Easter Island
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Easter Island

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Easter Island is a buzz band from the indie-music sanctum that is Athens, Ga. The video for “Hash,” off the self-released Frightened (out July 3), is a good example of why. It takes a courageous band to open with a two-and-a-half-minute post-rock intro before reaching the actual song, and it takes a very good one to pull it off. Watch it below. - Magnet Magazine


Easter Island is a buzz band from the indie-music sanctum that is Athens, Ga. The video for “Hash,” off the self-released Frightened (out July 3), is a good example of why. It takes a courageous band to open with a two-and-a-half-minute post-rock intro before reaching the actual song, and it takes a very good one to pull it off. Watch it below. - Magnet Magazine


Let’s begin with some facts: On July 3, Easter Island released “Frightened,” its first full-length album and second recording; the band’s story is less than three years old; and members include Ethan And Asher Payne, Ryan Monahan, Nate Thompson and Patrick Ferguson.
Now some theories: With every release by an Athens band in 2012, musicians and producers are intensely ratcheting up the depth and quality of the recorded product — accept as evidence everything coming out of Suny Lyons’ studio.
“Frightened” is yet another salvo of sonic one-upmanship.
This can only end very well for the rest of us.
Another thought: Easter Island’s fraternal singer-songwriters, Ethan and Asher Payne, are Athens’ choirboy crooners.
On “Frightened,” where sweet, polite and plucky guitars swat it out with rat-a-tat post-something snare hits, the Paynes’ vocals sound sacral, really, even though the words lay out blighted romantic truths.
On records, it takes a number of listens before the two brothers’ voices become discernible separate entities. But the band members themselves are surprised to hear that the Paynes’ voices aren’t detached in the audience’s minds. They’ve seen the vocal tracks committed in the studio and studied what they thought were intricate, disparate intonations.
“To me, our songwriting couldn’t be anymore different,” Ethan said. The rhythm section reconciles the two songwriters’ styles, he added, and their styles find further fluid accord as the brothers now write material for each other to sing, an attempt to buttress the familial bond.
“We want to make our music seem communal,” Asher said.
“We’ve become better at writing songs for Easter Island as an entity,” he continued. “Ethan and I, our writing styles are similar enough that when we come to the table with a skeleton, the band gives it muscle.”
It’s not just the Payne brothers who describe Easter Island in physiological analogies. Ask any member of the band, and he’ll list out numerous affirming links between each instrument and player. But the connections making “Frightened” successful and filling the band with pride weren’t imbedded into Easter Island initially, and required a backbeat switcheroo.
After recording its first EP, “Better Things,” Easter Island underwent lineup changes in the rhythm section, a move that pushed the band further from the epic rock that inspired one critic to call the band America’s answer to Coldplay, and steadily towards the sharp and speedy Pinback-style drumming and jazzy bass lines that fill out “Frightened.”
Easter Island’s rhythm section, comprising a veteran drummer and music school-trained bassist, must balance between technical prowess and serving the song, a skill that seems facile in their hands.
“I love this town, but it has a very studiedly, anti-professional ethic,” said drummer Patrick Ferguson. “Sometimes being too technical affects your ability to connect with a crowd here.”
Asher Payne said the advantage to playing with bassist Ryan Monahan, Ferguson and guitarist Nate Thompson is that they don’t have to worry about rhythm during early songwriting. Their work is always complementary to the song, he said, giving it more meaning and significance.
“One of the most powerful things I do in Easter Island is sit there and wait for the downbeat,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson engineered “Better Things” before joining the band behind the kit, and he brings a rock biz savvy that’s helped guide the band’s stalwart independence. (Easter Island self-released “Frightened.”)
With two records under their belts, an EP and a full-length, the band already feels successful because they’ve been able to make honest music, earn a bit of coin and not accrue any debt. Which is the exact opposite tale, they believe, that following the traditional label route would have written for them.
Racing to attract the attention of labels and maintaining that relationship “gums up the gears of a band’s creativity,” Ferguson said. More bands in Athens are fortifying their independence, he said, and in doing so becoming so much better at what they do.
“The whole perversion of that part of the business is over,” he said. “So this is a great time to make music in Athens.”
From here on out, it’s all about getting as many people to listen or watch Easter Island as possible without sacrificing the band’s integrity.
“We formed this band to write pretty music that we loved,” Ethan Payne said. “And the goal from here on out is to write pretty music that we love.”
- Athens Banner Herald


