Taki Sassaris of Eve To Adam
Eve To Adam are the true epitome of rock – never afraid to risk it all for their craft, they’ve had their share of ups and downs throughout their career but when it comes down to the music, they’ve stayed true to themselves and really, what’s more rock and roll than that?
The band (Brothers Taki Sassaris on vocals and Alex Sassaris on drums, Gaurav Bali on guitar and newcomer Eric Bergmann on bass) is back with new management and a whole new energy surrounding their new album Banquet For a Starving Dog, due out on September 13th of this year. The songs are honest, gritty, and if you don’t watch out, they’ll step right out and grab your soul. Fans have embraced the first single “Run Your Mouth” with open arms and the band has taken to the streets to test drive their new material on a current tour run with Saving Abel.
I recently caught up with frontman Taki Sassaris to talk about what’s been going on with the band, the making of the new album, and his hopes for the future of Eve To Adam.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette
So congrats on the new album Banquet For a Starving Dog, let’s start off by talking a bit about that. I’ve heard it. When you listen to it, is it the album that you wanted to make from start to finish?
It’s weird, you go into these processes trying to complete what you set out to do. You want to achieve some growth from the previous record and you want to continue your sound but at the same time show that you’re moving forward and not just treading water. We didn’t have a master plan to this thing, we had a slew of songs that we started with and then we just kept writing and writing and writing. It just started forming into this thing, you can plan all day but you do need a little bit of luck sometimes and we were lucky enough to have that happen for us. We caught a couple breaks and a couple songs just came together at the very end which gave the entire album a complete feel emotionally, content wise and maturity wise. You have to have a little bit of luck with these things, I hadn’t listened to the album for a few weeks after we completed it and the other day I was just doing some things around the house and I threw it on. I was genuinely surprised and satisfied, all the hard work paid off. We’re excited for fans new and old to hear the new album. For some people it will be the first time and their first introduction to the group and I think this is a great way for people to discover us.
Take me through the writing process a bit – what’s it generally like for you?
It varies. There’s certain songs, like the first single “Run Your Mouth” that we wrote together live in the rehearsal setting. It started with a riff and just kind of developed from there. There are quite a few songs on the record like that, I’d say the writing process was split into thirds. There are songs of that nature, songs that Gaurav and I put together and there’s one or two that I wrote myself. It varies a little bit but I don’t let the process dictate to me how the song is going to come out, its more about the moment. It’s about emotion and capturing what you’re feeling at any given time. Gaurav has learned over time from working with me, he’ll be warming up before we’re getting ready to play or rehearse and he’ll play some of the most non-descript things and it will catch my ear and I’ll make him play it again and a song can start as simple as that. It’s very organic and driven by the moment. It can start with something simple thought, emotion or reaction. I’m not the kind of writer that can sit down every day and write, I’m more of a reactionary writer whether it’s something that’s happened to me or something I’ve witnessed or something I feel or experience then I chronicle that emotion through the song, through the melody through the lyrics. That’s usually the catalyst to getting me off of my ass and writing. I’ve got friends that I call “real” song writers because they have to crank out tunes all of the time but I’m in a position where I get to be an artist.
It’s actually a pretty funny story. If you’re familiar with our biography, you’ll know that my brother and I started our career in the music industry signed to a production company of a very successful songwriter named Desmond Child. It was our foray into the business and we were very young and naïve. We didn’t know much about the business. We were developed at an early stage in our career by this unbelievably prolific writer/producer. That song was actually written during that period of time, so that goes way back to the late nineties. In putting this new record together we felt like we had turned a corner and we were ready to bookend an end of an era and start a new chapter. There had been lingering questions from people regarding the older material. When I was younger I didn’t have the maturity to do a song like that. When you’re in a room with Desmond Child and you’re 20 years old, you can offer your input but he’s obviously going to dictate the tune. It was one of those situations where he primarily started and I helped complete with him but I wasn’t in any position to want to emotionally recreate that song or live in the world of that song. Just recently I’ve been in a position where I’m in a relationship with someone where I finally have those kinds of feelings for in a sincere way. I was able to re-approach that song and make it my own and build into it because I felt like it was the right time. It was a nice time for me to be able to acknowledge that period of time in our careers when we first started and it was also a nice way for me to emotionally grow and put my stamp on a song that I just felt like I was locked out of. It was a breaking point for me as an artist and as a person that emotionally I could allow myself into the realm of that song because it’s a pretty deep song. It was a big step for me and I’m glad we did it.
