Exciting US metal band EastDear Park are on a mission to take the scene by storm with their thrilling sound, with the UK firmly at the top of their list. The band fuses screamed vocals with relentless, blitzing guitar riffs and thrashing drums – and hold the ambition of touring with the UK’s very own Architects.
Speaking to bassist / backup vocalist Ben Rockwood this week, he told us: “We would LOVE to come play in the UK. If we could tour with Architects that would be the fucking dream! There’s a lot of things I’d love to discuss with that band. Hit us up and we’ll be there!”
The five-piece from Gaithersburg, Maryland (just north of Washington) have been together since 2011 and have already played shows with the likes of Silverstein, Like Moths To Flames and August Burns Red – who they name as one of their key musical influences. But the band are beginning to really make a name for themselves with the release of new EP M (all the track names begin with an M).
The EP opens up with Malice, a four minute blitz of pure metal and insane guitar riffs. Next up Metanoia starts with an awesome guitar riff before diving into an Architects-esque mosh. The combination of huge guitar solos over the top of screamed vocals is intriguing and enthralling, and the instrumental skills of these guys is undoubted, as shown in final track Marsiglia. Prior to that, the intense Metasis combines an epic guitar solo with frantic drumming and screamed vocals that builds into a blitz of metal brilliance. You can watch the video below:
We caught up with Ben to get the lowdown on this fascinating band, which also consists of Daniel Shields (lead vocals), Kevin Petley (drums / clean vocals), and Colin Fraser and Ryan DeOliveira (guitars).
GR: What’s the back story? How did you guys get together?
Ben: “Shields and I met on the football team in 9th grade and would always headbang and air guitar to music in my parents’ basement like Lamb Of God, Killswitch and stuff like that. Eventually we decided we wanted to start a band and play real instruments at a real show.
“I actually went to middle school with Kevin (drummer) but didn’t talk to him until my sophomore year when we were passing a doobie in the basement of some party and started talking about metal. A couple of days later I asked him if he’d be down to start a band with Shields and I, and from that day on we started jamming as a three piece.
“I met Colin in weight training class after overhearing a song I knew coming out his headphones. He told me he played guitar and sent me a clip of him sweeping. Let’s just say 10th grade me was blown the fuck away. We started jamming and played together for the first time for our buddy Stephen Kassassa (I don’t know if that’s how ya spell his last name but shoutout to him for letting us play!) in this event called Mr. Gaithersburg that our school threw every year.
“A couple of weeks after that I met Ryan through some friends and invited him to come jam with us. We wrote our first song that day and started jamming every day since! We wrote an EP in about a month and recorded it with Matt Wilson. Our first show was at the Mt Airy Firehall with In Dying Arms, Dr Acula and way more. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs since then, but are now stronger than ever.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
Ben: “Life throws inspiration at us all the time. Lyric-wise I’m influenced by past and present, sometimes I even write about what I hope will be the future. Our album Reflections was definitely more about the past, hence the title of the album, but the M EP actually goes back and forth on past events and present feelings, if that makes sense.
“The final song Marsiglia is about growing up and doing this thing we call adulating, but the weird part is I didn’t realise that until after I read it over a couple times. Sometimes for songs its almost as if I ghostwrite from my subconscious and learn something new about myself almost.”
GR: What makes your band unique? How would you define yourselves as a band?
Ben: “We like to tell stories with our songs that have a beginning, middle and end. We believe in being an honourable person and doing everything you can to be the best you can be, but also know that everybody is human and slips up from time to time. Nobody is perfect, and we know we damn sure aren’t.
“If you need somebody to come party or somebody to listen to you we’ll be there for either, we can be serious one second and pranking you the next! We just make music that we think sounds cool and write lyrics that mean something to us, hoping that it can mean something to somebody else too. If the words I write can change a life for the better than I can die happy.”
GR: What are you working on right now? What’s coming up for EastDear Park?
Ben: “Hitting the road. We want to fucking tour! We’ve been playing a lot of local shows trying to help the Maryland scene grow to the potential we know it has. We’ve been getting invited to play a lot of release shows for all our friends’ albums, which has been pretty special, and we also just played a very bittersweet farewell show for our friends in The Enigma Code.
“We have a show with The Plot In You, Ghost Key and Sirens & Sailors on October 28th at The Canal Club in Richmond, but for now we’re trying to get some East Coast runs going and start getting our press kits out there.
“We finally got a new bus after having to replace the Winnebago that got us through the first four years of being a band. We want to tour the world and learn about everything it has to offer. We want to share our music with the world and inspire people the way our favourite bands did for us.”
GR: What are the best and most challenging things about being in a band?
Ben: “Nothing beats a sick show with an energetic crowd. I lose myself every time I play. There is nothing like it. On the other side, it’s like being in a relationship with five people at once. You all have to know how to adapt to each other. Sometimes tensions can run high, especially when you’re around the same person a lot or don’t see eye to eye about something. The other rough thing is technical difficulties.”
GR: Sounds like you guys know to have fun, can you tell us your best story about gigs / being on the road?
Ben: “One time we played with The Contortionist at Empire and hotboxed the place after with them. The owners were not too happy about that. One time our singer got too drunk on As Blood Runs Black’s tour bus and was about to get kicked off until I smoked them all up into the next dimension. One of the scariest things was when a crackhead tried to rob us in the Taco Bell drive thru after a show we played in Florida.”
GR: Blimey, sounds like we need to get ourselves out to the US! How do you feel about the music industry as a whole? Is it easy to make a living in music, or do things need to change to help new bands?
Ben: “It’s tough. You have to sacrifice a lot and work your ass off. The only thing I can suggest to fans to make things easier is buy the bands’ music, buy their merch, buy tickets to their shows, even posting about them or sharing their post on social media helps. It’s all about sharing each others’ art. Bands have to work together!”
GR: We totally agree. One final question, what do you get up to outside of music?
Ben: “I live in Virginia Beach on the ocean front and am loving the grind lately. Good music, good food, and good weed with great friends is all I need to be happy. Shields and I are actually working on a web show right now too.”
Thanks to Ben for his time answering our questions. We love EastDear Park’s superb brand of metal and we’d love to see them in the UK – so over to you Architects, make it happen!
EastDear Park’s music is available in all the usual places, including iTunes, BandCamp, Spotify, you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter and they have a really cool YouTube channel where you can keep up with all their shenanigans.