Let’s begin with some facts: On July 3, Easter Island released “Frightened,” its first full-length album and second recording; the band’s story is less than three years old; and members include Ethan And Asher Payne, Ryan Monahan, Nate Thompson and Patrick Ferguson.
Now some theories: With every release by an Athens band in 2012, musicians and producers are intensely ratcheting up the depth and quality of the recorded product — accept as evidence everything coming out of Suny Lyons’ studio.
“Frightened” is yet another salvo of sonic one-upmanship.
This can only end very well for the rest of us.
Another thought: Easter Island’s fraternal singer-songwriters, Ethan and Asher Payne, are Athens’ choirboy crooners.
On “Frightened,” where sweet, polite and plucky guitars swat it out with rat-a-tat post-something snare hits, the Paynes’ vocals sound sacral, really, even though the words lay out blighted romantic truths.
On records, it takes a number of listens before the two brothers’ voices become discernible separate entities. But the band members themselves are surprised to hear that the Paynes’ voices aren’t detached in the audience’s minds. They’ve seen the vocal tracks committed in the studio and studied what they thought were intricate, disparate intonations.
“To me, our songwriting couldn’t be anymore different,” Ethan said. The rhythm section reconciles the two songwriters’ styles, he added, and their styles find further fluid accord as the brothers now write material for each other to sing, an attempt to buttress the familial bond.
“We want to make our music seem communal,” Asher said.
“We’ve become better at writing songs for Easter Island as an entity,” he continued. “Ethan and I, our writing styles are similar enough that when we come to the table with a skeleton, the band gives it muscle.”
It’s not just the Payne brothers who describe Easter Island in physiological analogies. Ask any member of the band, and he’ll list out numerous affirming links between each instrument and player. But the connections making “Frightened” successful and filling the band with pride weren’t imbedded into Easter Island initially, and required a backbeat switcheroo.
After recording its first EP, “Better Things,” Easter Island underwent lineup changes in the rhythm section, a move that pushed the band further from the epic rock that inspired one critic to call the band America’s answer to Coldplay, and steadily towards the sharp and speedy Pinback-style drumming and jazzy bass lines that fill out “Frightened.”
Easter Island’s rhythm section, comprising a veteran drummer and music school-trained bassist, must balance between technical prowess and serving the song, a skill that seems facile in their hands.
“I love this town, but it has a very studiedly, anti-professional ethic,” said drummer Patrick Ferguson. “Sometimes being too technical affects your ability to connect with a crowd here.”
Asher Payne said the advantage to playing with bassist Ryan Monahan, Ferguson and guitarist Nate Thompson is that they don’t have to worry about rhythm during early songwriting. Their work is always complementary to the song, he said, giving it more meaning and significance.
“One of the most powerful things I do in Easter Island is sit there and wait for the downbeat,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson engineered “Better Things” before joining the band behind the kit, and he brings a rock biz savvy that’s helped guide the band’s stalwart independence. (Easter Island self-released “Frightened.”)
With two records under their belts, an EP and a full-length, the band already feels successful because they’ve been able to make honest music, earn a bit of coin and not accrue any debt. Which is the exact opposite tale, they believe, that following the traditional label route would have written for them.
Racing to attract the attention of labels and maintaining that relationship “gums up the gears of a band’s creativity,” Ferguson said. More bands in Athens are fortifying their independence, he said, and in doing so becoming so much better at what they do.
“The whole perversion of that part of the business is over,” he said. “So this is a great time to make music in Athens.”
From here on out, it’s all about getting as many people to listen or watch Easter Island as possible without sacrificing the band’s integrity.
“We formed this band to write pretty music that we loved,” Ethan Payne said. “And the goal from here on out is to write pretty music that we love.”
- Athens Banner Herald


#9) This quintet of brothers Ethan and Asher Payne, Nathan Thompson, John Cable, and Andrew Terrell are following in the footsteps of legendary Athens, Georgia bands like REM. - Buzzfeed


#9) This quintet of brothers Ethan and Asher Payne, Nathan Thompson, John Cable, and Andrew Terrell are following in the footsteps of legendary Athens, Georgia bands like REM. - Buzzfeed


With a musical heritage as storied and a scene as saturated and competitive as the Classic City’s, a heavy dose of pretense is to be expected. (I’m reminded of one local musician, the former frontman of a beloved collective, who was overheard more than once discussing something about Sartre and crabs over coffee with young ladies). It’s refreshing, then, to find a local act that takes its music seriously without giving itself—its reputation, its persona—the same treatment.

Post-rock quintet Easter Island does just that.

“We didn’t want pretense,” says Asher Payne, who shares singing and songwriting duties with his brother Ethan. “So, all this happened comfortably, and none of us were doing something that we felt forced to do.”

