Echo 2 Locate is an emerging quartet made up of singer-guitarist Rhiannon Neagle, guitarist Clarke Hildreth, bassist Will Servary, and drummer Mike Pritchett. Hailing from Maryland, the Baltimore-based band already emanates a well-crafted musical identity based on alternative rock melodies, a metal foundation, and poignant pop nuance. Coming off a strong debut EP in Calling Out, the band’s most recent single, “High,” proves a daring stylistic shift that has netted consistent critical praise, while a follow-up album is in the works.
I had the pleasure of catching up with the band to discuss their current endeavors, the genesis of their music, the essence of their friendship, as well as what they can assess about their career at present.
ME: In the first week of April, you’re supporting Alesana and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. You excited?
All: Yeah, definitely! Super excited! it’ll be awesome!
ME: How have you enjoyed touring?
Rhiannon: We loved it! We did a week-long tour for our first one, just to feel it out. By the end of it, we were definitely not ready to go home; we just wanted to keep doing it! It was a really awesome experience, and we’re glad it was successful.
ME: Taking it back a bit, when you guys were growing up, which types of music shaped your musicianship?
Rhiannon: For me, my dad brought me up on a lot of Led Zeppelin. After being introduced to classic rock bands, I eventually found my own sound in listening to a lot of punk and pop punk. I was really into Nirvana and Green Day. I actually learned how to play the guitar while listening to Green Day, so they were a huge musical influence for me guitar-wise, since I’m a rhythm guitarist.
Clarke: When I was a kid, the first three albums I bought were American Idiot by Green Day, Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard, and Take off Your Pants and Jacket by Blink 182 – all on the same exact day. I just became obsessed with that kind of music from that point forward, and I envy pretty much all the guitar riffs on this record.
Mike: When I first started playing drums, I had this friend in high school who brought in a Sepultura album. I was just floored by the drumming, and really into that style. From there, I bought a lot more albums of different types of music to broaden my playing ability. I tend to incorporate heavier elements in the music that we write, and somehow, we make it work.
Will: I got started on Breaking Benjamin when I was a teenager, and Saturate was the first rock album I listened to around then. From there, I’d gotten into other bands, like Three Days Grace, and Sick Puppies.
Rhiannon: Yeah, we all come from different backgrounds, but as Mike said, we make all those influences work to create what we’d call Echo 2 Locate.
ME: As the story goes, Rhiannon, you were initially a solo artist. When did you get around to meeting these guys?
Rhiannon: I had been training myself a lot on guitar growing up, took vocal lessons, and did a lot of vocal training over the years. My solo artist project was just so I could find myself in my own music, and what I wanted my sound to be like. But I always knew that I wanted to be in a band – to be part of a team, and be able to support other musicians who would support me as well. There was one day when I was really sick and tired of being a solo musician, and I wanted to be able to rock out with a full band.
So, I finally got on BandMix and came across this band that I wanted to audition for. When I auditioned at the time, it was Mike and this other guy, Chris. I got accepted in, which is how I got to know Mike. After the band had been together for about a month, I’d discussed with Mike about leaving that band to create a new one, that was both true to the sound and had the momentum to really go forward. We decided to do our own thing and create Echo 2 Locate. A year later, we found Will and Clarke on BandMix and had them audition, and it’s been great ever since. They’re really awesome.
ME: How do you think your chemistry is now?
Rhiannon: At this point, we’re all best friends. We get along and write really well together. I think another aspect that a lot of people don’t pay attention to is the chemistry onstage within the band. That’s really important to me. The first time I played alongside Will and Clarke onstage, it was absolutely phenomenal. It’s something that has to come naturally; you can’t force it. A lot of people assume we choreograph some of the things we do on stage, but in reality, it’s because we’re such great friends and we get along with each other so well.
ME: For your first EP, how did that come about?
Rhiannon: That EP was mainly to test the waters, to see how our fans and viewers would react to our releasing something official for the first time. Mike and I originally had a lot of it written before Will and Clarke came into the band. After they were in, they added their own twists into the songs, and we decided to test out what the main sound would be for all of them. From there, we tried to figure out what we’d put on our first full album and how that should ultimately sound. Now we know for sure what’s coming next for Echo 2 Locate.
ME: The two songs that stuck out to me were “Faster” and “Everything from Nothing” – what I’d like to call the deep cuts. What can you tell me about those songs?
Rhiannon: I wrote “Faster” when I was 17, and I’m 21 now. When I was trying to get it down, I kind of had this love/hate relationship with it. For some reason, parts about it annoy me, but at the same time, it’s one of my favorite songs. Basically, it’s something I worked out on acoustic guitar and wanted it to be electric so bad, so I gave it to Mike to see how it would come about in an electric setting. I’m really happy with the end result.
