Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elder brings the heaviness to Cherry Street in Wallingford

Since releasing their debut self-titled album a few years ago on Meteorcity, Boston heavyweights Elder took a little break before releasing their sophomore effort, “Dead Roots Stirring”, which comes out on October 25. CT Indie sent a bunch of questions to guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo (the band also includes bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto) and here are his answers on all things concerning the band. If you like what you read here, remember they are playing this Saturday at the Cherry Street Station in Wallingford with our favorite local sleazy riff slingers NightBitch and Rhode Island’s Thrillhouse. Keep it heavy!

How does the new album differ from the previous one? How are they similar?
In one word, the new album is a lot more personal. It definitely shows a maturation and a move toward a more unique sound within the stoner rock framework, whereas our first album was more a culmination of different sounds that inspired us. Of course we've retained a lot of elements from the last album; lots of fuzz, a driving rhythm section, emphasis on “heaviness”, whatever that means... but we've also become more complex and melodic, and I think overall Dead Roots Stirring is more akin to a classic psychedelic rock record than the modern stoner/doom one.

Why the long wait between albums?
There's quite a few reasons why the new album took so long. One big thing simply had to do with our schedules. We were all going to school and working, and while Matt and Jack live in Boston, I've moved around a bit. Under those circumstances, we just weren't able to practice that often. Another reason has to do with the creative process, I think we're just slow writers and we like to let our songs evolve for a long time before we put them down in stone (or vinyl, for that matter). Lastly, we had some delays between recording, mixing and mastering, and since we're all busy we had to put it on the back burner for a while even though we were all anxious to have it released as soon as possible.

There aren’t a lot of lyrics on the album. Was this intentional? Were you trying to let your instruments communicate ideas that you couldn’t put into words?
Lyrics are always the last thing to be added to a song, and although they could be written at any point during songwriting – or even before, serving as a sort of thematic guideline – they are not the focal point of our songs. I think that's much more apparent on our first album than on Dead Roots Stirring, where the lyrics are certainly more meaningful (no Conan references!). The sparseness of lyrics is intentional in the sense that I write as many or as few as I think the song needs. I think that the music itself is much more evocative of emotions or ideas than any words. We're at the point where I might call ourselves musicians, but I'm definitely no poet, so we let our music do most of the talking.

What is the meaning of the album’s title?
Dead Roots Stirring is a reference to a feeling of rebirth and renewal that comes after a period of stagnancy, depression, hopelessness, etc. In its most literal incarnation, this is springtime, where the “dead” roots of trees are imbued with life, heralding the arrival of another stage of the eternal cycle of life and death. I think its a feeling that everyone can identify with, and it's that feeling which is the undercurrent to the album, giving it a much more uplifting tone than our previous works. If that all sounds too esoteric, the phrase actually was taken and reworded from a scene in War and Peace, which was inspiring and changing me quite a bit at the time. A lot of the lyrics on Dead Roots Stirring, including the title track itself, deal directly with timeless themes from the book.

Was it your intention to take the album in a more psychedelic direction? It’s also more melodic. Was this done intentionally?
That was 100% our intentions. In general we wanted to, and still want to continue moving in a more progressive and psychedelic direction. Elements such as melody and dynamics are so much more expressive than simple, chugging riffs – even though that will always remain a component of our sound! But as we grow individually, as musicians and collectively as a band, we need to reshape things to reflect those changes. I don't expect the Elder of 2015, if we're around that long, to sound much like the Elder of 2011.

How did the recording process go this time? What was it like working with Clay Neely?
The recording process itself went very smoothly, partly because of our preparations (as I said, the songs were fully fleshed out and ready to be recorded) and also because we connect very well with Clay on a musical basis. It was extremely helpful working with an engineer who was familiar with us live to help us tap into the sound aesthetic we were aiming for. Recording for the first time in a “real” studio was also a bit different from our other endeavors (the split with Queen Elephantine and Elder were both recorded in my basement); we had access to awesome gear and the chance to experiment with Clay's know-how.

What are the future plans for the band? More touring? Trying to make the band a full time thing?
I think our biggest ambitions right now are touring and working on new material. I'd like to keep momentum so as to avoid another huge gap between albums, but the future is too uncertain for all of us right now to say that we'll be able to make Elder into a full-time gig. In any case, we plan on touring the US and Europe at the first feasible moment!

Goatcult Presents:


Saturday, September 24
Cherry Street Station
491 North Cherry Street Extension
Wallingford, CT

8pm - $6 – 21+

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