“All this” refers primarily to Easter Island’s debut album, Frightened, for which the band is holding a release party this Saturday at the 40 Watt. Frightened is an impressive collection of soaring, melancholy tracks that draws on the influences of acts like Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Rós. The record has been in the works for nearly a year, and this slow pace manifests itself in a mature, unhurried sound—also a result, perhaps, of the influence of some experienced Athens musicians: bassist Ryan Monahan, drummer Patrick Ferguson and guitarist Nathan Thompson.

“All five of us are super different, but we all kind of met and agreed on this Easter Island sound,” Asher explains. “Patrick’s a punk drummer, and then Ryan’s a Britpop star, and Nate’s all glassy guitar effects, and I’m just melody and piano, so everything is melodic and poppy for me. And then Ethan’s, like, brooding and mysterious. But we all meet in the middle to make this dreamy rock. Everything’s very organic.”

And though bandmembers vary in age from 20-something to 40-something, they have found a common thread in the album’s title.

“I think we all feel frightened about what’s next,” Asher says. “For me, it’s like, I have a master’s [degree], I have a band, I live in Athens. Ethan’s been in Athens a long time—he’s making TV shows. None of us knows where we’re going next... We all have dreams, and we still want to have things accomplished, [but] we just don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

In that sense, Frightened captures the feelings of a generation that grew up with a plan, only to watch the economy falter—and its plans along with it. With visions of the comfortable adult life we’d planned for ourselves fading away, it can be frightening to even confront questions like what, exactly, we should value.

“A lot of the songs on the album are about things that we freak out about, that we put too much value in, or not enough value in,” Ethan says.

Monahan continues: “I think it captures something universal. I feel like there’s something embodied in the music that’s sort of beautiful and terrifying at the same time. It’s sort of overwhelming, and that’s something we all viscerally experience, in the moment of this constant uncertainty. And I think [music is] a way to try to transcend that uncertainty.”

In lieu of traditional ambition, the members of Easter Island have chosen to focus on one thing: making pretty music, communally, from an honest place.

“You should make… an album that you would want to hear,” Ethan says.

If the trickling of press they’ve received over the last few months is any indication, the Payne brothers and company have done more than just make an album that they like—they’ve made one that a lot of other people like, too. Reviewers have alluded to Frightened’s potential to launch Easter Island into the national spotlight.

Whether those predictions pan out remains to be seen. In the meantime, the boys of Easter Island are content to share a cup of good coffee, crack jokes at each other’s expense and keep trying to make music they’re proud of—for its own sake. - Flagpole Magazine


With a musical heritage as storied and a scene as saturated and competitive as the Classic City’s, a heavy dose of pretense is to be expected. (I’m reminded of one local musician, the former frontman of a beloved collective, who was overheard more than once discussing something about Sartre and crabs over coffee with young ladies). It’s refreshing, then, to find a local act that takes its music seriously without giving itself—its reputation, its persona—the same treatment.

Post-rock quintet Easter Island does just that.

“We didn’t want pretense,” says Asher Payne, who shares singing and songwriting duties with his brother Ethan. “So, all this happened comfortably, and none of us were doing something that we felt forced to do.”

“All this” refers primarily to Easter Island’s debut album, Frightened, for which the band is holding a release party this Saturday at the 40 Watt. Frightened is an impressive collection of soaring, melancholy tracks that draws on the influences of acts like Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Rós. The record has been in the works for nearly a year, and this slow pace manifests itself in a mature, unhurried sound—also a result, perhaps, of the influence of some experienced Athens musicians: bassist Ryan Monahan, drummer Patrick Ferguson and guitarist Nathan Thompson.

“All five of us are super different, but we all kind of met and agreed on this Easter Island sound,” Asher explains. “Patrick’s a punk drummer, and then Ryan’s a Britpop star, and Nate’s all glassy guitar effects, and I’m just melody and piano, so everything is melodic and poppy for me. And then Ethan’s, like, brooding and mysterious. But we all meet in the middle to make this dreamy rock. Everything’s very organic.”

And though bandmembers vary in age from 20-something to 40-something, they have found a common thread in the album’s title.

“I think we all feel frightened about what’s next,” Asher says. “For me, it’s like, I have a master’s [degree], I have a band, I live in Athens. Ethan’s been in Athens a long time—he’s making TV shows. None of us knows where we’re going next... We all have dreams, and we still want to have things accomplished, [but] we just don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

In that sense, Frightened captures the feelings of a generation that grew up with a plan, only to watch the economy falter—and its plans along with it. With visions of the comfortable adult life we’d planned for ourselves fading away, it can be frightening to even confront questions like what, exactly, we should value.

