Days of Rona: Carson Russell of Ealdor Bealu and Ghorot

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

ealdor bealu carson russell

Days of Rona: Carson Russell of Ealdor Bealu and Ghorot (Boise, Idaho)

How have you been you dealing with this crisis as a band? As an individual? What effect has it had on your plans or creative processes?

Coronavirus dealt a swift and all-encompassing blow to both of my bands in mid-March as Idaho finally succumbed to the pandemic. Ealdor Bealu was slated to play Treefort Music Fest in late March as well as a Pacific Northwest Tour in April/May in support of our sophomore record Spirit of the Lonely Places. It was a disheartening setback, but fortunately most of the tour dates were successfully rescheduled to a larger West Coast tour in October. Only time will tell if that tour will come to fruition, there is little to rely upon these days. My new doom-metal trio Ghorot (featuring Chad Remains of UZALA) was also set to play Treefort Music Fest supporting the almighty YOB.

More importantly, Ghorot was slated to record and mix our debut record at Rabbit Brush Audio (Boise, ID) in April, but those dates have now been moved to August. On a positive end, both bands were just recently able to practice again for the first time in nearly two months, an immensely necessary and cathartic meeting to say the least. The future is most uncertain, but being reunited in music has given us purpose and strength, and I know we shall persevere through this crisis and arrive on the other side with renewed vigor for life, music, nature, and the artist community we so proudly hail from.

How do you feel about the public response to the outbreak where you are? From the government response to the people around you, what have you seen and heard from others?

Idaho is our home; its natural, rugged beauty greatly impacts our music and inspires our lives.

That said, it is also unfortunately a very conservative, religious state and its politics follow heavily along those lines. Although the local government has acted in a rather surprisingly but certainly welcomed cautious manner throughout the crisis, there has been a lot of pushback from the far-right community. Heavily armed anti-lockdown protesters gathered by the hundreds at the capitol demanding their freedom to return to work and Amon Bundy, the leader of the Malhuer County Wildlife Refuge takeover in 2016 and son of Clive Bundy, attempted to hold a 2,000 person Easter church service in defiance of social distancing enforcement (only 60 showed up, to the chagrin of every touring musician who knows that’s just how gigs go haha).

It’s been disheartening to see so many people here refuse to adhere to wearing masks and social distancing. A lot of Idahoans just can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea of enduring minor inconveniences to protect someone you don’t know. Luckily, we seem to have dodged the bullet as our case load and deaths have been minimal so far. However, as the state begins to reopen we now face an uphill battle to keep those stats low as many look to flaunt guidelines meant to keep our community safe. Freedom, it would seem, comes at a cost we have yet to reckon with.

What do you think of how the music community specifically has responded? How do you feel during this time? Are you inspired? Discouraged? Bored? Any and all of it?

Our situations have varied greatly over this time of crisis: some working full-time in essential industries, others working remotely from home, and others without work or pay since mid-March. It has been a difficult task to maintain some sort of positivity when the world seems to be falling into chaos. Luckily, Rylie, Travis, and I (three of the four members of Ealdor Bealu) share a home, which has created the ability to continue our writing and practicing via acoustic sessions. It’s been a beautiful spring in Boise, despite the circumstances, and our nights around the campfire singing and strumming guitars have been a lifesaver. It is still uncertain how this crisis will affect the Boise music scene.

We are a small, but vibrant community that greatly cherishes our local music venues like Neurolux and The Shredder as well as our independent record store The Record Exchange. These institutions mean the world to us all, and although we can’t yet know the impact this work stoppage will have on their ability to continue operations we have great hope that they will all make it thru these trying times and we may yet return to nights of sweat and booze, laughter and love, guitars and a fuck ton of amplifiers!

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything? What is your new normal? What have you learned from this experience, about yourself, your band, or anything?

This crisis has revealed our most vulnerable positions as a country, and as a species in general. Humanity, finally given a chance to show some semblance of unity under a global problem, has pushed instead toward a further divide between the have’s and have-not’s. The disparity between the ruling elite and the rest of us has never been so starkly laid bare before our eyes. But I feel that the working class, the true lifeblood of human civilization, is becoming galvanized by these savageries instead of backing down. The fight for equality, for equity, for decency, and for truth is growing to levels not seen in most of our lifetimes.

Protests and demonstrations were at a virulent high across the world before this crisis struck, and I believe this situation will only guide the 99 percent further down this path rather than backtrack. We must stand now, arm in arm, and with a singular unified voice demand a world that works for all of mankind, not just the one percent. As musicians, friends, and family we must do everything in our power to champion each other during these perilous times so that we may arise from the ashes stronger than before.

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