Recreating Eden- Building Paradise Riff-by-Riff (interview)

Creating music that others can find themselves in takes a special type of artist, one willing to lay themselves bare within the confines of their art, to gift the world with their innermost thoughts and feelings without fear of judgement or rejection. Everyone starts a band to make noise, but it is what one does with that noise in order to faithfully represent their true self that sets them apart from the rest. Recreating Eden, a band of fiery young prog-rockers from San Antonio, are cut from the cloth of true artistry, and they refuse to be anything less.

Formed back in the high school days of guitarists Cameron Stahl and Frankie Cortinas, Recreating Eden went through a few lineup changes before finding drummer Steven Rodriguez and singer Andrew Douglas. Their EP, which they re-recorded years after their first attempt, contains songs the band has been working on for quite a while, but that doesn’t make them any less powerful. The dual-guitar attack of Stahl and Cortinas touch on the power-punk attitude and emo rock sensibilities of the mid 2000’s, but the sensible guitar layering and brilliant lead runs show they’re more than versed in the finer points of rock guitar. Douglas is a magnificent, compelling vocalist, and his performances on every track are nothing less than captivating. He can journey from a smooth, controlled note to a metal shriek effortlessly, the dynamics of his voice soaring over the in-your-face, grandiose mix of his talented band. Rodriguez, with his aggressive drumming style, full of sharp snaps and speed demon fills, is the bottom that keeps the lighting in the bottle.

 

Frankie Cortinas and Cameron Stahl (courtesy of RE website)

While the EP doesn’t have a bad track on it, “Anthem of the Damned” is a personal favorite. The intro features an ominous guitar riff that catches the listeners ear before the band comes in and Douglas begins his vocal acrobatics. The entire song is masterful, but the chorus, with the Iron Maiden-esque background guitar and Douglas’ longing, tortured vocals tug at the heartstrings and flood the listener with emotion. The pleading vocals that Douglas convincingly delivers time and time again usually find their way up off their knees and rise up, strong and defiant, adding a whole other theme of resilience to their musical epics. The opener, “Choices and Traps”, is anthemic in its constant, lively movements, and showcases the versatility of a band that’s driven to create. “Devil in the Details”, while not included on the EP, is worth looking up for the sheer virtuosity of Stahl and Cortinas, the feverish drumming of Rodriguez, and what has to be one of Douglas’ best performances. San Antonio has managed to keep this band a secret treasure thus far, but they shine too brilliantly to be kept hidden much longer.

Recreating Eden is currently recording their debut album, due for release next year. We reached out to the band, and they were kind enough to talk to us about their process, their music, and what sparks their creativity.

 

Rob Gomez– This is Rob from South Texas Sound Project and I’m here talking with Andrew Douglas, lead singer of Recreating Eden. Andrew, how you doing today?

Andrew Douglas– I’m doing alright, how about you?

RG– I can’t complain! Loving this job, love what I do! You guys are an incredible, dynamic young band. There’s so much talent here. How did you guys come to be?

AD– Well, you know, I was not actually even the first singer with Recreating Eden. They had a couple of singers when they first started the band, when they were about 17, if I’m remembering correctly. Really, Cameron Stahl and Frankie Cortinas kind of started writing some of the raw material when they were in high school. They were friends, and so they just kind of started as this little garage band. Meanwhile, I was sort of singing in different scenes in the Austin, like, Coffee House music. When I heard they were looking for a singer, that’s when I joined in. I was about 18 at that point, and I had a manager at that time. He actually told me about the band, and I found them and I auditioned for them, and they put me in that day. From then on, it started to get a little bit more serious. We started gigging a lot more, and we had a drummer join us, then a bass player joined us. We really began to start the journey of the band that way. So they met while they were in high school, and we met while we were in our late teens.

RG– Man, ya’ll are just such a great fit together. You definitely have that drive and passion, I can see it. It’s real commitment from all you guys.

AD– Oh, yeah! Well, that was something that I think that kind of bonded us together in the beginning. We were so unsure of each other, I didn’t really know them, they didn’t really know me, but we both saw the drive and the possibilities that our music could have if we worked together. So, I think that’s what has really kept us together all these years.

RG– You guys have an EP out, which is phenomenal, and I will be sharing it with anybody who will listen! What was the feeling in the studio when you were recording this? Did ya’ll realize then how special this music is?

