Owing to a sound glitch in the microphones, Eden’s Lie is asked to perform their opening song a second time during a recent taping of Scorch’s PFG-TV. Lead singer Jeff Richards nods to the show’s producer and quickly counts off the band, which tears into it with a ferocity equal to the first run-through’s.
Exactly as he did for the first pass, Richards waves his arms and yells for a studio audience packed with fans, friends and family, including his infant son wearing jumbo blue headphones and bouncing on his wife’s hip. “We’ve waited long enough,” Richards seems to be saying in his excited state. “What’s one more take?”
The new Eden’s Lie CD is set for release this weekend, after months of manufacturing delays. But the record began life more than two years earlier as a Richards solo project, at a time when the group was in a state of flux. Richards was writing songs and inviting different musicians, including the current lineup of guitarist Zander Carlson, drummer David White and bass player Rick Cote, to his home studio to flesh them out.
By the time they were ready to assemble the record, Epiphany Season, it had grown to 20 songs and two discs. “This guy doesn’t know when to stop,” Carlson said as the group sat down for an interview after their TV appearance. “It’s like oh, I wrote another song, you’ve got to come over and play on it. I thought it was done. No, it’s one more, then it’s two more by the time I actually get over there to record my tracks. It’s this guy had too much time on his hands.”
Richards eagerly agrees: “We had a lot of down time in between switching the members and stuff like that. I had different people who were in the band at times come in and play and remix stuff. It’s been over five years since we released anything, and I had all these songs.”
This boundless energy helps explain why Eden’s Lie is one of the longest-running acts in Manchester. Personnel have changed since the band formed in 1995. Richards began as the band’s drummer and moved into the role of singer after meeting Carlson in 1997 during a hiatus.
“We were in different bands that played together a lot,” says Zander. “He was sick of playing drums in his band [not Eden’s Lie], and I was sick of not writing material with the guys I was with. So he said let’s finish up these last few gigs together and start writing some music.”
Since then, band members have come and gone, but the current configuration is the same as in the early days. Richards has come into his own as a songwriter; the latest release is the band’s seventh album of original material (there’s also a live album and a holiday disc).
Listening to Epiphany Season, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t made in a marquee studio. There’s a classic rock feel to it, with layered harmonies reminiscent of Asia and Boston, along with big power chords and infectious choruses. When the band ran through the album’s lead track, “Afraid,” during the taping, show host Scorch tapped along to the rhythm. The power ballad title track soars, and “World’s Apart” could be read as a spiritual meditation or an ode to family love. Countering the sweet moments are fire-breathing tracks like “This Time,” “Hear of Aggression” and “Blame.”
On many songs, Richards seems to be wrestling with personal demons, singing of betrayal and retribution. “I write lyrics to get through situations, things that happen in life,” he says. “You could smash the room or someone’s face, or write a song to get it out. I try to write as vaguely as possible so people can take it different ways.”
He has a talent for taking someone else’s story and shaping it into a song. “Comfortable With Tragedy,” written 10 years ago, looks at a couple’s aftermath of sorrow from both points of view — the one who wants to move on, and the one who can’t forget. “Who hasn’t felt like that?” says Richards. “We’re in this together, but now I’m by myself, separated by feelings about what happened.”
When the band performs live, they are able to stick mostly to original material, breaking out a cover as it suits them.
Eden’s Lie’s next big gig is Jan. 14 at Mad Bob’s Saloon in Manchester, though they may have another local appearance prior to that. “I’m hoping to squeeze in a CD release party,” says Richards. “But with the holidays, December is looking pretty full.”