minds. We have never seen that response before and me and Travis saw that and saw that moment and were like wow lets do that, because it wasn’t in the states yet at this time. I think when dubstep started to get really popular people would come back and listen to us and think oh you’re just trying to imitate the flavor of the day. But the day after Shambhala we were just trying to incorporate it into our music. I think we were ahead of the game. And it just took us a couple of years to really dive in.
TD: What inspired your new tour name Bass Invaders?
JH: That came up right before our tour with Kraddy, that was the first time we had a tour with another DJ and he is definitely one of those followers of glitch mob music. So that just popped into my head one day. It was very cool, and reminded me of old school video games you know stuff like that.
TD: Some might say that electronic music is being vanquished by dubstep. What do you think about that?
JH: You know I think it’s one of those things like hip-hop a lot of people just thought it was the end of music, but you know it’s just something new. It freaks a lot of people out now that it’s becoming popular. But that doesn’t mean that other music went away because of it, it just means that’s what’s at the top of the food chain. Dubstep just became almost as impactful as rock and roll or the electronic guitar- like wow it really changed everything. The kids love it and the parents hate it. I think the whole style of dubstep is taking over the younger generation.
TD: So you guys have obviously played with a ton of artists throughout your careers. Who were some of your most memorable up to this point?
JH: My dad is a guitar player, and he played with us in Key West Florida. That was probably like our favorite actual sit-in and he’s just an old school rhythm guitar player. We’ve had all the Umphrey’s McGee guys sit-in with us before. We have also had the Stomp group which is an all percussion group who uses house hold things as instruments play with us. We met them in the club and we decided to play together. They were all drummers and that was really fun and really memorable. And of course having all of The String Cheese Incident members together.
TD: What was the last show you attended that you did not play at?
JH: That’s a good question. I mean there are festivals all the time and I walk around and see people play all the time, but actually going to a show… let me think… that’s a really hard one. I went to some random cover bands in New Orleans with a friend. But this Friday DJ Gaudi who is from Italy- he’s known for incorporating reggae with dubstep, his style is super legit. And now hes mixed some underground bass music and world music together. A lot of international stuff. He is easily one of my favorite live performing DJ’s.
TD: Cool, well thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to talk with us. Any shout outs before we bring this to a close?
JH: Well, I just want to emphasize that we are live and we improvise all our performances. We’re playing live instruments and making all of our music up right there for our audience. It is a great dance vibe and just allows you to loosin up to the music and close your eyes. The music is all live and whoever appreciates it knows that we make it all up on the spot that’s how we are unique- that part of what we do is very important.