EXCLUSIVE: In Earnest Chats Debut EP

Since 2019, alt/indie trio In Earnest has musically explored challenging topics, such as mental illness. 

Their new self-titled debut EP follows that same trajectory and tackles difficult topics in all six live-full take tracks. 

The band’s sincere and relatable storytelling inspires connection, thought, and individuality.  

We chatted with Sarah, Tom and Toby about the EP, recording and more!

How does it feel to have your debut self-titled EP out in the world? 

It’s been a long time in the making – we wrote most of these songs in 2018, recorded them in June 2019 and have been sitting on the EP as a whole for 18 months now. Being a new band, it feels very exciting to finally release these songs out into the world as we’ve focused so much time and energy into promoting singles. Hearing such great feedback from so many bloggers and writers has been really rewarding.

Can you tell us about the unique writing and recording process for the EP? 

In regards to the writing process, Tom and Sarah tend to write the main bulk of a song individually and then bring the full structure to the rehearsal room. It’s then that we flesh out the entire arrangement, make suggestions and really hone in on how the writer wanted the song to feel and sound. We recorded the EP in a converted barn with our producer, Peter Waterman of Longcroft Recording (Hattie Briggs, Uriah Heep). We recorded most of the tracks in a live fashion, first capturing a good full live take of the core of the song and then overdubbing extra parts on top. We also got to bottle-fed some baby goats onsite and all of our guitars were recorded in the bathroom.

Why was it important to you all to record each song as a live full take?

By modern standards, it’s a little bit of an ‘old school’ approach to recording. However, we feel that the performance element of a song is so important and once you start letting technology lead the way on a recording, it’s easy to lose the human qualities which make music so exciting and appealing in the first place. It’s also a great way to lay a song down using instinct, rather than getting hung up on every minute detail.

If you could set fans up in the perfect environment to listen to the EP, what do you imagine looking like? 

We recommend headphones, a dark candle-lit room and lots of dogs. We love dogs.

How do you hope people feel after listening to your music? 

We hope they feel something (anything!) and are moved by it. We play music to channel our own thoughts and emotions in order to learn more about ourselves, and hopefully our messages resonate with listeners. Part of life is to FEEL!

Your music often tackles your own experiences and struggles with mental health. Why is it important to you to be so honest and open in your writing?

One of our main goals is to create music that is able to create conversation on difficult topics such as mental illness, and provoke thought in a listener. I (Sarah) live with depression and anxiety disorder, and for so many years I felt alone, like I was the only one experiencing such chaos in my head, and I eventually found solace in listening to and writing music. It would be amazing to know that someone somewhere has had a conversation that they otherwise wouldn’t have had if our music didn’t exist.

How did you all get connected?

The three of us used to play together in a different band, which evolved over the years into the ‘in earnest’ that we are today. Tom and Sarah met at an open mic night some 7 years ago and Toby was introduced to us through a friend who claimed he knew someone who could play ALL of the instruments. He was right.

Sarah and Thomas, you two are a couple. What is it like collaborating with each other on this project?

Collaborating together musically is more or less all we’ve ever known. Since getting together, we’ve played music in various guises and have always been an influence on each other’s writing. That said, we find it very difficult to write a song together from scratch, since we both work in very different ways and are both equally stubborn. However, living together during Covid-19 lockdown was definitely a positive since we could still play and write together, work on the last few single releases and create promo ideas. We mostly make a good team!

Who did you all listen to growing up and do they have an influence on your sound today? 

We’re all fans of many genres that have all had a lasting effect on our writing and musicianship. Tom wanted to be in a band with Metallica, John Mayer and Jimi Hendrix. Sarah is a huge fan of The Beatles, McFly and the Mamma Mia soundtrack. From an early age, Toby has shared stages with big names in the folk world, such as John McCusker and Cara Dillon.

You are all from Southend-on-Sea, UK. How has that area had an influence on your music?

There has always been such a vibrant music scene in Southend, which has kept us all very active in music over the years. We think this has probably contributed to our passion to pursue music as a career. Also, we’re pretty sure that the sea air does wonders for our writing!

What is a quote that you have heard or that you go by that you want to ECHO out to the world?

“I am you and you are me. We are alone, but not alone. We are trapped by time, but also infinite. Made of flesh, but also stars.” ― Matt Haig in ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ (Sarah’s favourite book!)

Listen to the EP here.