Words by Sean Moeller//Illustration by Johnnie Cluney//Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Below, you'll find the original Southeast Engine essay from 2009. We still like it.
The foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is where you'll find the four members of Ohio band Southeast Engine living, where shadows don't make you nervous so much as they make you feel miniscule. When your home is nestled with a view of big stuff out and above, towering like rocky explosions that have been frozen in time, as examples of what happens when all of this blows up and in our faces, when the very ground that we stand upon decides - without so much as asking permission - that it would like to move around a bit, to shift left or right, it cuts you in on some perspective that those in say Nebraska wouldn't have. So, maybe those shadows, falling in a pattern of a looming, overpowering shape, can make you nervous if they try hard enough. They will frighten the casual observer, turn their mouths into cotton balls and spider webs of dry dust and air because suddenly, you realize that if those internal inclinations to readjust and to quake free were to return, there's no way that anyone would ever find you out of all that mess. It would just drop on you and wipe its hands.
The perspective gained from this proximity makes for a cool and collected delivery from Southeast Engine, a band that slings brawny and rootsy imaginings of how to feel as if all of us little people can impact something somehow, that we aren't just grains of salt. The big mountains, though rounded and older than the Rockies, still come out in the band's music as imposing and potentially vengeful, but there's little worry that they, like many of the prickliest of little things are going to dampen any spirits for there happens to be more to the structures in question. As people, they're reinforced by what they've taken in as mortar and plaster and oak beams, as confidence and experience and hope. They're reinforced by a steady hand and a sure tongue, a loving care that doesn't serve one lone master but a multitude of them.
If there's a fear of what's coming next, Southeast Engine and the vocals of Adam Remnant seem to suggest, without saying so, that they've found their own personal pathway through the impenetrable boulders, a gap in the solid skeleton that they could get to in minutes if needed - whether to keep passing through to a better other side or to just take shelter from any storms from the sky. It's an implied safety, where nothing is going to get to them but those shadows and those can be made to understand. They can be made to cooperate without expanding the fear. While the band takes on the sullen breezes and the heavy conflictions of oil over blood (or the greed that will pour into the equation when we're turned even more into machines than we already are and our blood actually evolves itself into a flow of the black gold), it does so with a light burlap glow, bathing the proceedings in the sounds of people, in the tones that make up the common molecular structure of all people. It's a unifying sound that is unmistakable and bold, while remaining loose as a beautiful kiss that couldn't have been prepared for. Almost without noticing it, they sing and play and you feel warmer, as if someone special to you has found you and wrapped a reassuring hug around you, with just the exact amount of grip and softness. It lasts through to the time when they let themselves ring off into the distance, slamming the sound like echoes off the surroundings. Those echoes ripple and flame and the shadows retreat just a little bit.
Southeast Engine Official Site