Discovering new music is one of my favorite things, particularly when it’s a band or artist that resonates with me spiritually and emotionally and not just musically. When I stumbled upon them, they end up leaving a lasting impression on my soul, as if God is literally speaking to me directly through the music.
Recently, as I was scrolling through social media, I learned about a new band called Ever Eden – and now, I think I found my new “They Resonate with Me” band for the 2020s. As of now, they have a minimal following on social media and are independent of a record label, so I didn’t really give them much thought at first. However, once I put my headphones on and turned on the first track, I was hooked. Between the ambient vocals of Jesse Wilson to the reverberating screams of Joshua Tennson, the band takes you on a trip from contemplation to emotional confrontation.
Ever Eden recently released their first EP, Illumine, an emotive record filled with hope, lament, and vulnerability. As I was listening for the first time, I couldn’t help but shake the word “haunting” from my mental vocabulary. There’s something about music that can resonate so deeply with the human spirit. Haunting music, for me, is music that reminds me I’m human. It reminds me I’m more than flesh and bone. It echoes the pain I’ve known but also the hopes I hold for the future. Ever Eden is that for my soul.
I later discovered they had made an album in 2014 under the name Ardent, but then they spent the next six years exploring their art on the journeys of their personal lives, working on what we now know as Ever Eden. It may have taken them six years to get to the place in life where they would release these five songs found on Illumine, but the six years were iron sharpening iron, the band – as you’ll read – going through incredible and inspiring turns in their lives, forming their futures. After reaching out to introduce myself, I sat down to talk with Wilson, Tennson, and Oldfield Wasson (drums).
HM: So, you guys are all in Missouri, right?
Tennson: We’re in Springfield, MO.
I love your new EP. Since it was released, how do you feel the music has been received by listeners?
Wasson: I’m honestly kind of surprised by how receptive people have been to it. We came from a band who didn’t know what we were doing, but we were trying to do it for so long. Then, we snapped out of it and started doing Ever Eden. Seeing people’s responses and seeing how many streams we have and getting the opportunity to do this is super, super cool. Honestly, I didn’t think that would ever happen or that we’d get to this point. It’s crazy. Honestly, I can’t even believe I’m sitting here talking to you.
Tennson: I think a huge portion for me is how the band, for us, has represented so much of an intimate journey that we’ve all been on. This is something that was so personal and so sincere for ten years for us. We get to have a little bit of a splash in a community that was really perfect for the content of our music and where we were spiritually and with our faith. We’re all going through so much transformation in our lives that it’s been really cool to experience that with people’s reception. It’s not just listening to music; the reception has been about the content.
I noticed that you are currently independent of a record label. When it comes to your recent release, how did you decide on an EP and not an album?
Wilson: There’s a lot of reasons. I could talk about how the model, especially in our scene, is switching over to releasing singles (and) releasing less content more often. It seems to be working a lot better than releasing a full length and then waiting two years and then another full length and another two years.
But the truth is, writing these songs, we actually wrote these around three years ago and had spent a lot of time refining and having a really difficult time getting them recorded and finished, just living life and going through a lot as people. It took a long time getting those songs done. We’ve learned so much through that experience, and now we think we can crank stuff out all day long. But it was really hard to even scrape those songs together during that period of time. So we just decided, hey, let’s stop trying to perfect this thing and just get it out, release what we have.
Did you self-produce? The quality is amazing.
Tennson: We almost did it entirely from the inside. I’m also a tattoo artist and really familiar with Photoshop and video editing. We’ve included some other artists. One of my clients is a videographer, so we worked with him in filming the music video, but I personally animated the lyric video. We use all of (the) resources we have in our assets (and) we funnel (them) into our craft.
Honestly, a big part of my understanding and realization of the formation of Ever Eden was that it’s so much more than just this vehicle of music, it’s a community of artists and vulnerability. All of art and music is aimed towards being vulnerable with one another, so it’s been cool getting to partner with other artists but within our own community, not just focused on writing the music.
