Courtesy of Freeman Promotions

Who On Earth: Our Rocking, Local Pride & Joy

This is the band you didn’t know you needed… and they’re here for you… right here, right now.

We are sure that most people would admit that the words ‘melodic’ and ‘harmonious’ don’t come to mind when the subject at hand is heavy metal music. The ethos of the genre is the ruckus it causes sonically; pounding and pulsating drums, sharp electric guitars, and vocals that are as sharp as they are gritty. However, it is 2023, and we are a handful of years into a new decade – one that has been littered with social and political tension, lockdowns, and confusion. Who On Earth, a rising hard rock group out of our home state, are making sure to keep everything simple by doing what they love: making music. There is no question about their passion for their roaring live gigs or original music, and that in itself tells you what you need to know.

Who On Earth rock in every sense of the word and fans are so caught up in its spirit and musicianship that they don’t have time to worry about the world around them… let alone question just how metal they are or just how catchy they are. With this band, it is about the music, and the music is the message that people are grabbing onto, which is fresh and ferocious and thrilling and blue-collar and driven and fun. Not one song sounds like the other, but the ethos of the band is still there – something that we learned in conversation that the band pride themselves in being able to do and are set on continuing to do.

The Aquarian caught up with two of the band’s members, vocalist Coosh and bassist Pete, for a conversation as lively, connecting, and understatedly sweet as the songs themselves. (Like we told them – they’re sort of a mix of Tool and Aerosmith, so there is a lot to work with there!)

The new single, “Ascension/Unbeaten,” is so phenomenal. There are so many really cool layers to it and I love the correlation between the artwork, the music, and the lyrics. How did you come about making this song a large-form single? I think it’s a great intro for your musicianship when it comes to new fans.

Peter: We had the studio version for “Unbeaten,” and when we did it, I had always envisioned at the end having a female vocalist in there. I always envisioned some kind of violin or cello, too. We did the studio version and Mike Orlando, who you know from Adrenaline Mob, produced it, mixed it, engineered it, and everything. We were all like, “You know what? This would be a great alternate version where we just focus on the vocals. We’ll bring those female vocals in.” So we brought the female Jillian, who was just amazing, in for it. She is literally a young kid from New York City that we got in contact with. We wanted to highlight more of her voice and I wanted some of that orchestral intro. As we [worked on the song] Mike Orlando’s good friend, Mike Romeo, was able to come right in on the case. He came up with that whole first minute and 45 seconds. What was weird about it was it just all came together so naturally. Coosh did his thing. I kind of just stood back since there is no bass playing in this version, nor are there any drums. We just let those guys take it where they wanted to go with it because they were invested in it.

We just feel that the lyrics and the content is so powerful for anybody who has gone through anything traumatic personally. We’ve been sitting on it for awhile, this version, as it’s not on the album, so we wanted to make it something special. We just felt with the first day of spring, for us here in the East Coast, this return to life and blossoming and rebirth kind of lined up. It’s weird. – when you’re a music lover and you listen to songs, you don’t often know what goes into the origin and the genesis and the building of it. Having done this one, it’s amazing how so many things happened that are out of your control, but it all just works out and comes together. We’re excited for people to see this other side of us in this song. We’re hard rock/metal guys, but, you know, we’ve got a softer side.

That balance is evident. Looking at my notes from this single’s release day, I wrote, “It feels like six minutes of opening a new door.” Sometimes you need to slow down and hone in on a melody to allow that journey to begin and set that tone… which this does.

Peter: Yeah, for sure. Thank you for that.

Coosh: This song, right from the beginning and even before we did the orchestra part and everything, when Pete introduced me to it, I felt really intimidated by it. I was worried that I couldn’t do enough for it. It was so beautiful that I was worried how it was going to come out, where it was gonna be. The song grew so organically and became such a beautiful thing that after the studio version, going on to making the orchestral version, it had a whole other level of emotion that just flew through it. The worry I had helped everything get across in both versions because the depth, especially of “Ascension,” goes really, really deep.

