IN THE NOW Magazine Interview with EDISUN
ITN Magazine: Let's talk a little about the history of the band. When did you originally form and is this the original line-up?
Ethan Isaac: 2005 is when the band Edisun formed. We initially spelled the name of the band “Edison” with an “O”. We toured under that spelling until 2010 and when we released the first album through EMI we changed the spelling of the name to EDISUN. This gave the band a unique name with an organic feel.
ITN Magazine: Do you remember how the idea of forming the band first came up?
Ethan Isaac: I was in a band at the time called Wooden and Jonathan Svec was in a band called Splender. Both our bands ended at the same time so my manager Arma Andon and Claude Villani suggested we start writing together. They booked us studio time at the Carriage House studios in Connecticut where we completed recording our first EP titled “seven.” This was the beginning of the band--formed around a classic line up similar to Page and Plant, lots of guitar riffs with melodic vocals.
Joel P Kelley: I joined (Edisun) when the Jonathan left for personal responsibilities. I had known Ethan for years, we met through mutual friends in the industry and we have had a great partnership. Todd Budich was already drumming in the group when I joined. Our bass player Michael Russo has been in the band two years. His first tour with us was in Shanghai, China in 2013 and it’s been a solid unit ever since.
ITN Magazine: How long after you formed was it until you played your first live show?
Ethan Isaac: Shortly after we finished our recording of the EP “seven” we were invited by Armed Forces Entertainment to go to South West Asia to tour in support of our troops.
ITN Magazine: What are your memories of the performance?
Ethan Isaac: At first I didn’t know saying South West Asia is the same as calling it the Middle East! I don’t know who wants their first rock tour to include flying through Iraq in a Blackhawk helicopter - but that’s how Edisun started. The tour included stops at military bases in United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Kuwait & and Germany. Since the beginning of our career, Edisun has played for US troops in over 20 countries, and that has been an amazing experience.
Joel P Kelley: I remember my first show with the band; three weeks later I was on a plane flying to Germany to play a festival show for US troops. It’s been nonstop ever since.
ITN Magazine: What is your latest album and why should people buy it?
Joel P Kelley: Our latest album that was just released to world is “Collision.” It’s an album that has so many great moments for me when I listen to it. It goes from riff rock to acoustic ballads and there are some new keyboard tricks. It’s definitely a record you can play from start to finish.
Todd Budich: For me, it doesn’t matter if people buy it, stream it, or just share it—I just want our fans to hear it, and hopefully enjoy what we’ve created.
ITN Magazine: Where did you record your latest release?
Ethan Isaac: We recorded at our studio in Connecticut called the Factory Underground. It is an old electronics factory that we turned into a funky, creative space that has a live showcase venue, 3 recording studios, an art gallery & a new record label. “Kill me with your Kiss,” the lead off track was mixed at Ron Saint Germain’s studio in New Jersey. We really happy to work with Ron on (the song)—he has mixed some of my favorite artists of all time (U2, Muse, 311, Soundgarden, etc)
ITN Magazine: Producers are a very important factor in recording a good record. Who did you use to produce your record?
Ethan Isaac: Claude Villani worked closely with the band on producing this record, as he has done since the beginning. We also worked with our friend (producer, songwriter and drummer) Charley Drayton, who is the guy that literally took Steve Gadd’s place drumming with Paul Simon—he’s a monster behind the kit and in the studio. He brought an organic quality to the recording process that we really enjoyed. (Note: Drayton produced three tracks: “Collision,” “Pins and Needles,” and “Vampires and Wolves.”)
ITN Magazine: Tell us about your experience in the studio recording the new record?
Ethan Isaac: This was the first time we worked with Charley (Drayton). He challenged the band and made us all better players and songwriters. Claude Villani has a very different style of producing; he strives for originality and demands a great performance. He doesn’t give you much time to achieve it so we always make sure we are prepared and well rehearsed.
Joel P Kelley: On the songs we did with Charley, we did a few things differently; we setup in a live recording situation, doing all the main tracks together. We went for performances that all felt good so the band had more of a heartbeat. I feel that makes a record sound more real.
Todd Budich: The two (different) approaches gave us the best of both worlds. I think “Collision” has a diverse sound because of it: its rock, alternative, acoustic--and its really hard too. All the songs have their own unique sound, which I’m really proud of.
ITN Magazine: Was the band comfortable in the studio?
Ethan Isaac: The Factory Underground is Edisun-headquarters, so yes it’s definitely home for us when are not on the road. We built an amazing space that is drawing a lot of creative talent together and we have a great team as a result.