“A lot of the songs on the album are about things that we freak out about, that we put too much value in, or not enough value in,” Ethan says.

Monahan continues: “I think it captures something universal. I feel like there’s something embodied in the music that’s sort of beautiful and terrifying at the same time. It’s sort of overwhelming, and that’s something we all viscerally experience, in the moment of this constant uncertainty. And I think [music is] a way to try to transcend that uncertainty.”

In lieu of traditional ambition, the members of Easter Island have chosen to focus on one thing: making pretty music, communally, from an honest place.

“You should make… an album that you would want to hear,” Ethan says.

If the trickling of press they’ve received over the last few months is any indication, the Payne brothers and company have done more than just make an album that they like—they’ve made one that a lot of other people like, too. Reviewers have alluded to Frightened’s potential to launch Easter Island into the national spotlight.

Whether those predictions pan out remains to be seen. In the meantime, the boys of Easter Island are content to share a cup of good coffee, crack jokes at each other’s expense and keep trying to make music they’re proud of—for its own sake. - Flagpole Magazine


With the success of bands like Beach House and Deerhunter, plenty of up-and-comers have been trying their hands at dream-pop these past few years, with mixed results. It’s tough, when making music in a trendy style, to make something that sounds heartfelt. This isn’t a problem for Athens, Ga., quintet Easter Island.

Easter Island’s full-length debut, Frightened, is a lush, haunting collection of dream-pop tunes that owes a much heavier debt to the likes of Explosions in the Sky and My Bloody Valentine than the synth- and effects-driven dream-pop of the genre’s current heavyweights. Singers (and brothers) Asher and Ethan Payne nestle softly sung lyrics about loss (both in the sense of having lost something and being lost yourself) among soaring, glassy guitars, brisk drum fills and waves of reverb.

It comes as no surprise that, with their heavy post-rock influence, Easter Island makes songs that sound big, calling to mind the swelling grandeur of Sigur Ros. But the band tempers the big bloom of tracks like album opener “Weekend” and the compellingly gloomy “You Don’t Have a Choice” with notes of languorous Americana (“Sneaking”) and moments of relative restraint (“Ginger”). The result is a lofty, lovely album that sweeps you along rather than pummeling you with its own grandiosity. - Paste Magazine


With the success of bands like Beach House and Deerhunter, plenty of up-and-comers have been trying their hands at dream-pop these past few years, with mixed results. It’s tough, when making music in a trendy style, to make something that sounds heartfelt. This isn’t a problem for Athens, Ga., quintet Easter Island.

Easter Island’s full-length debut, Frightened, is a lush, haunting collection of dream-pop tunes that owes a much heavier debt to the likes of Explosions in the Sky and My Bloody Valentine than the synth- and effects-driven dream-pop of the genre’s current heavyweights. Singers (and brothers) Asher and Ethan Payne nestle softly sung lyrics about loss (both in the sense of having lost something and being lost yourself) among soaring, glassy guitars, brisk drum fills and waves of reverb.

It comes as no surprise that, with their heavy post-rock influence, Easter Island makes songs that sound big, calling to mind the swelling grandeur of Sigur Ros. But the band tempers the big bloom of tracks like album opener “Weekend” and the compellingly gloomy “You Don’t Have a Choice” with notes of languorous Americana (“Sneaking”) and moments of relative restraint (“Ginger”). The result is a lofty, lovely album that sweeps you along rather than pummeling you with its own grandiosity. - Paste Magazine


Discography

Frightened LP 2012
Better Things EP 2011

Photos

Bio

Formed by brothers Ethan and Asher Payne in 2010, Easter Island creates panoramic, post-rock inspired dream pop. Behind the wall of towering drums, glassy guitars, and the forceful tide of synthesizers, hide soft-spoken melodies, tender harmonies, and understated musings on the subtle, yet visceral moments in life.

Often compared to sonic pioneers of the 90s and 00s, Explosions In Sky, My Bloody Valentine, Pedro The Lion, and Sigur Rós, Easter Island makes no compromise to explore unknown sonic territory, embodying the “feeling that you’d stumbled onto something great...knowing that you had a potential game changer in your hands” (Pop Matters).

In 2011, Easter Island’s “Proud” from the debut EP, Better Things, was featured on ABC’s Off The Map. The band just released their debut LP "Frightened" last summer and is currently working on a new record to be released this fall.