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Aaron Espinoza of Earlimart

Indie Rockers Return for Treasure Island Music Fest

Less than a month after an intimate gig with a string section at Cafť Du Nord to celebrate the release of Mentor Tormentor, Earlimart return to San Francisco for the second day of the Treasure Island Music festival, a two-day musical extravaganza featuring Modest Mouse, Thievery Corporation, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, and Built to Spill, among others. Founding member Aaron Espinoza -- Ariana Murray is the only other original band member -- spoke with SF Station before a gig in New York.

SF Station (SFS): Are you from Earlimart, California?

Aaron Espinoza (AE): No, Iím from Fresno, which is near Earlimart in the Central Valley.

SFS: Why did you name the band Earlimart?

AE: Itís kind of a weird town that is sort of out of a David Lynch movie, or something. There is not much there and I just always thought it was an interesting name. I moved to Los Angeles in 1997 and I think Earlimart is about halfway between Los Angeles and Fresno. It sort of keeps some of my roots in the Central Valley (laughs).

SFS: Have you spent much time there?

AE: Itís mostly like a gas-stop kind of place, but weíve done some filming there. There is not much; itís just kids riding around throwing water balloons, a bank and a bar.

AE: You had writerís block when it was time to start work on Mentor Tormentor, what got you through that?

AE: It was a pretty big deal. It kind of always happens, but this time it lasted way too long and kind of freaked me out. I thought maybe that was it for me.

Ariana pulled me out of the whole thing. She smacked me around and started to contribute more than she ever did before. She got the ball rolling again. Itís pretty much due to her; she woke me up.

SFS: Do you think you had writerís block because of the pressure involved with putting out a new album?

AE: I think it was a lot of things. I had just moved into a new place and had to get used to that. We didnít have a record label when we started the record and sometimes deadlines can be a good thing. This time we didnít have one. There were too many variable going on. I think all that stuff just compounded the writerís block.

SFS: How did you meet Ariana?

AE: When I moved from Fresno to Los Angeles I moved into a house in Silver Lake with four roommates and Ariana was one of them. We hit it off and the first incarnation of the band was basically everyone that lived in that house. She has been along for the whole ride ever since.

SFS: Elliot Smith also lived in Silver Lake. Throughout your career you have been compared to him. Has that been frustrating at all?

AE: Iím so thankful to even have had his friendship. That is never a bad thing and Iím very thankful to have known him, and to have been around him and have him help us out.

But there are times when everybody wants to be their own man. I donít get pissed off about it. Maybe it gives me a little more ammo to be myself and do my own thing. I would never ever think poorly of anybody that brings his name up. He was a great person for me and for a lot of people.

SFS: Did he have an influence over you musically and as a friend?

AE: Shit man, yeah. The guy was a really, really gifted guy. If he didnít influence you, you maybe donít have a heart (laughs). It was unavoidable.

The Treasure Island Music Festival is on September 15th and 16th (Earlimart performs on the 16th). Tickets are $58.50 for a single-day pass and $110 for a two-day pass.