The LEO interview: Elephant Revival

Elephant Revival is a world-folk band from Colorado. LEO probably should’ve asked about their grooming habits, but forgot.
Dan Rodriguez answered LEO’s questions.

LEO: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard you yet?
Dan Rodriguez: I would describe it as a glimpse into the inner workings of five individuals, and those inner workings manifesting through music in a group sense … with the help of various music formulas like folk, celtic, rock, reggae, blues and everything else all put into the most musical blender you’ve ever heard.

LEO: Do you write on a schedule, or whenever inspiration strikes?
DR: I write whenever inspiration strikes and there’s a pad and pen close by … or a napkin, or the back of a flyer… It’s tough to write on the road because of time and space restraints, so the pattern has been thus far that most of the writing I do happens when I’m home. Although my favorite song I’ve written lately was written on the road, in a run-down green room.

LEO: Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
DR: I feel like experience has a lot to do with inspiration; it’s tough to write about something if you don’t do much. As well, inspiration can come from places like the forest, oceans, mountains etc.. Nature is a great teacher if your looking for that. I am also hugely inspired by the human condition~ tough to write about it when your in the thick of it… but if you have a way to create the space to metaphorically climb up a hill and look across it all, it can be a rewarding endeavor.

LEO: How do your surroundings inspire your music?
DR: My surroundings inspire my music in many ways… ’cause, first of all, I feel my surroundings are part and parcel to who I am. Kind of a result of how i feel inside that perhaps creates my immediate surroundings. On a larger scale, the current climate of world politics and local politics are worth examining, all the way to the smaller personal relationships I choose to reflect upon … It’s all inspiring. looking out your window and watching kids riding their bikes, a woman carrying her groceries home, you never know what is going to spark an inclination to write.

LEO: How much do you feel inspired by other forms of American pop or ethnic music genres?
DR: Well, there’s interesting pop. And there’s not so interesting pop. If there’s some sort of substance to it, an element of real emotion, great emotion, than i can get inspired. But there’s also a lot of pop music out there that can be nauseating if your exposed to it longer than desired. I get inspired by any type of music if someone is really doing what there doing … whether it’s modern pop, older pop, across the seas pop… if it sparks creativity within me, gets me moving, or best of all, gives me goose bumps, then I listen.

LEO: In the studio, how much do you try to capture your live sound? How free do you feel to experiment with sounds you might not be able to recreate live?
DR: If there is a song that the whole band has developed parts, than capturing the live sound is an important thing. Because the energy of the moment is there. That’s kind of the idea to being in a band is to practice being in the moment. But you don’t want to limit a process. If a certain song is calling out for a step by step process, than do what’s best for the recording. By far though, live has proven to be a superior experience in the studio! As far as experimenting with sounds, I’d have to say whatever the song is asking for, all you can do is do your best to allow the song to tell you what it wants … and that may come in the form of experimentation.

LEO: What is your favorite song to perform? What do you think is your worst song?
DR: With Elephant Revival, my favorite song to perform is probably a fiddle tune call “Tam Lynn.” It’s exciting to play. If we had a bad song we probably wouldn’t play it, so that’s not an issue.

LEO: Are you the best live band out there? If not, who’s better?
DR: I don’t like comparing bands or music. Although I know the human mind likes to do such things. I can say we are definitely “one of” the best live bands out there right now … but I can’t say we are the best … Because that’s relative, and there probably isn’t such thing as the best. I can’t say who is better or worse, but I can say my all time favorite band to listen to live is Railroad Earth. What great songs and musicianship! They do “IT” for me.

Elephant Revival with Amos Hopkins
Uncle Slayton’s
1017 E. Broadway
Sunday, September 18
8:30 p.m. / $8 / 18+ with ID

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