The South Dakota hardcore/metalcore outfit Earth Groans are in the spotlight in this week’s Meet The Band. Their latest release is the EP Rahab. Vocalist Jeremy Schaeffer introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Earth Groans.
Jeremy Schaeffer: I’ve been in bands since i was like 15. I’ve always felt a calling toward music and ministry. In 2014 I couldn’t shake the desire anymore. I wrote and recorded our first EP which would later become known as Renovate. I believe it to be divine timing as things quickly fell in to place with little effort. By May of 2015 we became touring machines. Zach and Brady both fitting their parts well but lacking the correct bassist. After a year and a half of touring with fill in bassists we found Kaden. He was exactly what the band was missing. We continued to tour as much as possible, and in 2017 we were picked up by Solid State Records.
The relationship has been amazing thus far!
Describe the songwriting and recording process for Rahab.
This was a really fun album to write. It was also incredibly intimidating being that it was our second album release and our first official Solid State album. We all live states apart so writing is a challenge. However, I own a recording studio in SD so I write a lot of the skeletons of our songs. I share the tabs and tracks with the rest of the guys and we work together to put the final touches on things. As we tracked the record we were able to experiment and try new things. It was a great experience! Unlike the first album, we had each member track their own parts. We recorded real drums and live amps so we were able to capture a similar raw sound that we perform live.
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
A little heavier then Renovate. We didn’t really do that intentionally, I think it just kind of happened. We incorporated more structure, but made sure to hold true to our chaotic and off time sound. It also has a little more “bounce” to it.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
There are a few, but one of the main topics we cover is battling our giants. Rahab in this album has kind of a double meaning. Rahab in the Bible and folklore is a large sea creature that brings chaos to peoples’ lives, enslaving them and causing them to live in fear. I’ve read some translations that Rahab is referred to as Egypt and its tyranny over Israel. In that sense, again it was chaos, fear and slavery.
We all have our own “Rahab” in our life. Addictions. Sins. Depression. Money. We all have some kind of giant that seems bigger than what we can handle. However, God is bigger. He can conquered all giants and he’s conquered our biggest obstacle, death. By faith we can be saved from our Rahabs. Rahab the prostitute was saved by her faith. She believed that God would rescue her, and in the same sense we can be rescued from our giants.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
We are hoping that the lyrics will find people well. That our listeners can relate and be inspired. Life is too short and amazing to be enslaved by fear. Of course we are hoping that the album will sell well and help us land some bigger tours as well.
What were some the highlights for you of your recent tour with Phinehas?
Shooting fireworks at Phinehas while going down the interstate. (laughs) The brotherhood and fellowship was incredible. We didn’t have a single bad show on that run, either. Every day was fun! So many new relationships were established! We also ended up selling a lot more merch than we intended. So that helped us a lot financially.
What are your upcoming tour plans?
Not a ton set in stone yet. We have a week run in August. Hopefully we can land some more support slots with the new record, though.
How did you get started in music?
I’ve always been drawn to music. Every since I can remember, I knew I wanted to be in a band. I wanted to be a drummer. My parents started me on piano lessons when I was 8 and I hated it. I think they thought piano would be nicer to listen to than an adolescent beating on things. Of course 20 years later I’m grateful for the piano lessons. It’s a great foundation for anyone pursuing music. When I was like 11 I bought my first drum set. I played drums in a few church praise bands and high school bands. I also started playing guitar, bass and doing vocals. I found out in college I was a better frontman than a drummer. Since then I’ve been writing and recording different projects, Earth Groans of course being my main focus.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Zao, Norma Jean, Underoath. Honestly, the whole Solid State lineup
What drew you to heavy music?
Why does anyone get into heavy music? It’s loud, fast, and fun. (laughs) There’s a lot of heart in most heavy music. It’s full of depth, struggles and passion. People don’t usually play heavy music to make money. They do it for the sake of passion. There’s a lot of community in it as well. I believe it can be the church.
What was the first concert you attended?
Jars of Clay. I don’t remember a ton about it. I was really young. But I remember loving it.
Have you drawn any criticism from “mainstream” Christians for the intensity/aggression of your music?
(laughs) That’s a given. However, we’ve had more complements about our lyrics than criticism of our aggressive music. It never bothers me. You can’t expect to do something original without some type of criticism.
In an increasingly secular world, what’s the biggest challenge in getting your message across?
Some of our generation is so jaded by the church or by “Christians” that the minute you mention Jesus Christ people immediately shut down. I feel like the term “Christian” has so many negative connotations that people don’t want anything to do with it. There are a few bad apples out there that have tarnished the name, and it’s a real bummer. Anytime I tell people that I’m a Christian, I feel like I need to explain that I’m not one of “those” Christians. It’s sad. I strive to be like Jesus Christ and what he calls us to be. God is always working and i put my faith in that even though there are walls put up, God can bring them down.
How’s the metal scene in South Dakota these days?
There’s two cool markets, Rapid City and Sioux Falls. We haven’t played Rapid in a while so I’m not too sure how that market is lately but Sioux Falls can pop off! Sioux Falls is like a B or C market so it doesn’t get many of the bigger metal shows. I feel like when something rolls through people get pretty excited about it, and it seems like it’s helping the scene grow. There are a few great promoters that have taken initiative to bring shows into the area and that seems to be helping a lot. That is something the scene has needed for awhile.
Seen any good movies/DVDs lately?
I’m honestly the last person of Earth Groans to ask this. I’m super detached when it comes to movies or TV. I stay pretty up to date on music business but I don’t have Netflix nor do I really go to movies. I spend most of my time working in my recording studio when I’m off the road. I really don’t have much of a social life outside of touring. I’m the biggest loser I know. (laughs) However I did see A Quiet Place a while ago. That was pretty ok.
What’s in your current heavy musical rotation?
Not heavy, but My Epics’ new record, Kublai Khan, Impending Doom, Phinehas, Silent Planet, Fit for a King, Gideon.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I appreciate the interview and a chance to share what we’ve been up to. Keep on rocking in the free world!
(interview published August 4, 2018)