INTERVIEWS

Cosmic Rock

Today we have a very cool talk with Erik Bigelow from the group Ember. Formed 2015, Ember is a popular new group featuring the duo of Erik and Crystal Bigelow and Mark Buchanan. Influenced by  Soundgarden, Goatsnake, Isis, Black Moth, Clutch, Bjork, YOB and Royal Thunder Ember has been gathering excellent reviews for their sound and winning over many fans. Erik took the time today to catch up with us for this great talk on CR. Check out Ember and this new interview with the very down to earth Erik Bigelow.

1.Hey Erik, its good to speak with you how have you been?

Good to speak with you as well! I am doing pretty well! Right now healing up from surgery.

2.For sure man. Hope you are doing better every day bro. Tell us a little about your background, how did you get into music?

I got into music at a very young age. I remember going through my mom’s vinyl when I was a little boy. I remember listening to her Led Zeppelin, CCR and Three Dog Night records. I also had some pretty rad friends in high school that introduced me to Slayer, cannibal corpse, Wrathchild America, Souls at Zero, Pantera, Pro-pain, and many others. I have been listening and digesting music for a long time and I listen to a wide variety. As far as instruments, I actually started on guitar. I took a few lessons and then transitioned to vocals for a few Atlanta bands. Then, one band I was doing vocals for, named CANYON lost our drummer. I bought a drum set just so I could keep a beat and we could keep writing while we were searching for a drummer. The guys told me, “you should play drums” so, I did and we started looking for a singer. I’ve basically been playing drums ever since and I love it.

3. Any classic concerts you saw back in the day that inspired you and in what way?

I used to go to concerts all the time. I’ve seen type o negative, clutch, acid bath, Sepultura, orange 9mm, OZZY, tree, misfits just to name a few. And a few of my bands of opened up for superjoint ritual, COC, Down, between the buried and me, blood simple, etc. I have just always been inspired by musicians and creation.  I have a lot of respect for people that have a Dream, have a vision and follow through.

4.What were some of your favorite classic albums over the years?

Well, here’s a list of some of my personal “classics”. These are some albums that spoke to me.

Clutch - self titled

Life Of Agony - River Runs Red

Acid bath - pagan terrorism tactics

Type o - bloody kisses

Sabbath - first 4 albums

Led Zeppelin - 2 & 3

I really add to the list often. I draw influence from different albums at different times. Right now I am really enjoying revisiting Depeche Mode.

5.That’s great bro, good variety for sure. You are known for the excellent group with your wife Crystal, Ember. How did you two meet and also start the band?

Crystal and I met 19 years ago in Hot Topic in Douglasville Ga. We instantly fell in love and got married a year to the day after we met. We didn’t really start experimenting together musically till around 2011. We started the EMBER journey while living in Iowa and have continued it.

6.Awesome. What influences the sound of your music?

We’ve honestly just always tried to write what we (personally) want to hear. I listen to a lot of different bands from Duran Duran and from Acid Bath to Depeche Mode. Crystal listens to a lot of different things too. She listens to Danzig, Chelsea Wolf and QOTSA. With our latest release 326:SPIRITUAL DIALYSIS we were influenced by ourselves. We wrote the EP completely by ourselves through 2018. We couldn’t find any dedicated musicians at the time so we grabbed the bull by the horns and composed the best we could with what we knew and what we had. I referred back to my guitar experience and just jammed out riffs. We are pretty proud of what we created. To us it’s a testament to not give up.

7. You guys have a new guitarist added to the group?

Yes his name is Mark Buchanan. Believe it or not he was also the guitarist of a previous band I mentioned, CANYON. He has stepped in and joined Ember full-time. I’m really thankful, he’s a super cool guy and a talented musician. We are working really hard at new tunes.

8. So the news is also you are working on your first full length?

Yes we are working on a full length. We’re planning on writing 8-10 songs to record at Ledbelly Sound in ga. Mark is bringing a different dynamic to EMBER and we are excited about that.

9. You’ve been through a lot in recent months! You just had a kidney transplant after a long personal battle. We all wish you much good health and a good recovery from your operation bro. How are you feeling these days?  You have a lot of friends and fans of your music thinking of you bro.

Thanks. I am thankful for everyone’s positive thoughts, prayers and good vibes! Yes, It was a blessing but also very scary. I got the call on the May 28th and Crystal and I had to drive 3 hours to Vanderbilt in Tennessee. We got there and they had to run a few more tests. I got the transplant on the 29th at 6am. The surgery was 2.5 hours and I was in the hospital for 4 days. I have been at home recovering for about 3 weeks. I now have to go in for weekly tests every week for 7 weeks. So far everything looks great! We are very thankful to the donor and we are going to honor her daily. We won’t let this gift be squandered.

10.Glad you’re okay bro. Keep on your health recovery and a lot of people are checking in on you and wishing you well. What keeps you inspired and learning?

The dream of one day being able to do all this full time. A lot of people have told me it won’t happen but I cannot approach it that way, ever.

11.What are some of your favorite films?

We’re real big fans of Vincent Price and Kubrick. We also really like films like THE SHAPE OF WATER, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, BEING JOHN MALCOVITCH, PANS LABYRINTH. But, also love a lot of classics. We’re also huge MET3k fans.

12.What is one life skill you think everyone should have?

Perseverance and drive. Never give up on what you want. Don’t get discouraged, own your failure and own your success. Learn from your failures and success will come.

13.How do you feel the current era of underground music and social media? What advice would you give someone just starting out?

I think social media is great for marketing, advertising and networking. I think it has brought the underground above ground. As far as advice, don’t be ashamed or scared to approach the band as a business, don’t be ashamed to set goals as a team and hold each other’s feet to the fire. I think if you have members that are squeamish to that sort of talk, they are not serious and they need the boot. They’ll hold you back. We have learned this the hard way but it’s a lesson we will not forget. This is one reason Crystal and I are thankful for Mark. We sat down and made a timeline of goals and were holding each other to them. There’s no time for laziness, procrastination or lackluster effort. Everyone should Put in 100%. If someone’s putting in 80% or 50% there is a problem. That’s just our advice.

15.You guys are looking for a bassist?

Yes we are. Know anyone? Lol!

16.What inspires your songwriting?

Movies, other bands, emotion. There’s a plethora of elements that inspire us. But really, I think we’re inspired by creativity. One way we like to write is start with a riff and break it down in a bunch of different ways. A lot of times a song can be based on 1 riff played multiple ways. I think writing that way makes the song memorable. Sometimes we’ll also write around Crystals vocal pattern, it really all depends on what “feel” we’re going for.

17.Any new records or groups you are enjoying you’d suggest?

Right now we’re jamming a lot of TOKE, MONOLORD, OLD BLOOD, WINDHAND and believe it or not, old school country. Can’t beat HANK JR, JOHNNY PAYCHECK or WILLIE! We also throw in some DEPECHE MODE and DURAN DURAN periodically too.

18. Erik we hope you’re doing better ever day and glad to speak with you bro.

Glad to speak with you too! Thank you so much!

Anytime bro and keep us updated on how you’re doing and your music news. - G