Sunday, July 1, 2012

FEATURED: Great Elk ☮

Paul Basile - guitar, vocals
Patrick Hay - guitar, backing vocals, temp
Bryan Trenis - keys
Tommy Harron - bass, backing vocals
Adam Christgau - drums

I discovered this band this year, since Nina referred them to me, and I got hooked on ever since. I'm the type of person who listens to anything - as long as it made me feel good - and this band did just that. They're the whole package, and their album is on my sleep playlist. Don't get me wrong, this is the biggest compliment ever, since I only allow the best of the best to serenade me to sleep before I head on to dreamland. That's how amazing they are.

Started by Paul Basile with constant collaborator Patrick Hay in 2009, they soon became a five-piece band that continued to make bittersweet symphonies so delicate and pure, they can be classified as the sweetest of ear candy. Their self-titled EP garnered praise from The Wall Street Journal, and their second EP entitled February followed soon after. 

Their full length album, entitled Autogeography, consists of 11 songs that encapsulates the true essence of this band. It kicks off with the anthemic The Weight Of The Sea, and the steady beat of the drums creates a good start for this infectious album. My personal favorites are Oh, my Home, my Ohio, and Liquid. With lyrics such as "Well, love is a liquid/So fix yourself a drink/I hope you sip it slow/and never come down" and "I knew each rock and tree limb/knew each smell and sound/land and body sewn together/silent and profound", how could you resist delving in to the wonderful world of Great Elk? 

Read this interview we conducted with one of the members of the band, and find out the reasons why they're on the top of my favorite list right now.

1. Tell us about yourself/your band/group.

Great Elk is a five piece band of charming young men who live in New York City. Between them they like folk music, country, jazz, hip-hop, pop and most things in between. Above all they like rock music and strive to make some of a sort that meets their own high standards of what makes a good song.

2. How did you start?
For a chunk of my twenties I lived in rural Alaska. During that time I started getting serious about writing and performing songs. Once people started to say nice things it became apparent that rural Alaska was not the best place to pursue this interest. In 2006 I decided to move back to New York. I spent some time figuring out how this whole mess works and in 2009 started Great Elk with Patrick Hay, our guitar player. Soon after we linked up with the rest of the guys who have all been part of the band for the last couple of years - Tommy, Bryan and Adam. Thus began Great Elk.

3. How would you describe your sound?
We like to think our music sounds like a hurricane petting a kitten.

4. Who is/are your musical inspiration/s?
I swear this my favorite question. Hmm. Lately we've mostly been telling folks we sound something like if Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, Band of Horses and Neil Young had a sensitive little rock baby, but that's weird. I don't think there's any question that everything we listen to influences us. That means that everything from Mozart to Benny Goodman to The Beatles to Phil Collins to U2 to Nirvana to Arcade Fire to Bon Iver influences what we do; it all sinks in and comes out in the music we create. I love that.

5. Why did you choose to go into the music industry?
I don't think anyone really "chooses" to go into the music "industry". For most of us that make music, the industry part isn't much fun. We make music because it is the thing we love most. We continue to do it (and work miserable day jobs to support it) because we truly love it that much. Really, we don't have a choice; we have to make music. Unfortunately, there's this whole business that goes along with it.

6. What makes you different from all the other musicians?
I don't think there's any question that we're better looking. Wait, which other musicians did you mean?

8. How did you come up with the name?
In college, for a time, I was pretty obsessed with the irish poet Seamus Heaney. He wrote a poem called "Bogland" that caught my attention and imagination in particular. In it he refers to "the Great Irish Elk... an astounding crate full of air". For years that image stuck with me and for better or worse, when it came time to name the band I remembered that poem. We figured it would be best to omit "Irish" from "Great Irish Elk" so as to avoid confusing anyone. It seems we've failed.

7. Tips for aspiring musicians?
Make the music you want to make, not the music you think the world wants to hear. And record it well. 

9. Anything else?
That about covers it for me! Thanks for the questions!

Great, great artists, as well as people. They deserve all the success in the world, and I wish them the best. With the music they make and the stories they tell, they will surely inspire people from all over the world. Please do check them out and send them your love!


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