Interview: Elevant

Elevant

Words: Gary Lambertelevant

Photos: Gaz Jones

If you have ever been to the waterfront at Liverpool you will know that it is windy on a good day. When we met up with Elevant it was not a good day and both myself and photographer, Gaz Jones, were struggling to find suitable places to get the band to pose as there was no way to produce a set of serious rock band photos. Then we got lucky in the fact that Elevant turned up and whilst they produce some serious heavy sounds and have a real commitment to their music, despite two thirds of the band studying for degrees, you would not dream of pigeonholing them as serious people. For those for whom such information is pertinent, Hannah (the unnaturally hair-coloured bassist) is studying Music; and Tom (the drummer and source of much mirth) is studying Geology.

Considering the aforementioned wind was howling and it was raining intermittently, my enthusiasm was low but when the band are willing to try anything in case it works in front of the camera and discussing ideas of what could make a good shot, I was completely sucked in. There was no way though I was risking getting held up on one of the McMillan charity fundraising ducks that are currently spotted across Liverpool.

Elevant are currently in the final throes of rehearsing for a tour of the UK in July which is a distinctly DIY affair with amongst others three nights playing alongside Wicked Snakes in Corby, Newport and finishing off at The Compass in Chester – a venue the band had been due to play on a previous tour but a last minute change sent them across town to a larger room which magnificently offered 50 chicken wings for less than £10. Tom was able to eat all 50 before the gig. The challenge is set…

elevant 2It was with this challenge we were given an insight into life on the road with Elevant. Whilst they have not been involved in huge tours lasting longer than several package holidays they have spent enough time sitting in the car together going from place to place to have to develop a series of games which either seem brilliantly irreverent or a worrying sign of being on the edge of insanity. “The Name Game”, where the band seem to take turns to just make up names was on the insanity side of things, but when Hannah discovered how powerful the zoom was on Michael’s camera she came up with a genius way to pass the time for a touring band. The premise is simple: take a photo of a band member’s face and zoom in until it is beyond recognisable and then whoever’s turn it is has to say who is on the photograph and which part of their face it is. The time spent travelling meant the band not only became competitive at it, but highly skilled in actually working out who each photograph was. To be fair, they seemed fairly proud of that.

The tour also is going to take in Manchester’s Fallow Café, Sheffield’s Tramlines Festival, a night in Liverpool obviously and a birthday show for Michael in Nottingham. The excitement of the trio when this tour was mentioned was so obvious. Too often you read of bands hating the logistics of touring when they’ve got a team of roadies and gophers to do everything that needs to be done, short of getting on stage for the encore; but it seems more and more obvious to me that the joy of touring only goes when bands are touring with their colleagues and not their friends.

When they are out on the tour, Elevant are to be testing out songs for their new album which they are hoping to record later in the year with an eye on a release in the early part of 2016. This album has seen a departure from the previous work which was almost fully the writing of Michael, into a collaborative piece with all three band members working together to create songs which are Elevant records rather than songs recorded by Elevant. According to the band the new songs will be “much bigger and complex” due to the sharing of ideas. Tom said he has “been told to stay away from their instruments”.

As well as trialling some new songs, Elevant are also hoping to get support for their … campaign to get orders for their recent album Dreamface so that it can be released on beautiful green vinyl. At the time of typing they are approaching halfway towards the necessary orders. Hopefully once they are playing in front of people rather than using social media for marketing, that target will zoom closer.

elevantAs well as being musicians and performers, Michael, Hannah and Tom are also music fans so we spoke about gigs we had seen both good and bad and Liverpool Sound City where Michael in particular had thrived gathering knowledge in the conference. One of the impressive live acts we had all seen was God Damn who were playing at Sound City a few days before one of the support slots at Old Trafford Cricket Ground on Foo Fighters’ enormo-tour. Earlier this year God Damn had been supported by Elevant at Maguire’s Pizza Bar in Liverpool – “and God Damn weren’t even the last band on that night”. When I asked the band how it made them feel Michael made it obvious that this is a source of huge hope for them. “It’s told everybody that you are only two steps away now even if the bill of Foos, Teenage Fanclub and God Damn did seem a bit strange”.

The chance of a shot at the big time is an obvious motivating factor for bands like Elevant. One method of getting seen at least by a bigger audience is to take a support slot at a local venue for a larger touring band. May saw Elevant fortunate enough to get one of these chances in Liverpool, but whilst Michael was packing the band’s equipment into his car in order to get there to soundcheck he received a fateful call to say that the touring party had decided that there were to be no local support on the tour as it didn’t fit with the plan any more.

Rather than see this as something to get downhearted over Michael, the organisational and business heart of Elevant whilst Tom and Hannah are otherwise occupied with studies, arranged for a local venue to put them on at a moment’s notice. A Facebook call to arms got a full crowd for upstairs in The Pilgrim (the most fantastic downtrodden student haunt that Liverpool has to offer). The band had rehearsed a thirty minute slot for a couple of weeks but felt enthused to play on to an hour. The show would have gone on longer, but for the close relationship between the venue and its neighbours which kept noise to regulation.

When I asked if there was any footage of the off-the-cuff gig available, Michael told me that there was, but he refused to direct me towards it as the fan uploaded footage was saved as a disrespectful name to the band who let them down. “It’s just not us, but it was a great night”.

In that statement the ethos of this shoegazing rock band comes to the fore.

Listen to Impode In Slowmotion from the album Dreamface, here:
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  1. […] Music Limited is the brainchild of Michael Edwards, the singer and songwriter for Elevant who we last met back in June. Instead of using his degree in Economics working in the financial […]

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