The Eurhapsodist's first interview ever, an impromptu affair just before an unscheduled headlining spot on a podcast (the result of Smile Line Spark's recent implosion), was a little rough. When the question of what they sounded like was put to them, politely, like six different ways (What do you sound like? Who do you sound like? Who else do you sound like? What genre are you? What other genres, etc.), they didn't really have an answer.

This is a common, though problematic, issue new bands face. Still flitting about in the ether of unfettered creation, they often don't stop to reflect on their influences. Who made them? Luckily, reflecting on influences is all music journalists do. Developing a musical shorthand ("x sound like y mixed with latter-day z") is the easiest way to sound authoritative without really saying anything. We learn it early, and use it often. Given this unique skill set, we thought it'd be fun and profitable to help the Eurhapsodist (singular name, multiple members) figure out their sound.

Of primary importance to any clinical evaluation is a little background.

Where'd the name come from?
Zac Fairbanks (electric guitar): ...the dictionary.

So it's a real word?
Zac: Well there's "rhapsody," which means a variety of things, and "Eu-," which means well or good, and "-ist," which is, like, someone who does that.

So why isn't it plural then? Do three of you not think that you make good rhapsodies?
Karli Fairbanks (vocals, Rhodes, acoustic guitar): That's a good question.
Zac: Karli is the Eurhapsodist. & r & Karli: No, I'm not. [Already a breakthrough. Karli's got this shrinking violet thing going on; her breathy voice is self-assured, but her attitude toward the spotlight is totally Chan Marshall of Cat Power.]

Why do you find it difficult to describe your sound?
Chris Gilliam (drums): I think we all try to be fairly original. Individually. So it's not like every song we write is trying to be something.
Karli: We each have very unique styles, which is hard in itself. And then combining those styles makes it more difficult.

So having these wide ranging styles, how does that mesh when you guys come together?
Chris: Pretty easily.
Zac: Yeah, we have pretty good chemistry [Inter-gender chemistry, a nod to Fleetwood Mac? The Mamas and the Papas?], then we have the sibling thing going on.
Karli: Zac and I have been playing music since we were like 10 together, so ... [Brother/sister thing is Jack and Meg White without pervy incest undertones.]

OK, sometimes the subconscious mind knows more than the conscious mind does. I'm going to give you some very directed questions. I don't want you to think about it, I just want you to give me an answer. Karli, Beatles or Stones?
Karli: Beatles. [This speaks to her headier lyrics and key-driven sensibilities. Also relevant: Less prancy, garish and air-humpy than the Stones, the band's sexuality smolders like Lennon/McCartney's Krishna -- like naughty young cowherds.]

Chris, Mozart or Foghat?
Chris: Who's Foghat? [Good sign.]

Chris, [Rush's] Neil Peart or [Blink-182's] Travis Barker?
Chris: Travis Barker ... no no no, Neil Peart. [Hints at a tension between the new and old school. Syncopation. Loud/soft dynamics. Leaning perhaps a bit, subconsciously, toward a punk ethos.]

Zac, Ravi Shankar or Norah Jones?
Zac: Uh, Ravi Shankar. [Obvious answer, in order to get a testing baseline.]

This one's for anyone: Cat Stevens or Donald Rumsfeld?
Zac: Cat Stevens.
Karli: Yeah. [Anti-war, pro-"Moon Shadow."]

Cat Stevens or Yusuf Islam?
[confused silence]
That was a trick question, they're the same person.
Karli: I was gonna say... [Pro-Stevens, but possibly anti-Rushdie??]

Chris, if your drums were the charge of a nation's cavalry, which nation would it be?
Chris: Iraq ... [Not disorganized and ill-trained, so perhaps, uh, fertile like the Tigris and Euphrates?] ... cuz ... it's loud over there? [Oh ...]

Zac, this was originally for absentee bassist Levi Hogue. Where would the Eurhapsodist stand on stem cell research?
Karli: Zac's perfect for that one.
Zac: [long, reflective pause] Oh, I don't know. [Politically aware, but not quite to "Love and Peace or Else"-era U2.]

How long have you been songwriting?
Karli: For about two years, but more seriously in the last year.
Zac: I generally do instrumental stuff. Chris and I've been doing that for a while.
Chris: Four or five years of crap.

So, from crap to here, was that evolution a gradual thing or did it happen fast?
Chris: Zac and Levi and I had been playing with different lead singers for like a year, but things picked up once Karli joined. [Evolution in short, hot spurts. Very Neo-Darwinistic.]

You're Zac's sister, why didn't you offer your services sooner?
Karli: They were always jamming, and I'm not one to really jam. [Excluding her, but not necessarily them, from the ranks of Ani Difranco, String Cheese Incident and Mr. A-Z himself.]

Was it frustrating to need her like that and not have her help?
Zac: I mean, I just thought it would be nice ...

The Eurhapsodist, with (The Inlander's own) Joel Smith, at Caterina Winery on Friday, Aug. 18, at 8 pm. Free. Call 328-5069.

CHVRCHES, Cafuné @ Knitting Factory

Sun., Oct. 2, 8 p.m.
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About The Author

Luke Baumgarten

Luke Baumgarten is commentary contributor and former culture editor of the Inlander. He is a creative strategist at Seven2 and co-founder of Terrain.