The first time I encountered Dylan Carlson’s Earth was through a Sub Pop cassette on Lime Lizard, a short-lived early nineties magazine. The free cover mount tape, a Sub Pop sampler, came with the May 1993 issue - side A included relatively standard US grunge of the time, from bands like the noisy guitar pop of Velocity Girl, Pond, Walkabout, Fastbacks and deranged punk rock band Dwarves. Side 2, however, was entirely taken up with one long track - ‘Seven Angels’ by Olympia, Washington’s Earth from their (just released) album Earth 2. A seething maelstrom of detuned metal-tinged guitars sent a thousand beads of buzzing sound flooding into my teenage skull, a strange familiarity combined with alien fear both drew me in and half repelled me.
After nearly 30 years as the only constant member of drone-doom-metal cult heroes Earth, guitarist Dylan Carlson has released his first album, Conquistador. As the title suggests, the work espouses a fantasy world that’s rooted in history, not unlike the one explored on Earth’s 2005 Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method—a belated imaginary soundtrack to novelist Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. Carlson has also done soundtrack work, under his solo moniker drcarlsonalbion, for the film Gold. But this time, the music speaks exclusively to his personal vision.
Dylan Carlson has just released his wonderful and sprawling new solo album Conquistador. Gavin Brown caught up with him to hear all about the album and the story behind it as well as what Earth are up to next, the influence of folk music on his work and the influences and experiences he has had on his vast musical journey.
I understand you moved around a lot growing up. Were you influenced musically by the places you visited or even just in a more general cultural way?
Yeah I mean my Dad worked for the department of defence, so I guess sort of an army brat in a weird way. Not in the military, I guess a child of the military industrial complex. As soon as we were born we left Seattle for Philadelphia and then from Philadelphia to New Mexico, then New Mexico to Germany and then we moved three times within Germany and then back to the States where we lived in Texas and then New Jersey and then back to Washington. My grandmother was Scottish. She came over to the States right after the war. We still had relatives living in Scotland so when we lived over in Germany we used to visit our relatives in Scotland quite a bit. My Dad worked for the military but wasn’t in the military, except for one year, so we didn’t live on bases, we lived out and about. We did go to U.S. schools but apart from that my parents definitely took advantage of the fact that we lived overseas and travelled a lot. Unlike, I remember there was a Sergeant that worked for my dad and he was proud of the fact that in his five years of being stationed overseas he had never left the base, never eaten outside the NCO club, didn’t know any German, you know, complete isolationist just waiting to get shipped back home basically. It was really strange, that kind of mentality of being somewhere that had so much to offer and just basically ignoring it.
After a sojourn in the U.K. exploring the history and folklore of the British Isles while performing under the moniker drcarlsonalbion—a period that saw collaborations with Steeleye Span’s Maddy Prior and The Hackney Lass, aka Rosie Knight—Dylan Carlson is now back in thoroughly American territory.
The Seattle musician’s latest offering, Conquistador—released April 27 via Sargent House—is a meditation on the legendsof Mexico and the American Southwest, tracing the real-life account of Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca.
Phase two line-up for Desert Daze has been announced! Earth will be performing "The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull" in full joining a stellar line-up of bands including our own Chelsea Wolfe. Tickets / info @ …
Adrienne Davies joined long-running Washington band Earth in 2001. She brought with her the requisite aptitude for slow tempos, and–over the course of several albums–developed a command of sonic nuance that perfectly complements and differentiates the band’s meditative compositions…