With the April 2015 release of „Kingdom Of Fear“, Austin based EAST CAMERON FOLKCORE took another step in their career – with a surprising concept-like album bringing the ECF sound to a new height. The band tours Europe –especially Germany – for the 3rd time now – which shows that they have a stable fanbase overseas, while in the US it’s more difficult. Right before their truly convincing, overwhelming gig at the Underground, Cologne, bandleader and songwriter Jesse Moore took the time for an interview with entertaim.net’s Martin Hannig. Photo by coursety of Grand Hotel van Cleef.
entertaim.net: Jesse you played the Underground last year – do you remember?
Jesse: Oh yes it was great! One of the best gigs we’ve ever had! Cologne and Hamburg have been always very nice to us.
entertaim.net: On your european tour you play mainly in Germany, right?
Jesse: Mainly yes. Because that’s where our label Grand Hotel van Cleef is. Hamburg and Cologne are their 2 headquarters, that’s why we do these 2 places….
entertaim.net: Is Germany a good place to play for you?
Jesse: Really good all the years! It’s our third time now over here, and every time it’s different. This time it’s a lot of festival in the front and a lot in the end, and a lot of club shows in between.
entertaim.net: Do you separate your gigs in terms of playing another show for a festival audience?
Jesse: Yes it’s a sort of condensed version of our show. When we headline we can play an hour and a half – usually on festivals you have about 45 minutes. You have to snap the energy and keep the power going. When we played Pinkpop we were on Stage 4, the entrance stage, where everyone’s coming in. We were the third act of the day, very early… I mean it’s one of the biggest festivals in the world with the biggest names, and we have to compete with! It’s difficult – you don’t go “let’s throw in a couple of the slow ones” (laughs) – you really see people leave very quickly! But tonight we’re gonna do our show and play all the songs.
entertaim.net: You played a few gigs with Frank Turner recently. Did you know him before?
Jesse: I kind of know him on and off a couple of years through Austin. I opened a gig for him at SXSW 2009, he was very unknown. He played in a club that holds about 30 people – and it was packed. I didn’t know him back then, but my buddy in the band was one of the 1st guys who booked him in Austin. They became friends and I knew him through them. We played a couple of shows when he came to Austin, but this is our first time actually going out on the road with him.
entertaim.net: How was it?
Jesse: It was a blast! Eveyone got along from the crew, the bandmates, the crowds. We had 3 sold out shows. It was a blast! Frank is amazing. He lives it. He gets to do it fulltime, bastard (laughs).
entertaim.net: “Kingdom Of Fear” – did you read the book by Hunter S. Thompson?
Jesse: Yes. Amazing! It’s a collection of essays. They don’t really nailed into anything. Post-9/11 kind of take on the things happening in the States – as well as his own autobiographical things.
entertaim.net: He was a crazy motherfucker, right?
Jesse: He was an amazing crazy motherfucker! Someone who should be recognised as an american fucking hero. That’s what he fucking is!
entertaim.net: He was a writer for Rolling Stone, and he did that crazy Fear & Loathing thing….
Jesse: There was Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, but you know in 72 he was following around the presidential campaign. He was a political contributor to Rolling Stone. Spent time on the road with the democratic guy (whoever it was back then in 72)… He tried to bring a bit of truth to democracy und all the bullshit around…
entertaim.net: He tried to be true – I guess that’s what your aim is with your music, “Kingdom of Fear” … when you write about people putting fear on people, government putting fear on people….
Jesse: Yeah, it’s the fear and anxiety we have in our daily life.
„Fear is the main controller
entertaim.net: Is it an easy way to rule a land – to put fear on the people?
Jesse: It seems to work for quite a long time! For different empires throughout the history of mankind, right? Fear’s the main controller of people – make them scare what’s outside the fences and boundaries. And they won’t ever leave…
entertaim.net: Do you think we live in dangerous times?
Jesse: I think we live in very dangerous times. But I think every generation thinks that they live in dangerous times….
entertaim.net:… in the 80ies we had the cold war – dangerous! But it was simple: USSR was evil, and we were cool…
Jesse: There were sides! There was a direct enemy. And it changed – in a different kind of enemy. To me the biggest thing that’s different is the denying of truth. The denying of things like climate change in the States. I feel it’s one of the most dangerous things nowadays. When it reaches the point – and scientists are saying we passed that point – there is no resetting the clock.
entertaim.net: Well that’s interesting because in my opinion they put fear on both sides – the deniers of climate change and the climate change alarmists.
