Ben Rockwood of EastDear Park
MARYLAND Metal warriors EastDear Park are representing the state right now…
and doing a damn good job. There is traditional focus on the sounds coming out the big cities: we forget there is a world of music away from there – EastDear Park represent that with aplomb. As they say on their Facebook page: “We are five down to earth guys from Gaithersburg, Maryland dedicated to a life of playing music. Music is what we each fall back on during good and bad times. We go all out at performances and love getting the crowd involved. No matter where we go, we will always remain humble and will always hold open arms to whoever wants to get to know us”. Their E.P., M, was released this year and showed what a force and proposition they are. Following an exciting, incident-packed year: I caught up with the band’s bass player Ben Rockwood to discuss the E.P. and the highlights of the year; what albums have inspired him and the ultimate Snog, Marry, Avoid? question…
HEADER/BAND SOLO PICTURES CREDIT: Hannah Scarlet Goeller
Hey Ben. How has your week been? What have you been getting up to?
It’s been busy! We’re trying to get our new E.D.P. tie-dye shirts and tour bus ready to go! We’re also gearing up for a big show at The Canal Club on October 28th with Ghost Key, Sirens & Sailors and The Plot in You!
For those who are new to your work: can you introduce yourself to us, please?
We are EastDear Park from Gaitherbug, Maryland: trying to put the 3-0-1 on the Metal map! E.D.P. consists Daniel Shields (Vocals), Kevin Petley (Drums); Ryan DeOliveira (Guitar), Colin Fraser (Guitar) and Ben Rockwood (Bass). We love drinking beer and playing shows! BRING THE HEADBANG!
M is your latest E.P. and it seems like it was a labour of love and really important work. How does it feel looking back on the recording process and any songs (from the E.P.) particularly standout for you?
The tough thing about the recording process was that we were all super-broke so we had to ration what little food we had to last us the whole trip.
We literally ate canned beans, ramen and easy mac every day while we were there. It also forced us to grow a lot closer since we all had to stay in the same room together that whole week.
We had been through a lot of ups and downs together since our last release (two years before) and the rollercoaster of emotions was definitely funneled into every note and lyric on this E.P. This E.P. definitely contains some of the most personal lyrics I’ve ever written for sure – especially Malice and Marsiglia. The whole E.P. goes from dark to light: starting off with a very depressed, morbid tone to one of complete optimism and gratefulness.
The E.P. is available to stream on YouTube. In an age where musicians struggle to earn money to survive: do you feel more needs to be done to support artists and ensure they can earn a living from music?
The best advice I can give to anybody that calls themselves a fan of music is to go to your local music store and buy CDs from all your favorite bands. Go to all your nearest local shows to buy up all their CDs and merch. too. If you want your favorite artists to keep making the music they love: put money in their pockets by buying their merchandise and supporting them whenever they have a show. Every one of your favorite bands started off as a shitty local band playing in front of ten people at some shitty local venue. Help these people chase their dreams and they’ll return the favor by making that music you love so much.
You hail from Maryland (Gaithersburg). Is there a big local scene and which Maryland artists would you recommend?
It’s a real hit-or-miss scene but in the places where there’s any scene at all you can find a real sense of brotherhood and comradery.
Every MD band is in it to help every band around them. We know we’re all in it together. We all show swap; share each other’s music; buy each other’s music and support each other any other way we can. The scenes in Frederick, Baltimore and D.C. are all pretty sick. The list of talented Maryland bands goes on and on: Hydra Kyll, In Dying Arms; Animals As Leaders, Periphery; Silent on Fifth Street, The New Reign; Heijeira, Black Matter DeviceBlack Matter Device; Existential, Silence the Requiem; Mirrors, Phantoms; Delenda, Sharptooth, Subvert; Kalevra – and the list just keeps going…
As a Metal band; which other bands – older or new – have you drawn inspiration from?
Oh man, this is a long list…
Killswitch Engage; Lamb of God; August Burns Red, The Contortionist; Fallujah, Periphery, The Ghost Inside; Architects, Letlive; Whitechapel, Erra; This or the Apocalypse; Volumes, Underoath; Parkway Drive, Born of Osiris; Attilla, etc.
For those who find Metal a niche genre and not universal enough to be accepted into the mainstream, what would you say?
I’d have to say that isn’t true mainly because there’s just so many sub genres of Metal – it’s almost impossible not to find something that makes your head move. Also, it’s becoming more and more accepted by the general public due to the majority of Metal’s content becoming more uplifting and positive – with a life’s-tough-but-power-through-it type of mentality. The music is just so much more passionate than any other type of music and with the substance of rap in the decline thanks to all these mumble rappers now a days its music that is a lot more relatable for the more emotional kids.
You have started touring to support your E.P. Which towns and crowds have been memorable and do you enjoy the touring lifestyle?
Well, unfortunately, our bus broke down recently so we’ve been saving up and keeping it to short runs (until we can fix our bus).
Our best crowd will always be in our hometown of course.
We were born for the touring lifestyle. We love exploring places we’ve never been too before and playing in front of new faces every night. We love meeting people at our merch. table every night and gaining new friends.
Do you have any wild anecdotes or behind-the-scenes secrets from your touring? Which band member is most likely to stir up a bit of trouble on the road?
A lot of partying. If you’re ever at an E.D.P. show, come out to the van if you want to turn up – that’s an E.D.P. fact. If you ever want to buy us drinks or blaze us up we will love you forever! We always gotta have our mind right for our set! Out of all the members, I’d have to say Shields, Ryan and I are the trouble-makers. Whenever we get drunk our fuc***-up sense of humor comes out and we like to mess with people until they hate us. Messin’ with people in public is always the best. Honestly, it depends on whoever is the drunkest that night.
Looking ahead to the next few months: any new material being worked on or is it going to be touring and a bit of downtime?
Right now we’re working on getting our bus fixed so we can get back on the road!
The U.K. would certainty love to see you. Does the band have any desire to come perform in Europe?
That is our #1 dream! We would love nothing more than to tour Europe! The Metal scene is SICK there!
It seems possible (frightening as it is) Donald Trump could be the U.S. President soon. How does that make you feel as citizens and as musicians, do you have a political side to you?
I hate both candidates with extreme passion. Trump is just a racist moron who grew up with his daddy’s money while Clinton is a crooked criminal that has exploited our system for forty+ years. Politics definitely interest me but I use music to escape politic not voice it.
A sort of Snog, Marry or Avoid? kind of question. Metallica, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest: which would you perform with; which would you go on a drinking binge with and which would you want to be for the day?
Damn, this is tough.
Perform with Judas Priest because their shredding is incredible; drink with Metallica because those dudes were wild back in the day (and definitely know how to party) and then be Iron Maiden because they’re fuck*** Iron Maiden.
If you could be stranded on a desert island with one record each, what would that be and why?
Ashes of the Wake by Lamb of God. I literally listen to that album at least once a day. It’s just so groovy and badass.
For those young bands looking to follow you into music: what advice and tips would you offer them?
Be ready for a rollercoaster of emotions. You’re gonna have good days and then you’ll have bad days.
Sometimes it will seem like your band can do no wrong and other times you’ll wonder how you’re gonna make it one more day without quitting. Just never give up and grind your ass off. Make music and play as many shows as you can.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can select any song (other than your own as I’ll include one) and I’ll play it here…
Burn – Usher
Follow EastDear Park