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Before this year, playing for 500 or so rabid hometown fans at Club Dreamers might have struck Fort Wayne’s own Koheleth as a little overwhelming. But, having recently returned from a cross-country tour with heavy metal heroes Mushroomhead, these four guys were ready for anything. I originally caught up with Koheleth drummer Scott Earley shortly after it became official that the band had been handpicked for an opening slot on the Mushroomhead tour. I wanted to get his thoughts on the events that were about to transpire.
Obviously excited about the future, Earley stated that the tour was a dream come true, the result of years of hard work playing in and around the Fort. He said the band had come a long way in a short amount of time, and he felt that this first national tour was going to be the first step in the evolution of Koheleth from local band to national band.
Koheleth proved Earley’s point the night I watched them open for Hemlock at Traxside Bar and Grill, showing no mercy as they ripped through a ferocious set of songs.
Though Koheleth have been together for less than a year, the band’s members have been in and around the Fort Wayne music scene for a while. Earley, Josh Schnepp and Johnny O rose from the ashes of Shunned, while Tony Snyder had manned the helm of Bludspyre.
Koheleth formed after Shunned had run its course, and, according to Earley, they decided to take some time off.
“We put Shunned to rest in October (2009) and took some time off because we had been hitting it pretty hard for a couple of years.”
“In November Johnny and I decided to try out some guitar players,” Earley continued. “The only guy we ended up trying out was Tony. We had given him some old Shunned songs to learn, and he played them impeccably well. We both said, ‘Wow, we need to have Josh check this guy out.’ After we finally wrangled up Josh, the four of us got together and just started playing and practicing. Our first show was March 26, 2010.”
About halfway through the tour I checked back in with Earley and the rest of the band via phone during a bit of free time they had in between dates. At that time the band was in Dallas, about to head to Tyler, Texas, and even over the phone I could tell the tour was turning out better than they had hoped.
“We’ve had a fantastic response every night,” Earley said. “The audiences have been amazing. Even though we are the first band on stage, we get a pit going during the first song and it lasts the entire set.
He added that Koheleth were also getting the loudest and longest audience responses of all three opening bands on the tour.
Stories of fledging bands on tour usually are ripe with hunger, sleeplessness and misfortune, but none of that was in the cards for Koheleth.
“The tour has been going way better than expected,” Earley said. “It’s not as stressful or as much of a struggle as we thought it would be to get to the next show and eat. No one is starving. We’ve sold 500-700 CDs and had to re-order CDs and T-shirts a couple of times. We’re selling enough merchandise to make sure everyone eats, and we’re getting enough money for gas so that we can get down the road to where we need to be. Running out of merch has hurt us a little, but we’ve made the best of it. And we haven’t had any fistfights. It’s been everything we hoped for.”
It seems what was most trying for the band was the daily routine of being on tour.
“After we get to the venue and the merchandise is set up it’s a waiting game until you do what you are there to do,” Earley said. “That can take its toll on you. At times it can get really monotonous. But we are very thankful every day to be able to do this.”
Now that the tour is over and the guys have returned to their previous lives, I asked Earley if being uprooted from their homes, putting their lives on hold and risking their jobs was worth the time they spent on tour.
“Absolutely. It was a dream come true for us. Living the rock star life and waking up in a new town every day to do what we love to do proved to us that this is what we are supposed to do. We are absolutely addicted to that lifestyle now and can’t wait to do it again.”
There are rumors of another national tour in the works for the Koheleth, but for now, they’re content with writing and recording a proper full-length CD they hope to release in early 2011.
“The songs are about as finished as we can get them. We have an album’s worth of material written, though two or three songs need to be finished lyrically. After that’s done we’re going to get in touch with Skinny (from Mushroomhead) and head to his studio in Cleveland to record them,” Earley said.
I bet they print more copies this time around.