DREAMPOP BASELINE: Eros And The Eschaton

Eros by Elizabeth Lemon

The NC neo-shoegaze band is looking for a place they can go where nobody knows them—but you’ll know their expansive-yet-intimate music, mark our words.

BY JOHN SCHACHT

We don’t often think of rock & roll as a family affair, unless we’re remembering the brothers Davies or Gallagher beating the tar out of each other. But for North Carolina transplants Kate Perdoni and Adam Hawkins making a family, music and a band have been inseparable.

The two former members of the Omaha indie music scene formed Eros and the Eschaton around the duo’s meeting, falling in love, moving in together, having a child and hitting the road —all in short order. Their sonically mature debut, Home Address for Civil War (Bar/None), chronicles the growth of their family as much as it does band the band and its music. It’s no accident the first thing you hear on the driving and jagged-edged opener “Different Days” is their young son Amilio’s gurgling cries.

“We started off writing songs when our child was very young, just a couple months old, and a lot of the themes are just about that continuity and deciding how we wanted to raise our family and deciding what’s best for us and our child,” says Perdoni, who plays drums, keys and sings. “So the LP really runs the gamut from exploring our relationship, and our love, and our relationship with our son, and our relationship with the world.”

That’s a lot of territory, but the duo handles it deftly in 10 songs that take the aural wallpaper textures of Beach House and gooses them with Jesus & Mary Chain fuzz, propulsive rhythms, and My Bloody Valentine feedback. The songs crackle with grit and urgency, which is quite a change-up for Pedroni, who previously toured the country singing acoustic political songs, and Hawkins, who played polished and down-tempo indie pop with his Omaha band, It’s True.

“They were all songs about heartbreak and sadness and that was something I was definitely looking to get away from and do something a little more primal and a little sloppier,” Hawkins says of It’s True. “We strained so hard to try and get on a label and have all these exciting things happen — and a lot of really great things did happen and it was a lot of fun — but it was just so much strain that it was wringing the life out of it.”

That was 2009, and within a year almost anything that could change, did change. According to Perdoni, the two met in May of 2010, toured the next month, moved in together in July, got pregnant in August, and had Amilio within a year of their meeting. The nascent family soon left their familiar Midwest territory in a Toyota Huntsman motor home for an open-ended tour that hit 18 states before pulling up in Greensboro, N.C.

“We played 30-some shows from Iowa to Maine and then down the coast, with the idea in mind that we would find a place to settle along the way to record an album together,” Perdoni, remembers. Their son was six months old, but took to the road like a champ. They’d originally intended to keep going to South Carolina, but “when we found Greensboro and met some of the people there and played a couple shows, we really liked it — the locals in the music scene made our landing very smooth.”

They quickly found a suitable house just outside the city in a rural area, built a home-studio and were soon recording whenever Amilio’s sleeping habits allowed.  But as much as Greensboro and the Fates had embraced them, the move itself is what signaled the duo’s transformation.

“We were thinking of a place we can go where we don’t really know anybody, where we could just do our own thing and create a band that wasn’t going to sound like anything we’d done before,” Perdoni says. “Living in a new place has really allowed us to just go hog-wild in that aspect and unleash any kind of creativity that we might’ve not felt comfortable doing in an atmosphere where people were familiar with what we’d been doing at the time.”

Once they settled in, the duo posted two un-mastered singles they’d recorded previously in an Omaha church, which caught the ear of Bar/None Records. Things were moving so fast the band didn’t even have a name for their first local shows after a cease-and-desist order from a former member of the 4 Non Blondes forced them to drop their Neil Young-inspired moniker, Golden Hearts.

As suggested by the epic track “Terence McKenna,” which uses Spector-like drum thunder and coruscating guitars to build to its explosive “We’ve got nothing but time” chorus, it wasn’t pure happenstance that they landed on the new name Eros and the Eschaton. The title of a notable McKenna lecture, the talk captures the author, psilocybin advocate and higher consciousness chaser’s search for a truer way of living in concert with nature and our own potential, free from the constraints imposed by unexamined social mores —seeing through The Matrix, if you like.

“One of McKenna’s flagship ideas was breaking free from the molds and cultural programming,” Perdoni insists. “Obviously we’re a family that takes our young son on the road, we play music all the time, we lead a different lifestyle than a lot of our friends that have kids and we’ve really made it work. It’s just who we are. We would have done it child or no child. It’s comforting for me to know that life is what you make it, and you are the author of your own life story.”

Indeed, the band’s stated approach to Home Address for Civil War — a title born of an auto-correct text screw-up — sounds almost like McKenna (who died in 2001) could’ve penned it. The record’s lo-fi grit and immediacy wasn’t necessarily what the two set out to achieve. It was, instead, the organic outcome of letting the song’s themes —and Amilio’s sleep schedule —tell them what worked and what didn’t.

“Adam’s taught me a lot while we worked on this album about finding these unique spaces and places for individual sounds and frequencies to sit,” Perdoni says. “Just looking at it like a cosmos, like a planetary system, and all the sounds almost orbit around a similar feeling or theme that you may or may not ever be able to put your finger on. But the whole thing together creates that whole solar system of sound.”

The sound was also dictated by the rudimentary equipment they first started with, including a couple of “shitty” mics, an old Fender practice amp, and a drum set cobbled together from Perdoni’s high school and first rock bands that her parents drove out from Iowa. Upgrading some instruments as they went along and recording through ProTools to a Mac, the duo produced a richly textured set. Shimmering organs wash over melodies both wistful and joyous, propelled by insistent bass drums or shuffling traps, guitars adding to the lyricism or cutting through it like buzzsaws. Most songs lead to grand choruses, the alto voices of Pedroni and Hawkins fitting snuggly inside each other like a mini-choir.

For a band taking on a sound that’s new to both its members, the record sounds remarkably self-assured, as though Eros and the Eschaton had been plumbing this style for a lot longer. Maybe most impressive is what it suggests about the band’s future.

“Those are the first 10 songs we wrote together,” Hawkins says. “I’m really excited to see, now that we have those baselines in place, where we can go from here.”

[Photo Credit: Elizabeth Lemon]

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