Interview: Jared Bridgeman of Earth Rot

Words/Interview by Steve Jenkins

It's not all progressive or metalcore music that comes from the land down under. Introducing EARTH ROT! Australia's blackened death metal machine, with an old-school undercurrent and a sense of grim relentless groove. It is hateful, harmful, sinister and melancholy noise, shaped by the world around you. The past five years has seen Earth Rot quickly develop into a complex beast, dwelling in the deepest of pits. And this beast is ready to be released upon the masses. With 'Black Tides of Obscurity', Earth Rot portray the absurdity of life and reflects life’s journey which is often loaded with uncomfortable discoveries and unexplored drives & desires, contorting into spiraling madness. The new offering is letting you explore the reality of the new cosmic horror of human insignificance and the fragility of the mind. With less than two weeks for the release date, we had a chat with lead vocalist and bass guitarist Jared Bridgeman about the recording, influences, touring and much more.

Congratulations on the completion of your third studio album. I've been listening to it a lot and it's already one of the best things I've heard so far this year. How do you feel about the final product and was it a fairly smooth process overall?

Yeah for sure, we're all very happy with how it's come out in the end. It's always hard thinking back, we recorded this quite a while ago. So we would have done drums in July of 2018, so that's when we actually started recording for the album, and then we finished up tracking towards the end of 2018 right before I moved to Melbourne. Then we had it mixed and mastered in early 2019, and then it was all business from there, so yeah it's going back a fair while thinking about how it all came together now.

Earth Rot is originally from Perth, so is it just you in Melbourne now? Or are the rest of the band there as well?

Yeah so it's myself and our drummer Daniel, we both live in Melbourne now. Colin and Tom, the two guitarists live back in Perth. So we're kind of split at the moment, but it's not too bad. Our drummer Daniel is from Melbourne so we've made it work over the past four years, so we've always had that distance, but now I would say things are a little more balanced, as opposed to having just one extra person living in Melbourne, so I'm here as well.

Black metal and death metal are two of my favourite genres and Earth Rot does such a good job of blending those two together. Have you felt a progression or perhaps a shift with your sound over the past couple of years?

It’s like an evolution of what we’ve been doing to begin with, we’ve never really tried to pick one thing and just do it. It’s been a matter of taking influences, what we’re listening to, take what we enjoy playing and then just piece it together and if it works then cool, and if it doesn’t then we won’t put it on the album. But with this album we had a different combination of songwriters, so the first two albums were a combination of myself and Tom, and with this album Colin has come in and taken on more of a role in songwriting. This is actually our first album with Daniel recording drums.

Has there been a particular artist or musician that has influenced Earth Rot’s sound and perhaps had a hand in making you guys create a darker, grimmer album like this one?

Too many to pinpoint to a single one I would say, I mean there’s a lot of stuff that we listen to and I think that there are a lot of things that we listen to that we don’t necessarily share between band members. Then we kind of get a few unique ideas from one person that maybe the rest of us wouldn’t listen to when we’re trying to piece everything together.

Has the album got a concept at all or a particular theme?

It does yes, it is a concept album. It’s almost chronological as well from songs one to ten. Without giving too much away before the whole thing comes out in a couple of weeks’ time, I guess the best way to describe it would be man looking inside and struggling with the things that he can and cannot perceive as well as unlocking a few doors that force him to contemplate things that we typically don’t open our minds to.

Cool, and it sounds like that could leave things open to interpretation for the listener as well?

Definitely a little yeah. The lyrics were written mostly by myself and a couple of track from Colin, so there’s already a few things that where he gets something out of it and then I get something out of it. So I definitely think there will be some different interpretations from people reviewing the album and some of the punters as well.

The last song on the album is interesting to me because you’ve got this dark, bluesy outro which is more of a slower pace than the rest of the album. Could you tell me where that idea came from? Also in the notes it says you have the drummer from Taake on the spoons for that one, how did that come about?

This tracks a fun one, I don’t know we all kind of grew up and listening to blue and most modern and contemporary rock and metal is all traced back to blues music for us. Lyrically, theme wise, there’s just so much darkness in a lot of blues music and it’s quite similar to what we write in metal already. So it seems quite natural lyrically. Musically, it’s just something that we listen to on the side, we’re not exclusively heavy metal listeners, and we listen to all sorts of other stuff. But this was one of those common ground areas where we all had a bit of a taste from some dark, southern blues so we thought why not just put something together like that to close out the album. Getting Christopher from Taake, we toured with them in 2018 over in Japan and we just thought it would be perfect to put together with what we had written. So I sent him a message and said – “Hey man, we’ve got this song, we need some spoons, and do you want to do it?” And within a day he replied – “Here you go, here’s your spoons.”