With “Everything from Nothing,” Mike had originally written the guitar for it. It was interesting because I wasn’t quite sure how to write lyrics to something like that. I’m not predominately a guitarist, but I had to really figure out how to play something while singing at the same time. I’d write lyrics that would flow along with my ability to do that, and then practice over and over for hours until I’d finally get it right.
ME: And now, you have a new single out, “High.” Tell me about that one.
Rhiannon: “High” was a song I did a majority of the writing for. It took me about a month to write, and I wasn’t sure how the rest of the band would react to it. I didn’t think they’d go for it, just because of how much more on the pop end it is, and it’s not normally our style. While writing it, I was really inspired by Marilyn Manson’s song “Kill4Me” in terms of the lead guitar riff. I don’t know why. It sounds nothing like it, but I just wanted something that came in with that catchy beat immediately.
After I showed it to the band, they loved it. I have a tendency to write songs that go on a bit too long, but they helped me with the structure, and cut it down so that the most important parts of the song actually shine. Once we worked on it for a couple of months, we eventually decided that it had to be the single, and as catchy and addictive to listen to as possible.
ME: Its production was done by Brian Wynn. What was it like working with him?
Rhiannon: We love Brian so much; he was awesome. He’s actually the guitarist in the band my boyfriend is in, called Hejira, and that’s how we met him. He had been asking us for almost a year if we’d record with him. I wasn’t so sure at first since I’d never heard anything from him. But once he gave me a sample of something he’d made, we’d decided, “This is what we need to do!”
Mike: I only needed to hear five seconds of it, and I was like “Yup!”
Rhiannon: Yeah, he was really pleasant to work with. When we recorded with him, everything went by smoothly and was super easy to do.
Mike: I got my drums done in…three hours?
Rhiannon: Three hours, yeah. We did drums first, then the guitars took one day, the bass took one day, and then vocals took half a day.
ME: It’s good that everything went so well. A lot of bands take this for granted, but in general, it’s not easy to find people you could really connect with.
Rhiannon: Absolutely! In fact, when we got Will and Clarke that was one of the most important things to us. We went through a couple of others, who were good musicians, but they didn’t fit personality-wise to consider a friendship with. It’s true that there’s a business side to the band, but we also want to make sure that we connect on a level where we can deal with being in a band together for weeks at a time.
Mike: I’d say it’s 50/50. 50 how good you can play and 50 how you connect with each other. You can be the greatest musician in the world, but if you can’t get along, it’s just not going to work.
ME: Looking back, what can you take away from this whole experience – being in a band and getting this far?
Rhiannon: A lot (laughs), whether it’s how to work a band, or how to actually make solid business decisions. I think one of the things we’ve learned as a band that we’ll hold with us forever is that the only definition of failure, to us, is when you decide to quit. There are parts of every career that you’re not going to like, and you’ll have to stomach. Our goal is to never quit, and not let anything stop us. If there are mistakes made, then mistakes are made. But things happen for a reason, and we can’t dwell so hard on the things we regret.
ME: It’s all about growth.
Rhiannon: Yeah! The most important thing to do is to live and grow as a family instead of letting mistakes of the past hold us back.
ME: They’ll creep up on you from time to time, but you remind yourselves just how much you care for one another.
Rhiannon: Exactly! Our big thing we’ve noticed is when people set out to achieve a goal, they do it, but then sit back down and say, “Well, that’s it,” and that’s not us. With every goal we achieve, we’re always raising the bar. For example, at the beginning of last year, we wanted to reach over a thousand followers and likes on Facebook, since we were so small in the Baltimore area. Within the next two months after setting that goal, we reached it – from 400 to 1,300. We also wanted to go on tour, and even though a lot of people said that wasn’t going to work, we were going to make it happen. Even if it was the worst tour in the world, we were going to experience it. We decided it was going to happen, and we made it happen!
ME: You don’t care whether it’s a dingy club or a theater; you just want to get out and play!
Mike: Yeah, we’ve been in some pretty dumpy places, but it’s just like you said – we just want to play. Even if we make one or two fans out of those shows, mission accomplished (laughs).
Rhiannon: It’s interesting because in the smallest venues we played, we actually sold the most amount of merchandise!
ME: That’s really cool! Lastly, anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Clarke: Personally, I’m just really appreciative when even one person says ‘thank you’ after a show. I’m blown away by the amount of positive and helpful feedback that’s been given to us. It’s crazy because a lot of people we’re surrounded by actually want to be a part of Echo 2 Locate. They want to help us out and hook us up with these really cool opportunities.
Rhiannon: We also want people to know that it’s a real pay-it-forward system. Even if someone doesn’t help us out, any way we can help them out, we would love to do and are always appreciative of that. We always strive to inspire our fanbase to follow their dreams. You can set out toward anything you want to do. It’s the law of the universe. The universe wouldn’t allow you to do something if you weren’t able to do it, but if you want it bad enough, you’re able to do it.
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