The local music landscape has bloomed into full flower within the past decade or so with a smorgasbord of styles to satisfy every palate. But what happens when you have four young performers with very different musical backgrounds coming together to present a style unlike anything you have heard before? You get Earth Radio (Jani Duerr - vocals/guitar; Joanna Osborne - vocals; Jay Jolly - bass; Dan Lord III - drums), whose debut EP “We Built a Mountain” hits the public on October 19, and a sound that rumbles the dance floor, yet still contains a maturity to hold it all together. To see them live is to watch four performers playing as if the stage was white hot. They dance, they jangle, they wheel, and they bounce, giving an undeniable feeling of how much fun they are having and how much they enjoy playing with each other. We took a few minutes before one of their sets at 1984 in Wilmington, Delaware, to talk about the band, how it came together, their influences, and their forthcoming EP:
First things first. Tell us about the album.
Jani Duerr: It’s called “We Built a Mountain” and it’s actually an EP, but it’s a pretty lengthy one. It’s like a six or seven song EP and it’s a lot of music that we’ve been playing for the past year, so people who come to our shows will recognize the songs on it.
Joanna Osborne: But these songs have a lot of featured local musicians on them so they are jazzed up a little bit. A lot different than what you hear live.
JD: Should we say who is on it?
JO: Yeah, we have A.J. DiBiase from Tweed, Charlie Fields from Pet Cheetah, we have Danielle Johnson and Chelsea Grant from Hoochi Coochi, Sarah Koon, Isaac Gaston, and we also have Sam Nobles, who helped us record it and do a couple different instruments on it.
Jay Jolly: Sam Nobles is also our producer for that album, He’s been absolutely instrumental, no pun intended, producing this album. He played a lot of instruments in the studio and has been a huge asset to us in this. These songs are all of our kind-of hits from the past year, all of the "bangers," if you will, but re-done, amped up, and with added instruments...it’s going to be fresh to your ears, but it’s going to feel right at home.
That begs the question: What actually inspired you to lay tracks down and make an album?
JD: Oh my gosh, we just needed one. Everyone kept asking for stuff and the only thing we had recorded at the time was just the three of us in Dan’s living room. It was just some songs and it sounded okay, but we were thinking we need to actually put some money aside to record something. (pause) That’s a really crappy answer...(laughs)
JJ: Yeah, we saved up some gig money. That’s how a responsible band does it (all laugh). We put it towards recording and all the important stuff. We showed up for a professional recording session in Philadelphia and it’s been amazing. We’ve been working with amazing producers and engineers to get this done and we’re excited. This is our first release of many.
What do you plan to do as far as promotions for the EP?
JD: Run around naked in Newark!
That will get you attention.
JO: And Jani’s been doing some really amazing social media campaigning, because he’s a genius.
JD: Yeah, but after that, I don't know, but what’s really interesting is that we actually paired the people we are going to play with with people who actually helped us on the album. So, Sarah Koon and Hoochi Coochi are playing with us at the album release show on October 19, at 1984. Both of those musicians and people in those bands have recorded with us on the album.
Dan Long III: We’re excited to go promoting on the Hometown Heroes show on WSTW with Mark Rogers the weekend before.
How did Earth Radio come together?
JO: Very, very organically, and very slowly as well. It started with just Jani and I. Well, it started with just Jani...
JD: Yeah, I was just going to do street busking and I was looking for a female singer to harmonize with so someone shot me to Joanna. And then we just started, we had a thing going on, and we were just playing in the woods singing hillbilly music. Then we realized we need a drummer. Dan had just recently separated from Weekday Warriors. So it was like, "Oh, my God, we have to attack him!"
JO: We roped him in.
JD: We had that thing going on for a minute and then we decided very quickly that we needed a bass section because our music was missing the meat even though the music is vegan and organic. We were missing the meat. .
JJ: The umami.
JD: (laughing) Yes we were missing the umami! I want that in there, yeah - and so Jay came in and brought the umami.
What styles influenced you as individual musicians/performers ?
JD: Oh, maybe we should go around saying who's our inspiration?
DL: I feel like it’s cool because we all have different musical backgrounds and we all draw from different inspirations. I’m mostly like a jazz drummer, so that’s really my focus, and that’s sort of what I bring to the band. I played in a Hip Hop group for a long time, too, and so I love The Roots, and I really love the Wu Tang Clan, so I feel like I bring that aspect, you know?
JJ: I first started playing music in a classic rock cover band for a while. Led Zeppelin is really close to my heart, so I try to emulate (Led Zeppelin bassist) John Paul Jones as much as I can.
JO: I grew up in choir so I’ve always had an ear and love of hearing a layering of voices on each other, but my vocal influence really stems from hearing people like Fleet Foxes.
JD: I come from the folk world, so Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan all that. But, Bjork sits on one shoulder and Bobby Dylan sits on the other. And that’s my life.
JJ: And we haven’t mentioned anything about Fleetwood Mac.
JO: Oh, yeah...
JD: That’s probably our most compared-to band.
JJ: People have told us we are the modern Fleetwood Mac, maybe mix a little Lumineers in there or something, so you've got that vintage sound that's somewhat modernized, you know?
Let's step back a bit. What was either the first album you bought or the first concert you attended?
JO: My first concert was an Ingrid Michaelson concert. She's great. I had a great time. She’s a singer/songwriter and I love her.
JJ: My first concert was the Fleet Foxes. It was right after their first album and they were releasing their second one, Sun Giant, and that was a really great time to see them. They killed it. It was in Philly and it was awesome. It was with my best friend. A great time.
DL: My first concert was when the Foo Fighters and Weezer went on tour together and they called it the Foozer and the Wee Fighters Tour (all laugh).
JD: My first concert - that I remember - was Killswitch Engage, and I was actually one of those kids that was crowd surfing. I lost, like, half of my clothing. I was 16 years old...I don’t know how I survived my teenage years.
How many songs are going to be on the EP?
JD: Six. I would say six because the seventh track is actually a reprise of the first song and its just an instrumental, so...
DL: Well, it’s not completely an instrumental...
JD: Well, yeah, I guess its 6.5...
JO: No one’s ever heard it.
JD: It’s a magical.... little tidbit. You would have to buy the album to find out what it is.
Depending on which album you pick up, it can have six or seven songs on it?
JD: That’s a good way to put it.
JO: (laughs) Every album will have seven songs.
JJ: Yeah, if you buy it, you're going to have seven. We’re only going to have, streaming for free, the six songs, but even if you buy it off of Spotify, or iTunes, or anything like that, you’re going to have all seven.
We Built a Mountain, by Earth Radio, will be available on October 19, at the EP release party at 1984, located at 2511 W 4th Street in Wilmington, Delaware, with special guests Hoochi Coochi and Sarah Koon. It will be a 21+ event, with a $5.00 cover, beginning at 10pm. Come out to support local music in Earth Radio's inimitable style, and be prepared to dance, jangle, wheel, and bounce, with this very talented band that is just beginning to peak.