It was July. I was at a Gameface show, and some band called Errortype:11 was the opener that evening...and was rocking the house.Ý Their music was amazing and interesting, a conglomerate of the best facets of many styles of rock, but what drew most everyone in was the banter of the band's extremely affable frontman, Artie Shepherd (former guitarist of NYC hardcore band Mind Over Matter). Mr. Shepherd was kind enough to answer some questions, and here they are.
SCR: Exactly how did you guys get started, and how long have you been together?
Artie: The line up happened very quickly in June of '97. Phil called me because he had heard that I left World's Fastest Car and wasn't really doing anything. He had just left his band Clockwise, we knew and respected each other, so it seemed to make sense. I lived with the old drummer from Bad Trip, so he jumped right in and the finishing touch was another ex-bandmate and old friend of mine (who is no longer in the band), Scott Martin, on bass. Scott quit after the first record to become a schoolteacher and was replaced by Adam Marino.
It's hard for me to do it, so how would you personally describe the sound of the band?
"Original" is a great term, or maybe "really great." I have seen writers butcher the shit out of us, but I have seen great descriptions, also, most of which involve the Foo Fighters somehow. Everything needs a label, I guess. We fall through the cracks, unfortunately, which is really detrimental to us. We're too rock to be punk, too heavy to be pop, too lite to be metal, too mainstream to be indie, and too pissed to be emo. "Really great original rock," that's the best I can do.
You guys seem to draw from a large pool of influences, especially with each member's background. What are the main musical influences for Errortype:11?
Actually, our backrounds are just different subgenres of the same genre. We do have many influences, but there are no direct influences... I often get ideas from old prog records or other sources that most people have never heard, and then I put them in some sort of pop/rock context. If I told you some specifics, you could listen and hear no similarity because it is a feeling, not a riff. There are three specific artists whom I hear and immediately begin writing: Guided By Voices; Genesis (with Peter Gabriel); and Elliott Smith. After it goes through the rest of the band, it takes on a life of its own; that's where the various influences come into play. Without those guys, the shit I write is boring.
What made you guys decide to hook up with Some?
Well, I played in a band with Walter [Schriefels, of Quicksand and Some Records] for a year and a half previous to ET:11 being formed, so naturally, his label was one of the first I gave the demo to. We actually never gave it to anyone else, which wasn't very smart, now that I think about it. We thought it would be cool to start fresh with someone else who was starting fresh; plus, we really liked Six Going On Seven, who they had just signed. I like to be associated with great bands.
Why the choice to release the EP on Crank! Records?
We had been entertaining offers from other labels before we recorded the new album, and Crank! was one of them. We eventually decided to stick with Some, but we realized that we had an abundance of songs and could afford another release. Jeff at Crank! was very enthusiastic, and Crank! itself has great distribution and put out the last Fireside record, which is a band favorite; again, we like to be associated with great bands. Also, it made us bi-coastal. They were willing to do a one-off EP, so we did it.
Any plans to do more World's Fastest Car stuff with Walt?
No. WFC doesn't exist anymore, it hasn't for over two years; at least not with me. Buy the bootleg.
Errortype:11 -- http://www.errortype11.net/
Crank! Records -- http://www.crankthis.com/
Some Records -- http://www.some.com/
Photos #1-2 by Erik Zimmermann.
How's touring been for you so far? I know that you were well received here in Houston, but has any crowd outright hated you?
Touring has been great, and things will only get better. Houston was very similar to other nights; we had to work a little to win people over, but it worked. We have had the opportunity of touring with Grade, Gameface, Hot Water Music, Six Going On Seven, and Samiam -- we have really been blessed so far. Many crowds have hated us, [because] I have a habit of talking shit on stage. Sometimes the sarcasm goes over, sometimes it doesn't. The merch table is the real thermometer of how well people understood my humor. I always thought it would be cool to be really arrogant and rock-n-roll while playing in peoples' basements. There is an obvious irony to this, [but] well, many kids don't think it is funny; they just think I am an asshole. I have recently toned it down in order to survive on the road, but someday the beast will emerge again. It makes for a very fun show when the crowd gets involved.
Toured overseas yet?
Yes, we toured Europe with Samiam in Dec. '98. It was amazing. Sold-out shows every night. The kids were really receptive to us, and Samiam was awesome. We do plan on returning asap.
How would you describe Amplified to Rock in comparison to your first full-length and the Crank! EP?
It is like night and day. First off, it sounds incredible. Our first album was recorded after being to together for 4 months, and was recorded rather quickly. So, obviously, the songwriting has developed, as has my voice. With Amplified, we really knew what we wanted and we went for it. The Crank! EP is more eclectic and was meant to be a lead-up to the full length; I think the first two records have a few hits on them -- Amplified to Rock is all hits. Buy all three now!
I'm sure that a lot of hardcore kids showed up at your first show based on the fact that you were with Mind Over Matter. How were you guys received by them?
That is basically the crowd we still play to. The MOM kids only exist on Long Island, so that really wasn't an issue; many of those kids have gotten older, as we have, so it is a natural progression to get out of hardcore (which is incredibly youth-oriented) and into more indie-rock or just plain rock like us.
I've noticed that in a lot of places, whenever Errortype: 11 is mentioned, invariably they compare you to Quicksand. How do you feel about that particular comparison?
It is OK; lazy, but OK. We are huge Quicksand fans, and I played with Walter for a few years, so it is natural to absorb some of that. It is lazy in the sense that Quicksand was much more metal than us, and we are much more melodic. My only problem with being compared to them is that although they were stars in the hardcore scene, they never really achieved their real goal, selling millions of records. I think it is because they fell through the cracks; you couldn't really put a label on it that the general record-buying public would understand. "Post-hardcore" is meaningless to most folks. Beyond all that, the Quicksand comparison is an honor; I just wish we could be even half as big as them. Buy our records!
Any act that you haven't yet toured with that you would like to (besides Yes)?
The Foo Fighters. In "reality world," I would love to tour with Fireside, just so I could see them every night.
What're you guys listening to these days?
I have trouble speaking for the others, but I'll try. Outside of all that Elephant Six retro-indie stuff and old prog records, I love the new Robbie Williams record and the new Six Going On Seven. It is genius. Phil is into more punkier stuff, and the other guys are pretty eclectic.
Are you the primary lyricist in the band? Where do you get your inspiration?
Yes, I'm the primary lyricist. So much of it is stream of consciousness, you know, words that sound good. Once that is done, it's time to make it make sense. At first, things were really personal, but I have started to be able to put myself in others' situations; it is a real challenge of the imagination. But I do still write about my girlfriend or my various interests -- I wrote specific explanations after each song on the first album and on the upcoming album, so buy them, and then you can read about my influences.
As a guitarist, who are your influences?
Steve Howe (of Yes) is the reason I play guitar, [but] he is an influence only in his eclectic tastes; I can't play that well. I actually get very influenced by my peers -- James from Six Going On Seven is amazing; a guy named Orlando who was in a band called Stillsuit is another one. I will often watch others play, learn a new chord and go home and write a song around it. Phil is the good guitarist in the band. He can play any style really well; his influences range from Irish folk to ska.
Do you downtune, or use any sort of alternate tunings?
We use a variety of tunings, but mostly drop-D. We also do drop-C and drop-D# (don't ask); the other tunings are stolen from Jimmy Page, like on "Collecting Dust" [from the Crank! EP].
Do you get any sort of radio support?
We do get some support, but we have bad timing when it comes to college; we have had two records go to college radio in the summer. Commercial Specialty shows have been very supportive, especially of the Crank! EP. I guess we will see how Amplified does when it comes out. END