Master of improvisational drumming, singing and electronic music, Jason Hann throws down fresh beats every night alongside Michael Travis in the duo known as EOTO. Every Halloween since the band began, these guys have played Lawrence and this year’s show promises to be bigger than ever.
EOTO’s styles explore a wide range of electronic music from drum & beat and hip-hop to house and dubstep. Their original influences were live electronic actslike Sound Tribe Sector 9, Lotus and Bassnectar. Back when the guys started jamming together, dubstep was still not widely known yet. EOTO first took an interest in dubstep while attending DJ Skream’s set at Shambhala in 2007. In a short time the guys were playing dubstep of their own, using no pre-recorded parts or loops. “That’s the great thing about our group, we hear something new and we can play it on the fly,” Hann said. “Aside from the type of bands using pre-programed sounds, nobody else plays it live. We sort of made it our own.”
Playing live, improvised shows hundreds of nights per year, EOTO has developed a knack for mixing and switching styles smoothly. “It used to be a conscious effort to go from one to the next, we used to call it a double-suicide if we could merge one thing into the next, now it’s kind of second nature,” Hann said. Travis and Hann have played together in both EOTO and The String Cheese Incident so many times they hardly need communicate verbally anymore. Just a change in sound or tempo can be enough for one to let the other know they are ready for something new. “We use some cues, like if we want to go into dubstep, we use sort of a ‘fingers-walking’ kind of sign,” Hann said.
Hann has experience with traditional African and Latin drumming, which he incorporates into EOTO’s music. “It’s pretty easy to dive into that,” Hann said. “One thing we don’t have but we may get more and more into, is having more kinds of drums on stage so we can go into more traditional moods.” Sometimes there are drum solos, while other traditional drumming accompanies instrumentals and singing. Traditional drums are also exciting additions to use as a juxtaposition with electronic sounds. “It adds quite the impact,” Hann said.
It feels tiring just watching Hann play drums while simultaneously singing and working with electronic equipment. Hann says he builds up his energy while touring. But it is not always easy. “One time in Louiville I had a fever and it was just miserable. But at some point in the show I got a spurt of energy just thinking, ‘You can’t slack off, for some people it’s their first time seeing you! You have to make a good impression!” Hann said. “In some ways the music is sort of healing. It does good things for me, it gives me energy.”
Last year on Halloween weekend EOTO performed for a packed Granada. This coming Halloween the band is stepping up to the biggest venue in town by bringing their party to Liberty Hall. “Granada sold out pretty hard last year and whenever that happens you wanna make more room for more people to be able to come, hopefully with a little elbow room,” Hann said. While a sold-out show of people shoulder-to-shoulder makes Hann smile, he knows from experience in the crowd that it’s nicer to have a little room to move.
Another exciting moment last Halloween was when Hann and Travis arrived at an after-party to hang out with their fans. Hann says one of the first things they do after a show is put out feelers for a cool place to hang out. “That’s one of the things that keeps things fresh on the tour, meeting fans who are cool people,” Hann said.
Dressing up for Halloween is always fun, but it gets hot at a EOTO show, especially if you’re in the band. In past years Hann and Travis have gone as ketchup and mustard, and droid/aliens. “I’d like to go as V from ‘V for Vendetta’, with the Guy Fawkes mask. I like that character,” Hann said. “The hard part for me anytime I wear a mask is; I have to use the mic and headphones. I’m usually in the costume five seconds before I’m like ‘Oh God, I have to get out of this thing.”
Monday, October 31st, EOTO will bring their live, improvisational prowess to Liberty Hall for a night of electronic debauchery. Tickets cost somewhere between $22-25. For years EOTO’s Halloween show has been the concert of the week for every party person in town. This year will be bigger than ever, so do not miss out!