Interview by Scott Preston
Jason Hann and Michael Travis (percussionist and drummer from the band The String Cheese Incident) make up this 100% improvised live Breakbeat/ House/ Drum n Bass/ Trip Hop project. Drawing from the ethos of some of the great DJ’s and computer artists of the world, they use cutting edge technology to create truly original and melodic dance music in the moment, with the undeniable power of live drums. The music is all created on the spot, recorded, then mixed and remixed LIVE to create an ever evolving musical experience. Since the project is 100% improvised, every night promises to be a unique dance experience. Hann and Travis play different roles in this band than in SCI. Jason plays the drum kit, percussion and sampler, while Travis is in charge of the tonal elements, playing bass, guitar, keyboards, as well as hand percussion and live mixing.
Cincy Groove: How was your experience at Rothbury this past July?
Jason Hann: I just had an incredible time. It’s an absolutely wonderful festival. Something that kind of confused me was that there wasn’t a single insect anywhere. Which just made the whole experience that much better. I didn’t realize how much of a difference that makes until the bugs were gone. We played late night on Saturday and I also got to play drums with The Dead during the drum/percussion section of the set. Myself, Luke from Toubab Krewe and another guy did this trio set at this pedal-powered recording studio they had set up. There were about 12 people pedaling bikes to keep the electricity going, and we did that for about 20 minutes. Some of the guys in Toubab Krewe also did a drum workshop which I played in for about half an hour. I also played with Keller Williams for 4 songs. It was myself, Keller, Kyle, and Keith. The whole weekend was such a blast. The festival was really organized well, cops were riding around on horseback, mostly to be sure everybody was safe.
Cincy Groove: How long have you and Travis been playing together outside of String Cheese?
Jason Hann: As EOTO we have been touring for about 3 years and there was about a year before that where we weren’t really trying to get anything together, just jamming and messing around. When I would fly into Boulder for String Cheese rehearsals I would stay at his place. We would end up setting up our musical instruments that we play. It started out with him on bass and myself playing drums, doing this fusion type of stuff. Then he added a looping pedal so he could do more things on top of his bass sound. As time went along we just kept adding more gadgets and then I suggested using the computer so we could do live looping right there on the spot. We then did our first show in 2006 at the first Sonic Bloom here in Colorado.
Cincy Groove: How would you compare playing in EOTO which is all improvisation to playing in String Cheese Incident?
Jason Hann: The reason we can have such an insane touring schedule is the fact we are all improvisation. If your playing 33 shows in a row and playing the same songs, that alone will start to wear on you. It can be hard sometimes to make it fresh each time you play. Every time you play a song that you rehearse you want to play it well, but the real challenge is keeping it fresh. So being able to go out with EOTO and improvise every night is really great. We might start out with a certain beat or theme and start doing variations of that beat over the next few nights but by the time 2 weeks goes by we are doing something completely different than when we started. We just keep getting better and better when we play on a nightly basis.
Cincy Groove: When does your new cd get released?
Jason Hann: It’s going to be released on or pretty close to Oct 1st. It’s going to be a full cd with 11 tracks. One of the unique things we are doing for the release of this cd is that we are going to have a really cool hologram art piece that will be in the cd case. Kind of like the prize in the cracker jack box. The cd is also going to be called “Fire the Lazers!!!”.
Cincy Groove: How long did the recording process take for Fire the Lazers!!! ?
Jason Hann: Actual recording time was about 2-3 nights where did 17-18 songs. We finally just had time in the last couple weeks to mix the cd and when Travis gets back from Europe he will work on the mastering with another guy. If all goes well it should be ready to go around Oct 1.
Cincy Groove: How do you feel about how fans record and trade copies of your shows?
Jason Hann: We are completely all for it. The only place where we draw the line is plugging into the soundboard. The mix can be unpredictable at times, but we are fine with people bringing mics and their own recording equipment. You can also get recordings from us by downloading some of our shows at livedownloads.com. We love tapers, because that’s how a lot of music is spread around and in turn will cause more people to come out to the shows.
Cincy Groove: What artists/bands do you like to listen to?
Jason Hann: That’s tough, I’m really all across the board, but there is this artist called Excision from Calgary, Canada who is a DJ/Producer. On the jazz tip, Esperanza Spalding really impresses me. She is just a great bass player, unique voice, great songwriter. Another group I like is called Ojos De Bruja.
Sep 18 2009 Schwagstock @ Camp Zoe Round Springs, Missouri
Sep 19 2009 Schwagstock @ Camp Zoe Round Springs, Missouri
Sep 26 2009 Earthdance Laytonville, California
Sep 29 2009 Moe’s Alley w/David Starfire Santa Cruz, California
Sep 30 2009 Mission Rock Cafe w/ David Starfire San Francisco, California
Oct 1 2009 Red Fox Tavern w/David Starfire Eureka, California
Oct 2 2009 McDonald Theatre Eugene, Oregon
Oct 3 2009 Berbati’s Pan Portland, Oregon
Oct 4 2009 The Night Light Lounge Bellingham, Washington
Oct 5 2009 The Palace Missoula, Montana
Oct 6 2009 The Filling Station Bozeman, Montana
Oct 7 2009 The Aquarium (Dempsey’s Upstairs) Fargo, North Dakota
Oct 8 2009 The Cabooze Minneapolis, Minnesota
Oct 9 2009 High Noon Saloon Madison, Wisconsin
Oct 10 2009 Abbey Pub Chicago, Illinois
Oct 11 2009 Papa Pete’s Kalamazoo, Michigan
Oct 12 2009 Scarlet & Grey Cafe Columbus, Ohio
Oct 13 2009 Club Cafe Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Oct 14 2009 Mohawk Place Buffalo, New York
Oct 15 2009 The Westcott Theater Syracuse, New York
Oct 16 2009 Club Metronome Burlington, Vermont
Oct 17 2009 Harper’s Ferry Allston, Massachusetts
Oct 18 2009 Port City Music Hall Portland, Maine
Oct 19 2009 The Hi Hat Providence, Rhode Island
Oct 19 2009 The Hi Hat Providence, Rhode Island
Oct 20 2009 The Warehouse Hartford, Connecticut
Oct 21 2009 Red Square Albany, New York
Oct 22 2009 Sullivan Hall New York City, New York
Oct 23 2009 World Cafe Live Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Oct 24 2009 8×10 Baltimore, Maryland
Oct 25 2009 The Canal Club Richmond, Virginia
Oct 26 2009 Attitudes w/DJ Rahbee Blacksburg, Virginia
Oct 27 2009 Cosmic Charlie’s Lexington, Kentucky
Oct 28 2009 Old Rock House St. Louis, Missouri
Oct 29 2009 Bourbon Theatre Lincoln, Nebraska
Oct 30 2009 Gothic Theatre w/ Zilla, Lynx and Janover AND a secret DJ Englewood, Colorado
Oct 31 2009 The Grenada Lawrence, Kansas
EOTO related links