In January 2019, EEP, an eclectic shoegaze band, formed in El Paso, Texas. Less than two years later, they’re receiving international recognition for a high-energy, eight-song album called “Death of a Very Good Machine.”
It all began when Rosie Varela wrote a song about her husband. He encouraged her to take it to friend and past collaborator, Ross Ingram, who owns a studio called Brainville. One song turned into several, with three other friends joining the band, including drummer Lawrence Brown. Varela, Ingram and Brown spoke with Texas Standard host David Brown.
Varela says the title of the song that brought the group together, “Hogar,” is Spanish for “home.”
“It’s about when you find a home with someone; when you feel totally understood and you feel at home,” she said. “It was just a joyful song.”
Ingram said the group built the song by layering guitar and keyboard parts, and using “shoegaze standbys” like lots of reverb and delay “so it sounds like you’re in a canyon.”
Lawrence Brown says he doesn’t feel boxed in by the shoegaze style or label.
“When I came on the project, they said, ‘shoegaze, shoegaze’ – I have no idea what that even means,” Brown said.
He decided to add elements of psychedelic rock, reminiscent of El Paso’s The Mars Volta, to EEP’s music. His bandmates say they dug it.
El Paso influences the band in other ways: the group’s song “Canal” is about a father and daughter who drowned in a canal as they attempted to cross the border into the United States. They also wrote about the 2019 shooting that left 23 dead at an El Paso Walmart.
“El Paso’s got this wide-open feel to it, between the mountains and the open desert, and sounds carry for miles,” Ingram said. “You go out in your front yard and you can see Mexico, you can see New Mexico, you can see the border wall. And it all may be miles away from you physically, but it still feels very close because everything is so wide open.”
Varela says the title of EEP’s album came from a “sad accident”: she plugged instruments and microphones into a mixer, but soon knew she had a problem.
“It started smoking, and it started making this really weird, like, it sounded awful, but it also had a rhythm,” she said. “So I thought, ‘OK, before this thing melts down, I’m going to record this.'”
The members of EEP are not a homogenous group of 20-something rockers. Brown is blind, and Varela has limited mobility – and she’s 50 years old.
Brown says he hopes EEP’s music is remembered more than its members’ disabilities or ages.
“If that is something that we have to address, we should definitely address it,” he said.
“It’s part of our story in the sense that we did this as a really slow-roasted album … and partially, there were some days I couldn’t walk,” she said.