Eternal Tapestry “There’s a lot of space for the songs to exist on their own and just go where they need to over long periods of time.”

Since 2006, the Portland-based team of artistic spirits Eternal Tapestry, led by brothers Nick and Jed Bindeman, have been providing the world with a steady diet of freewheeling psychedelic rock, with emphasis on the DIY and open-jam aspects of the genre. In the last few years, they have changed gears aesthetically, exchanging the lo-fi spontaneity for more thought, careful planning, and a search for more challenging and inspiring recording conditions.

Eternal Tapestry’s latest, Wild Strawberries, issued on Thrill Jockey, is one of their lengthiest albums. It also marks a change in the work ethos of the band, leaving the cramped recording space of the basement and into the fresh air and frontier conditions of a cabin nestled in the forests of Oregon. In this interview, the Bindeman brothers explain how the change of recording location influenced their music-making methods, give their thoughts on charity work, and argue why some consider double albums bad idea.


Your newest album was recorded in a cabin deep in the woods of Oregon. Was being close to nature important to your recording sessions in this case?

Nick Bindeman: It’s not something we’d done before this, but it’s important to me to be in nature as often as possible. It’s something that, for me, has a profound effect on my whole psyche. I know if I don’t get away from the cities I become more stressed out and anxious. It’s ideal to get out, away from people and things and noise and be out there. So to record music in that environment is completely idyllic. It’s… ideal. And it’s not like it can happen all the time, so it did have a good effect, because our everyday life revolved around not city life, but not having worries and just walking around the creek or sitting in a hot tub — which is not necessarily nature — BUT it was amongst beautiful ferns… So you know, the environment definitely impacted the process.

Do you think the surroundings have, or at least should have, a decisive influence on the album’s sound?

Jed Bindeman: Every other recording we have, for the most part, was recorded in our old rehearsal space, which was in Nick’s old house, in the basement, and it was really dark and moldy and…
N: Hey! It wasn’t moldy!
J: Sorry. Not moldy — mildewy. (Nick laughs in the background). We just made our projects there for many years, so we were really comfortable there and we were very used to the environment. Circumstantially it was where we played — and we liked it. But at the same time it was not exactly the perfect place to play and record music. It was a combination of bad environment, which was closed-in and not much room to breathe, and also because we was playing in a band then… with two guitars — the music itself may not have had the expansion of the room to breathe as much as this recording did, which was recorded out in the woods.

I think it often doesn’t work — everyone kind of assumes that double LPs are a bad idea and it’s been that way since their creation. But, given that there was such a range of dynamics in terms of sound and volume, it seemed like a really appealing notion.

Is the name of your new album — Wild Strawberries — a nod to Ingmar Bergman or is it just a coincidence?

N: Coincidence, but also a film that we like. It’s not my favorite Bergman film. I love Bergman’s films, though — Persona might be my favorite. But all of the titles were named after flora that exists on Mount Hood. If anything, the first thing that came was actually the Beach Boys album Wild Honey for some reason.

It [the title Wild Strawberries] sounds so innocent and simple. Most of our album themes have been more along the sci-fi lean, which is a big interest to us, but it’s funny: Usually we’re in the city and then we recorded in nature so we want to simplify, kinda “hypnify,” make something that has more of a pastoral kind of sound to the title and the album. So Wild Strawberries felt very fitting.

With your previous album, Guru Overload, you took the part in a charity action to save orangutans in Borneo. How does it feel to do charity? Are you planning to do any charity events in the future?

J: That was the first time we’ve actually been offered something like that. It felt really good, just to participate in something that is directly benefiting something other than yourself (laugh). We got a letter from Sven, who put out the album, saying that the album has sold enough copies that they were able to get a pretty significant sum to donate to that fund. It was nice to see that it [the money] actually did make a difference. So, yeah, it felt pretty cool!

There are some audible synthesizer, almost Kosmische Musik influences on the new album — were you influenced by any electronic artists?

N: I did more atmospheric ambient music for years [for solo project Tunnels]. When I was younger, I was just obsessed with doing extremely environmental ambient music using keyboards, synthesizers, guitars, and, well, ambient sound. It’s definitely something that has kind of built into my musical palette at this point, so I don’t think this will ever go away. I really love the experience of atmospheric music.

We want to simplify, kinda ‘hypnify,’ make something that has more of a pastoral kind of sound to the title and the album. So Wild Strawberries felt very fitting.

So are you ever planning to do a purely ambient album with Eternal Tapestry?

N: That would be a really interesting idea to do something that was completely atmospheric. A lot of the reasoning behind doing a double LP with Wild Strawberries was because, given the circumstances of being in this cabin in the woods we’ve recorded a lot of music that wasn’t the whole band. There were many times when we were like, “Oh, Warren’s playing organ, I’m gonna jump on the guitar and hit record.” And we’d have a lot of more open, low-key music without drums and bass and all the other elements, which were usually just obvious, kind of given that they be there. So we wound up with hours and hours and more low-key music, and all of a sudden we could have quite a dynamic album that’s quite long. It wasn’t a sure thing that we’d have a double LP, because it seemed like a potentially bad idea. I think it often doesn’t work — everyone kind of assumes that double LPs are a bad idea and it’s been that way since their creation. But, given that there was such a range of dynamics in terms of sound and volume, it seemed like a really appealing notion.

And a lot of good sounds would be lost if you tried to pack it into one LP.

J: Yeah. The music on this last album is very exploratory, [more so] than in the past. We used to play songs that were more rooted in structure, but on this one there’s a lot of space for the songs to exist on their own and just go where they need to over long periods of time. That’s how the cabin recordings went for the most part. There were some that were more rock-based that we didn’t use on the record. For the type of music we were making, two LPs were really necessary for it to have the full effect we intended.

Are there any music projects or bands you follow or are especially excited about?

N: I’ve been a huge fan of the group Herbcraft. It’s mostly this one guy, Matt Lajoie that lives in Portland, Maine, and he plays with a variety of different people. We’ve played some shows on the East Coast with him and we talked about doing a tour, but we haven’t quite got to that point.

J: Honestly, I’m not too up with what’s going on with current music. I own a record store and I’m always just inundated with records coming in all the time and it’s all secondhand stuff that I sell so I’m pretty much always listening to things that were made years ago.

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