Inspired by Krautrock and Japanese psychedelic bands when it launched in 2001, Earthless features drummer Mario Rubalcaba, who formerly played with Rocket from the Crypt, the Black Heart Procession, Hot Snakes, the Sultans, and Clikatat Ikatowi. Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell is a former member of Nebula and, as of late 2009, he was also playing with Lady Dottie and the Diamonds. Bassist Mike Eginton formerly played with Electric Nazarene.
When Mitchell taught guitar lessons at Moonlight Music in Encinitas, he exposed the two guitarists of Sacri Monti to the way of the heavy space-jam.
When they were co-owners of Thirsty Moon Records, Rubalcaba and Eginton used every opportunity to share their sonic vision to in-store clients. “I would be happy to introduce a 19-year-old skater to Amon Duul 2,” says Rubalcaba. “We always wanted to show kids a new wave of underground stuff.”
At the 2007 San Diego Music Awards, jam-band Earthless took home the trophy for “Best Hard Rock Album” for their Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky. In March 2008, they played the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas.
The band's double disc album Live at Roadburn, recorded at a festival in Tilburg, Holland, was released in October 2008. Steve Dolcemaschio of Tee Pee Records reports that the album came about as an unplanned accident.
“Earthless was originally only supposed to play a small 200-person room...The band was setting up when the guy who organizes Roadburn ran into the room, yelling that [headliners] Isis only played an hour of their two-hour slot. They were scrambling to find a replacement band, and suddenly Earthless was up on the main stage of the festival, in front of thousands of rabid concertgoers who never heard of them before.”
According to Dolcemaschio, Earthless weren’t given additional pay for the headlining set. “It was just a spur of the moment opportunity, and the band took it. It wasn’t until after they got back that we found out the show was taped…turns out the recording sounded fantastic, so we made a deal [with Festival operators] to put it out.”
They earned rave reviews for their 2010 CMJ festival performance. Said one reviewer, “The epic shredding of guitarist Isaiah Mitchell harkens back to the days were psychedelic rock had balls the size of grapefruits and wasn’t afraid to take its listeners on a ride for which they may never return.” Other locals to play CMJ this year included Crocodiles, Tape Deck Mountain, and Heavy Hawaii.
In early 2011, the band embarked on a tour of Australia. A new full-length, From the Ages, was released in October 2013, recorded at San Francisco’s Lucky Cat Recording. “My favorite aspects of the new LP,” explains Rubalcaba, “are that we got to record live in a big room and play loudly. We got to record it with a friend [Phil Manley] who gets what we are about. It just makes the whole process run so much smoother...it’s fun to tweak things in the studio and add stuff on to the songs. We didn’t go crazy with that kind of stuff but it just adds some atmospheric living to it.”
As of 2015, the band had been on three Australian tours and five European tours. Their first tour of Japan happened in January of that year.
2016 saw a split single with Harsh Toke, "Acid Crusher" b/w "Mount Swan," released May 27 on Tee Pee Records. A new full-length debuted in 2018, Black Heaven, released March 16 via Nuclear Blast and recorded at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, Calif. with Dave Catching (Eagles of Death Metal) handling production. It was preceded in January by a single for "Gifted by the Wind." It's one of four tracks on the album to include vocals by Mitchell, a departure from their previous concentration on long and trippy instrumentals.
“It’s an enjoyable and refreshing process, having to consider vocals being in the mix,” says Mitchell. “If we have the capability in integrating vocals, why not?”
Drummer Mario Rubalcaba points out, “We’ve done a few songs with vocals in the past for various splits and comps. Like Isaiah said, why not? It was kind of a fun challenge to make a record in a more traditional format.” Currently a trio, Earthless includes former Electric Nazarene bassist Mike Eginton. “On the older records, Mike was responsible for a lot of the riffs that would start these jams, but on this one, Isaiah really brought his own pizzazz.”
The album was promoted with a video for “Volt Rush,” featuring mythical skateboarder T-Spliff (aka Taylor Smith) as he boards across San Diego and neighboring Oceanside.
In 2018, they staged live performances with Lance Gordon's Mad Alchemy Light Show, which provided psychedelic backdrops for performers like Roky Erickson and Big Brother & the Holding Company. Their 2018 album Black Heaven was named one of the Top 50 Best Albums of 2018 by mxdwm.com.
A 10-date tour kicked off October 3, 2019, at the Empty Bottle in Chicago, running through October 13 at Deluxx Fluxx in Detroit, with opening acts including Maggot Heart and locals Sacri Monti.
The following month, on November 11 in NYC, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell debuted as a new Black Crowes member, joining the band just in time for their 30th anniversary reunion tour. They warmed up with another club gig L.A. before launching their full tour the following summer, including a date at North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre on September 18.
In early 2021, the band livestreamed five concert film experiences, Live In The Mojave Desert: VOL.1-5, featuring performance footage filmed and recorded throughout day and night from the natural amphitheater of California's Mojave Desert, backed by a visual performance from the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show. Mario Rubalcaba says "Having the opportunity to set up out in the desert and play how we do was one of the best experiences ever actually. Adding to it, the Mad Alchemy liquid lights and the surroundings made for a very satisfying day and night of jamming. Thankful for the label preserving the night by filming and recording this. I hope people can enjoy the release as much as we did doing it." The trailer features four minutes of the band performing their epic song "Sonic Prayer."
Early 2021 found the band covering Black Sabbath’s “Never Say I Die” for the Best of Black Sabbath (Redux) tribute album, and livestreaming multiple shows from the Casbah stage. "We just wanna say that we have finished all the tracking, overdubs and seasonings for what will be our fifth studio album," said the band of their springtime sessions with Ben Moore and Dean Reis at local Singing Serpent Studios. "[Thanks to] Thaddeus Robles for gear loanage. It was nice to do all of this in our hometown of San Diego."
Their sixth studio album Night Parade of One Hundred Demons debuted January 28, 2022 via Nuclear Blast, who put out their previous LP, 2018's Black Heaven, along with a winter tour kicking off January 27 at The Echo in L.A. The album includes a 41-minute title track and a 20-minute song called “Death To The Red Sun.”
According to Eginton, “My son and I came across the ‘Night Parade of One Hundred Demons’ in a book of traditional Japanese ghost stories. I like the idea of people hiding and being able to hear the madness but not see it. It’s the fear of the unknown.” The Japanese legend that inspired the album title concerns a horde of demons, ghosts and other terrifying ghouls descend upon sleeping villages at night, once a year, as depicted in the cover artwork created by Eginton.
“I started researching the different Yōkai—the demons—and really got into it. It was really cool reading about where they came from and what their interactions with humans were. Then I tried to create what I imagined the event might look like. I didn’t get a hundred in there, but I got quite a few.” The project marks a sort of full circle for the band. “This album actually has the very first Earthless riff in it. We just recorded it 20 years after we wrote it.”
Their next tour opened September 1, 2022 in Chicago and wrapped September 13 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.