Joel P Kelley: We have all been doing this a long time so we are all pretty comfortable in the studio. It’s an intense process, but fortunately, one that we enjoy very much. We have our days though….
ITN Magazine: Do you remember the very first time you heard the final mix of the new record and what you were thinking?
Ethan Isaac: I was thinking way too much. I was very close to the record at that point so I had to step back-trust the ears of the mix engineers and let them do their job. I am like a painter who never thinks the painting is complete. You need to pull the canvas and the paint brushes from my hands and hang the damn thing on the wall!
Joel P Kelley: When I got the record I went straight to the car to listen. The mix was great. It felt good to finally have it done. I remember thinking how far we have come as songwriters. We’ve come a long way to record these songs—about a hundred thousand miles!
ITN Magazine: Does the entire band contribute to the writing process?
Ethan Isaac: Yes we like to create in our space as a band. Getting a vibe, throwing down some drinks and having fun shedding through ideas.
Joel P Kelley: Most of songwriting starts with Ethan and me trading ideas. Then we all get in a room and pull from each other. It becomes an Edisun song when we are all together.
ITN Magazine: How do you feel the band has evolved musically and personally over the last year?
Ethan Isaac: We’ve grown tremendously as a band as writers and players. And now with “Collision,” that is something we are looking for to evolve and develop in our live show.
ITN Magazine: How would you categorize the style of the band?
Ethan Isaac: Jack Douglas (John Lennon producer) is a long time friend of mine I was really fortunate for the chance to work with. He described me as a singer “who goes East, West, North, and South.” This is how I would describe the sound of Edisun.
Joel P Kelley: The things about Edisun is we all come from different backgrounds: hard rock, metal, jazz and even classical. I’d say we are an Alternative Rock band with some classic roots.
Todd Budich: When we first came out (with “Medicate” and “Wide Awake”), we were more of a hard rock band in the “active rock” category. “Collision” brought us back to our alternative roots, and we’ve grown so much into being the band that could put out a record like this.
ITN Magazine: Can you share with us one or two of your favorite moments with the band?
Ethan Isaac: Flying in a C130 (military plane) doing a “combat landing” into Telafar, Iraq. That moment had the greatest impact on my music career. At that moment I felt every emotion God ever gave me in a span of 3 minutes!
Joel P Kelley: For me it was flying back home from Australia to New York City knowing I I had flown around the world to play guitar. A feat-I told myself I'd do when I was 14 years old.
ITN Magazine: How important do you rate the lyrical side of your albums?
Ethan Isaac: For me everything is lyrics and melodies. I love writing and am always pushing to get better. Lyrics must have imagery and are the stories on the album. Without great lyrics you have mediocrity.
Joel P Kelley: The lyrics are very important, but they need to complement the musical side as well. They need to have integrity as well as mystery—great lyrics leave things open for listener interpretation.
Todd Budich: Without great lyrics, it’s all just music and words.
ITN Magazine: Who or what inspired you to become a musician, what is your musical background?
Ethan Isaac: At the age of 13, my biological father Henry Wyatt, a New York City playwright, introduced me to Bruce Springsteen. He has been in charge of Lanford Wilson’s production of “Balm and Gilead” at the Minetta Lane Theater in Greenwich Village-- Bruce Springsteen’s album “Born to Run” album was the sound track for the play. The play starred actors John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, & Laurie Metcalf. I spent the summer working on that production along beside these amazingly talented people—it inspired me to want to get into the entertainment business.
Joel P Kelley: I've had music around me all my life. Being one of 6 (children), we all played something with my Mother on the piano, and my Father on the trumpet. My Dad always had vinyl records playing and my mom would wake us in the morning with her playing something on the piano. Piano was my first instrument and I’ve been singing as long as I can remember.Guitar came shortly after.
Todd Budich: I didn’t come from a musical family at all. But I took to drums at an early age and won some music awards in school. After high school, I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston—and I did actually graduate! A lot of people are surprised I went to Berklee because of the power, how I hit the drums when I play with Edisun. I love playing rock music, but I listen to jazz pretty much all the time.
ITN Magazine: What are your current tour plans, if any?
Todd Budich: Edisun is band that was born on the road. We’ve been very fortunate to build our amazing fan base all around the world--in 24 countries that we’ve been to so far. It’s all about bringing the music to the people—our fans will see us out there very soon.
