An Interview With Josh Gardziel Of Last of Eden

Josh Gardziel of Last of Eden Interview

Feature Photo courtesy of Josh Gardziel of Last of Eden

If instrumental modern post-rock out of the U.K. is your poison, then you’ll want to drink up all of what Last of Eden (L.O.E.) has to offer. The band’s sound is blunt yet ethereal, as any proper post-rock band should be.

But beyond those admittedly general and probably expected labels, a deluge of depth and untold layers of grandeur are swelling up from the tracks strewn across Last of Eden’s EP, People Like People Like Them, or their album, The World and Everything in It. And so, if you’re looking for something new yet familiar to dig into, L.O.E. is a band for post-rock lovers of all shapes and sizes.

During a break in the action, Last of Eden’s searing six-stringer, Josh Gardziel, beamed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to peel back the onion on the band’s history, songwriting, affinity for gear, and more.

What inspired you to pick up the guitar, and what keeps you inspired to pick up the guitar? 

I think it’s safe to say that we all took to playing musical instruments at an early age. Some are younger than others. Guitar, drums, and bass guitar just spoke to us. Our early musical tastes were a huge catalyst and inspiration for us first to pick up an instrument. It was music that felt accessible and inspired that urge.

Playing was fun, which was what was most important and kept us going. Now, we all find ourselves in the same place in our musical journey, and the best thing about this is that we find ourselves together, sharing this experience. There are many bands we have similar interests in, and I’m sure we all took a lot of inspiration from these icons of our earlier days.

Bands such as Blink-182, Tesseract, and Dream Theater, to name a few. What keeps us going is more than just writing music for people. It’s still a passion. But something we have always agreed is that the most important thing is to write music that we enjoy playing. That same sense of fun is why we still pick up our instruments. Writing and playing music soothes the soul, so how can we not keep picking up and playing our instruments?

How did Last of Eden form? How has the intent changed since the beginning? 

It was never the intent to get to where we are right now. I mean… it’s everyone’s dream as a musician to quit your 9-5 jobs, do what you love every day, and travel the world performing. When we formed the band, it was a group of like-minded friends getting together to write music and have fun.

Once we started writing, we knew we had chemistry. We started getting radio plays from the likes of Radio 6 Music and Radio X, so we knew we had something special enough to continue pushing it publicly. We think from there, every step we have taken and every gig we have played, we have wanted to walk away with something that moves the band forward.

We have been very fortunate to meet some very special people who have helped us get to where we are now. The Intent now is to ride this wave and take our live show into Europe. I think the early motivations still hold the same foundation that we started with: to write and play music we enjoy and to hope that it translates to anyone willing to listen.

How did your debut album, The World and Everything in Itcome together?

The record started in a small room in the valley of Calderdale, West Yorkshire, where four people wanted to get together and play music – simple. It was important that we wrote music that we enjoyed playing, and if people listened and followed us, we would know we were on the right track. We never knew that people would take to it like they have.

The tracks we have on our debut album, The World and Everything in It, are an accumulation of tracks we wrote over the last three years. As the world started locking down due to COVID-19, everything seemed to be still and unsure. We took this time to keep writing and coming up with new ideas for the album. We used emails and messages to send ideas back and forth to each other. Some of our best tracks were written in this way.

Where were you pulling from in terms of songwriting? 

When we started composing the tracks for the album, we knew we wanted simple melodies, big sounds, and even bigger dirty riffs from the get-go. I think the rest came to us when we were playing in a room together. We took inspiration from other bands we had listened to from earlier years, who created beautiful, intricate-sounding melodies by using layers of instrumentation. When you listen through our tracks, this becomes clear.

We started with short, punchy tracks that seemed to draw people’s attention, rather than the 7–12-minute tracks that have become the standard of the post-rock/prog-rock format. As we kept writing we started experimenting with different time signatures and experimenting with longer tracks. We try to learn from all our writing, and with each new track, we have aimed to push ourselves creatively and musically just that little bit more.

What tracks proved to be the most challenging, and why? 

The most challenging track on the album for us was “All that Glitters Is Not Gold.” We chose this song because it was the first track where we didn’t restrict ourselves in writing. We had a loose framework for the song, but if a new idea came and it was good enough, we put it in.

Every element was carefully crafted, and each instrument was doing something fast-paced or adding layers of melody in the first half of the song, building to a drop where we could use one of our favorite speech samples: Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot.”

The hardest thing to do when playing speech samples is to play with enough dynamics to help build the suspense and emotions of the track and compliment the words without drowning out or overshadowing what we had intended to be the track’s focal point.

Do you have a favorite riff and solo? What does that process look like for you? 

We have a favorite riff, but it’s under wraps as we are working on it for the next album. If we were to agree on this collectively, we would say “People Have the Power” from our first album is one of our better riffs. It’s the first complex riff we made together, and it has such a driving force to end the track.

We have always tried to build suspense and emotion throughout a track that leads to the climax of the riff. You see it a lot in electronic / dance music or metal. To us, it’s so powerful when you alleviate that tension that has built and reach that moment where it drops into a heavy riff.

It allows the halftime beats and driving riff to take you to another place—a place where you could be all day and not care. We use the riff as shorter climactic elements to our tracks, which has worked well for us to date.

Which of these songs best represents the guitarist you are today, and why? 

This was a difficult question to answer as we don’t know if any one song captures everything about who we are as players today. Simply because each song tells the story of how we got to be the players we are today. If we were to pick one song, I would say “All That Glitters Is Not Gold” is the track where we took simple melodies on the guitars and layered them in a way we felt proud of.

