By Sarah Spencer.
Canadian roots-rock band, Elliott BROOD sat down with TA Live’s Sarah Spencer on Thursday, April 14 at Maxine’s in downtown Hot Springs, Ark. for an impromptu interview before their show.
Welcome back to Maxine’s. Thank you for being here. I’d like to ask you guys first of all where did the name Elliott BROOD come from?
Mark: This question actually gets asked all the time but, nobody’s ever printed it. Back in the day I used to play kind of solo so it’s just kind of a name that I played under that came from a baseball movie called The Natural. There’s this femme fatal character in the movie that tries to become famous by killing off famous stars and her name was Harriett Brood* and I just really loved the way she said her name, “Harriett, Harriett Brood.” But, I wasn’t going to play under a female name so it would be Elliott, Elliot Brood. And that’s where it came from.
[*I did a little research and the character’s name is actually Harriett Bird but, I supposed Bird is pronounced Brood for some Canadians]
Casey: But, we make up stories sometimes but, that’s the real one. Sometimes we tell people lies.
Mark: I can never tell a lie.
Stephen: The interesting parallel is that Mark is actually trying to become famous by killing off other famous people so it actually works out really well.
Mark: Steve, you are not supposed to tell that!
Casey: So there ya go.
What are some of your musical influences?
Casey: Some of our collective musical influences are stuff like Dylan and Neil Young, a lot of classic rock. Mark and I both grew up around a lot of Motown music, too, so I’m sure … I’m not sure if that’s reflected in what we play, by any means, but …
Mark: We channel it in some way.
Casey: Yeah, maybe some way, maybe the energy… But, I think, for me Neil Young is the band I love. I don’t know who else. Rush?
Mark: Jayhawks. I love the Jayhawks. They’re a great band. It’s nice that they are back together. Also, Grant Lee Buffalo.
Casey: Steve hates music. He has no influences. [Laughs] But, Steve’s a few years older than us so his influences came a little earlier than ours, which is alright.
That’s okay. I wanted to ask you, too, about your nomination for the Juno award. I realize it was a little while ago but, that’s a pretty big deal. There was also a Genie award nomination and a Rising Star Award.
Casey: It was nice. We’ve lost every major award there is in Canada right now.
Mark: No, we won the Rising Star Award.
Casey: That’s right we did win one. That felt good. Losing the rest of them felt okay.
But, just being nominated is an honor.
Casey: It was good.
Mark: We won the first award and lost everything since.
Casey: I mean, it was really cool that we got recognized for it, but I don’t know, maybe there would be greater pressure if we won or something.
Stephen: We’ve been able to retain our relationship with the Junos and they let us play their parties, if it’s available to us. We did the one in Vancouver. We did the one just recently this year in Toronto called Junofest. A lot of entertainment we get to play in that. And hopefully, get back into it again.
Mark: Maybe, they’ll love us enough to give us a Juno one day.
Casey: We’ve got a lot of records to come so maybe one day we’ll win.
I hope so. I think you guys can do it.
Casey: Thank you.
Do you prefer intimate venues or large festivals?
Casey: Well, I don’t know. There’s good things about both. I think playing at a small club is a lot more fun most of the time. But, there is something about playing a nice outdoor festival that’s great, so I don’t know.
Mark: Given the choice to play for 5,000 and a small club … it’s two different worlds actually.
Stephen: It’s good to have access to all those people but, when people are close to the stage, that makes all the difference. So, if it’s 5,000 people but, their 100 feet away it’s kind of like you feel like you’re all alone. It’s all about proximity.
Casey: It’s nice to meet the people you play to after. In a place like this, we’ll probably get to meet all the people that are here, so that’s really nice, too. But, yeah, we’ve done both. We’ve played really great festivals that are somehow intimate and we’ve played others that Steve was describing, too. There’s no connection.
Stephen: If there’s a big barrier between the audience and the stage or the stage is really high and the barrier is another 10 feet or 20 feet away it’s kind of weird.
Mark: To see somebody and to interact with somebody’s eyes and feel the energy from them, that’s the thing that I feel is the most important for us. That’s what I love about playing live.
Casey: I think most big bands would probably love to be able to play smaller places. Once they get past the level of this where they can’t do it anymore, they would probably miss it a lot. I have to admit if we were a huge band, I would miss playing small places, for sure, because they are the most fun, I think, to be in here tight.
Mark: That’s why we are going to sabotage ourselves so if we never get big …
Casey: That’s key. That is key. We coulda been somebody!
Mark: We could of been huge!
What’s a typical day off tour like for you all?
Casey: Well, I would imagine for them it would be family. They have family.
Stephen: Yeah, to see our children and our wives.
Mark: Walk our dogs.
Casey: Pretty normal stuff, I guess. Right now we are trying to finish a record so right now a lot of that is at home, too, recording and trying to write. Actually, the last few months have been the longest we’ve been off the road in years. We had a long time to be at home. Now, I get a little stressed out when I’m not traveling, it’s weird.
It’s your job and it’s what you do and when you’re not doing it it’s sometimes a little stressful. But, we’ve also been busy recording so that’s been our focus; to finish that right now.
How did you guys meet and form the band?
Casey: Mark and myself met in high school and then we started playing together in Toronto and we played a show and Steve was doing sound there and doing the board and he asked if we were interested in recording and we were. So we recorded a record with Steve, he did all our engineering, our first record called, Tin Type. And at the CD release we asked him if he wanted to play with us and he did and he never stopped and since then we’ve been three since 2004.
Stephen: I just wanted to add we do have a fourth member in Casey’s feet because he plays bass pedal. A lot of people say we should have a bass player but, we pay his feet.
Casey: They get paid the most. Steve massages them every night. They’re soft. We do sound more like a four-piece than a three-piece but, there are only three of us.
I’m looking forward to the show tonight. I’ve never seen you guys play live before.
Casey: This will be a good one to see because Maxine’s is a great venue and our last show here was amazing so we’re expecting it to be just as good this time. Kevin and Agnes [Maxine’s owners] are doing a great thing here and I’m glad that it’s succeeding.
Mark: When you play a place once and you just itch to get back. That’s here. We’ve been trying to get back here for a long time. We played a place like that yesterday in Tulsa and I’m already wanting to get back there. There are a lot of good interesting venues and there are a lot of crappy ones, too. The interesting ones you just ache to get back there.
Casey: Agnes was saying they kind of modeled [Maxine’s] after Scubas in Chicago, which is a bar we play at all the time and love. And the way that they treat the bands is that way. We get treated really well while we’re here. We have all the food and beer we can have. Very few places do that especially for a band that’s not from around here. So when bands come here, they are comfortable.
Mark: And it’s obvious that they love music. There are people that promote music for money and there’s people that promote music for music’s sake. And they are on the latter portion and that’s what you want. They love good music and they do a good thing to get people to keep coming back. People like that need to be commended. It’s a hard thing especially in this day and age in music.
Absolutely! Kevin and Agnes are great. Maxine’s is a great place to be. Are there any artists out there that you would like to work with or have you worked with in the past that you really appreciated?
Stephen: We were lucky enough to play with Wilco. We did the Canadian portion of their tour a couple years back. That was amazing. We played with Calexico before. The Avett Brothers, we’ve seen them. They would be a great band to work with. They’re amazing.
I really appreciate you guys sitting down with me and talking to me and answering a few last minute questions.
Casey: No problem. It was great. Thanks a lot.
Stephen: Thank you.
Mark: Thanks for having us.