Ethan Isaac: For those who haven’t seen our bus yet, it’s an old 1977 Greyhound Coach we call “Virginia.” Some people think we got it from Johnny Cash. Sometimes our sound engineer Dan drives it, and sometimes I drive it myself. It’s our home away from home. Believe me, when this thing pulls into town, you know it. Fans will be seeing us rolling into town very soon.
Joel P Kelley: We have been touring on and off right up to the release of "Collision" We just did an incredible trip to the middle of the Indian Ocean, below the equator, to play for the US Naval Support base Diego Garcia. We did that for a special show on July Fourth. It was fifty-four hours of flying to play for some special “out of town friends.” We stopped off for a couple of shows in Singapore, and then back home to release the album. We are planning to go back to Asia in 2016, Japan, China and Singapore again. China is an incredible place to play—we did two weeks there in 2013.
ITN Magazine: Describe your live performance for those who have never seen you live?
Ethan Isaac: Edisun performs with passion and authenticity. This is why we write music- so we can go and perform it.
Joel P Kelley: The band is hard hitting and energetic with big vocals and catchy riffs.
Todd Budich: It’s all about that connection with our fans, being ourselves, and just letting the music flow. Edisun has never been about a contrived show. We just go out there and play from the heart.
ITN Magazine: What one item do you have to have with you out on the road that you can't live without?
Ethan Isaac: My fucking phone… I hate my phone at the moment I can’t live without this digital complicated device. Someday soon when I go off the grid I will no longer need this thing.
Joel P Kelley: A favorite pair of jeans.
Todd Budich: My drums and a pair of sticks.
ITN Magazine: Do you have a favorite song you like to play live?
Ethan Isaac: My favorite is “Wide Awake (Riot In This Town).” We open most of our shows with this song and it always feels good!
ITN Magazine: What's your favorite city/venue to play in the U.S?
Ethan Isaac: Spokane, Washington/Knitting Factory-one of the great rock towns in the United States. I also love playing in Madison, Wisconsin, my original hometown. I’m a die-hard Packers and Brewers fan, and will be to the day I die.
Joel P Kelley: Boy there are so many around the world. In the US, I’d say "The Rave" in Milwaukee and “12th and Porter in Nashville. I love them both.
ITN Magazine: What one CD should everyone have in their collection?
Ethan Isaac: The Beatles/Let It Be
Joel P Kelley: The Beatles/Sargent Pepper
ITN Magazine: Tell us about your thought on your local music scene?
Ethan Isaac: Our local music scene is the Factory Underground. It’s our studio, our label and truly our home. When we recorded “Collision” we invited people into to the studio with us live on “Periscope,” and when we released the single “Kill Me with your Kiss,” we celebrated with an acoustic show that we streamed live to the world. It’s growing into a really cool scene that is drawing this huge amount of talent from all over the world. It’s incredible to be at the center of something so organic and thriving.
ITN Magazine: How can people get involved with Factory Underground? Is it a private studio?
Ethan Isaac: Edisun has our own secret hideaway at the Factory, but Factory Underground is a commercial recording studio as well. We are really lucky to have 7000 square feet of industrial space where we have built an incredible facility. If we didn’t want to go tour the world—we would never need to leave. We work with Kenny Cash, who I started the studio with about seven years ago. He is an incredible engineer-producer that people should definitely go work with. He mixed “Ocean Waves, and Vampires and Wolves” on our album. You can reach out through www.FactoryUndergroundStudio.com
ITN Magazine: Are there any new and upcoming bands that you are into?
Ethan Isaac: So many. One great thing about the World Wide Web is there is so much new music and I really enjoy discovering new music on Deezer, Spotify & Beats Radio.
Joel P Kelley: I’ve been listening to more of my old records latel: Motley Crue, Smashing Pumpkins, and the Rolling stones.
ITN Magazine: Why do you think people are into your music?
Todd Budich: People know that we are about making music we believe in; and that’s something they can believe in. They know that we perform from the heart and that’s always reflected in our live shows and the songs we write.
Ethan Isaac: I think our music is an extension of us as people, and that’s something I hope they like about us.
Joel P Kelley: Some of our fans this year started calling themselves #EdisunFamily on-line—that was a tremendous honor for us. If Edisun is something they feel proud to a part of, then we owe it to them to give it everything we have.
ITN Magazine: What does the next year hold for you and your band?
Ethan Isaac: I guarantee there will be a lot of driving our tour bus back and forth across America, and hopefully some flying as well. We would really like to tour in Japan, South America, Australia and just keep the family growing one show at a time.
ITN Magazine: Last record you purchased?