Interview with Laird Sheldahl, Rian Callahan, and Tanner Volz of Thine Eyes at their home in Portland, OR on 10/29/95.

Jester: How did Thine Eyes originally form being spread out between Eugene and Portland, Oregon as you were in the beginning?

Laird: Tanner and I lived in the same dorm in college and after awhile we kind of pulled in more people. I knew Rian from high school. Jen and I were going out at the time, she was down in California.

Jester: Was it difficult in the beginning distance wise prior to everyone moving to Portland?

Tanner: Eugene is two hours by car which is really not that long. The way the collaboration worked with Rian because he was the only one who was separated from us. He would work with us more at a conceptual level than in the studio at first.

Laird: Jen was often not around as well. Thine Eyes has always seemed to be a two person project with four actual members. A different two people working together at various times.

Jester: How did you meet Ken at Arts Industria to release "Thread"?

Laird: I sent demos to every single magazine I could find. Most of the magazines had a list of contacts and I sent out more copies to those contacts as well. I sent Ken a demo after seeing the first copy of Arc, which was called Burn at that point. He wanted to release it. It was kind of surprising considering the type of sound he was working on for his music. It worked out really great. He did an excellent job on the artwork.

Jester: Did you get a lot of positive response back since its your only release you've had?

Laird: And a pretty small release at that. We got a pretty strong response back.

Rian: We also got a lot of feedback from the demo. The demo almost got as much positive response because "Thread" was such a small release and because Laird sent out so many copies of the demo to so many magazines. Probably about the same amount of press.

Laird: More personal response rather than labels knocking on our door telling us that they really enjoyed it and wanted to sign us. Stuff like, "Can you send me another copy of your demo, I've worn out my copy." Send us $3000 and we'll release a CD!

Jester: With "Thread" now being out of print, have that pushed you in the direction of trying to release the new album?

Laird: We have been trying to release "Stares in Ruin" for almost a year and a half now.

Tanner: After the release of "Thread" we decided that the new release really needed to be on CD because the quality dictates that kind of sound.

Rian: I've really gotten to the point of skepticism at every label that comes along and tells us that they want to release our album.

Tanner: The latest is Codex Records out of Germany. The want to release the album in February, but we'll believe it when we see it.

Laird: We're kind of at the point of not trusting the label until we are holding the release in our hands.

Jester: Have you been keeping yourself busy and in contact with your fan base with the various compilations you've appeared on? The two Arts Industria compilations, and the RAS DVA quadruple CD. Rain: We've gotten response back from the RAS DVA compilation. Tanner &

Laird: Have we?

Rian: We just starting getting mail last week about it.

Laird: Well thanks for letting me know. The great thing about this band is that we have this extensive interpersonal relationship between the members. (laughter)

Tanner: We we're supposed to be on Heavenly Voice III. I even visited and talked to the guys, but that never materialized. I finally found a copy of the CD and we were not on it.

Laird: At this point we're really gearing up to release an entire album's worth of material on CD. We're supposed to be yet another compilation "Sideline" which we sent out a DAT for over a year ago.

Tanner: I think we really need to get the band going again emotionally and to actually having a product.

Jester: Do you feel in any way restrained by not having a live show?

Laird: I think that there is enough support in out scene for people to get excited about our music without having a live performance. We're certainly get asked about that a lot.

Tanner: I think locally we do get a lot of support. I think outside of our area, press doesn't focus on live performances because we can't tour nationally. Locally there might be enough support that we might eventually do a performance.

Jester: Are you going to stay primarily a studio band like a large portion of this genre now days?

Laird: Absolutely.

Tanner: If we have a live show, it would not be a concert in the normal sense. Something where we wouldn't be the visual focus.

Rian: With this kind of music when you release a CD, it's like having a book. It's not a live thing that people can take home. It might be more of touring to go around and talk about the band, like record singings, that sort of thing.

Laird: We've has out music played out a few times. We've put on electronic music concerts and had DAT's played. We've had pieces of music played at various music festivals. However they were more of an academic environment rather than a concert.

Jester: We talked earlier about "Equis" a local production which you scored music for. Could you elaborate more about it?

Laird: We have a friend who stayed here with us while looking for a house who was playing the part of a horse in a local production of "Equis". He mentioned that the director wanted music. So a few weeks before we contacted her to get ideas about the music she wanted to here. She had all these great ides for the music that she wanted for the play. She really wants other media in her work which is perfect for us. So we sat down and wrote some music and she went along with everything we did. So I go to every performance with another person and press play on various tapes throughout the play. It was really strange music. The play itself is also very strange. The play is about a little boy who builds his own religion and sexuality around horses, kind of sick and twisted. The music is kind of sick and twisted. So it was perfect and it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed presented our music in that sort of fashion instead of in a live performance. I think it suits our style of music better.

Rian: It doesn't put the pressure on us as personalities.

Jester: Have you thought about releasing that work on a CD because you put so much work into it?

Laird: If we can get this contract with Tone Casualties we'll release it. We'll probably rework all the songs for more of an album format as opposed to the soundtrack for a play. We've dealt with the third person at Tone Casualties. The previous two have been fired for various reasons, one ever went to court. They are under legal obligations to not discuss why they left the company.

Rian: So we're a little tense about this ever being released.

Laird: However they are an animation firm. We'd really like to get out foot in the door in the Hollywood animation industry. On one hand we're a little scared, but on the other we're very excited.