On your website, the band ethos says, “We exist to create a community in the heavy music scene where everyone is welcome to wrestle with meaningful issues through vulnerability, love, and acceptance.” For myself, mental health and faith is a big part of my own journey. Why that ethos for your band’s identity?
Tennson: I think a lot of it has been through our own honest struggle. I think Ever Eden has been this perfect culmination of us realizing what our journey has been and how to aim that as a message for other people. We have all been tilled open in our hearts through the journey of our lives, growing up in the church, and having to wrestle with so many moral issues in light of our community going through so much as it is right now. I think that we recognize that the most valuable space is one where people have the safety to process their emotions and their opinions and the anger and the fear and all the things that people are experiencing so they can have that safety to actually get the idea behind what’s causing those emotions and that pain.
All of mental health and this whole movement is about giving space to trauma and giving room to process trauma. With so much hurt and so much pain in the world, we want to give space to that love. There’s some hope and some beauty under every curse and hardship. We’re constantly digging for that beauty.
Wilson: I don’t know if you guys know about Springfield, MO being, like, this church Mecca of the Midwest, but there’s an insane amount of churches here. Like Josh said, we all grew up in church, grappling and taking ownership of our own faith and ideas, going through college studying Philosophy.
Josh and I have degrees in Philosophy or Religious Studies. Going through all of that, man, realizing how much of the time people in that community and in general… There’s not a healthy space for people to have conversations about hard stuff, like, “Does God exist? What is ethical?” All of these really difficult questions that I felt like, generally speaking, our community – people that we know – feel stifled. They feel like they can’t ask questions and just “be,” especially within the metal community.
Dude, punk rock is about being subversive and turning the system on its head. That’s what, in my opinion, Christ’s teachings were all about. Topple the system over if it’s not serving genuine authenticity and healing and honesty. I’m so tired of people being bound up in what’s right, what’s appropriate for them to even talk about. Let’s just talk.
Tennson: I’m curious to see how the journey of this band pans out because we’re still going through transformation. I, personally, am committed to being vulnerable in my own journey; I think that’s what art is all about. I think there’s a lot going on and a lot being stirred up.
Wilson: Right now, especially right now in our world and, I think, from the conversations we’ve had, I know that we’re all wanting to give people the opportunity to grab for vulnerability instead of defensiveness, to be able to grab for honesty and feeling safe versus feeling unsafe and feeling like they don’t have a place to be, especially in the heavy music scene.
Josh, outside of the band, you’re a tattoo artist. You do that full-time?
Jesse, I saw on your Instagram page that you’re also a barista. Do you do that full-time?
Wilson: So, I do barista stuff on the weekend at a local shop here called The Coffee Ethic, and I’ve done that for like six-to-seven years, but my main, full-time job for the last three years or so has been as a web developer and graphic designer at a little agency called Departika in Springfield.
What about you, Olfield?
Wasson: I’m actually an insurance follow-up rep for one of our local hospitals, so completely opposite ends of the spectrum. But it pays the bills, and I enjoy it.
Tennson: Taking down “the man” from the inside (laughs).
Wasson: Exactly (laughs).
Being from Missouri, I have a question for each of you, and we’ll start with Wasson: St. Louis or Kansas City?
Wasson: Oh man… Probably St. Louis, honestly. I love Kansas City, don’t get me wrong: I love Kansas City. But I’ve spent more time in St. Louis. Go Blues and Cardinals (laughs).
Jesse, what about you?
Wilson: I would have to say K.C. Been up there a lot and have some family up there. They’ve got a really strong coffee scene.
Tennson: I’d say K.C. for the culture and St. Louis for the good time (laughs).
“We’re all broken in different ways and we’ve all been through those low points. I think everybody knows what they are for themselves too. We’re just here to talk about those points. We’re here to be vulnerable so that other people can, too.”
– Ever Eden vocalist Joshua Tennson
You’re not a new band. You were once known as Ardent and had an album called The Veil, which was released in 2014. What caused you guys to go for a six-year gap without putting any music out?