AD– You know, when we first started working on this EP, it was our second time recording it. We had recorded it in another studio, and we were so young and I think our skills had improved, so we wanted to re-record it. That’s when we started working with Mack Damon, who is in charge of Hollywood Studios, and he’s been producing us from the beginning of that EP. When he recorded a single with us, one of the songs off the EP called “Veins”, he played it back for us, and I was just so shocked that he heard us so BIG! The way he had mixed it and had taken his time to record us, we just sounded so epic and large, and I know that’s what Cameron Stahl and Frankie Cortinas wanted. But I didn’t know if my singing would mirror that. I hadn’t really sang anything this large in a really long time. When we first heard that single, and we first heard the demos of the recordings coming back from Mack, yes, we did sort of realize “Wow, this is actually something quite large. This is something that could be very large and very epic- sounding, a very big rock sound.”

RG– Absolutely. You get so many vocalists, guys like Freddy Mercury, or the lead singer of Coheed and Cambria, or Rob Halford, and these are great singers! But the real strength is in the band behind them. You have an incredible voice, there’s absolutely no doubt, but the band behind you really focuses on your voice, and you complement each other so well! I totally understand how a keen ear would hear you as big as you’re saying and record you that way.

AD– I think that all of the things that we’ve been going through in recording this album (have given us) a sense of how good we complement each other, and how the music that they’recomposing has this huge sound! It’s been a real journey for me, singing with them, and learning all this really interesting stuff about the way that they write and the way they do the really cool instrumentation write. I just think it’s so cool. Then, we get to hear it through this producer who has really, really helped us out in a bunch of different ways.

RG– Speaking of the songs, what is the process for writing these songs and recording them? I know ya’ll are working on your debut album for release next year.

AD– Yes. Well, there are a lot of different parts of the album that we’ve yet to share with the audience. There is a concept behind the music, and so there’s a story that ties in there that we’regoing to try and lay out a little bit further after we release the album. But that has a lot to do with how they write the songs. Cameron Stahl is essentially writing a book that kind of goes along with the music, so some of the lyrics that Cameron writes (We kind of share. I write some of the lyrics, he writes others, and then we get together and write some) are very tied in with his book. So that has a lot to do with the songwriting, but that’s only half of the writing, because anything I write normally has something to do with my life. I was a pretty bullied kid, so I have a lot of stories and a lot of points that I wanted to make in these lyrics. I think even if you don’t really know the concept, which very few people do, I think that the writing itself is a little less conceptual at this point. I’m wandering, I’m sorry! (laughs) But, that has a lot to do with how we write. Then, a lot of the time, the way it works is Cameron and Frankie will get together and compose the structure of the song, and when they feel it’s about 80 percent done, they’ll bring it to me and we’ll get together and work on the vocals, the lyrics, and the singing. Really, when I came into the band, it was about halfway done. I wrote about the last half of the songs, lyrics- wise, and I sort of spruced up the melodies from the older songs. So this album has been in the making for quite a long time, and the writing has been going for a long time.

RG– It’s funny that you’ve leaked a little bit of the concept with the books, because everything you guys have kind of structured is really rare and different, and that’s why I compared ya’ll to Coheed and Cambria.

AD– They’re awesome! That’s a really cool comparison, ha!

RG– Yes, I’ve always looked up to those guys and I always really respected Claudio Sanchez and his comic book writing and structuring so many albums around those, and here you guys are doing it in a way of your own. Taking a good idea and making it your own is awesome. It takes a lot of talent to take on a project like that, and I’m really excited to hear this new album, especially now that I know that! But yeah, they’re closest comparison I can make to you guys. You have such a unicorn of a voice, and the twin guitar assault is just SICK. Steven’s drums are vicious!

AD– Well, thank you so much! We really do appreciate that recognition, because they really do work very hard at what they do. Speaking of “them”, Cameron Stahl is here with us now!

Cameron Stahl– I do apologize, traffic was a bitch!

RG– Oh, I understand completely! I lived in San Antonio for five years!

CS– Oh, so you know!!

RG– Oh, absolutely! Nice to talk with you, Cameron. I was just going to ask, who were you all influenced by?