I completely agree. This sort of merge of feelings transpires so beautifully. As someone who loves rock music, I see and hear bands try to tap into emotional stories in a way that makes sense to them, which is usually based in the songwriting. I think it still comes down to all of the musicianship – the experience of creating it together, vocally, musically, lyrically, and instrumentally.

Peter: For this one, we really wanted it to be like a unifying song after the last few years. Things were just so crazy. I mean, I would walk around being like, “What is going on? Am I in a bad dream here?” Personally, but also society-wise, it’s just been so confusing and so divisive that we just thought that this was a great way to maybe unify people. We can’t do this life alone, but we can do it together. That was really the theme of the song. We have stories to tell and we have personal experiences we want to share. You know, we’re not Motley Crue. We’re not singing about ‘girls, girls, girls,’ and no offense to them, but that’s not what we’re about. [Laughs]

I absolutely do. I listened to Blame a bunch when it came out and it was such a fun and inspiring listen right from the get-go. I love the artwork for the record, as well – the same sort of unity there. Who does your art and/or how much I say you have in it?

Peter: Oh, thank you. We have all the say in the world. Ken Adams, who has done all of the artwork for Lamb of God, did most of our artwork for the singles. He did Blame and he did it by hand. He painted it. Coosh, I think, was the one who was ticking ideas around. He was the one who said, “It’s toasting the end of the world!” [Laughs] You have these hobos and the dregs of society laughing because, in the end, none of the other crap mattered – we screwed it all up. It was just our twisted take on where we see things heading and how we’re all blaming each other, blaming everyone else, when at the end of the day there’s this great equalization of seeing it all end, so we might as well have a drink and toast.

There is a very evident correlation to the music, the scene, and the real world. When I was listening to the album and I got to the last track, “Watch the Fires Burn,” I thought that it was probably the song playing in the background of the cover.

Peter: Yeah [Laughs], absolutely!

It’s been almost six months since this album came out. What has it been like to actually have these songs and that art and these messages out in the world?

Coosh: Oh, it’s great. Just finally getting out there and performing all this in front of people is everything we wanted; to get out, spread the word, meet the people, perform this, and have a full band to do it with… great.

Peter: Yeah, and it’s a huge undertaking. A lot of these songs, like “We Don’t Belong” and “Watch The Fires Burn,” which you mentioned, I wrote when I was in my very early twenties. I’m not in my early twenties anymore and I’m not gonna tell you how old I am, but [Laughs] it shows we have songs from way back. We have songs that we wrote more recently – right before the album came out, For us, it was like, “Let’s see if we can do this.” We played in cover bands for years and played bars with other people’s songs, so, man, to see these songs out and hear people give us feedback? When you are giving us compliments? I’m so overwhelmed by that because it’s like, “This is a song that we wrote.” It’s not someone in a bar saying, “Hey, I really like the way you guys did that Sabbath song,” or something. We did this. We came up with this. This is the result of all of our work, but also all of our influences, our life experiences. We’re proud to have some little piece of the music world. 

Being proud and having fun is one of the most important things to do in this industry. It’s very refreshing for me to hear and to know that your heart, the spirit, and the collective attitude of the band and the music is completely in the right place.

Peter: Wow. Thank you for understanding that. We don’t really do anything different, but I believe we’re all given talents. Everybody is given different talents. I have one, my son has one. He is a great artist. I can’t draw a stick figure, but he also can’t write a melody. We’re given these things and it’s what we do with them that [matters], so you have got to be careful not to take too much credit and to just be grateful for having those abilities and talents – and for having the ability to put them out. A lot of people can’t even get this. There are great songs that we’ll never hear. We’re lucky that we were able to get these out to a place where some people will hear them. We show up, we work hard, we do our best, and we have to let go of the results to leave it to the universe. That’s kind of what we do as we move on to the next thing.