This year has seen a strong amount of outstanding albums thrilling and deeply satisfying the ear, a feast of varied and imaginative creativity from a diverse array of flavoured metal releases. One of the most impressive and stunning albums was The Ghost You Gave Me from New York based quartet 3. Expressive and inspired with pulsating veins of intense sounds and glorious melodic progressive rock/metal tracks the album is one of the year’s biggest highlights. The Ringmaster Review had the pleasure to have time with vocalist/guitarist Joey Eppard to ask him about the album and 3 themselves.
Hello and welcome to The RingMaster Review, thank you for talking time to talk to us.
Would you like to introduce the band members and tell us about the origins of 3?
Joey Eppard: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Chris “Gartdrumm” Gartmann: Drums, Backing Vocals
Billy Riker: Guitar
Daniel Grimsland: Bass
I actually started this band as a sophomore in high-school. I wanted to start a band with no boundaries that was still song based yet experimental. I was mostly interested in doing something completely different than the death metal band I was in previous to 3. We have a long and storied history of near fame but never quite getting there. We played the main stage at Woodstock ’94 along with Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and King’s X just to name a few. We were managed by Michael Lang and were the sub-plot of a movie that was ultimately a bust. We were signed to Universal Records in ’98 but it didn’t work out. We finally started releasing albums at the turn of the century. 2004’s Wake Pig garnered the attention of Brian Slagel at Metal Blade and we’ve been there ever since.
What was the trigger to make you participate in a band rather than simply being a fan and listener?
I think it’s a genetic trigger, almost all the males in my family are performing musicians. I don’t remember making a conscious choice, performing music is just as natural as breathing to me. Of course I’m a big fan of a lot of different music, but the more I take in my output becomes that much more.
Since starting as a band has the influences and inspirations for your sound changed or been added to in any distinct way?
Our inspiration is always evolving, so we chase it and see where it goes. That’s all part of the fun and what keeps us coming back to make more records. That’s why each record is very unique and also why we’re harder to pin down stylistically than most other bands.
Probably the lyrics, they actually took the most time. I’m very particular about the language in our songs. The imagery has to really flow out of the soundscape.
This is your sixth album, how has the creating process of the album differed over the years from when you first venturing into studios?
Well it used to be we’d write and rehearse and then go in and record. But now we write, record, and rehearse as we go because we have our own gear for recording. We can actually demo everything first and it helps to evolve the production to higher levels. When we’re really ready, we’ll go into a nice room (like Applehead) and cut some drums there.
Could you tell us about the writing of the songs and the changes to them if any once recording started?
Songs happen in different ways. The first few seeds began as little riffs I recorded in my living room after returning home from Progressive Nation ’08. We’d beat them into shape at rehearsals and really make compositions out of them. They eventually became “Sparrow” and “The Ghost You Gave To Me.” Some of the other tunes were truly group efforts. When we were writing “Numbers,” Gartdrumm laid down the beat, I wrote a Primus-ish little groove to it (that seems to be mistaken for bass by a lot of people), Daniel wrote the Chorus riff and Billy came up with the ending. The working title was “oh shit” for the longest time because on the demo that’s what we all simultaneously shouted when the bass kicked in against the drumbeat. It remained instrumental until the final days of mixing when I was forced to come up with the lyrics and melody before we ran out of time. It gives them a raw vitality that I really dig. The intro, “Sirenum Scopuli,” was actually the first thing I recorded when the time came to really make the record. It led directly into “React” which was one of those songs that just appeared clear as day in my mind one evening as a complete verse and chorus. In that situation I usually just run with the inspiration and try to figure out what the vocal wants in terms of guitar, and other instrumentation. Other songs like “Only Child” were born out of hours of Gartdrumm and me jamming. I would then go through everything and sort of piece together a sketch of what the song could be and we’d relearn it like that. The rest of the instruments and vocals would follow after that. On “One With the Sun” I had written and recorded the vocals and acoustic guitar first and then everything else followed. It was the same for “Afterglow” as well as “The Barrier.”
Things are constantly changing because we demo songs and sometimes demos evolve into keepers, sometimes they don’t. For example Afterglow’s demo originally had mellower vocals up front, but I decided to throw more of a rock element in to the mix and add a higher octave full voice singing the first verse.
Do you have a tried and tested way to write your songs?
My attitude is to be open to all the possibilities of how a song can come into being. Essentially… Stay out of your own way. Sometimes its melody and lyrics first, sometimes they come last. The main thing is to really listen and let your heart tell you what to do.
Has The Ghost You Gave To Me exceeded your hopes and expectations going into the studio with its impressive depth and creative energy or ended up as your envisaged all along?
I’ve learned to expect the unexpected; you never know how things will turn out in the end. There are moments that exceeded expectations, and those were basically the songs that were left to be finished at the last minute vocally and lyrically. I guess I do some of my better work under pressure.
Is there a particular track on the album that you feel really has all the essences of the band shining brightest?
I think “Numbers” is a great example of a real balance of all our musical personalities. We each added vital elements to the music, and the end result is very exciting I think. Also “Only Child” is a great example of a song that is a journey in and of itself and shows many sides of our band.
You recorded the album at Applehead Studios, what is it that this place offers that suits the band most?
Applehead has a great live room for drums. My dad actually designed and built it, so that made it extra special to record there. The head engineer there is Chris Bittner, who is really great to work with. We were also really excited to have Chris and Mike Birnbaum to mix the record once we’d finished recording.
With each album bringing more acclaim and support your way do you find you put more pressure upon yourselves for the next?
To a certain degree. We always want to make a better record than the last. The main thing though is to make a record that reflects our passion for what we do and the spirit of musical exploration that drives us forward.
You have just started a tour with Cynic around North America, what can fans expect especially from 3 on stage?
We play our hearts out no matter what. “3” live is a pretty intense experience and we win a lot of our fans on the road because of it. Sometimes seeing the music being created right there in front of you can really take it to the next level and I feel that is especially true for us. We also work hard to write sets that are entertaining and dynamic.
Any plans beyond the tour for the band?
There are several irons in the fire but we’ll have to wait to make any official announcements. We expect to be on the road quite a bit once the snow subsides.
For more info on the album and the band check out http://www.theband3.com