When you break all our sounds down and isolate them, nothing in there is super technical or complex. Everything is based around simple motifs on each instrument, but when played at the same time, it creates this beautiful tapestry of musical textures and melodies. This is the foundation of how we write, and building on this will help us move forward.

How do you view the way you play today versus the past? What has changed most? 

When you’re learning to play any instrument, you start with playing other bands’ music. This is the perfect way to learn different and new techniques. These techniques are what help musicians write music and create newer and more interesting music.

We would all say that we are not the most technical or virtuosic musicians, but a wise man once said to us in our earlier years, “A good musician isn’t a musician who wants to play or solo in every part of a track, a good musician is someone who knows when not play.” Listening to what a track needs or doesn’t need is what we feel we have developed more as we’ve matured as players.

Does playing live versus the studio alter your approach? 

You have to change your approach when in the studio or playing live. It’s tough to capture your live sound in the studio. Nothing sounds quite as expansive and full, so when we are in the studio, we focus on layers, using subtle harmonies in the guitar chords to build a sound that we are happy with.

The studio adds additional pressure of isolating and putting your parts under the microscope. Knowing that what you record will be etched in time adds pressure, so it becomes very important that you’re happy with the result. Playing live is the fun bit! But it brings its own challenges in conveying the energy and emotion of the music in a way that an audience can translate.

As we didn’t have a singer and instead used speech samples, we needed to create a visually engaging show differently. We have created videos for each of our live tracks that play behind the band on stage as a backdrop to the music. We want to give the audience a visual spectacle and give our music connection and meaning.

How do you view guitar solos in the modern era? Do they need to be deconstructed and changed from being overblown?

I think everyone loves a good solo; however, we think it has to be specific to the genre of music and the style of music you’re playing. A solo used at the right time gives the music a voice. But equally, if overused or not in the right taste, it can spoil a track’s flow and dynamics and take away from the music’s intention.

It’s rare in post-rock music to see a conventional guitar solo but define what a guitar solo is. Is someone standing at the front of the stage drawing all the crowd’s attention, or is it an isolated guitar melody that gives the track a voice just like a singer would do?

Can a solo give a song a catchy lead that people remember? We have tried to use simple lead melodies as a focal point in our music and draw that attention. We wanted to take all the best bits from different genres and apply them to our own style and way of playing and composing.

Tell me about your gear: guitars, amps, pedals. 

Josh is a huge fan of Japanese-made Fenders from the Fugijen era. He’s fortunate to own two Strat’s from those wonderful years. His 1996 Shell Pink Strat is his number one currently. It has a 7.25 radius fretboard, which he says is a first for him, but he absolutely loves it.

Dom is currently playing an Ibanez RG 2550E, which, in stark contrast to Josh’s 7.25, has a 12” radius fretboard and is a much more modern spec guitar. It has an HSH (humbucker, single coil, humbucker) pickup configuration, which certainly gives a chunkier edge to his guitar. Ben has experimented over the years with various bass and, at one point, had a Rickenbacker. A bass he admitted he had dreamt about for a lot of years.

Sadly, he says the dream didn’t meet his expectations, and he never fell in love with the sound and felt the way he thought he would. He now has two Fender Aerodyne basses on rotation and Japanese-made guitars. He says these feel right for the sound and style he plays today. We opt for clean guitar amps with plenty of headroom to use as a pedal platform, so between us, Josh is playing a Fender Bassman 59 Ltd.

He says he has always been a huge fan of the slightly more mid-focused Tweed amps. Dom, however, is playing a Fender Twin Reverb, and Ben is playing through an Ampeg SVT CL with an 8×10 Ampeg SVT Cabinet. Both Josh and Dom have a vast array of toys at their feet, but maybe noteworthy are our use of the Strymon Timeline and Strymon Big Sky, which both Josh and Dom have on their boards and have become a staple of our sound.

Dom’s most recent acquisition is the Friedman Be OD Deluxe for its high gain tones, whereas Josh currently prefers the Strymon Riverside and Boss SD3. Using the SD3 as a tube screamer stacked with the Riverside adds a bit of crispness and definition. Ben, on bass, is using a couple of Darkglass pedals for different distortion levels.

The Alpha Omicron and the Microtubes B3K. Ben says he struggled for many years to find a bass distortion he really enjoyed. He’d experimented a lot but always felt that bass distortions took away much of the bottom end he liked and gave him a really fizzy sound. The Darkglass pedals opened a new avenue for him.

What goes into those choices? 

I think individually we have all tried to choose our gear based on our own tastes and styles as individual players. This has been the foundation for the equipment we use. But collectively, as a band, we have started to think less about our individual tones and more about what we think would add to the sound we create together. Especially with pedals, we have all felt that they should inspire you to create music and make you want to pick up and play.

When choosing anything for the band, it has to be something that aids that process. For us, the equipment we have today has been gathered over several years and has matured alongside our musical abilities. By this, we mean as we have grown as players, we have learned more about gear and understood more about what we wanted to use, aid, and craft the sound we have as Last of Eden.

What are your short and long-term goals? How will you achieve them? 

Put simply, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and enjoy the journey. Our goal is to get our music out there and hopefully travel to perform our live show to people across the globe. It’s important to take stock and enjoy it when you get to your goals, no matter how big or small they are, as a lot of hard work will have gone into getting there.

It’s important to enjoy the journey of getting there and not get lost in milestones. We have recently, in the last couple of years, signed with Hopeful Tragedy Records who have helped us move into places where we wouldn’t have imagined previously. Having such incredible partners and people supporting the band has been incredible. Let’s see what the future has to bring for Last of Eden.

An Interview With Josh Gardziel Of Last of Eden article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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