Recently, I received a copy of Eli August’s Let This House Burn Slowly, compliments of Mr. August. The album is an introspective and contemplative work, certain to invoke deeply buried emotion and heartbreak in its listeners. This is not your typical Steampunk album; the lyrics are at times brutally honest in its depiction of loss and devastation, but with the sadness and the ruin, there’s an undeniable beauty.
Today’s post features an interview with Eli August, where we chat about Let This House Burn Slowly.
Please tell me a bit about your musical background, education, and influences. When and how did you start as a musician?
I am mostly self taught, but I did take a year and a half of music theory in college about 3 years after I seriously started playing. There have been some voice lessons thrown in here and there over the years as well.
The music on Let This House Burn Slowly is, to me, profoundly sad. What inspired such a melancholic album?
I hesitate to call the album “sad” myself, because what is derived from the music is up to the individual listener. In a song where I may have found loss, others may see hope or change within the same words.
Inspiration for the album came from sources such as lost loved ones, relationships that disintegrated, my own personal doubts and failures, times I was let down, times I let others down as well as the smallest of things I saw out my front door. These are experiences we all have been through. Things we all see.
You collaborate with a number of different artists on Let This House Burn Slowly. What was the process like? Did you know any of them before you began work on the album?
Well, since at the moment there is no consistent lineup or band, the album took a bit more planning to get everything in place.
First and foremost there is Mr. Mike Darnell. He and I perform most often together and his playing added so very much to the album. He gives the upright bass real depth and emotion. In my opinion, his is playing carries a very pensive quality to it.
Nicky Sund is a former bandmate of mine and a friend. Her drumming is awesome and what she does on this album is just a fragment of what her range is when it comes to percussion.
Chris Wagoner and Mary Gaines I met while doing their weekly podcast Madtoast live in Madison WI. They are amazing musicians and can latch onto the emotion and feel you are looking for. They can turn an idea into a mini symphony.
At the time of the recording I was living in WI, and Mike had to fly in from NYC for his bass sessions. I know we could have had him record in New York and just mix his tracks back in Wisconsin, but it’s not the same as being in the room with each other.
What does Steampunk mean to you?
Steampunk to me is an appreciation for things that never were in a world that might have been. The spirit of Steampunk is not that far from how and what I write.
Would you consider yourself a Steampunk musician? Why or why not?
If you are a musician and you consider yourself strictly Steampunk, then you might be unknowingly alienating yourself from potential listeners and limiting yourself to what you can do.
I want to be open to those outside of the world of steam, just as those within it have been open to me. Two of the great aspects of Steampunk is that it’s very accepting and it’s limited only by the participants imagination.
I’ve released music on CD, vinyl and digitally. My opinion on large, corporate record labels is that they will mostly disappear in the not too distant future, because they do not represent a large enough spectrum of what people want. They have done nothing for me and I will not miss them if they go.
I understand you are planning a parlor tour soon. What does this type of performance consist of? How can people help with this? When will the tour schedule go live?
The parlor tour will consist of myself and Mike. We will be performing in peoples homes, and a few small venues. It will be strictly unplugged. This is an attempt to get folks to get closer to the music. A stage is a barrier, sometimes I think a hindrance. In some ways it says “Hey look, I’m more important than you. I’m up here and you’re down there.” I want them to hear every mistake we make, see my eyes roll back in my head when I sing. (as I’ve been told they do from time to time.) We are in the room together, literally and figuratively not that far apart.
People can help by emailing me at eliaugustband [@] gmail.com or on Steampunk Empire or Facebook. There’s still room for a few more shows and I would love to do more of these as soon as I can. People have been amazing. Folks are opening their homes to us for the night and that is a very personal and intimate thing, which is why I feel the music is tailor made for this setting.
Most of the shows are listed on the website. If there is one near you, and you would like to attend, then contact me at one of the aforementioned sites.
Where can people purchase a copy of the album?
Anything you’d like to add?