The word “ethereal” is used to describe something that transcends the confines of planet Earth. It’s something that’s so pure and elegant it’s almost celestial, perhaps heavenly. Chicago-based jam band Ethereal Groove, Incorporated, known as EGi, has worked for about six years to take adventurous folks across the Midwest to a higher plane with its energetic improvisational jams. With the help of some friends in popular nationally touring groups like Dopapod and Turkuaz, EGi has finally released its debut full-length album, “Plyatron”, which is now available on music services like iTunes and Spotify.
EGi guitarist Noe Perez sat down with Listen Live and Local just before taking the stage at the band’s album release party at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge on March 5th. He discusses what it was like recording with members of Dopapod and Turkuaz, the band’s upcoming performance at Summer Camp Music Festival and where the band feels most at home when away from Chicago.
Listen Live and Local: Five tracks on “Plyatron” feature either keyboardists Eli Winderman from Dopapod or Craig Brodhead from Turkuaz, and the whole album was produced by Dave Brandwein from Turkuaz. How did they get involved in the recording process?
Noe Perez: I’ll start with Dave, because that kind of leads into everything. Dave’s the singer in Turkuaz and we’d played with them a few times when they’d come to Chicago, and he’d given us an offer a while ago to help record an album. So we finally took him up on the offer to go out to New York and record in his studio. When we went out there, just by a string of luck, Eli from Dopapod happened to be in New York also to check out a screening of Stephen Colbert’s new show. Dave had popped the question to him a while before about coming into the studio with us, and since Eli was already gonna be in town that week he said, “Sure.” So Eli and his girlfriend show up to Dave’s studio, and he was awesome. He came in and we chilled and talked about Tim and Eric’s Awesome show and dorked around for awhile. And finally we just cracked at it and listened to the tunes. The studio was very loose and easy going. So, him being there too made it really easy. It was really just a hang out session. I was a little star struck at first, though. But he’s just a normal average dude who can just slay the organ. It was awesome. Dopapod and those jam bands are a huge influence on our music. We grew influence from all kinds of bands, but you know, being with somebody who’s really prominent in the scene was really cool.
LLL: Since the band has been playing since 2009, what’s the balance on the album between the old EGi staples and the newer songs?
NP: We just wanted to make the album a good compilation of all of ours songs that we’ve made over the last couple years. So the title track, “Plyatron”, we wrote about five years ago. So we recorded that, and a couple other songs we’ve been playing for awhile. But a few songs we’ve only been playing for a year now. Nothing too new, though. “Peaches” was cool with Eli on it. We popped the idea randomly for him to play on it and he just recorded that in one take.
LLL: Explain the significance of splitting the track “Headphones” into two. The album begins with “Headphones L” and ends with “Headphones R”.
NP: That was actually Dave’s idea. When we went in to the recording studio, we had already sent Dave a bunch of early recordings so he could get an idea of what we really wanted. We kinda had structure to some of the songs already, but Dave just popped the question of splitting them because it kinda sounded like two different songs A lot of our songs are like that actually. We put all these different styles and genres into one song. That’s the EGi writing process.
LLL: It’s taken almost six years for EGi to officially release its first album , so how do you feel now that it’s out?
NP: I can’t say it enough, really. We’re all very proud. We’re all very thankful for all of ours friends and everyone who’s helped us out. We’re happy that we waited enough time to get this good product out. We’d tried a few times to record a solid album, and this one really came out perfect. I finally feel a weight off my chest. It’s finally an album that we’re really proud of. It’s by far one of our best recording or singing processes. It has everything that we represent: Dance, rock, metal, funk…
LLL: You guys are booked to play Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, Illinois in May. You’ve played quite a few smaller festivals through the years, but how does it feel to get booked to play such a huge festival as Summer Camp?
NP: It’s really a dream come true. We’ve been wanting to play that festival for a long time. We’ve played a lot of smaller festivals around Illinois for awhile, and we did our thing just playing our scene, touring around and creating our fanbase, and finally bigger festivals are starting to catch on to us. It feels really good to get to play a big festival like that, and great artists always play Summer Camp. I’ve been going since like 2008 and it’s always awesome. Great artists, great crowd…we’re happy to be a part of it.
LLL: The band has a pretty stacked spring tour schedule coming up. Are there any gigs in particular that you’re really looking forward to?
NP: We were just out in Colorado in early January and we’re already coming back in early April, just because our fan base in Colorado has been really, really responsive. We really like it out there. It’s a good feeling to go out into new areas and new scenes and find fans who really dig our music as much as our home base. So it feels like a new home out there.