Ego Kill Talent started off as bunch of friends in Brazil who just wanted to jam, and they didn’t care who played what. That sentiment is still carried over onto their music today, and on their latest record where they continue to adapt and evolve their roles on each song.
Their latest work, a full-length titled The Dance Between Extremes is the final installment of a three-EP project released in phases, including The Dance and The Dance Between, which come together with The Dance Between Extremes to represent the whole work. Each phase of the release was completed from early 2019 sessions when the band squeezed into a Los Angeles rental to record the songs at 606 Studios. They had a few important friends there to help out, including producer Steve Evetts and guest features Bob Burnquist and Roy Mayorga of Stone Sour.
“Going into production we had a lot of the material done already,” bassist/guitarist Theo Van Der Loo tells American Songwriter. “But we were also writing some new stuff. And I think that was very good for us. It’s a different experience and there is a certain level of pressure because we were in L.A. to record, which was both amazing and insane.”
Natives of Brazil, the group didn’t necessarily have the saturation of rock music that other countries did. So, it was always important to have a strong core lineup of friends and creators since it was not as easy to come by as other markets like Los Angeles or Nashville, where everyone seemed to be a musician. The rock scene in Brazil was one of two things, underground or extremely commercial, as seen with their famous Rock In Rio annual festival. Seeing this divide firsthand, Ego Kill Talent set out to change the landscape for a new cycle of rock bands who are taking success back to a journey based off hard work.
“Internationally speaking it’s always huge,” Van Der Loo said about the rock scene in Brazil. “But for the local bands it’s still a lot of underground and small club gigs happening. But we are a part of a new wave of bands and scene. You’ve got to know in the beginning you need just to play whatever and wherever you can and build from there. At the end of the day, I think it’s about doing it with passion and true people that connect with that.”
Songs like “The Call” are a testament to that effort and echo the long-time friendship and unity between all of the bands who cut their teeth together in the same local scene. And it was one of the many songs, in addition to other singles “Deliverance” and “NOW,” that host the group’s collective approach to performing and writing. All members of Ego Kill Talent have different influences, which works to their advantage when they are able to seamlessly interchange members’ roles for each song. It come so naturally to the band that when asked about it, they had almost forgotten about the concept.
“That is very natural and organic,” Van Der Loo said about switching instruments from song to song. “And we completely forget that we do it sometimes.”
Initially the idea came when the band was searching for a replacement guitarist in the early days, forcing other members to fill in where they could. Other times it was people wanting to join the band, but that spot was already filled and so they jumped into whatever role was open, resulting in a truly diverse dynamic. And it’s not as if it was a mediocre attempt. While writing “The Call” the band picked up whatever instrument they felt attached to that day, jammed for three hours and discovered a kind of unrevealed niche as well as unlimited ways to write.
“We just opened up Pandora’s box because after that’s how we’d start writing every single song.” Van Der Loo explained. “We could go ‘yeah but how would that sound if Jon was on the drums or Raphael on bass?’ We basically started writing music thinking that we had always that possibility as a tool to express ourselves artistically. It feels like we just expanded the limits and are freer to write music.”
With a completely open-ended approach to writing and performing, Ego Kill Talent welcomed multiple guests into the studio for songs like “Silence,” which featured Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga and percussionist Bob Burnquist. “Silence” was an instance where the band reached even further into experimenting with added sounds and instrumentation with a drum machine.
“We did do a lot of experiments with amplifiers, drum machines and pedals, just everything you can imagine. It was like a laboratory in the studio,” Van Der Loo said.
Packaging every experiment Ego Kill Talent explored on the record was producer Steve Evetts. Evetts was a perfect fit from the start for the band who admittedly benefited from his clear ability to interpret their vision as well as challenge them to do more than their best.
“He adds so many different levels to the music but he can drive you crazy too,” Van Der Loo said about working with Evetts. “Sometimes he asks to do something just one more time and I’m like ‘what the fuck-—are you looking for my soul?’ So he does push you to the limit of performance, but I have no doubt that every single session with him makes you a better musician, he’s just amazing.”
With such a strong connection with Evetts, the band recorded a studio documentary on the entire process titled, Studio 606 Sessions, which further illuminates the band’s energy and friendship with all who contribute to their music. It brings their latest offering and success as a BMG artist full circle to their early days of gigging in Brazil.
Check out the documentary trailer below. Pre-order The Dance Between Extremes here ahead of its March 19 release.