Just to follow up on working with Desmond Child. It seems like back then you really knew who you were as artists enough to walk away from that situation which looking back seems pretty ballsy considering you were just starting out. Can you talk a bit about what happened and how you felt going through that?
We were so young and we really didn’t know very much. What we did know, although we didn’t know much, was that if we continued in that situation we never would have the opportunity to grow on our own. There were certain experiences we needed to go through on our own and not under the wing of someone who was already so established and so brilliant. We would have negated experiences we need to have to grow as young men and as artists and just as people on a quest for a dream. Whatever decisions we made we needed to live by the sword and die by the sword, so to speak. In that situation, because of the material he wanted to do and the direction he wanted to put us in, not out of spite or anything, it was more so that he wanted us to be successful and that was the formula he knew based on large successes he had. That was all great but I’m pretty stubborn and I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to do pop rock. Even though I didn’t really know very much I knew that I couldn’t do someone else’s vibe, I couldn’t sing other peoples work. For me to emote musically I have to connect on a level that is pretty specific to me and has a certain intimacy to myself; it’s hard for me to get into other peoples material. That was the catalyst for us deciding that we might be better off on our own. Which for other people who have tried really hard to make it in this business, especially to work with someone as talented as Mr. Child, it looked crazy. It looked like we walked away from the opportunity of a lifetime – well yeah, we did. We did because some things work better on paper. My greatest fear was God forbid one of these songs that we wrote with Mr. Child became a hit and we’d have to go out and perform a song night after night and secretly hate the whole thing. I just didn’t want to live in that kind of a prison.
Sounds crazy but actually makes sense! And I think it takes a little bit of crazy to make it in your business anyway doesn’t it?
You’re absolutely right about that. You have to paint broad strokes and sometimes those are the lines that define what your work is. You have to take risks and you can’t be afraid to be ruled by your fears and inhibitions. You have to cut your own path sometimes. Inexperience aside that’s something that Alex and I always knew. We knew we needed to carve out our own niche and figure this out on our own because when it’s handed to you, it has a completely different value than when you make it your own. It’s been wild, no doubt but every step of the way we’ve made a contribution and have developed our sound and style. Love it or hate it, it is unique to us and that’s all we ever wanted. You can’t always please everybody but what you can try to do is do things that are honest to yourself, create music and art that feels right to you and hopefully other people are with you but it has start with you.
The album is titled after a song “Banquet For a Starving Dog” – what made you decide to go that route and do you feel like that song kind of encompasses the album as a whole or did you just like the song a lot?
A little bit of both. Coming up with an album title is about as wickedly hard as coming up with a band name. It’s one of those things that you know you have to do but nobody wants to do it because it encapsulates all the songs and it’s pretty much the last stamp on the envelope before you mail it out. When we were making the record, it was the first song we recorded at the studio and it just popped out of us and it was magic in the studio. We just started joking with the producer calling it “The Banquet Sessions” because it had a rich, lustrous feel to it. We were just joking around but as we started getting closer to completion and thinking about titles we started kicking around ideas but none of them really stuck. Secretly we always stuck with Banquet For a Starving Dog. Symbolically that song pretty much en capsulate everything that we have gone through to get to this record. From 2007 when we put out Queens to Eden to now was a hell of a journey and struggle to try to get back into the position where we had an opportunity to even make another album. It really defined the emotional and mental state of the band, it was an amazing opportunity for us. 3For5 Management gave us this opportunity and saved our careers gave us another opportunity and gave it to us in such a lavish way that we’ve never experienced. We’ve never gone into a studio and not had to worry about time constraints or budget or all the things that really take you out of the headspace of making great music so this was a banquet, we are the starving dogs. It all fit together metaphorically and symbolically – it just worked.