Tennson: A lot of it does represent that journey I was talking about where art is this really hard battle. I’ve been tattooing for ten years, and I finally have pushed into the profession of being a professional artist. It was really, really hard. I see this trend in a lot of young artists and bands where you try to fulfill your passion and succeed and get signed and get momentum and do all the “band things,” but, a lot of times, unless you’re not at the right place at the right time, you get beat down. A lot of bands will eventually give up. I think that the whole journey, for us, was being tested towards our dedication towards vulnerability and doing the art. Our dedication with Ever Eden now is to speak.
Wilson: During that period of time, we were all in school. I got married then. All of us were shifting in our beliefs and reworking the social fabric of our band.
Wasson: Joining this band, as Josh said, it’s been completely a part of the journey. I’ve grown and figured out who I am as a person through this community and this band and the people that I’m around. So, for my personal perspective, the journey in itself, so much has happened, it’s crazy. I would say a lot of it has to do with individual growth.
Who has a tattoo from Josh?
Tennson: Everybody does. You will too soon, my friend, (laughs).
As you guys are now starting off as “Ever Eden,” how can we, as fans, support you best, especially in the age of quarantine?
Tennson: For me, it’s so much to do with the heart and community. We trust that the momentum of finances and all of that stuff is going to come into place as we trust the system and trust the support. Outside of that, we are choosing to be very bold and vulnerable in the way we are stepping into this band, and we hope that people would respond in kind and spread the word.
Wilson: Being on social media has been really cool (while) having this new record out. We got a spot on Alt Press, and that was cool to see people come into contact with us for the first time and sharing our stuff. It’s cool that people will be able to see us and take part in our stuff.
I think the most important thing is that people actually listen to our lyrics and try to connect with us. We’ve been really good at responding, basically, to every message and comment on Instagram and our socials because we care about making genuine connections – versus us being like, “We’re a band. Listen to us and give us your money.” No. We really do want to help encourage that sense of vulnerability and personal connection.
As far as financial stuff, we just got a whole spread of merch done, so that will all be on our website.
What do you think about it, Oldfield?
Wasson: Honestly, I lost track of where we were at because I am very proud of the merch and started to think about that (laughs).
How can fans best support you guys?
Wasson: I personally want to make this my career, so word-of-mouth, listening, watching our videos, buying merch – obviously that helps. But for me, personally, I’m not in it for the money. I’m very much in it for the community and connecting with people. We’re human as well and we deal with a lot of junk.
To be even more vulnerable here, a week before Thanksgiving 2019 I was in the mental hospital because I just wanted to die, struggling with depression and what-not. … I love talking to people, I love being real with people. I have my support, and I want to go to people and bring that support to them because the whole band – besides some of my family, these guys came to visit me while I was there. Seeing the love and the actual heart behind what we’re doing as a community – not even as a band when it comes to this, that’s irrelevant – I think that’s important.
Especially – as Jesse said – in the heavy music scene in general, it’s very important to be vulnerable and real, because there’s so much that’s not and it’s garbage.
Thanks for sharing that, man.
Tennson: That is what this is. We’re all broken in different ways, and we’ve all been through those low points. I think everybody knows what they are for themselves, too. We’re here to talk about those points. We’re here to be vulnerable so that other people can, too. It’s truly sincere; it’s all from that place.
Wilson: Straight-up. More than anything, what people can do is interact with us as a band, actually talk to us and be a part of our community. Just getting to know us would be awesome. We want to get to know people; we want to get to know where they’re struggling. I think that healing happens in unity and community happens whenever you take time to go and be with someone else in their suffering.
We’ve been with each other in our suffering as people just living life – normal stuff that people go through, intense stuff. We want other people… We want to be able to inhabit their hurts and be able to help them feel that we’re with them in their suffering. That’s super huge. That’s what we want.
Ever Eden was posted on June 29, 2020 for HM Magazine and authored by Andrew Voigt.