What does it mean for you guys to be signed to a major heavy music label such as Season of Mist who have such a diverse and strong roster of talent right now?

They’ve been fantastic, the level of professionalism is just really something that we weren’t prepared for. There’s so much consideration and so much thought that goes into everything and every idea they have we will genuinely consider it or talk about it. Even if it’s just something simple that we want to do like getting a cool silver logo on the front of the vinyl releases, I thought that would look great and really make the artwork pop. So we asked them and their response was that they’d find a way to make it happen. Signing to Season of Mist is a pretty big deal for us, we’ve all grown up listening to releases on the label and some of our favourite Australian bands have been and are currently signed to them as well. They’ve got a pretty good history of signing some unbelievably talented Australian bands, Departe, Ne Obliviscaris, Nocturnal Graves, Voyager from Perth, I know Blood Duster once upon a time were a Season of Mist band as well.

Yeah, and they don’t just sign any band either. They definitely pick and choose as to who the right fit is going to be for that label.

They do actually, we spoke to them about our previous album and it wasn’t right for them at the time and things didn’t pan out with that one. Then when we came around with this album, we were at that stage where we had a bit more mature songwriting from us and they heard something that they liked as well. So it’s nice to be able to put the two together now.

I’m a sucker for some good album artwork which is something Earth Rot has done very well with both previously and on this new album. Can you tell us a bit about how the design came about for this one?

We had a huge list of artists that have done killer artwork from albums that we love. Khaos Diktator was just someone that stood out, from the mood of his paintings and the mood of our album we thought was very similar. He’s just got this good feel for that H.P. Lovecraft-esque, existential horror and yeah we threw him a few ideas and a couple of themes, we gave him the lyrics to the album and then said go from here and let us know what you think. A couple of weeks later he came back with the first sketch and it was pretty much exactly what you see on the album cover, just without all of the detail like colour palates and a few key things positioned certain ways and that was about it. Then slowly he’d add to it and add to it over the next few months until we got the final product out of it, which we are unbelievably happy with. It kind of captures the mood of the album really well for me personally.

I think album artwork can be very important and sometimes if I see some really incredible artwork it will make me want to listen to a certain album even more without even hearing the band before, then if the music is good then that’s an added bonus.

Definitely. That’s why album artwork exists, it’s supposed to catch the eye. It’s not just in record stores anymore, you see it on your social media feed, on Spotify or iTunes, or on a playlist. Yeah, I’d definitely click on something that has a killer piece of artwork and have a look and a listen.

Since you guys are blackened death metal, if you could choose one black metal band and one death metal band to tour with who would they be?

Ohhhh, that’s a tough question. I’d have to say right now SvartCrown tick both of those black metal and death metal boxes for me. I’ve been listening to their new album a lot lately and it’s bloody unbelievable, I’d love to play with those guys. Who else? Maybe Vader. I’d love to play with Vader again. We toured with them in 2017 and it was just too good, we had so much fun together. Their music is everything I want out of a death metal band and there’s a reason why they are one of the best at it, they’re so good!

Awesome! A couple of good picks right there. You’ve also got a few album release shows coming up soon with special guests Christ Dismembered. Are you looking forward to that tour?

Yeah absolutely, we really wanted to do a couple of cool shows and take someone with us. It’s not often we get the chance to tour with other Australian bands, usually it’s us supporting an international act or something like that. Christ Dismembered are such an unbelievable band and we’re really good friends with them and we just thought who better to take out with us, let’s do a tour together, we get to hang out for a couple of days and play some shows around the country, it’s the best way to do it.

Any words for you fans who are anticipating the new album?

It’s getting so close to the big day now and I would like to mention that we have a really big and awesome pre-order pack that we’ve put together for this album. It’s just ridiculously excessive, our guitarist Colin engineered and designed a HM-2 pedal, just ten only for the release of our album. We just decided that would be a cool idea and we’ll celebrate by doing something a little different for the pre-orders. So it’s a guitar pedal, vinyl, t-shirt bundle and we would love to get all ten of them sold before the release day.

Pre-order packages are available here:

Black Tides of Obscurity will be released March 6th via Season of Mist.

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