Jesse: Yes, sure! But I don’t think the climate alarmists are putting the fear of control. It’s the fear of knowledge. When you know something that can make you fear as well. I don’t try to scare anybody, we just need to acknowledge the fact that it is happening, and we have to find any kind of solution.
entertaim.net: It is happening, and now we have to see what will it bring? There won’t be any kind of apocalypse tomorrow as some alarmists say… mankind is strong enough to manage it – my opinion….
Jesse: For sure, yes! It all comes down to where can it be profitable…. In Germany you banned nuclear energy, after Fukushima. That’s amazing to see. You see what happens, and make a change. Seems reasonable! If it doesn’t work you try something else.
entertaim.net: Yes we do it. But maybe you know we pay our ass off – we have the highest prices for electric energy worldwide… so people are not quite happy with that aspect of new energy…
Jesse: Exactly – everybody wants cheap energy, of course. As long as we invade countries it’s no problem (laughs).
entertaim.net: The gas fracking thing you mention on the album is also quite cheap – and dirty…
Jesse: Yeah very cheap and dirty. That’s why people want that kind of energy.
entertaim.net: Your singing on the new album, the urge in your voice, and your lyrics reminds me of Bruce Springsteen. Is Springsteen an inspiration for you?
Jesse: You know my mum force-fed me as a child with Born In The USA. I was born in 81 and I was growing up with my parents being hugh fans of Bruce Springsteen. I was fed with his material in very early age. When I was in college I went back to his earlier material and learned all the good stuff.
entertaim.net: Born In The USA was his mainstream rock album…
Jesse: It’s probably my least favourite record. Greetings From Asbury Park is one of the best records he has done. You can hear the production differences. Some of his earlier records sound like what we considering a demo now…
entertaim.net: Nebraska or Ghost Of Tom Joad could be a inspiration for your voice…
Jesse: For sure! Darkness On The Edge Of Town was my favourite record, but Nebraska was a huge inspiration. Just learning how he recorded that on a 4 track in his living room. That’s how I recorded my first record. In 2004 after college I spent the summer in my parents garage, just me overdubbing guitar parts and vocals – just making music on my own….
entertaim.net: Are you satisfied with King Of Fear, with the sound on it?
Jesse: Ah no – I’m never satisfied with any of my records or 100% happy. You know it took 6 months to make. You listen to it in so many different ways… by the time you have to end it I don’t even know what it sounds like anymore. Your ears get lost in it. We wrote and recorded the songs at the same time, which is the first time we’ve ever done that. So it’s different. It’s like we’re really learning what these songs are and how we should play them.
entertaim.net: It sounds like a work in progress…
„Not any piece of art is actually perfect –
and if it is, I don’t know if you call it art“
Jesse: For sure! I mean there’s a lot of people especially in the U.S. who fuckin hate it! They don’t like it at all. But – you know – it’s that piece of art we wanted to make. Not any piece of art is actually perfect – and if it is, I don’t know if you call it art (laughs). It’s a feeling, that the music gives you, the issues that we talk about, you know. That’s what I think what art is. It evokes communication between people.
entertaim.net: Can you make living out of playing live?
Jesse: We are trying. But no – we go back home next week and go back to our day jobs. We don’t have a label there to support us. We do basically release on our own. I spent 6 months pitching this record to labels, got a lot of doors slammed in my face…
entertaim.net: I mean you can say to them: we already have a label in Germany!
Jesse: We do, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a hard part: you pitching a record through an e-mail. 60 minutes of a social political record – how do you pitch that in about 30 seconds of their attention? I don’t know…. I finally said: fuck it – we putting it out ourselves! I can’t wait around for an opportunity. We’ve always been a band never waiting around. We just going out and do it ourselves.
entertaim.net: For me the album is like a massive block – you have to listen to it as an album from the very first second to the last. It’s more like a rock symphony…
Jesse: That was very much the inspiration for us . We wanted to create a giant piece. It’s like: hey listen to the first movement of Beethovens 9th symphony – what, you missed the 2nd movement? (laughs). Records like this they are not usually commercially. No radio singles on it.
entertaim.net: Well ECF is not at all intended to be played on the radio… You could easily write a 3 minute pop song right?
Jesse: For sure: verse chorus verse chorus, bridge solo and you’re out. You got 3 minutes and 45 seconds (laughs). That’s definitely not why we make records.
entertaim.net: To make albums isn’t it kind of – outdated?
Jesse: Albums have still increasing sales. Surprisingly. Our label here is doing a very good job. I mean Germany is almost the biggest music market in the world. The bands are touring around here because of the close proximity. When we go back to the United States – if you have an 8 to 10 hour drive you’re lucky (laughs). Here it’s nice – a 4 hour drive. Everything’s a lot further away in the States you know. From Austin you have to drive 8 to 12 hours just to get out of the state of Texas! It’s so fuckin big. In that time you crossed whole Germany from north to south….