Exclusive Premiere: East Cameron Folkcore, ‘Kingdom of Fear Trilogy’
Back in February, Diffuser proudly partnered with Austin's East Cameron Folkcore to debut "The Joke," a track that, as frontman Jesse Moore described, "refers to the American dream and is a tale of multi-generational servitude to a higher class."
That sort of social awareness is common throughout the band's latest album, Kingdom of Fear. Hitting the streets back in April, Kingdom of Fear finds East Cameron Folkcore standing up and actually saying something with their music. Now, the band is taking things a step further with the Kingdom of Fear Trilogy, a short film comprised of three music videos for the LP's title track, "The Joke" and "969" -- you can watch the full video above.
Along with the Trilogy premiere, Moore caught up with us to chat about how East Cameron Folkcore's social activism has grown "organically" over the years, and what's on the horizon for the band. Check out our conversation below:
Political activism, social consciousness ... whatever you call it, it's been a big part of music for a long, long time. Do you think it plays as big of a role today as it once did?
I think it's always there, you know? I first became aware that music could hold that kind of power from Rage Against the Machine. I feel like a lot of artists who try to go there -- and I've seen hints of it as well -- it becomes trivialized in a way. In some ways, everyone wants you to be their spokesman, so it becomes less about writing the way you feel and more about being a spokesman for whatever issue someone else has. I saw an acoustic performance that Frank Turner did on KGSR, and he spoke specifically about that. He said he used to write political songs and then stopped for that reason. People are doing it, but I don't think it's anything that people want to identify themselves with, because you might become marginalized.
You mentioned Rage Against the Machine. Politics, social issues, that is who they are and they've never strayed from it. With East Cameron Folkcore, do you think you're known just for that, too?
In some ways, it's not what has always identified us as a band. It's organically grown into it. I definitely worry about being stigmatized as that because at the end of the day, we're songwriters. The craft that I've learned how to do is to write songs. That's my release. Not all songs you write are going to be heard. But right now, at this time, the songs we're writing about, they all identify with the times that we're in. That is our identity on this record. That's the cycle we're in right now. These are the things that we want to talk about and we feel like they're important because they're happening.
There's no question that the current state of the country is a huge inspiration for the new record. What led to Kingdom of Fear? Did that inspiration come from personal experiences or was it simply witnessing what was happening around the world?
There were a couple of different things. We came out of the mourning process of losing a good friend who was a founding member of this band and someone I played with in other bands. He defined our sound with our first record, Sound and Fury. When we went in and made our second record, For Sale, it was eye opening. That was in the middle of the 2012 elections, too, so it was obvious that issues meant nothing and all that mattered was who had more money. But, a lot of the songs for that record were already in the bag, so we weren't really creating more.
Then in 2013, HB2, a bill that tried to restrict women's rights in Texas, came up. My wife and I went to the capitol and we saw it full of people fighting for something they wanted. When the bill came up for a vote, it ended with 15 minutes of people screaming and making noise, so much that they had to close it down. Yeah, the bill passed the next week, but watching people unify for one issue, that momentum and that movement really inspired us for a lot of the songs that I wrote on this record.
There's no question the record has that theme, fighting for something, standing up for something. How did those sentiments lead into these three music videos, the Kingdom of Fear Trilogy?
The original idea in my mind was for this record to play as the soundtrack to a film, a film that would be pushed by the narrative of its music. The first meeting we had [with Reid Connell] for this was to make a full film, to go along with the entire record. We quickly realized, both monetarily and timewise, that this was too ambitious. So, we looked at the first three songs and tried to figure out how we could tell a story within them that summed up the ideals behind the struggle that the record is about.
Over a six month span, we had weekly meetings of just sitting down and drawing inspiration from different movies. Terrence Malick's Tree of Life, that was a big inspiration for us and for the look. We identified that we wanted to tell the story of a father and daughter struggling and starting over -- let's show the world through the eyes of a child and then through the eyes of an adult. It was a long process that turned out to be completely different on film than what we thought would be possible when it was on paper. Reed definitely brought it to life and Travis and River, who star in it, gave us way more than we expected.
It's obviously something that you should be proud of. It's above and beyond anything that I've seen in recent memory ... this is way more than just a music video.
The most surprising part about it was how much conviction was in the characters. The music was almost secondary.
It has this "film" feel to it, but the music isn't diminished, it co-exists with the visuals.
With Kingdom of Fear out, what's on the horizon for the band?
We're heading over to Europe for May and June. We have a label in Germany that put out the record over there and we'll be doing some club and festival shows, and we've got a handful of shows with Frank Turner in Austria. Then we come back home and will be in Austin for the summertime. I don't know why I chose for that to happen. [Laughs] Then we'll be here in the states for August and September and hope to hit the west coast in October. We're working, we're booking shows, we're trying to get out there. We've been touring in Europe for the past three years and haven't really had the means to get out here in the states and so we're really excited to do that, to get out as the band we've evolved into over the past two or three years.