Interview by Lauren Kettle for Swaager.com
Swaager has followed EOTO around the country this year from Wakarusa in Arkansas to multiple venues around Colorado, including but not limited to The Mish, State Bridge, Boulder Theater, and the Belly Up. Since first witnessing the unveiling of the “Lotus Stage” early in 2012, audiences have not only been enamored with EOTO’s live instrumentation and electro fusion sound, but with their stage production as well. Check out Swaager’s photo’s here from their Boulder Theater performance in March of this year.
Back again to Colorado as Summer comes to a close, EOTO will take the stage at Red Rocks Amphitheater this Saturday, September 8th, sharing the bill with Emancipator and Lotus. Contributing writer, Lauren Kettle, took some time to speak with Jason Hann, of EOTO, in preparation for this special performance.
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Interview with Jason Hann of EOTO
Swaager: How are you doing and where are you?
Jason: Well, I’m at home in Los Angeles and we are kind of on a different schedule for us now. We are just doing weekends for the most part, so we can fly home during the week and just play on the weekends. That has been since about the beginning of August and we will probably stay with this program through Thanksgiving. It’s different for us, but it’s nice for us to be able to spend this much time at home.
Swaager: It seems like you don’t see that type of schedule too often when you are on such a hectic tour like EOTO’s.
Jason: Yeah exactly, I think last year I was on the road for about 250 days.
Swaager: Being a part of two major bands such as EOTO and String Cheese, is there one that takes special priority over the other?
Jason: Well, String Cheese takes the priority in the sense that there are so few shows and there is a lot more overall crew and coordination involved. EOTO is pretty mobile and on the fly, and SCI is a pretty big monster when we decide to take on a show. We try to have meetings well enough in advance to where we know our schedule at least six months in advance. Until that point, we will book EOTO shows at our leisure, but we really try to respect everybody else’s schedule because we do so few SCI shows and we always want to make them really special.
Swaager: Because EOTO is a live production show, I’m wondering how you and Michael stay in such mental synchronicity with one another. Is that something you feel has developed more over time?
Jason: Yeah, we are almost 800 shows into our EOTO career since 2006, and that is a lot of time on stage together. At this point, it has been years since we’ve even really talked about music as far as rehearsing to do anything new. We just go off the fly, and if we were to do anything else at this point it would just seem weird. It’s just nice that pretty much every note that everyone hears us play has been developed on stage from us playing so many shows. We definitely have this other instinct about it after playing with each other for such a long time. We used to have all these hand signals to say what we are going to do, and now we barely look at each other, we both just listen to each other and we can guess what the other person is going to do.
Swaager: I am pretty aware of the fans that EOTO draws in, and from my experience it is always a very enthusiastic and expressive fan base. What do the fans do to keep you motivated to bring it night after night? Do they play into the vibe of your set?
Jason: Absolutely. The ones that have been coming for awhile that know that we are just improvising and playing it all live, those are the ones who seem to get off the hardest as far as not only dancing, but appreciating what we are going through and that we feed off the audience completely. The audience’s vibe can totally turn our direction, or it can inspire us to take them somewhere else. So, it is really reciprocal, pretty much at all times. A lot of times, if the crowd really gets going it can propel us into a different place. We like to think that we can get there on our own as well, and will sometimes see the need to step up our game to pull the audience in. It is a constant back and forth between us and the crowd, for sure.
Swaager: You have Red Rocks coming up this weekend, and it goes without saying that this is one of your favorite venues to play, am I right?
Jason: Oh yeah, it’s one of the best venues in the world I think. That’s why there are so many amazing live albums that come out of there. The environment is great and the people who go out there are really set for something special to happen, no matter who is playing. Whether it is SCI, or I think the Scorpions played recently, or you know, whoever is out there. There is something about Red Rocks that brings out something extra in both the band and the audience.
Swaager: Definitely. What has been your favorite Red Rocks experience thus far?
Jason: Maybe the first time I played there, which was 2005. My very first time at Red Rocks stands out because I was such in awe of everything. You know, the way the back stage was set up, and then finally stepping out on that stage to a sold out crowd. It feels good remembering that sort of overwhelming feeling, like “Oh my God.” It’s really odd. But the funny thing is, every time I have been on that stage, I have had that same feeling. It has never been like going through the motions, it feels like the energy of the crowd is descending onto the stage, and then you have to come through with a way of pushing the energy from the stage back all the way up to the top row. You know, it’s pretty steep out there, and you have to dig deep and make it happen. Of course, the vibe and everything around helps to make it happen, for sure.
Swaager: Well, I can’t wait for EOTO this weekend. I will be celebrating for sure since it falls the day after my birthday.
Jason: Alright, well we will get nothing but the grooviest stuff going for you this weekend!
Check out the construction of the Lotus Stage here!