Formed in 2014, Elevant are already making quick progress with a fourth album possibly being released this year and their own record label. They’re definitely one to look out for, so we caught up with them to talk past albums, their upcoming tour and biggest influences.
By Jane Howkins
You’re originally from Liverpool, a city known for producing a wide range of music. Was there much pressure on you when you first formed?
I wouldn’t say so. The scene here is really weird. There’s a lot of fantastic bands but a lot of the time the only stuff that gets much attention has a similar kind of aesthetic, and considering we’re not doing what anyone else is doing there, there’s pretty much no pressure. We’re just doing our own thing.
You formed in 2014 and have already released two albums, Elevant in 2014 and Dreamface last year. That’s a pretty big achievement for a new band, how did you manage that?
We just write a lot and try to be organised. The main reason we’re so prolific is because we enjoy it and we like to work hard. The plan’s always been to be generous with how much material we put out, at least that way we don’t get bored with our setlists.
We’ve also heard that you have your own record label on which you released your albums. How did that come about?
That was set up to give us some proper autonomy in releasing our own material and being beholden to nobody, though it’s beginning to grow now. We’ve signed some fantastic bands: Too Many Poets, Duke Mercury, SPQR, and they all have stuff coming out this year. Really a lot of weird rock bands don’t ever fit into their scene in their cities, so we’re trying to galvanise them and create a network everyone can benefit from.
How do you find the writing process? Do you prefer to do it at home, in the studio or on the road?
Never in the studio, that’s a complete waste of money. If we won the lottery, maybe we’d do that. A lot of snippets of ideas will start at home, get recorded on our phones, then we’ll meld them together and expand on them in rehearsal. We used to road test all our material really far before its release, though we’re not doing that much with the stuff we’re writing now so the audience gets a chance to catch up with everything we’ve put out so far. We have recorded just over two hours of material in our short life, so it’s definitely needed.
Do you have any plans to release more new music soon, considering how prolific you have been in the past?
We’re writing album four now, and judging how fast we work, I expect that’ll get recorded this year and released either late this year or early next. There’s ideas for about 10 songs so far, though some will get scrapped and some will get combined.
You’re touring a few places around the UK over the next few months. Is there anywhere you particularly enjoy going on tour?
Nottingham seems to love us, and Manchester is always very kind. We’re excited for pretty much everywhere this time though, since we hired the venues ourselves and picked the bills. Every night we’ll get to play with amazing bands, which is just heaven.
Do you get to tour abroad much, and is there anywhere that you would love to visit whilst on tour?
We haven’t yet, though we’re planning to go to Europe this year. We’d originally planned to go to America instead since Michael has contacts there after going on a trade mission with our record label. Their visa office is completely ridiculous though, the rules are so stringent. We’re going to try to tour Europe first, maybe Japan too since we know a band who are going there and have contacts to organise that, then when we’ve got a stronger case for the US visa office, go there.
If you could tour with anyone, who would it be?
It’d be pretty dope to tour with Queens of the Stone Age (call me, Josh), though that’s fairly unlikely just now. We’ve played a few shows with God Damn and it’d be great to tour with them. And Deerhoof. Touring with Deerhoof would be incredible, if only to drool at Greg Saunier’s drumming night after night.
Who would you say your biggest influences are, and who would you recommend our readers check out?
We’re very drawn to trying to meld everything we like together so it’s a long list. Sonic Youth, The Melvins, Tame Impala, Portishead, Fugazi, The Stooges, Can, Neu!, My Bloody Valentine, The Idiot era Iggy Pop, Lightning Bolt, St Vincent, Bowie, Death Grips, Swans, Boris, Chelsea Wolfe, Black Flag, Glenn Branca, Dope Body, Elliott Smith, Funkadelic, Fela Kuti, Future of the Left, Nick Cave, Jesu, King Crimson, Kurt Vile, MC5, Kyuss. I could go on forever. I’d recommend all of those. Also, of bands we’ve played with who are excellent, check out the ones on our label, plus Pocket Apocalypse, Mothers, False Advertising, Is Not, Stilts, Theo, BRITNEY, Lunar Maria, Mind Mountain and Bathymetry.
How would you describe your sound? It’s quite diverse!
I’d guess we’re a rock band with access to the full wonders of the internet, so we just try and get some of everything we like into the music. We’re pretty heavy but we’re not metal, weird but not really psychedelic in the traditional way. We’re very interested in taking really diverse influences and making them work together, as well as in usurping and weirding up our instrumentals as much as we can whilst keeping the song catchy. The process is often, here’s the basic idea, now how can we ruin it? You can be far more adventurous if you still have hooks. We usually treat the drums as the lead instrument as well. They’re the most important part of any band if you want people to move.
What can one expect from an Elevant gig?
Lots of sweat and passion. Great loudness. It’s the bit of being in a band that makes all the logistical rubbish you have to deal with worthwhile, and we act like it. Live is how this band is supposed to be experienced.
Any last words for the fans?
Music doesn’t really owe you anything, so when anyone likes what you create it’s fantastic. Thanks for enjoying us.
Elevant is playing at The Packhorse, Leeds on Saturday 13 February 2016, 7.30pm