This past Friday at Avalon in Hollywood was one of the biggest nights of the year so far for drum & bass fans. I couldn't even begin to describe to you the vibes that were emanating from the crowd of over 1000 bassheads that were ready to mosh, dance and otherwise get down to some of the heaviest drum & bass the scene has to offer. Presenting a lineup of epic proportions, Avalon was filled to the brim and the talent had no desire of letting anyone go home unsatisfied.
First up, Liquid Stranger took to the decks and laid down an onslaught of heavy dubstep tunes that left everyone's rib cages shaking. After playing the previous night just south in Santa Ana at Yost, Martin showed no signs of being tired. Laying down original tracks from his latest EP and even an unreleased tune with Firepower's Ajapai, Martin had total control of the crowd. He played until midnight when Terravita took the stage and put down an absolutely phenomenal set. This was the last stop on their Rituals tour promoting their new album and it was one to remember. Throwing down older tracks like 'Drowning' and even some Rage Against The Machine, the set was the most eclectic of the night and is one I won't soon forget. Next up were headliners Planet of the Drums -- comprised of legends Dieselboy, AK1200, Dara and Messinian -- who rocked the house with classic drum & bass for a massive two hours. LA-native Neuropunk finished out the night with some heavy neuro-style drum & bass.
I got the chance to sit down with Terravita before they went on for one of the funniest interviews I've ever done. Chris and Jon are genuine human beings and it was a real pleasure to sit down with them and talk about their roots, Hot Pink Delorean, the tour with Robotic Pirate Monkey and J.Rabbit, and more.
I believe a lot of people started listening to you guys after you released 'Up In The Club.' How would you say that drumstep sound has defined your career?
Jon: Well, when we made 'Up In The Club,' there was no drumstep. We didn't know what it was, we just called it half-time. Drumstep was kind of a sneaky way for us to convince people to like drum & bass. Because we've been drum & bassheads forever, we've been producing drum & bass forever and there just got to be a point where it was not popular, especially in the states. And there was nothing you could do with it. So we started making house music and techno --
Right, Hot Pink Delorean. I'm sad that you don't make that anymore.
J: Well... *wink*. But 'Up In The Club' was the tune, and we didn't know what to do with it. Then all of a sudden Skrillex is playing it and then we're everywhere.
My favorite track of yours has got to be the remix of Aphex Twin's 'Avril 14th.' Is there any track you've produced or remixed that really stands out to you?
J: Aphex Twin was a huge influence on all of us growing up, and we have never gotten more hate for a song that we've done... ever. Because, all right, I'll give it to you - we're bastardizing it, I get it. We're sorry! Sorry guys, but we wanted to play something from Aphex Twin in our sets. But to answer your question, my favorite remix we've ever done is the 'Drowning' remix. 'Drowning' was a song for me that changed my life. And we did the remix as a bootleg, and then Dave [AK1200] heard it and was like, "Hey guys, how do you feel about putting this out?" and that's kinda how that happened.
You guys are finally home after touring all over the country promoting your album Rituals. Traveling with Robotic Pirate Monkey and especially JRabbit, there must be some crazy stories. Can you share one of the best/craziest?
J: Alright. So. We were in Knoxville, TN and it was kind of a weird show, it probably wasn't one of the better shows on the tour. It was the Friday of Bonnaroo and right after Wakarusa. There was probably like 200 people there but it was a huge club, like 1500 person room. So we're playing and I'm looking out at the crowd and there's this old woman in the front row. And she's just like, "Yeahhh." And there's these two chicks behind her grinding on each other. So Jeff [J.Rabbit] comes up to me on stage and he's like, "Dude. I was talking to these girls and they're sisters, and it's really weird and I got creeped out so I left." But at the end of the night he ends up talking to this one chick and he ends up inviting her back to the hotel. And she's all, "Alright cool." So we leave, and we get to the hotel and to our floor, and the doors of the elevator open and the whole family is there. The two sisters, the mom and the brother are just sitting in the hallway of our hotel, on our floor. Not in the lobby.
Chris: My first response was to hit 'Down' and close the door, but Jeff just walked out like a champ.
J: And I was so stoned that I didn't know what to do with myself, and I was just like, "Whooop!" So we get to our room and I'm just scoping on the peephole and I see Jeff run in his room and shut the door. And this girl comes and she's knocking on the door, and he's just like, "What are you doing with your whole family here!? Handle your shit!" and he just shoves the door in her face. And she's just like (in a terrible Tennessee accent), "My momma needs to not be drunk! She needs to sober up! And my brother's taking care of her!" And I was just like, "Holy. Fucking. Shit." In all my years of touring -- the Firepower tour, the Flux Pavilion tour -- nothing has ever topped pulling an entire family back to the hotel.
This will be my third time seeing you - the first was at a crazy small place in Santa Barbara, and the next was at Rob Zombie's Great Adventure with Zomboy and Doctor P. How do you feel about playing in such diverse venues, which one is your favorite to play in?
J: Everything has its ups and its downs. Festivals are great. But I hate playing them. Like when you're playing EDC, there's fuckin' 60,000 people in front of you. So you're a football field away from them.
C: Well there's fifteen feet for the riot barrier, then [Jon] is on the front of the stage, but for me there's another twenty feet. So I'm 40 feet away from the crowd.
J: I can't tell what people are enjoying, I can't tell what people are reacting to, I can't tell if people can hear me. My favorite gigs are like 200-300 person rock venues with just a packed crowd of insane people.
You had the chance to collaborate with a lot of great producers and vocalists on Rituals. My personal favorite was the track you did with Nerd Rage, but you also worked with J.Rabbit, Datsik and Obsidian. What was the creative process like on those tracks?
J: Each one was different. With the Nerd Rage track, it was really a lot of me and Devin working together. And the Datsik collaboration was a lot of Matt and Troy going back and forth. Our creative process with us is different for every song. We all do our thing, and some songs are written completely by Matt, some songs are a collaboration between the three of us.
C: The one with Evan Kiljoy, who if you don't recognize it is Evan from Concord Dawn, and he did the vocals on Morning Light, and so we did the beat for Colorblind and sent it to him looking for vocals.
So Rituals was your first headlining tour, right? How does it feel to be center stage now?
J: It's fucking terrifying. You're around the whole entire country -- not even just the country, you're international. And you're playing all these shows and when you show up, whoever is there is there to see you and if they don't show up, it's like, "...oh my god. Oh my god, we suck." But when they do, it's like, "This is the greatest thing ever!These people are here to see us!" So there's mixed feelings, it's really scary to be there on your own. When you're playing with Datsik, you know the shows are gonna be good.
What can we expect to hear from you guys tonight?
J: Tonight, it's just gonna be a similar set to what we've been playing. We feel that we're offered the opportunity to go a little more rootsy with our drum & bass roots tonight, since Planet of the Drums and all. You're gonna see us just be us. You're gonna see us play a lot of drumstep, dubstep, a lot of tracks from the album, a lot of drum & bass.
Alright, thanks so much guys.
J: Yeah, we had a blast.
C: Thanks a lot.