by: Ali Shana
Straight out of the depths of a suburban basement, the four piece genre blurring metalcore band erase//evolve begins to make way. I sat down with the band in a hazy attic to discuss the group, their origins, and plans for the future.
All of the band members come from previous metal bands, in many cases, the same bands. JJ Kaiser, guitarist, was in Abide By Me, Erasi, and The Russian Sleep Experiment. Jordan Schneller, bassist, was in Erasi. Ben Wintheiser, drums, was in BlueSkyPotrait and The Russian Sleep Experiment. Ethan Potrykus, vocalist, was also in The Russian Sleep Experiment.
JJ, Ben, and Ethan became close during their time together as The Russian Sleep Experiment, however, there were complications in the writing and decision making process. Finally, they decided to start their own band for a fresh start and a more like-minded goal.
“JJ writes the songs with ideas in mind for each member then listens to our suggestions and it all comes together as a final product,” says Ethan. “erase//evolve is definitely JJ’s brainchild, but no one’s opinions are disrespected. We are all open minded.”
The product of this much needed writing environment is the fusion of metalcore with hardcore, emotional spoken word, and intense melodic riffing. The band’s music taste doesn’t exactly correlate with their material. JJ, Ethan, and Ben all enjoy sadder, emotional music, and this is definitely shown in the lyrical content.
Their debut album Shedding Skin tells the story of a man who was abused and neglected by his father throughout his childhood. As he grows up, he is constantly experiencing the inner conflict of avoiding becoming the man his father was. Later on in the album, after trying to find his place in the world, he eventually decides that he doesn’t have one. The album ends with him accepting that he’ll always feel lost and alone, but he won’t let that stop him from leading a meaningful and fulfilling life. Both JJ and Ethan contributed to this lyric writing.
Of course, at their roots erase//evolve makes heavy music. JJ, Ethan, and Jordan all admit to loving metalcore, but the band recognizes their drummer prefers hardcore. Ethan says, “I think that’s why Ben likes playing metalcore, because he can add his own twist to it. I guess if I was in a hardcore band I’d have fun for the same reason.”
I was curious as to why JJ would incorporate elements of music he doesn’t listen to himself often. “The two steps and the breakdowns are meant for live shows. There for the listener. If it were all for me, it’d be nothing but riffs.” JJ laughs, “There will be more of that on the next album.” JJ says he loves that there are so many elements he can incorporate into the band, “You can work so many things into it and it’s still erase//evolve.”
The band also plans on making their performance very to the point. “We want to get into there, do our thing, and get out. We won’t be saying too much in between sets.” says Ethan. JJ also made it clear that they won’t be playing the same venue and same set over and over. “No one wants to see the same songs in the same order. I’ve written a couple intros and interludes that will also keep things fresh.”
Shedding Skin’s release date was on January 12th. JJ says, “Some people may only consider it an ep because it’s 7 songs, but i don’t care. It’s an album. We plan to have it on bandcamp on a name your price basis, as well as spotify and other music streaming services.”
The album seemed to pour out of JJ. “I grew up listening to bands like August Burns Red, After The Burial, Veil Of Maya, Misery Signals, etc. I’ve always appreciated the pretty sounding parts in metal the most. That, and i love a good two step. I’d say erase//evolve is a pretty solid combination of those things. August Burns Red really paved the way for my music taste. I’m definitely most influenced by bands like misery signals, veil of maya, counterparts, etc.”
When asked where the name came from, JJ says he’s had the idea for a while. “I came up with the name around the end of this past winter. I was going through a lot of shit. I was unhappy with how my life was going, who I was playing music with, and who I was spending my time with. A lot of the things that I used to find joy in turned into a chore, and that was when I knew I had to change something. I quit both of the bands I was in and started fresh. I guess it’s sort of cliche, but to me it means putting your past behind you and becoming the person you want yourself to be.”
Ethan’s face looked slightly guilty he told me the first heavy bands he listened to. “I grew up listening to Judas Priest. I actually didn’t like music with screaming in it for a while. In 8th grade I got into We Came As Romans and Asking Alexandria...I look back at that band now and don’t know what I saw.” Eventually, Ethan started looking for certain things in his metal music. “That’s when I started listening to a lot of old Parkway Drive, I still love ‘Carry On’. I also really liked Stick To Your Guns.” There is a lot more Melodic Hardcore influence in Erase Evolve than Ethan’s previous project. “I focus a lot on the tone and word placement, I feel it hits harder for the listener.”
The band had their first show onJanuary 23rd at JJ’s house. The lineup featured Baron Park, Wolves, erase//evolve, The Russian Sleep Experiment, and To Paint With Fire. Besides Wolves, all of these bands identify as the Basement Collective; and that is exactly what they are.