Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Premiere: “Learn How to Count” by Earthquake Don’t Give a Fuck

September 1, 2020

The thing about instrumental music is that (almost?) any genre of music can be instrumental. By moving the remit of this blog from folk-pop/indie-pop to instrumental music at large, I can cover all sorts of things from all eras of this blog–just without vocals. Earthquake Don’t Give a Fuck (EDGAF) is a heavy band that would not be out of place in coverage from IC’s first decade: dense, distorted guitars; thunderous backline; and general fury are all standard elements of EDGAF songs. However, they also sought out a viola player, because why not? Shannon De Jong brings a different sensibility to these post-hardcore/punk tunes.

Most of the songs on EDGAF’s self-titled record have shouty vocals, but closer “Learn How to Count” is an instrumental. It’s a pounding, powerful track:

The track opens with a gnarly guitar riff over pounding percussion; the viola-influenced melodic line of contrasts with dissonant, shrieking guitar thrash to create an electrifying opening. The middle section of the piece slows down and opens up, letting the viola soar. The respite is short, before the band comes barreling back in for the towering conclusion. It’s an excellent piece of post-hardcore.

Guitarist and EDGAF co-founder Keith Waggoner had this humorous story about the piece to share:

“When Greg [DePante, drummer] and I started writing together, ‘Learn How to Count’ was one of the first songs that stuck. A lot of crust punk/mathcore influence there and writing something that heavy, out of the gate, really set the tone for the project. I had always intended on writing vocals for the song, but the words never came, and eventually it felt more natural as an instrumental. If you listen to our early demos, all of the leads are played on guitar. After Shannon joined, we transposed those melodies to viola and that’s when the song came into its own. Once we had a full band together, we had to teach everyone how to count this weird syncopated 6/8 time signature and a couple of the guys had trouble with it at first. The song still didn’t have a name, so I would write ‘Learn How to Count’ on the set list, to poke at them.”

Ha! Well, that’s one way to title a song. I hope the next record includes another instrumental track called “We Did.”

EDGAF’s self-titled record will be out September 18 on LA Hall of Records. You can catch EDGAF on Facebook and Instagram until then.

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Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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