Tanner: They have a very good history with animation. They done Duckman, they were the first to work with the Simpson's, they are doing a show for CBS now. Apparently they are very interested in out stuff for soundtrack type purposes. It is kind of a long range goal for us to be scoring soundtracks.

Jester: How much of your time to you spend concerned primarily with writing and composing you music?

Tanner: It depends. Different weeks are different amounts. For Laird he was practically doing nothing but music prior to the play.

Laird: For the two weeks prior to the play I was constantly making and forming sounds.

Rian: We all work such different schedules that it's hard to find a single quality times for us to all work together.

Laird: When we're going to school we used to spend 15-20 hours a week in the studio.

Jester: How is Thine Eyes with the loss of your fourth member?

Tanner: Thine Eyes really hasn't lost a member.

Laird: Jen may no longer be living in this house but she is still a member of the band.

Rian: At least as four are concerned we haven't all worked together to write music in quite some time. So just because we all aren't residing in the same house doesn't mean all four of us are still together as the band.

Jester: Have you done anything on the side that isn't Thine Eyes?

Laird: That's the deal with Tone Casualties. The album will not be a Thine Eyes album, it will be going under the name Paved in Skin. All the music we did for the play was instrumental so we decided that Paved in Skin would be our instrumental side project.

Tanner: If you've listened to a lot of Thine Eyes in the past a lot of it would be akin to now what is Paved in Skin. Paved in Skin is this kind of epic, painful soundscape. It is not like all the music we're writing is that way. It is all very strange and is definitely an unconscious edge to it.

Laird: As Thine Eyes everyone's favorite track was always Cocytus which was the first track we released and also the most straight forward track. It was built on a chorus and refrain. We always felt guilty writing all the strange wacked out songs like on Paved in Skin. Those are the songs we actually really like to deal. To feel good about writing our music.

Tanner: I felt the most satisfied with the more experimental and weird pieces.

Laird: Whenever we finish writing one of the more epic weird songs we always have to go back and write something a little more standard. At this point Paved In Skin will be released only in the U.S. and Thine Eyes only in Europe. Hopefully it won't be too bad to mix and match some of the songs.

Jester: Where did you come up for the nomenclature behind both band names? Obviously Paved in Skin is a Thine Eyes song title, but where the motivation for the name come from?

Laird: Paved in Skin was a song about the L.A. riots. A lot of the samples we taken from radio reports as the riots were happening. The words just kind of sounded neat together.

Tanner: In some sense it has to the with the idea of urban tension and violence. A sort of an landscape.

Laird: Thine Eyes we came up with after writing Cocytus. We decided we wanted a band name that had pseudo religious overtones.

Rian: It sounds a little archaic.

Laird: We thought of Thine Eyes as in coming in the glory of the lord. It also came from Shakespeare.

Jester: Have you gotten any response from the Thine Eyes web page on Socket prior to its death?

Tanner: Actually yes, I think that was where Alternative Press had us listed as one of the Internet bands from that web site. The first piece of literature that we saw where we hadn't submitted a demo and asked to be written about.

Laird: A lot of people are really excited about the underground music scene enough to make web pages for other people. At one point we got four letters from France saying that we were being played on the radio there and I hadn't sent any tapes to France. Yet there was enough energy to somehow get our music to Europe.

Tanner: The thing about the Internet is that mail is so easy. You just sit there and going through newsgroups, find a band, and you send them so mail. I think that it has been a fairly convenient method of communication and response for us. We've all got e-mail addresses now so the response had been good from the net.

Jester: On your music, it does seem like you have a great deal of influences as diverse as Skinny Puppy and Coil. I was wondering what you thought about being compared to those bands.

Tanner: Everyone has influences. It is a little pretentious to say that we haven't been influenced by anyone.

Rian: We've been influenced by Skinny Puppy for sure.

Tanner: Not the vocals of course. For the people not really into the scene it is a really convenient comparison. They'd compare our music to Skinny Puppy and our vocals to Enya.

Laird: I think at one time we sat down and wrote a Skinny Puppy bassline.

Tanner: A lot of time we'll start with a concept like that and sort of work with it and see how it goes. More often than not the music will have been changed from it's original from. It doesn't really end up sounding like Skinny Puppy but you do learn a lot from the music you listen to.

Laird: Behind the vocals of Ogre, Skinny Puppy is really great at creating this wide variety of musical backgrounds.

Tanner: That is the focus of our music. The ability to create music that at one level is very beautiful but yet very harsh. We try to make sure our music doesn't sound crowded. We wouldn't disagree with a comparison to Coil either.

Laird: We've been compared to Lagetti(sp?), Tangerine Dream along with Skinny Puppy and Coil. Those are all good comparisons. We've also been compared to X Marks The Pedwalk and Front 242 and we really wonder where that came from.

Jester: Where did the reference at the end of Stares in Ruin, "This is the end of the CD, please flip the CD over to play side two" come from?

Laird: Well everything we write is very serious, yet we also have a great deal of comic relief hidden in our music. No one understands it but us and nobody ever will. I just thought it would be amusing to put that at the end of the album. Even the songs that are very heavy have their comical relief which usually appear at the end of the track just as we're putting on the final touches. After we memorize every single note in the sound to avoid being cloudy or unclear as to what we're doing we get kind of clouded and confused ourselves and we have to have a little fun. After a couple days of serious song writing you have to thrown in a little humor to lighten things up and to avoid strangling your band mates with patch cords.

[From here the interview drifted off into witty banter and lost a sense of direction and ended.]

[Interviews] [Sonic Boom]
Last Modified: