As far as current music goes, not many bands, most likely none, can compare to Earthless. Their musical craftsmanship is out of this world, and they’ve created an explosion of emerging psych bands coming out of San Diego and the surrounding areas. But then again, when Isaiah Mitchell used to be the local Encinitas guitar teacher, what else can you expect? Having obsessed over Earthless since I first came across them years ago in my bedroom back at my mum’s in Norway, they’ve always seemed like these unattainable gods from sunny California, so when I recently was told Isaiah would be playing Orange during their next UK and European tour… Ahh, yes, I was so stoked. About freakin’ time, he’s only the Hendrix of our generation.
You’ve been pretty busy touring lately as well as just releasing your latest record ‘Black Heaven’ on Nuclear Blast Records, which is an amazing record, but also pretty different from your earlier stuff.
Isaiah: It’s super different, we didn’t expect it to be exactly the way it was when it came out, but we’re all happy with the end result. We knew we were gonna do at least one song with vocals, but we didn’t expect it to be four songs, that kind of just happened. Those were the strongest songs, so by natural selection they ended up on the album.
You’ve obviously been singing in Golden Void for years, and I also heard rumours about a band from way back called ‘Juan Peso’ where you also used to sing?
Isaiah: Oh wow, yeah that’s from when I was about 19, and you have to do a lot of digging to find any of that online. You might get lucky on youtube but that’ll be it. I’ve always sung in bands, but for Earthless we just didn’t want to do it, it wasn’t our thing. It’s been fun not doing it, but it’s also been fun throwing it in there, do something different.
Last time I saw you guys in California you were using an old Orange cab, and tonight you’ve got a full Orange backline! Care to run us through the two?
Isaiah: I got that 4×12 cab when I was 17 or 18 from a music shop in Encinitas called ‘Moonlight Music’, I used to work at this shop and my boss Russell had two brand new Orange 4×12, I think both early 90s, maybe even late 80s cabs in the garage of his house. We didn’t have any other 4×12’s in the shop, so he told me I should get one of them, and I was just shocked when I saw them, they were so – Orange! At that point in my life I’d never seen an Orange in the flesh before, I was just a kid and they weren’t very common in the US at the time, my only ever encounter at that point was this old Black Sabbath video with Paul Shaffer in the background, and Sabbath playing ‘Iron Man’. Sabbath were using Orange amps there instead of their usual Laney amps, and they just stuck right out due to the bright colour!
I ended up taking the cab of his hands, and putting it up against any other cabs like old Marshalls or whatever, my Orange would just always sound better. Maybe it’s because the walls on the Orange are so thick compared to others, especially Marshalls’ who’s really thin, I don’t know, but there’s just no competition in any other amps, the Orange would just always do it better. For this UK and European tour, I’ve also got two Orange heads, a Rockerverb MK II and a Rockerverb MK II and they’ve been treating me well. Our sound guy’s really into Orange as well so he’s happy – we’re all happy!
There’s a lot of emerging psych bands coming out of San Diego at the moment with you guys being one of the first ones on the scene more than a decade ago, and Radio Moscow and Sacri Monti bassist Anthony Meier even described you as ‘the godfathers of San Diego’ last time I spoke to him, singing your praises, as most people do – it must be crazy though to have had that sort of effect on your hometown and the place you’re from, leading the way for all these other bands and artists. Obviously, they’ve all had Earthless to look up to, who was it that stood out to you when you guys first got together and formed Earthless?
Isaiah: First of all, I love Dukke (Anthony), he’s just great! We’ve toured with Radio Moscow and it’s always a good time with those guys. To answer your question; Definitely Jimi Hendrix, Cream and all the other great British blues guys who played loud amps. Blue Cheer, a bunch of German kraut bands as well as Japanese bands. When I was a kid growing up I didn’t know of any current bands that were doing that whole Cream style of playing where you’ve got half stacks or full stacks, I had never seen that before in my time. Then I met Mike and we started playing together in Lions of Judah which kinda made my dream come true as he was into all of those things as well. Then one day, someone sat me down and made me check out Nebula’s ‘To the Center’ album and I saw the picture on the back where they were just using all this old, rad gear, and I just had no idea that kinda stuff still existed. All that stuff was influential to me, and still is. I’m also really stoked about the whole emerging San Diego psych thing, it’s a really cool thing to be a part of, especially when you have all these rad bands citing us as influences, it’s an honour.
As I finish typing, I schedule this post for posting 19th of April at 2pm, knowing very well that mere two hours later I’ll be attending the first of three Earthless shows at this years Roadburn festival, and my endorphin level is through the roof just thinking about it.