Warped Tour 2012 – July 21 – Nassau Coliseum
DF – David Fowler – Keyboards
SF – Stephen Fowler – Lead Vocals
DTK – Dave the Klone
TNT, as herself
One of the amazing highlights of the 2012 Vans’ Warped Tour was getting to catch an awesome set from, and hang out with Echo Movement, the band from the Jersey shore bringing their own brand of sci-fi to their Reggae / Classic Rock fusion sound. Take 2 parts Bob Marley, 1 part Beatles and 1 part Pink Floyd, and you just start to scratch the surface of what Echo Movement has perfected with their latest album, Love and the Human Outreach. The guys were super cool and more than happy to go into depth on the finer points of what makes Love and the Human Outreach more than just a mind-blowing album, but a scientific work of art.
TNT: So it’s already been featured in CNN, MSNBC, Wired Magazine and other media as a scientific work. Would you explain how this album is a scientific work?
DF: Yeah, absolutely. There are two things in there that would qualify as such, three things if you include the subject matter of the lyrics. The two physical things that are in there, one is…well, actually this is our second album that features binaural beats. What they are essentially are two sinusoidal frequencies that are ever so slightly out of tune with each other. And when you pan one of those frequencies hard right, so that it’s only coming out of the right speaker, and you pan the other hard left, so that it’s only coming out of the left speaker, and then put on a set of head phones, your brain goes through a neurological process where it identifies the algorithm between those two frequencies, and it becomes what we call an audible artifact. It’s something that doesn’t physically exist, but because of a certain exchange among elements, you hear something that may not exactly be there. To get your brain working that way is always a great thing.
DTK: Wow, it sounds like you’re creating a certain kind of big bang in someone’s head when they listen to your music.
DF: Ha. We’d love for that to happen. If there’s any sort of output of energy, or any sort of transformation of energy, I think that’s a beautiful thing and in this case, it’s a cognitive process that’s responsible. It’s pretty fascinating because you can use binaural beats, and they have been used for therapeutic reasons. It’s something we’ve studied for a pretty significant period of time before we used them on the last album. On this one we used them on the first track, “Rising Sunset,” and a little bit on the second track, “Spaceship Earth.” I feel like they put you in a nice relaxed state to set you up for the album, and then you proceed from there.
DTK: That sounds incredible. [Referring to the explanation, as I had not heard the album at this point…but before you ask, yes, those binaural beats worked, and it was so fucking cool.]
DF: It’s a good way of bridging the gap between reality and the world of the album.
TNT: Could you explain Reggae Bubble?
DF: Reggae Bubble is essentially a rhythm that is used commonly in our genre of music, and I guess in our case I’ve updated it or textured it with different sounds, but originally it had started to emerge thirty or forty years ago, if not more. It’s a great rhythm, because the only beat that’s not hit is the first downbeat of each phrase. That’s something that’s awkward and foreign and, for the lack-of-better-words, uncouth to any sort of western tradition of music, where everything falls on the down-beat rhythm.
DTK: So is Reggae something that has always been with you guys, or did it come from growing up in the beach culture? How did you guys wind up in the genre you’re in, which clearly involves a scientific component as well, so I can’t wait to hear how that plays into this to create Echo Movement.
SF: You know, as far as Reggae, Bob Marley Legend was one of the first albums I got when I was younger. We listened to a lot of Bob Marley growing up. We also listened to Michael Jackson, a lot of Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Doors. Those were the big players as far as the soundtrack at our house between ourselves and our parents. Dave, you wanna explain the science-side?
DF: As far as the science, that’s really just something we wanted to do. We were into doing research in different areas that we’re interested in as far as from a scientific point of view, and then just use the genre as the communicative medium through which we express these things. We use it as a vehicle. Regarding the binaural beats, it’s something I discovered two or three years ago, but they’ve been around for something like 70, 80, 90 years, so it’s existed for some time. It’s been used in the medical community as a treatment for certain neurological disorders.
DTK: That’s really cool.
DF: But the real science project on this album comes as a result of spending the last seven years contacting SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence…
DTK: Whoa, really?! Can I just tell you, I am so happy that’s the direction this is going, myself probably more than TNT.
TNT: Haha, yeah.
DTK: As soon as you said SETI, I was like, ‘Ooooooh!! X-Files!!’ So awesome. So, you contacted SETI.
DF: I did. I was looking for any audio they might have that we could possibly use, and I wound up talking to Edna Davore, the Director of Education at SETI. She introduced me to the Keppler mission, which is a space telescope that trails Earth, with the primary goal of discovering exo-planets, or planets outside our solar system. To date, since it’s been launched in 2009, it’s discovered over 2500 planets, as dead-on confirmations. It does this by observing the apparent magnitude of the star, because planets don’t emit light, it has to observe as the planet transits a small cross-section of sky, passing through our line-of-sight between us and the distant star of the galaxy where the planet is orbiting. Passing in front of the star over a period of time will create a discernible pattern. That pattern is charted by an organization called PlanetHunters.org, headed up by a Dr. Debra Fischer at Yale University. So I reached out to her, at Edna’s suggestion, and she was able to talk to me about how to read and understand their charts. So over a period of months, I searched through the data points on the charts until I found some that seemed to me to be sinusoidal, and something that I thought would translate well into music. Then I found a sonification team at Georgia Tech, led by Dr. Bruce Walker, and he put one of his undergrads, O’Riley Winton in charge of putting together a small team of undergrads to help me sonify this data. And over the course of four or five months, working with them, I would say diligently…
DTK: Yeah, I second that, diligently sounds like the right word.