CS– Coheed is one of the top ones up there. We do have a lot of different influences. I’d say Coheed is a big one for a lot of the music, the musicians and everything. I know Buckethead is one of my favorites. He’s my favorite guitarist to ever exist, basically. I grab a lot of inspiration from him in my playing. I know a lot of Rush, My Chemical Romance, things like that… even some things that are a little stranger, like Animals as Leaders, bands of that nature. We try to pull a lot of influence from different areas. Whatever we feel inspires us at that time, we’ll try to write something like that.

Andrew Douglas (courtesy of RE website)

RG– Buckethead is a guitarist’s guitarist. I play guitar and I know what you mean. I hear him and I think “Man, how does he do that!?” What bands do you guys find yourselves listening to here recently, together?

AD– Well, Coheed is a big one for Cameron and for Frank. I listen a lot to more classic-style rock, maybe just because the singing interests me. I really love Led Zeppelin, I love Queen. You mentioned Freddie Mercury, and Queen is one of my big ones! We all enjoy Coheed. Cameron and Frankie gone to…

CS– Like twelve shows! (laughs)

AD– Countless shows of Coheed’s! I’ve been to a couple of those with them, and they’re just breathtaking live!

CSDance Gavin Dance is another one good one that we’ve recently been listening to.

AD– Yeah, we’ve been liking Dance Gavin Dance. My Chemical Romance, even though they’rebroken up and stuff, we still enjoy them as a band. We even signed up to do this gig with a couple of other bands where the whole set was covers, and we were covering all MCR songs! But that show ended up falling through, and our hearts were broken, because we were also gonna do a Coheed set with that, as well! Coheed and MCR are big for us. We also enjoy Muse a lot, mainly because we like their thematic elements. I think (we’re) a little thematic, as well, so we enjoy how they do stuff, as well.

RG– You guys definitely have a thematic approach to your songs. You all aren’t afraid to write longer songs- the EP doesn’t have a song under three and a half minutes! Do you write long songs consciously, or is it just because you feel the need to let a song be what it needs to be?

AD– I think we just do it and don’t realize it!

CS– It’s one of those things where I’m writing away, or Frankie or any of us is writing away, and the pieces… so, for me, I’ll have a chapter of the book in mind. I may think, “Ok, what happens in this chapter?” and I’ll go through and write the parts out. Or maybe the song will come first, and I’ll match it up with the chapter later. But usually, for the bigger parts, a song can be ten minutes long or something of that nature. Sometimes, consciously, we have to shorten our songs. Usually they’ll be longer first, and then we’ll decide we need to write a song that’s not going to be another ten minute song, so we’ll try to write a shorter one. (laughs)

RG– See, you’re ahead of the game. You’ve figured out something Metallica still hasn’t figured out! I love Metallica, I’m just kidding! Speaking of letting song be, a lot of the lyrics and content of the song are really descriptive. They really paint a full portrait, and the music behind them is this sort of this fluid landscape. Do you guys constantly chip away at songs to get them just right, or do you feel like the first time you play them, they’re pretty close to what you hear in your heads?

AD– Yes and No. It’s just been so long! We’ve been working on these songs for so long that I think they were very polished by the time we started recording with Mack. I remember the first time we did “Anthem of the Damned”, which is one of the songs on the EP. The first time we played it together, it sounded pretty close to what we had imagined. We were pretty happy with it, but of course, we worked on it constantly! They especially, Cameron and Frank, are very big perfectionists, so I think that they do work very hard to make sure there is a picture painted there.

CS– There’s a natural evolution for the songs, too. Like Andrew was saying, by constantly playing the songs, there’s going to be something that is going to change a little bit. One example, we have a song that’s called “Mourning’s Dead”, which is honestly one of the earliest songs Frankie and I ever wrote together.

AD– That’s the song I auditioned on.

CS– Yeah! So we wrote that forever ago, and it’s just changed quite a lot. I feel like the guitars stayed the same, but everything else came together in a way that kind of made it way more epic and powerful than it was originally.

AD– It came back from the studio and we were just like “Oh, my gawd! It’s so awesome! It’s huge!”

RG– We were talking about that. This sounds so huge, this EP sounds larger than life and I love it! It’s so grandiose, it’s amazing.

CS– Thank you so much.

Steven Rodriguez (courtesy of RE website)

RG– Are you guys planning a tour or any big shows soon? We need you to come down to Corpus Christi and blow the boats out of the water!

CS– We’ve been trying to get back to Corpus. We want to.

