The Grand Rapids band with a hectic 2022 ahead chatted about its unique approach for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks by Melissa Dylan, Wild Honey Collective, Ben Traverse and more.
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Members of Earth Radio call themselves “storytellers of a future yet to be realized.”
It’s easy to see – and hear – why.
The award-winning, boundary-pushing, genre-melding Grand Rapids band of much-admired musicians relishes its musical collage, fueled by “future soul,” progressive jazz, funk, rock and an undefinable sonic attack with improvisational tendencies.
“It’s very dynamic music-making,” keyboardist Dutcher Snedeker suggested. “With this band, we like to challenge ourselves to think about a song … like it’s a constantly evolving thing.”
The same might be said for Earth Radio itself.
Formed in 2017 for a casual and spontaneous studio collaboration, the band – now featuring bassist-singer Justin Avdek, singer and keyboard player Hannah Laine, Snedeker and drummer David Ward —has “slowly grown from a collection of features to a more cohesive unit” that continues to embrace “neo-soul and sonic ingenuity.”
Following up on 2020’s album, “Reanimate,” that unit is set to unfurl inventive new EPs later this year while ramping up live performances that were severely curtailed over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earth Radio will join The Concussions for a special, unprecedented double-bill on May 18 at Grand Rapids’ SpeakEZ Lounge, part of Local Spins’ 10th anniversary celebration. Admission to the 7:30 p.m. show is free, but donations can be made online here.
They follow that by joining Kalamazoo’s Fake Baseball and Basic Comfort at Papa Pete’s in Kalamazoo on May 19 and Little Fleet in Traverse City on May 20. Earth Radio also has an extensive slate of summer festival appearances: Buttermilk Jamboree, Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Smiling Acres Music Festival, Blissfest, Beaver Island Music Festival, Cowpie Music Festival and Hoxeyville Music Festival.
Laine noted that the band’s performances after a long hiatus revived “that connection that we felt with the people in the audience. This shared joy of … experiencing live music again was so powerful.”
And these days, those Earth Radio performances are “more intentional and in line with what we want for ourselves and what’s healthy,” she added.
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, the band spotlighted two of its newest tracks – “After the Plague” and “Dance Like Me.” Scroll down for the full radio show, including those songs and the band interview, and check out the video for “Wrong Tree” recorded at Third Coast Recording” here.
VIDEO: Earth Radio, “Wrong Tree”
Snedeker said Avdek in particular champions the spontaneity and improvisational opportunities during live shows. And the new lineup with the multi-talented Ward on drums – who replaced Madison George after he relocated to Nashville – gives them new opportunities to refine their approach.
MOVTNG TOWARD ‘GROUP-CENTERED CREATING’
Laine calls it “group-centered creating” where they “meet in the middle and see what we can create from scratch together,” rather than individual musicians presenting songs they’ve written to the band.
“We’re looking forward to be able to hone in more on the band dynamic of writing together as a group, exploring … more of what Earth Radio is gonna be moving forward,” Snedeker added.
Each band member balances Earth Radio — named Local Spins’ Emerging Artist of the Year in 2019 — with other projects:
Avdek, who’s working on a solo project, also plays with Eric Engblade, Seth Bernard, Mark Lavengood and Max Morrison, among others; Hannah performs solo and will join Eric O’Daly and Max Lockwood for a May 12 show at Listening Room; Snedeker fronts Normal Mode, plays solo and with Monsters Impromptu, Lavengood and Blushing Monk; Ward plays with Sabbatical Bob and hip hop’s Fiendigods.
All of that outside experience fuels special, rollicking musical exploration in Earth Radio.
“We’re not just goofing around all the time,” Snedeker insisted. “We’re having fun, but there’s a lot of intention behind the music and the writing and the sounds and the textures.”
In addition to showcasing the music of Earth Radio, this week’s Local Spins on WYCE – which delves into local and regional music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – unleashed tracks by The Wild Honey Collective, Melissa Dylan, Fake Baseball (the musicians’ pick by Earth Radio), Ben Traverse, Mustard Plug, FlyLiteGemini, J.Rob, Carrie McFerrin and Eric Engblade.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (5/6/22)
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