In an interview conducted before the Coronavirus pandemic, HRH Mag caught up with one of Devon’s finest (and youngest) rock exponents – Dan Aston and brothers, Ben & Zach Cornish – collectively known as Ethyfield – and found out what makes them tick…
So how did you guys come to get together?
Zach – Ben and I were in a band together early on in school, which was never taken too seriously and was just a bit of fun. We were just messing around with some friends of ours, and it got to the point that we thought, well actually we’d like to do something a bit serious. So me and Ben decided to do our own thing. We tried a couple of drummers out and they weren’t working out, so we did auditions for it and Dan came into the picture and bam, we just clicked.
Had you always had it in your minds to be a trio?
Ben – Yes, our first band had five people in it and it got a bit messy at times, so stripping back to the basics worked for us. It’s easier to learn songs with fewer people involved.
You come across as very committed to your work…
Zach – Yeah we are, we just sit down and learn the songs. The other day we learned a couple of Rush tracks and we go at it until its right. We are very committed to playing music basically.
Ben – After we’d met Dan we started writing music. We’ve always found it fun writing our own stuff and its progress from different genres. I’m definitely very happy with where we are right now. We listen to more and more bands and that obviously influences us. We are kind of like musical sponges! Our first phase was pop-punk but we don’t talk about that – it was awful!! After that we started listening to Alice In Chains and Soundgarden which opened us up a bit to a darker side. We then went to the prog side with Dream Theater and Rush coming in. Who knows maybe in years to come we’ll do prog death metal haha. In early 2017 we recorded two songs `Bag Of Bones’ and `Black Sky’ and we realised this was a new sound and feel so we changed the band name and look.
Ben – We then met Josiah (Kris Barras keyboard player and Ethyrfield producer) who changed the beginning of `Bag Of Bones’ and made it what it is today. He also suggested we shorten our songs which has helped make them punchier.
What were you called previously?
Dan – It’s like when you open up something new on the PC it comes up with New Project, so we said yeah that will do, that’s a band name. Pretty naff eh!
Zach – It’s actually the hardest band name to find when doing a search, no one could ever find us.
Ben – `Ethyrfield’ hasn’t got any exciting story behind the name, it just was case of throwing words together and making a name that’s both original and memorable.
How do you go about writing your songs?
Ben – It is almost always built from just a riff I think which we then build upon.
Zach – We’re not the world’s greatest lyricists, a lot of the time I’ve made things up on the spot and they’ve just so happened to have worked well. Our songs are pretty fluid right up to the point of being recorded in fact.
Ben – Sometimes you’ll write a song, think it’s ok but not amazing, and put it on the back burner. Then months later you dig it out and it kind of gets morphed into another song. Writing is split between me and Zach and then Dan brings in the drum and rhythm bits.
How do you pull your drums together Dan?
Dan – Ben and Zach have a rough idea what they want but they’ll pass me the basic structure of a song and ill work through it and come up with patterns and things that I think work and we go from there.
So Ben are you a guitar hoarder as so many are?
Ben – Yes! I love my PRS but that being said I try and make use of all the guitars I have but like I still have my first guitar. I don’t use it but it’s got lots of memories attached to it. I do experiment with different tunings which opens up lots of other possibilities within a song, it makes you think in a different way somehow.
Zach – I’m the same with my bass, I play with alternatives tunings which can be cool when writing.
And you always write with guitars?
Zach – At the moment yes, we are starting to add some keyboards into our songs and now we are starting to record at home using Logic, which gives lots more flexibility to add more interesting textures.
So tell us about your recorded output…
Ben – Our first EP was done in two sessions, we did two songs in February 2017 and two more in August. Our original intention was to release just two singles but then we thought we’d got enough material for an EP so we put it out. Our new EP `Taurus’ has four new tracks that we’ve been playing live for a while but they are slightly different as studio versions. Josiah Manning worked with us on this once more and did a fantastic job. It feels more complete than the last one. We’ve got lots more material together and we are hoping to get into the studio at some point and create an album.
How are you enjoying your live gigs?
Zach – We’ve supported Statement, we’ve done Hard Rock Hell and we’ve been all over the country but so far the highlight has been playing the main stage at Giants Of Rock. We just love playing live whether it’s to five people or five thousand! We’ve just heard that we are going to appear at HRH AOR VIII in March on the Saturday [Ed:-now November!] – that will be epic, as we enjoyed Hard Rock Hell so much last time, it’ll be great to go back to Great Yarmouth again!
So what’s next?
Zach – We are looking at doing a music video. It will help get our name out there. We are on social media like Facebook, YouTube and the web (www.ethyrfield.com) and just want to carry on building our fan base. Then there’s a future album!!!
Interview by Paul Sabin Photography by Simon Dunkerley