Drunken Mermaid caught up with Sydney’s finest, Elstow, immediately out front of their November 7 Oxford Art Factory gig. Elstow is Jared Shaw, Chel Browne, Toby Shaw, Brian Page and Rebecca Chandler.
drunkenmermaid.com: How did Elstow come about?
JARED: Chel and I started playing old folk songs together as a duo in 2012, like Judy Collins covers and Peter, Paul and Mary stuff. We were also writing songs at that point and were lucky enough to play a couple of sets at Peats Ridge Music Festival just outside of Sydney, which was a huge deal for us. We asked my brother Toby and friend Brian to join us for that, and then in the following year asked another friend Bec to play with us as well. That expanding was a pretty natural process – what happened when we all started playing together just felt bigger and better than what we’d been doing on our own.
drunkenmermaid.com: How did you come up with the name Elstow?
JARED: Elstow is actually the name of the building Chel and I live in. It’s a big old beautiful Victorian-era home that’s been sliced up into apartments. We just liked the sound of it I guess, and it’s where it all started so it seemed appropriate.
drunkenmermaid.com: You’ve recently released your debut EP As the Sun Falls, how did you go about recording it? Who produced it?
JARED: We were recorded by our good friend Benjamin Wickstein, who Toby and Bec play with in the band Aether Beach. We co-produced it with him and recorded different parts in different places. Most of it, though, was recorded in his dungeon… a dark and dingy little basement in Enmore [Sydney].
drunkenmermaid.com: How do you and Chel go about writing songs together? Is there a process?
JARED: I’m not sure we really have a definite process at this point. Our EP is made up of a few songs we wrote together as a duo, and then a couple that were written independent of each other. And then when we jammed on them as a band they started to evolve again. This is my favourite part of the progression. Its always exciting to see how it will end up when we come together and put our minds to it.
drunkenmermaid.com: What’s your favourite song off your debut EP “As the Sun Falls?”
JARED: Well I think Elderflower Bloom is definitely my favourite. Chel wrote it a long time ago – it was one of the earliest songs we used to play as a duet. It evolved when we started playing as a band and recorded it for the EP. The day we got together and played it like that for the first time was pretty special. I think that was the moment I realized we had something good going on.
drunkenmermaid.com: Who are your main influences?
JARED: Our song-writing influences range from the sixties folk of Jimmy Spheeris and Simon & Garfunkel to the West Coast psychedelic sounds of Jefferson Airplane and the Peanunt Butter Conspiracy. There’s also a definite 90s neo-psychedelic flavour as well. Bands like Brian Jonestown Massacre and Mazzy Star definitely had a huge effect on our sound around the time we recorded the EP. And there’s no doubt Radiohead have had a huge affect on all of us as well. I know I’ve recently fallen in love with their earlier albums all over again.
drunkenmermaid.com: What do you think Elstow is doing that sets you apart?
JARED: I think if Elstow has anything unique to offer it might be an accessibility. I’d like to think that we’ve got a little something for everyone, be it the softer acoustic sounds or the more driven and dynamic stuff. We have a good blend I think. Not that we’re the only ones blending those styles, of course, but I think we’re starting to feel our own sound is coming about.
drunkenmermaid.com: What’s one of your favourite songs or albums and why?
JARED: One of our favourite songs, which we’ve been covering live for a while now, is Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit. It’s got such a great groove to it and amazing lyrical content, not to mention an interesting chord progression. That’s probably one of my favourite aspects of psychedelic music, how the use of unusual chord progressions can create such an eerie or strange mood, like Syd Barrett’s songs.
drunkenmermaid.com: Where to next? What does the future have in store for Elstow?
JARED: We have quite a few new songs written and we’re really keen to start recording our next single in the coming weeks. If all goes well we want to have it out by the end of the year. And with a video!
drunkenmermaid.com: Where can we see you play live in the near future?
JARED: We’re playing the A&R Department’s 50th Music Makers Club on the 7th November at Oxford Art Factory. The line up includes some great acts like Harts, King Colour and Battleships. Will be huge!
No doubt – you can follow (and like) Elstow on facebook.