Easy Prey’s new EP Relentless Struggle is out now on 1407 Records.
Austin, Texas noise rock outfit Easy Prey are savage. Their latest six song EP Relentless Struggle is a roiling fireball of churning discontent and malignant anger. A direct and fierce gut punch, the EP showcases the band’s ferocity but also their ability to spread their stylistic wings without compromising their intense sound.
We’ve been spinning the EP on repeat so we asked the band to sit down with us to have a chin wag about it. We ended up talking about Donald Trump, serial killers, and the best music coming out of Austin right now.
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Overblown: The first song I heard by you was ‘Gasoline Mouth’ which features on your new EP Relentless Struggle. It is a short blast of noise rock fury. What inspired the song both musically and lyrically?
Chris Moynan (vocals): So ‘Gasoline Mouth’ was written pretty quickly, we’d been trying to play with non 4/4 rhythms to push our songwriting a little and the song came together pretty quickly. The lyrics are a very direct denouncement of our current political leadership in the States. As a British transplant to the States, I had a pretty hectic crash course in American politics with Trump being elected 18 months after moving here. The day to day happenings, his nonsensical press briefings, horrifically callous policy changes, pandering to a small minority base of bigots; it’s astounding to us, as humans, just how inept and unfit for office he is.
The lyrics are just pure frustration at having a pathological liar in that position and how inflammatory every remark he makes is. Bearing in mind these songs were written over a year ago and he has somehow managed to descend deeper into pure disregard for the people he’s meant to be leading. The themes presented in this song are definitely present throughout the EP, but ‘Gasoline Mouth’ and ‘Steamrolled’ are the two songs that I really get to be angry and pissed off in a political way.
O: The artwork for the EP is pretty cool. How did that come about?
CM: Our guitar player, Cole, had heard about the image while listening to a podcast about a serial killer in Alaska in the 70s. The hosts had mentioned this photo of a car that had Relentless Struggle painted on the side taken during a major economic recession there. He was able to track it down and the image just hits you, it’s grainy and bleak in a way that few photos are.
We wanted to use the image and the phrase painted on it somehow. I reached out to the owner of the site that it was published on and very quickly had a response which I really wasn’t expecting. The photographer, Stephen Cysewski, a retired lecturer in Alaska was a hobbyist photographer and was super into the idea of us using it as long as we gave him credit, which we obviously did. It really set the tone for the whole record with the discovery of the photo. It mirrored pretty accurately a pretty rough year personally for ¾ of the band; dealing with divorce, major surgery and familial death, all the while dealing with a country seemingly at war with itself.
We wanted to keep the image as true to the original as possible and worked with our friend Drew Lakin, a friend and rad graphic designer, to add very minimal design to turn it into a record cover, he utilized elements from the photo throughout the record sleeve and label layout and just nailed the tone and vibe of the photograph.
O: It has been two years since the release of your debut album Teeth. Did you approach this EP differently in terms of writing and recording? Or was it a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?
CM: Teeth was half-written before I joined the band, well the music was, so when I joined I started fresh on the lyrics and made those older songs as much mine as I could and then we worked on the rest together. So the writing process was a) spread out over a longer period and b) not written as cohesively as a full band. I’m still really proud of the foundation we established with that record, but more so of this new EP, mainly because we wrote all the songs together in a shorter time frame and although there’s probably more going on stylistically, the songs feel way more cohesive when presented together.
We approached the recording differently, Teeth was recorded in an empty house with a friend, Dustin Gaudet, who had an abundance of recording gear and the ambitious idea of recording a record with us and he did such a killer job and we thought about trying to do the same thing again, but logistically it wasn’t possible without blowing our budget, so we went to see Stuart Sikes who has a killer resume of artists he has worked with and we showed him some very rough demos we’d made and he was excited to work on something a little different than his normal work. So we ended up booking 2 days and he recorded and mixed the record for us.
O: Do you have plans for or any songs written for a second album?
