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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Interview with Shroud Eater

I recently caught up with Jeannie Saiz (guitars/vocals) of Miami alt/stoner/sludge rock trio Shroud Eater to talk about her band's latest album ThunderNoise, their diverse tastes in artwork...from puking corpses to pinup girls...and the will to overcome anything, including homelessness, to live your dreams.

Heavy Planet: Hey Jeannie, hope all is well. Congratulations on your new record ThunderNoise. Talk to me a little bit about the album…for those Heavy Planet readers who may have never heard Shroud Eater before, what can they expect?

Jeannie Saiz: Loud Fucking Music! The album is pretty aggressive, sitting somewhere sonically between Helmet, High on Fire and Kyuss, so I’ve been told.

HP: Now you guys worked with Torche's Jonathan Nunez on your 2009 self-titled EP, right? How did that collaboration come about? Was Jonathan also involved with the new album?

JS: Janette (bass) and myself, in our previous band...we had recorded an EP with Jon, and we became friends after that. We really loved his work with our old band and obviously the work he’s done, not just in Torche but many other heavy bands, so we knew right off the bat that we wanted him to help mix and master the EP. For the full-length, his touring schedule was pretty crazy so he wasn’t able to work on it.

HP: You guys are from Miami…is there a pretty tight knit music scene down there right now…particularly when it comes to stoner/doom type stuff?

JS: There is a really weird and eclectic music scene down here. Miami is NOT a city for heavy rock - most people here wanna dance and party, so there’s a big emphasis on electronic/house music, latin rock and stuff. That’s pretty popular, but there’s also more of an underground music thing that’s popping up now which is pretty rad. There is a tight knit community amongst the punk and hardcore scenes, but really stoner/doom/sludge is not particularly prevalent. As of late we have turned our warehouse rehearsal space into a DIY venue to host shows for ourselves and bring sludge and doom bands in from out of town, so we are trying to get more people turned on to this music.

HP: I understand your drummer Felipe Torres spent some time out west and was actually homeless for a stretch. I assume this was prior to his time in Shroud Eater? How did you hook up with him?

JS: Yeah Felipe came to the U.S. from Colombia and lived here in Florida for a bit. He got the itch to go out west so he rented a U-Haul with all of his shit and hit the road. He had a hard time finding work at first, and spent a few months playing drums on Venice Beach to make money, and basically lived out of his truck. He’s a lucky guy and very resourceful and eventually from drumming on the beach he met some people who got him work. He’s got awesome stories of meeting rock stars out in L.A., everyone from Gene Hoglan to Robert Trujillo. Anyway, he jammed with a few bands out there but it wasn’t really his thing, and a lot of his family was here in Florida so he ended up coming back. I think about 6 months or so after he returned we made contact through a Craigslist ad and jammed, and basically that’s how we hooked up and started making music.

HP: So both ThunderNoise and the self-titled EP have some really cool artwork, with sort of a Night of the Living Dead meets Charles Schulz thing going on. You do all of the band's artwork, isn't that right? Do you do other stuff besides the album covers? Where can we check out some of your work?

JS: Yeah I do all of the artwork at the moment, and thank you for the kind words! Basically band-related things are the only outlet I have now for my artwork. Besides album covers, tee shirts and things, I also try my hardest to do hand-drawn flyers for our shows and tours, or other people’s albums, shows and tours should they ask for my help. I don’t really have a website or anything with my artwork, although Janette has been literally hassling me everyday to do just that.

HP: And I'm told your bass player Janette is a pin-up photographer? Seems like Shroud Eater is quite the eclectic trio. Where can we check out some of Janette's photography?

JS: Yeah we have a lot of things going on beyond band stuff. Janette started doing pin-up themed photography like 5 or 6 years ago here in Miami. She’s worked her ass off and has a kick-ass photo studio (in the same building where we practice!) and has a team of ladies that do all the era-themed hair and makeup. It’s pretty funny because she runs this business that’s totally girly, all pink and polka dots and make-up and it’s like the diametrical opposite of what we’re doing musically. A lot of her clients get all excited when she tells them she’s in a band - everyone expects her to play rockabilly or like girly music, then they check us out and they’re floored. Lately she’s also been trying to photograph more bands just to diversify what she does - she recently did Torche’s new press photos! You can check out Janette’s work at www.terriblygirly.com.

HP: I have to ask, what was the inspiration behind the name Shroud Eater (which is a great name by the way)?

JS: I was checking my email one morning and I saw this story about a 15th century skeleton found in an archeological dig in Venice. The thing is, the skeleton had a brick shoved into its mouth, which, at the time meant that the corpse was thought to be a “Shroud Eater” - a corpse who kills the living through disease and pestilence from the grave. It was such a macabre and gruesome sounding story, and I thought the name Shroud Eater was pretty cool, so it stuck. Plus, every band name that you can think of is already taken, and Shroud Eater was not, so that totally sealed the deal.

HP: So what's next for the band? Any big touring plans for the Spring/Summer months?

JS: We are touring in March with our buds in HOLLOW LEG - we’re moving through St. Augustine, FL, then Atlanta, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, with one date still pending! Otherwise we have a slew of local shows, including the “You Are Doomed” Fest in Orlando on April 23rd. I’d like to start booking a longer east coast tour that would take us up through New York, but that would be for later on in the Summer.

HP: Well I don't know if you've heard or not, but Heavy Planet is doing a big music tournament right now, pitting 64 of the coolest stoner/doom/sludge bands against each other and allowing fans to vote for their favorites. Shroud Eater is matched up against Borracho, a band from my town Washington, DC. Make sure you update all of your social media sites and get your fans over to Heavy Planet to vote you guys into the second round!

JS: Definitely! And thank you for including us!

HP: Hey listen Jeannie, thanks a lot for your time and good luck with ThunderNoise and all of the other projects you guys have going on. Hopefully we'll see you on the road in the near future.

For those of you in the southern states, keep your eyes peeled for upcoming Shroud Eater shows in a town near you and be sure to check out their latest album ThunderNoise.

3/19/11 - Ft. Lauderdale, Fl - The Dive Bar
3/22/11 - St. Augustine, Fl - Stay True Tattoo
3/23/11 - Atlanta, Ga - Highland Inn Ballroom Lounge
3/25/11 - Baton Rouge, La - Here Today Gone Tomorrow Thrift
3/26/11 - New Orleans, La - Siberia
4/08/11 - Ft. Lauderdale, Fl - The Monterey Club
4/14/11 - Miami, Fl - Beelzebub's Cave
4/23/11 - Orlando, Fl - Will's Pub
5/06/11 - Miami, Fl - Beelzebub's Cave
5/19/11 - Miami, Fl - Chum Bucket

Band Members:

Jeannie Saiz - Guitars/Vocals
Janette Valentine - Bass
Felipe Torres - Drums

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