Pure Grain Audio Interview with Three (3) Interview with vocalist Joey Eppard

http://www.puregrainaudio.com/interviews/three.htm

November 8, 2007
by Bruce Moore

Their Bio touts them as a “sound that transcends the genre conformity of modern pop culture.”  This statement couldn’t be truer.  The band recently released their latest offering The End is Begun on Metal Blade Records and they have shared the stage with Coheed & Cambria as well as the Bad Brains.  Their music combines driving metal guitars with inimitable melodic vocal arrangements and acoustic guitars.  Vocalist Joey Eppard took time out of his touring schedule to answer a few questions for me.

The songs on your new disc The End is Begun, are not exactly what one would necessarily find on your typical hard rock album.  You offer up a range of musical sounds and abilities.  Is this a result of your varied influences and or a desire to explore new realms of music?
Joey: Yes, it is.  Part of the concept of being “3” is being a 3-dimensional band.  We want to keep listeners on their toes.  We seek to create an identity that allows us to grow and evolve as artists, so that we’re not trapped into becoming a parody of ourselves.

Three has shared the stage with a lot of big name artists such as Coheed & Cambria and Bad Brains.  What was the reaction of the fans?  Were they receptive to your style of music?
Joey: Co&Ca was a huge tour for us.  We got a great reaction.  I think their fans got a real kick out of seeing us because our bands have influenced each other going all the way back into the 90’s (when they were known as Shabutie and used to open for us!)  We did some one off shows with the Bad Brains earlier in our career which were also great.  Doc and Daryl live around here (Woodstock) so our paths cross from time to time.  I’m sure we’ll collaborate at some point in the future.

The End is Begun has been in stores since July.  Now that it is out how do you feel about it and are you pleased with the reaction it has received so far?
Joey: All our records are unique, but I think this is our best.  It really represents where we are now.  In the past it seemed like by the time we released an album we’d already moved on musically.  I’m very pleased with the reaction we’ve gotten.  A lot of people have been calling us a breath of fresh air.

The name of the band, Three, is intriguing.  What is the story behind the name?
Joey: 3 is a concept.  We live in a 3 dimensional physical space, on the 3rd planet from the sun, experiencing time as past, present and future, in a form that consists of mind, body and soul.  3 is the apex of the triangle, the transcendence of our dualistic “good versus evil” view of life.  3 is evolution.  1(thesis) + 2 (antithesis) = 3 (synthesis).

Your bio describes your lyrics as “dark yet uplifting, spiritual without any connection to religion.”  What does that mean?  What gives you inspiration when writing lyrics and was there a theme or themes behind the writing of this album?
Joey: A friend once described our music as “a dark night of the soul that delivers you to the light.”  I know in my own life I’ve had to pass through some rough patches in order to get to and truly appreciate the good stuff.  This quality is reflected in our music, and in the concepts behind the lyrics.  As far as being spiritual without being religious I recognize the difference in these terms.  Religion is only a tool, much like a pair of glasses; its purpose is to bring greater clarity to one’s understanding of God.  Different people need different prescriptions and some require none at all.  Spirituality is non polarizing; it is what lies beyond the tip of the 5 sense physical iceberg.  It is what is really real.  The search for the true nature of reality is one of my primary inspirations as lyricist.  I use more intuition than logic when writing.  Sometimes I feel like certain combinations of lyric and melody have the power to unlock hidden doors in our subconscious selves.

Conceptually, much the album deals with the archetypal human struggle, that final epic battle that looms upon the horizon.  The twist is that this battle takes place within us.  All outer manifestations of it can be traced back to this inner struggle.  “Still I know you must continue trying to win the war waged within you.” (from “Battle Cry”)  It is the struggle of these opposing forces that ultimately leads to evolution.  Some of the darkest, most aggressive and technical musical moments on this record are balanced with soft and often sweetly simple vocal melodies.  This is part of our duality, our paradox.  That is what excites me as an artist, dark and light combining to create something new.

Other songs, such as “Live Entertainment” touch on the irony of reality TV’s growing popularity amidst a population of people who avoid being conscious of their own realities.  Perhaps the most meaningful song for me is “The Last Day” which reveals a positive outcome from all our suffering.  I think the final line of this final song sums it up best: “It’s the last day of the world, all the stars fired up to unfurl.  Gonna meet you in the space within.  You and I, we’ll race the light and win.”

What is the hardest part about being a touring metal band and what is the biggest obstacle your band faces?
Joey: I live in a sociological microcosm.  Our van is like the UN and each of us a country.  We have our strengths and weaknesses, border disputes and heated debates on “world” policies.  I’m very optimistic about our situation but I think the greatest challenge/hardest part is being a democracy and finding ways to bridge the gaps between our perspectives.

What was the writing process like for The End is Begun?  Was it a collaborative effort or more the effort of one particular band member?
Joey: Most tracks began as acoustic demos.  We set out to put our time into writing and producing before we actually hit the studio.  We had 30 songs or so to choose from.  Too many bands rehearse a certain way and then take themselves out of there element for the recording process.  We decided to set up recording rehearsals in which we multitracked the songs and honed our parts and compositions.  This was a great way to have a natural feel in the finished product.  We wanted this record to be a more collective effort.  With Wake Pig I wore so many different hats, (songwriter, producer, engineer, mixer, etc), it took a lot of time to do each task properly.  It’s hard to get into the headspace of each thing and still be the “artist.”  For The End Is Begun we hired a great engineer; Roman Klun.  It was also mixed by Toby Wright.  The band stepped up and coproduced this one.  Everyone was sort of responsible for producing themselves.  That’s not to say that we didn’t all give input from time to time.  Ultimately we have a record that more accurately reflects the different personalities within our collective.

Give us some insight into the meaning behind the title The End is Begun?
Joey: At first glance it seems rather dark.  Yet any ending is a new beginning, so it’s a matter of interpretation.  The truth is we are on the verge of an ending of sorts.  We have to be.  We can choose to end the cycle of violence, of needless suffering and the abuse of our planet’s resources.  Or we can choose to allow the end to consume us.  Either way, we must live with the consequences of our actions or inactions.  We determine whether the end is a good or bad thing.  This record is a hybrid of melancholy and hope rising up out of the ashes of our self-destruction/deception.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?
Joey: I’d have to say playing Quebec City in October 2007.  We were so connected to the audience; it was the most powerful musical experience of my life.

What is next for Three?
Joey: We’ll be touring for the next 2 years so keep an eye out!

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