CM: We have a handful of new songs that we are currently working on, we only started practising together again a few weeks ago after quarantining during COVID, so we’re practising with masks on and figuring out what is next. We’re working on a few ideas, revolving around split 7”s with some friends’ bands or writing for another full length, but I think our main focus is to keep the momentum up after releasing this EP. Not being able to play shows is obviously making normal band routines pretty hard, so we’re trying to see what is best to keep things moving forward.
O: The most accessible track on the EP is probably ‘Fever Dream’ which features Chelsea Hale. What inspired that track and how did Chelsea Hale get involved?
CM: Collectively we have pretty eclectic tastes, and we wanted to try our hand at making something shoegaze-y but heavy, keep the melodic aspect of bands like Nothing, Cloakroom, Jesu etc but put our spin on it. Right from the start, I wanted to have a female vocal part to add a layer to the song that we couldn’t do with just the 4 of us. So we played the song a bunch live before recording and I always really wanted to add something beautiful to the song to contrast me wailing about night terrors and sleep deprivation.
We went back and forth on who we wanted to have sing on the record and our friend Chelsea, who has recorded vocals on a bunch of records, agreed to help us. So we had her in the studio and worked on the melodies and she did a great job. I love the way her vocals sit there and add this ethereal element to an otherwise heavy discordant track.
During my divorce I had real issues with sleeping, getting only a few hours a night for months and holding down a 40+ hour a week job and the toll that took on my mental and emotional well being. I wrote the lyrics to reflect the utter despair of running on no sleep, while still trying to hold my life together in any way I could while going through a really rough time.
O: How have you dealt with the lockdown situation over the last few months? Have you found ways to keep occupied?
CM: Well we put the band on hold, which was heartbreaking, for about 3 months. We had the record coming out so it felt very strange not being able to play shows and promote it. It also felt weird pushing a record and asking people to pre-order it when people were losing their jobs and struggling, but we’re very thankful to those people that wanted to invest in us and our music.
Our guitarist spent a lot of time working on music so we at least had something to hit the ground running with when we finally got back to playing together. We all took the pandemic seriously and limited contact with people as much as possible and following guidelines to reduce the chance of getting it or spreading it. But as I write this, cases in Austin are skyrocketing and the restrictions are getting lifted despite the evidence showing the cases are going up.
O: With everything the way it is, do you have any plans for the rest of the year?
CM: I think our plans are to keep writing, try to record when we can, keep things moving. We’ve been trying to do a bunch of fundraising for charities to help out people who are affected by the protests. I think our plan is to do what we can and use our platform to be vocal allies and advocates to POC that are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system, seeing as shows aren’t going to be happening we just doing what we can to be active and help in whatever way is appropriate.
O: What bands from Austin, Texas, should our readers check out?
CM: So many, there’s a really diverse heavy music scene in Austin right now, bands I think people should check out all fall under the noise rock, punk, post-metal, post-hardcore bracket. These are also all our friends’ bands and so we’re probably a little biased.
Glassing – beautiful post-metal that stretches in classic screamo and black metal territories.
Exhalants – Jarring Chicago influenced noise rock, killer band live and on record.
Deep Cross – Krautrock, industrial, doom, noise rock all rolled into one, 2 piece set up, programmed drums, bass, guitar and vocal, Mike runs a label called Somatic too.
Communion – the heaviest of heavy riffy doom, Jason also plays in Deep Cross
Godshell – Imagine if Code Orange Kids stuck with their early sound but were more influenced by monolithic post-metal and didn’t start wearing school shooter outfits. Young bucks giving us oldies a run for our money.
BLK Ops – Psychedelic noise rock, Taking early Today Is the Day template and adding grating industrial noise and theremin. Side note, singer Champ also does a soundscape noise project called Derelict Satellite
Dining With Dogs – Straight up riffy 90s noise rock, killer new record came out earlier this year too.
AM Feelgood – Beautiful post-rock that keeps things concise but isn’t afraid to play with the formula.
Capture Phase – bunch of homies playing Gang of Four/Minutemen/Fugazi inspire post-punk.