AD– The first time we played in Corpus, the crowd was so cool! We played at this, like, dive bar, and I thought “Oh, these people are going to HATE us!” They were more of a rowdy crowd, and I never know how they’re going to interpret our music.

CS– And the first band was a metal band!

AD– I didn’t know if they were going to see us as just really weird. Then we started playing and they lost their minds, they were so into it! I’ve seldom had a crowd that gets so into it, so we love playing there! We’re just trying to fit that in somewhere soon, because we a really good time the last time.

RG– House of Rock, you heard ‘em! Bring ‘em back! Is your new music going to continue in this dynamic, exciting progressive direction?

CS– We hope so! (laughs) That’s the plan!

AD– We do have the full album close to being done, and then we have almost another half of another album, so there is a lot of material that we play at our live shows, but has yet to be recorded or heard. It takes sort of a new theme, as well, as you keep listening to it. You’ll hear it when the first album is out and the second one comes, there’s definitely a switch that’s changed, which I think is important.

RG– Yes, absolutely! Will you ever try and record any acoustic versions of your music? I can see it being a challenge, but the results could be absolutely magical.

CS– We have some ideas. I don’t know if you’ve gotten to hear our song “Veins”, but we have an acoustic rendition of it that we’re thinking of possibly recording and making it a bonus track for, like, the downloadable version or something like that.

RG– That is a great idea. You have my email address!

AD– It is GORGEOUS. Uh, it’s so good! It’s beautiful. When Cameron showed to me a long time ago, this version, and we really like it. So if we can fit it in, we would hope we can.

RG– That’d be awesome. I’d love to hear that! Well, with this new album and everything, what does the future hold for Recreating Eden?

CS– Hopefully, just more rocking faces off! That’s all we want to try and do. There are talks with different people on how big we are going to try and make the release for this first album. Really, from there, we just want to hit the road and start touring.

AD– Just start pushing the album. Get on a good tour and start pushing this album. Like I said, we’ve been recording, been making this album since we were teenagers. It’s going to come out very polished and I think a lot of people are really, really going to like it, because it’s been being made for so long!

RG– Absolutely! You guys are San Antonio’s best kept secret, and it’s going to be huge when you guys finally release this album and people starting listening to you and hearing you on a bigger stage. Before we go, I like to do a little thing… According to Science (That means I just made this up), every band has certain characteristics… which one of you does this describe?

  • The one who hates to drive

AD– Hates to drive? Oh, that’s totally me! (laughs) But, to be fair, they do not want me to drive, and for good reason! I was raised in the middle of nowhere, and so I never really learned how to drive in traffic. I drive like 20 mph on the highway, in the slow lane, and we drive with this big, giant van and a big trailer, and I know they’re terrified for their lives if I drive it, so I’m also not allowed to drive! 

  • The one who eats and/or drinks everything

CS– Um… 

AD– It might be a tie between Cameron and Frank, because they have, like, eating competitions to the point where they get sick! 

  • The best merchandise seller at shows 

CS– Uh… shoot. (laughs)

AD– None of us, we are all terrible. Liam, our merchandise guy! We have a guy at the booth; he’s real good at it. 

  • The one who flirts with every.single.girl. at a show

AD– Steven, our drummer. Oh my god, it is shameless! Oh, and they go, man! Oh, they go for it!

  • The consummate but overzealous professional 

AD– I think I would say Cameron.

CS– Either that or Frank. Frank’s all about the business side.

AD– He’s our businessman!

CS– Yeah, he’s constantly talking about the business, while me, I’m more wanting to hone in on the music.

AD– Yeah, probably another tie! 

  • The slacker (Sleeps all the time/is always running late/forgets his gear, etc)

CS-… also me!

AD– (laughs) He said it, alright! 

CS– I showed up late for the interview, right?

  • The one who will take a piss wherever they are, even in public 

AD– Steven!

CS– Yeah! 

  • The one who is constantly taking selfies/food pics, etc.

AD– Oh, god! I would say me! I’m really bad with that! 

RG– See? I told you it’s science! Thank you very much, guys, we really appreciate it!

AD– Thank you, sir, we really appreciate this!

RG– Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. We can’t wait to follow your career, we know you’re going to do great. Recreating Eden, their new album is being recorded right now. Check out their EP, their Facebook, their website, and tell everybody about them!

 

Don’t forget, you can check out the audio for this interview, as well as many others, on the Artist Interviews tab!

 

 

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