DF: …they came back with some results, and successfully translated this star-data. The data we used in this case was actually a binary star-system, but they still create a series of data points that oscillate at the rate we were looking for, it just had a more consistent, more stable pattern that was easier for sonification. On top of that, we “fitted” the data, which is an idea I borrowed from a Dr. Charles Bailyn, also at Yale University, who was doing a lecture series where he discussed how he would “fit” the data. He discovered radio velocities of stars…so, you know the planet would go around the star, and it would wobble from its center of mass…and he would take those data points, which weren’t as stable because they were Hubble observations, and they used to just “fit” the data in order to make for cleaner digestion of the information.
DTK: So, it used to be inaccurate and they’d fill in the gaps?
DF: Well, it was more accurate eventually, but they were able to draw more conclusions and extrapolate more information from the data they had at the time. Using that information applied to the binary star-system sample we were using, they came up with these sounds. So when I got them back, I composed them into a five-part harmony and put it on the album, and then we dedicated it to Carl Sagan.
DTK: Oh my God, that’s so awesome. So now how many songs is this going to be happening in? I mean people are going to be hearing these star sounds and not even be realizing that this is part of the music, right?
DF: That’s fine. If they don’t understand, that’s absolutely fine. And those who do, more power to them. It’s no problem. At the end of the day, someone made a comment that they could’ve made these same sounds on their CASIO. And I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, so could I have. But what you can’t do, is make those sounds from a binary star-system on the other side of the galaxy.
DTK: I love that you guys are hiding all of these little…I like to call them clues. These would be kinda like, for people like me who watched the show LOST, these would be the Easter Eggs that are being left to explain what’s really going on. I mean, the fact that scientists are actually figuring out where other planets are, and if they’d be able to support human life, and all while we’re sitting here drinking lemonade and listening to music, this is what the universe is throwing around, all around you. I think it’s awesome you guys are incorporating that into your music.
DF: Those scientists make very easy idols. I idolize them, we idolize them, and they’re just fantastic human beings who are looking out for knowledge and the welfare and the progress of humanity. We honor them through our music when we do things like this.
DTK: Congratulations, guys. That is definitely a lot of work, and I can’t wait to hear this for myself.
TNT: What are some of the other bands you guys have seen on the Warped Tour that you’ve liked?
DF: The top of that list is Streetlight Manifesto.
TNT: How about the band name? Can you tell us, does it have any meaning, where did it come from?
SF: We are part of the echo generation. The echo generation are the sons and daughters of the baby boomer generation. Dave thought of the name. He came up to me one day and was like, I thought of this…how about Echo Movement, like the movement of our generation, the momentum that is going to bring about big changes.
DTK: Have you been seeing any of these big changes happening yet?
DF: They happen at the pace of life.
SF: I’ll tell you what, technologically we are moving at such an exponential rate, it’s noteworthy.
DTK: Scary even.
SF: If you think about it, hundreds of years ago, a father would teach his son a skill, I don’t know, how to make an ax or something. And then the son would teach his son, who would teach his son, and so on, and so on. It would always be the same exact method to make the ax; they’d heat the metal to the same temperature, they’d use the same materials, they’d live their whole lives in the same small town. Now, every year we get new cell phones, with completely new applications and completely new technologies and peripherals that we hook up. I mean, it’s like Ray Kurtzweil says, do you know Ray Kurtzweil?
DTK: Of course, the singularity.
SF: Yup, the singularity. Some of the predictions he’s making are just awesome. We’re going to have the human brain mapped out, in another two decades or so he’s estimating, and he’s been right about a lot of things.
DTK: I think I had read that he thinks by 2025 we’ll have the human brain reverse engineered.
SF: I mean, think about that. We’re on the cusp of being able to digitize what a human brain is, and if you can do that, well then what defines a human, what is a human being? Is it a collection of thoughts and memories, are we tissue, are we spiritual or what are we?
DTK: I suggest you check out Battlestar Galactica if you have free time after the tour.
TNT: Oh, God. It’s so not for me. Are you guys’ fans?
DF: No. I think Noles is a fan though.
SF: The only reason I know about it is through friends and now that you mention it, yes I believe that Noles is somehow a fan.
TNT: Anyway, so did you guys catch Streetlight Manifesto today?
DF: Not today, but we try to catch them as often as we can. They’re pretty good friends of ours.
TNT: Have you played together live or on albums?
SF: Dave has.
DF: We played a 5-show run with them in late 2009, and we’ve played with them on a couple isolated dates since then.
SF: When I said, ‘Dave has,’ I meant he’s played on albums with them.
DF: I played on their album 99 Songs of Revolution: Vol. 1, I played the organ solo on “Skyscraper,” which is a cover of a Bad Religion song.
TNT: So, do you think sponsorships are the best way to tour and get around? How did you guys start getting sponsors? Is there a process?
DF: It’s enabling. Any sort of capital is enabling in a capitalist society.
SF: It’s unfortunate that artists have to worry about such things. But the sponsors that we’ve been lucky enough to hook up with are really, really cool. Like Silver Surfer Vaporizors. We hung out with them when we were in Denver. They were awesome.
Don’t forget to order your copy of Love and the Human Outreach, out now! If you hurry, you might be able to catch the limited edition version, which includes a piece of art from Brothers With Glass featuring the album cover-art! Go my friends, be awesome and spread the word and music of Echo Movement. Nevermind the Posers shares new music with you so that you can share new music you discover here with the world.