As Elephants Are make deep, heartfelt indie music but it’s the uplifting melodies and huge choruses that make the band impossible to resist. They are currently touring the UK with Young Kato, then straight after that they will be jetting off to Holland for their own headline tour, but they promise new music is on it’s way very soon.
I caught up with the band to discuss what they’ve been up to recently, their new musical direction, touring and much more.
I was browsing your instagram feed and I noticed a few video teasers of your new material. It’s sounding fresh, and it teases to a considerably new direction for the band. Please tell us more…
Ben: “Thank you. Yeah it’s almost like a new band as such, it’s so considerably different. Purely because we wanted it to be. I know a lot of people make progressions in the sense that they don’t notice it, but we got to a point where we were getting really bored and we were really confused in what we wanted to do, to be honest. As in what songs we wanted to write. We were getting less enjoyment from the songs that we were writing at the time and we felt like we were almost pushing for a sound that wasn’t us, just to try and make the band move forward, if that makes sense?
We got into a horrible situation pretty much, where we started writing songs that we didn’t even like, just to try and make other people happy. So we hadn’t done anything in about 3 or 4 months, we literally just took so much time out, got our heads right back in it and then I met a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in about 5 or 6 years, he was like ‘do you wanna come to my studio? I’ve just got a new studio…” and he was a huge part of it as well.
He was probably the only person that we’ve worked with that truly understood exactly what we meant and what we wanted to do. Yeah, we’ve completely torn down everything that people might have known about us before and kind of relayed it. Yeah, it’s going well. I mean last year I think we wrote 2 songs the whole year, and this year we’ve written 11/12 recorded, mixed and finished so yeah, it’s gonna come out quite soon. It’s all coming along nicely so that’s good.”
You’re on tour with Young Kato, a band who have recently released their debut album. Is this something that could be on the cards for you soon? Have you started to think about the possibility?
Ben: “I guess with this new sound…”
You need to let it grow a bit more.
Ben: “Yeah that’s exactly it. I guess as a band until you’ve done your first debut record, you’re always moving towards that. I don’t know when it’s going to be or what [it’s going to be] but like I said we’ve got like 12/13 songs recorded now, but to us it’s not an album. Yeah we’re always developing towards it and we want to make it I guess, like everyone does, true and honest. So we’ve just got to wait until it’s ready and I think we’ll know when we get there because we’ve been doing it for quite some time. I reckon we’ll get there soon.”
You’ve played shows with Young Kato before, I’m sure it must be nice to be touring with them?
Ben: “Yeah it’s lovely, they’re great. I think the first time we played with them was about 2 years ago? And then ever since then we’ve just stayed in touch. Our friends Pixel Fix, who are some of our best mates, they went on tour with Young Kato as well, so we went along to some of that, saw some of the dates and we’ve always kept in contact with them. They’re such nice boys, and their live shows are just insane, incredible. And it’s nice to watch them grow because 2 years ago when we first played with them obviously they were still coming up, and now you see them, you see the huge stage show they have, all that kind of stuff and it’s amazing to see the progression of the band. And them being friends is a massive bonus.”
If a band or artist were to cover one of your songs in the live lounge, who would you like to see perform an As Elephants Are track and what would they cover?
Joe: “That’s hard.”
Ben: “That is such a good question because it’s got me thinking. Maybe Stormzy, get him to do ‘Crown’ and I’ll be over the moon, that’d be amazing.”
Joe: “That would be sick.”
Ben: “Someone to do it differently. I wouldn’t want another band to do it, I don’t think, because I’d think they’re doing it wrong or something. It would have it to be someone like A$AP Rocky maybe. Get A$AP to do it actually. That would be cool.”
2015 has been a quiet year release-wise for the band but a busy year for gigs. What do you enjoy most about each of those elements – recording in the studio and playing live?
Ben: “We see it as almost two completely different things and this year especially, I’ve never spent more time consecutively in a studio. We’ve been in the studio for about 4 months, pretty much straight, we’ve had about 4/5 days off. So you kind of just lose yourself in that and then it was getting to the point where I was actually losing my mind. I needed to get out of that and then to come and do these run of shows was exactly what we needed.
Then we can go back with a fresh perspective on things. Yeah I guess it’s been our busiest year but at the same time, to the outside world it will look like it’s been our quietest year, but we needed the year to really re-gain ourselves and bring it all back to what we wanted it to be, and that kind of got lost along the way somewhere for a good year or so. So it was really important for us to take everything back and restart. I couldn’t be happier to be honest, I’ve never been happier with anything that we’ve done before.”
When will we be hearing some new music?
Joe: “We haven’t actually got a release date for it yet. I guess when it’s all done, we’ll find out which one’s we want to release, and come up with a plan.”
Ben: “We’re looking at if not, late this year, very early next year. That’s 100%. What we’ve done in the past is we’ve always rushed everything we’ve ever done. We’d write a song, record it and then release it within 2 months or something and it left us in a situation, where we had to do, what we had to do. So this time we really wanna get everything together, take it a lot slower than we’ve ever done, not rush anything. We’ve got plenty of time, we’re only 22, so it’s not going to be the end of the world. I reckon, if not the very end of this year, the very start of next year and there’ll be lots of it that’s the good thing.”
When you look at how bands like Foals and Bombay Bicycle Club have marked out their career paths, it’s been a slow build; they’ve built it from the ground up. Are these the sorts of bands that you look at for inspiration and advice when thinking about how you want to progress further down the line?
Ben: “Yeah hugely. I can’t think of two better bands that have done it in that exact sense. The sounds progressed as well as the image, everything. They’re bands we’ve followed from the very early days, bands we’ve loved.
I think that was a huge part of it, we got into a place where we thought we might cut off As Elephants Are and then start another band, because the music we’re going to release is very different to what people are used to, so we thought we might have to come to that stage and change, but we thought no because it’s still us. This is what we intended it to be and it got lost somewhere along the line so that’s a huge part of why we didn’t want to change the [band] name because it’s still us and it’s just the way we’ve grown into writing new music and experiencing different things, and we wanted people to experience that with us. So yeah, we’re massively influenced by the things they’ve done.”
If your music was a person, how would you describe it?
Ben: “I don’t know. I guess us as people. I don’t know, that’s so good as well, I have to answer that. I’d like to go for some kind of blonde haired female on a beach in Perth maybe. I’d picture that. Has Perth got nice beaches? I imagine so. Yeah I’d go for that, a blonde haired Australian 24 year old.”
Quick fire questions:
Streaming, mp3 or physical?
Ben: “Physical. Definitely.”
The city or the countryside?
Ben: “Countryside for me.”
Joe: “City for me, I reckon, I don’t know it hard.”
Headline gig or festival?
The 1975 or The Maccabees?
Both: “The Maccabees”
Acoustic guitar or electric guitar?
Favourite song lyric?
Ben: “Sucking in a smoke screen by Silversun Pickups [from Little Lover’s So Polite], that’s my favourite lyric I think I’ve ever heard. I just love it for some reason.”
Joe: “I will go with that one as well.”
Favourite album of 2015?
Ben: “The Weeknd’s album is pretty good. I like that so far. Who else has released in 2015? Foals..”
Joe: “The Maccabees. But we haven’t really listened to them much…”
Ben: “I guess I’d go for the Weeknd so far.”
Joe: “I’d go Foals so far.”
Ben: “Good albums all round.”
A band that you want to see live before the end of the year is…
Ben: “I’d go for Wolf Alice. I like Wolf Alice, they’re a good band.”