Photo by Sarah Darby
Eternal Crimes is a friendship band. Troy musicians Nico Jordan (42), John Gill (33) and Shane Sanchez (33) formed the group in 2012 as an excuse to hang out and play together, and it’s remained a healthy and wholesome creative escape ever since. Their sound is dark; a dusky melange of traditional post-punk, garage punk and proto-punk with hypnotic rhythms, ghastly vocal squawks, menacing guitar leads and song titles like “Witches’ Feast” and “Slow Guillotine.” Their sound is certainly ghoulish on the outside, but after listening for a while, the fun, cheeky side of their music begins to reveal itself.
“I think a lot of people think we’re just dark, fucking sad boys—I mean we are,” Jordan tells The Collaborative. “But I think there’s an underlying humor to a lot of our stuff, or at least I hope that comes across somewhat.”
All the members’ previous and current projects are similarly spooky. Prior to Eternal Crimes, Jordan played in a darkwave band called Severe Severe; both Gill and Sanchez play in a gothy post-punk band called The Black Ships; and Sanchez, a co-owner of the Super Dark Collective, recently formed a serial killer-themed synth-punk band called Blood Blood Blood. However, despite their proclivity for spreading sinister vibes, the 2006 hangout with Jordan’s older friends that birthed their friendship had Sanchez himself shaking in his combat boots.
“Funny enough, I would invite [Sanchez] over to party with us and hang out,” Jordan says. “And for the longest time, it was almost like he was scared to hang out with us. I think he thought we were really into coke and really into drugs, and didn’t want to be a part of that scene.”
One night, a nervous Sanchez invited Gill to tag along at one of these gatherings, and he was much more excited about the alleged rock and roll rager than Sanchez was.
“Shane was like, ‘We don’t want to hang out with these guys,’” Jordan remembers. “And John was like, ‘Yes, it sounds great.’ And they ended up coming over and it was just veggie burgers and craft beers and stand-up arcade games.”
“Shane had made it seem like we were going to be bangin’ seven-gram rocks off the table,” Gill says. “And it was just the chillest scene.”
The three of them hit it off that night, and for the next few years their respective bands would gig with one another until they eventually began collaborating. Jordan enlisted Sanchez to play synths in a handful of Severe Severe shows, and Sanchez and Gill were doing The Black Ships together—a project that Gill fronts and writes all the songs for. One night, Jordan saw Sanchez playing drums and singing in a solo project called Sun Burdens and immediately thought, “We need to do something.”
“I feel like most people in my age group all have the same history of falling into relationships, having babies and losing ambition—that drive to create,” Jordan says. “It was a breath of fresh air to hang out with these guys and play music at that time.”
Despite their urgency to create music, they didn’t start the project with any set intentions or desired sound. Rather, they employed a no wave methodology and merely jammed for 30 or 40 minutes at a time while Gill, then a novice behind the boards, recorded the session with one microphone. After practice, Jordan would comb through the tape for chunks that sounded like they could be fleshed out into full songs; their 2013 debut, Dream Gag, emerged from that process. It was completely different than what Jordan had been doing in Severe Severe, and he found immense joy in his younger bandmates’ instinctual approach.
“Initially, respectfully to both of these guys, John was not a bassist and Shane was not a drummer,” he says. “I was interested in doing something completely different and I liked their take on doing stuff a little quicker and not overthinking everything, which I had fallen into the trap of doing for a long time.”
Things went a little differently for their second album, 2019’s Cryptically Acclaimed. They were a lot tighter from years of playing together and they utilized a more traditional songwriting process that resulted in a more coherent direction. However, considering Gill was essentially teaching himself how to record, mix, master and engineer the album as they went along, the whole venture was another learning process. The band ended up re-recording the whole album in the middle of the process upon realizing some of their performances were sloppy, so Gill had many opportunities to hone his craft and make adjustments.
“The whole thing has been a learning experience,” Gill says. “From musicianship, to playing, to actually functioning as a band. And then for me, the recording aspect of it was crazy. It set me on an entirely new path and career path, too.”
Since finishing the record, Gill has begun working on projects for another band in the Capital Region to try and jump-start a career out of the skills he developed in Eternal Crimes. 2019 was a whirlwind year; he became a father in April and then his own father, who had played second bass in The Black Ships for some time, passed away in October after battling an illness.
“I remember mixing down the album when all of this stuff was happening,” he says. “I knew that the baby was coming and I knew that my father wasn’t in good health. I thought he’d be around for a little longer, but he was definitely on the decline at that point. So while mixing this, all [of] that was going on. I’m glad it came out like it did.”
Despite their personal and band-related tribulations, Jordan feels that this past year has been the best yet for Eternal Crimes. “It doesn’t even feel like we’ve been doing this for eight years,” he says. “It feels like after we did this second album, this is where we’ve wanted to be as a band from the start.”