Certainly, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month, you may recall that I’ve written about the Toronto,ON-based psych rock sextet The Auras. Comprised of long-time friends longtime friends, Aaron McCoy (drums), Hank Van Harten (bass, […]
Comprised of Rishi Dihr (lead vocals, sitar, bass), Jean-Gabriel Lambert (drums, backing vocals), and Miles Dupire (drums, backing vocals), the Montreal, QC-based trio Elephant Stone have become something of a mainstay on JOVM, as I’ve written about them quite a bit over the past couple of years.
Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the site or with the band, some back story is necessary: the band led by Dihr, a renowned sitar player, who’s formerly a member of The High Dials and has collaborated with members of the renowned, Austin, TX-based psych rock band The Black Angels, has developed a reputation for a psych rock sound that frequently employs elements of traditional Eastern instrumentation with Western songwriting in a way that’s reminiscent of the 60s psychedelic sound pioneered by The Beatles, The Kinks and others. With the release of Canadian trio’s third full-length effort, The Three Poisons last year, the band’s sound went through a major change in sonic direction in which the sitar wasn’t as much of a primary focus; in fact, sitar was retained here and there to add sonic coloring — and to retain the overall psychedelic feel.
The band’s latest single “The Devil’s Shelter” is a collaboration that features The Black Angels’ frontman Alex Maas. And as Dihr explained in press notes, “I knew all along that the dark mood of this song needed something even darker. Lo and behold, a Black Angel came to my rescue. Alex Maas and I have been friends for well over 10 years and I try to collaborate with him as much as possible. I sent him a bunch of my demos for our new album to get his feedback. Of all the songs, I felt this one was missing something. He offered to re-sing this whole song and I could do with it what I wanted. On the first playback of his vocals, I knew the song had what it needed. His voice can summon Tibetan monks, Nico and the devil all at once. He definitely brought the darkness to my light.”
Interestingly, the latest Elephant Stone single is a marked change in sonic direction as it begins with a tense, undulating synths, shimmering sitar chords, propulsive drumming paired with Dihr’s vocals on the song’s verses and Maas’ vocals on the chorus and hook to create a song that feels and sounds ominous and murky — and as though it channels The Black Angels “Don’t Play With Guns.”
The band will be embarking on a West Coast tour throughout November. Check out the tour dates and info below.
11/12 – San Diego CA – Whistle Stop (Info)
11/13 – Los Angeles CA – Hotel Cafe (Info)
11/14 – Santa Ana CA – Constellation Room (Info)
11/18 – Seattle WA – LoFi (Info)
11/19 – Vancouver BC – The Cobalt (Info)
11/20 – Portland OR – Bunk Bar (Info)
11/21 – Oakland CA – The New Parish for Echo Fest (Info)
Comprised of long-time friends longtime friends, Aaron McCoy (drums), Hank Van Harten (bass, vocals), David Zboch Alves (keyboards, vocals), Peter Dasilva (guitar, vocals), Robb Schaede (guitar and vocals) and Dallas Wheeler (guitar, vocals), the Toronto,ON-based sextet […]
Several months of relentless and exhausting touring to support Summer of Lust came to a head in what the band describes as “one of the saddest hostels in Amsterdam.” The next day, during a tour stop in Paris, hundred of rats swarmed their tour van. Unsurprisingly, the rest of the tour quickly went south — and when the band returned to Regina, they all decided that they needed some time apart.
After a two year hiatus, the members of the Canadian sextet reconvened and began working on the material that would comprise their forthcoming effort Lovish, which is slated for a November 6 release through Nevado Music. And much like the band’s previous efforts, the album was recorded in an old funeral home and was mixed by Dave Plowman and Alex Bonenfant, who have worked with METZ, Crystal Castles, and July Talk.
Adding to a period of incredibly difficult luck, during the recording sessions for Lovish, the band’s frontman Carl Johnson was jumped, beaten unconscious by a random assailant. Johnson suffered a severe concussion, a hematoma (blood pooling) in his brain, a loss of smell, and a very difficult and long road to recovery. For a few months, it remained uncertain if Johnson would be able to continue to write and perform music and it left the band and the album in a state of limbo, in which they all feared their work may never see the light of day. Eventually Johsnon was able to contribute seven songs to the album while bandmate Brennan Ross contributed and took up vocal duties on the remaining four.
The band’s latest single “Zzyx” is actually inspired by an incredible, seemingly improbable yet true story. As legend has it, in 1944 a radio evangelist and self-proclaimed doctor started squatting in the middle of the Mojave Desert. He recruited a number of Skid Row bums to build a 60 room mineral spa, complete with a church, a radio station and an airstrip. He named the compound “Zzyx,” the last word in the English dictionary, referring to it as the “last word in health,” and he dubbed the airstrip, the Zyport.
Incredibly, the radio evangelist remained on the property selling phony medicinal remedies and potions and scamming gullible senior citizens for the better part of over 25 years — until the federal government evicted him from the land. And as the band notes in press notes, Lovish‘s latest single was written as an ode to a strange place, where people were desperate to believe in something and desperate to live forever.
Although in press notes, it says that the band’s sound has been described by some media outlets as having elements of surf rock to my ears that seems incredibly off, as their sound seems to sound as though it draws a bit more from glam rock, proto-punk, power pop and U2 as the song possesses an emotional immediacy and urgency around anthemic hooks, power chords, enormous blasts of horns, and earnest vocals. I’ve played this song a number of times, and every time I can picture a sweaty room of young people yelling along to the chorus, and feeling as though the song speaks deeply and passionately to them about their lives — and with a forceful honesty.
He chose the name Zzyzx with the intent that it would be the last word in the English language, referring to it as “the last word in health”. When you arrive to the location today it looks more like the DHARMA Initiative basecamp in the television show Lost. We all want to live forever. We are all dying to believe in something.
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