“Run Your Mouth Acoustic:
You mentioned that your last release Queens to Eden was in 2007. Why so long between the two releases? What were you going through during that time?
It became a contractual situation with our previous label. What we had originally signed and how they wanted to adjust it, we just weren’t willing to sign away so much of our lives for the next six years that would dictate our career path. We chose to fight it and we got into a situation where it was gridlock. We couldn’t find a resolution coupled with the fact with the economy taking a fall. Then we lost our bass player. We had done over 200 shows with him and he had a family situation and he had to go back to FL and couldn’t be a touring musician anymore. He left the band in March of 2009. We were in a position where the label wanted what they wanted and weren’t going to give, we lost our bass player, and overnight we became this three-legged dog. So here we were rebuilding and trying to find new avenues in the industry in one of the worst economic times of our lives, it was just a perfect storm of so many elements. We wanted to keep certain standards with our music so we waited to do it the right way. It took a little bit longer but I’m glad that we did because the album that we turned in I think is pretty exceptional. It’s 12 songs and no filler. I think all of the songs sound like Eve to Adam but none of them sound the same and that’s not easily done in today’s day in age. We made a conscious decision to wait it out and do it right. We knew that time was ticking but we felt confident enough in what we had started that people would stick by us. It’s a bet, you double down. There were days where we were pretty close to calling it a day but we didn’t we said “Hit me!” and people stood by us.
When fans – new and old – listen to Banquet For a Starving Dog, what do you want them to take away from it?
I want them to feel something. I think too often today, from my experience, I listen to songs and they’ve got all the bells and whistles, a catchy hook, but they are unfulfilling as a true musical experience because I don’t feel anything. Nothing reached out and touched me and that’s the point of this. We are trying to reignite people’s imaginations and the listener’s ability to connect emotionally with the context. We recorded this live for a purpose, we wanted people to have that feeling of what they might experience when they see us live, we made a conscious effort to capture that in the studio. I think things have gotten out of control with ProTools. Everything has become machinelike and non-human and that’s a very big disconnect between the recorded music and the live performance now. People get pissed off, they pay a lot of money and it’s just not real. We’re not reinventing the wheel or claiming to be the greatest band in the world, all we’re doing is doing what we do our own way and making it real. Whatever you hear on the record, you’ll hear the same thing live. We wanted to bring everything back to reality like the great bands of the 70s – that was the real deal. There was no manipulation in the studio, they played the music! It’s amazing that I even have to comment on this because can you believe we’d have to talk about people actually not being able to play or perform the music that they’re selling? What a novel concept. Things have gone so askew that I have to come out and say that we actually play, we’re in this bizarre world where fake is real and we just want to set the tables straight. So what I want them to take away is to feel something deep inside, to feel that human element coming through their speakers. It’s what music use to be and it’s what we’re carrying the torch for. And we’re not alone, there are lots of us out there, but it’s up to all of us to keep it going. What’s been passing as music lately is embarrassing and I think it’s a crime. It’s definitely bordering on fraud.
Is there one song on the album that you’d point to that you feel the most emotionally connected to?
All the material takes me back to the place where it came from. One of our fans once commented that I “literally become the song” when I perform live and I told her that’s probably why I wouldn’t live very long! These songs weigh heavily on the soul. I sweat like a dog up there and I get into these emotional spaces and some are not the happiest places to be or the easiest places to live but that’s the only way I know how to do it. Honestly I’m connected to every single song on this record. Some of my favorites to play live are “Fault Line”, I really enjoy that one. “Run Your Mouth” is a lot of fun and “Banquet for a Starving Dog” sets the tone for me sonically and emotionally. I know I’ve used the word emotion a lot in this interview but I don’t hear it enough these days. Once you create these songs, they do sort of hang on you – either like medals or scarlet letters.
Eve to Adam is currently on tour with Saving Abel so go check them out and support our scene! You can check out the full list of dates here. Banquet for a Starving Dog has a release date of September 13th!