Photo: Roger A. Galvez
Being fans of Canadian rock bands since childhood, we were surprised to only recently discover The Elwins, a really cool rock band from Keswick, Ontario, Canada who are actually about to release their fourth album at the end of October. Their 4th album! We've got a lot of rockin' to catch up on - and it sounds alright to us!
The Elwins, a four-piece group of talented musicians, have made a decade-plus long career out of making listeners, feel, sing, dance and rock! They have done (major) tours alongside other cool acts such as Passion Pit, Metric, Cold War Kids, Born Ruffians, Tokyo Police Club and Dashboard Confessional. Not to mention, they were also nominated for a Juno (which is the equivalent to a Grammy in the US!) and had their single "Hey! Ya, You" reach #6 in Canada, charting for 9 months in the Top 40! Very cool indeed!
Now, with the release of their latest, self-produced, collection of music "IV", the band is back, and making the absolute most of their time. "IV" is a diverse and detailed album reflecting influences from 70s AM-radio pop to the mid-2000s alternative that the band was borne out of, the record is a prime showcase for the collective magic of these four talented songwriters.
The Elwins are: Singer and guitarist - Matthew Sweeney, Drummer - Travis Stokl, bassist/singer - Francesco Figliomeni, and guitarist/keyboardist - Feurd.
Cool Magazine got to catch up with The Elwins drummer Travis Stokl for a recent chat about the new album and what's ahead in the future for these cool Canadian rockers!
How did you guys come together to form The Elwins?
"The band started as far back as high school actually. Matt and I (Travis) started a band with another guy and when he stopped showing up to practice we just continued as a two piece. We played shows for a year or so, although thinking back it feels much longer to me. Anyways, we recorded our five song EP and then were like, “I guess we need someone to play these baselines we wrote” so we got in touch with Feurd and did the three piece thing for a while. Sometime after our first album we gained a fourth member and then when he left we had another and THEN Frankie came along and the rest is an ongoing history."
Where did "The Elwins" band name come from?
"The name comes from the film Willow. There are a race of people in the film called Nelwyns and essentially Matt and I liked the sound of it - even though we heard it as “Elwins”. We wrote it down along with a bunch of other ideas and forgot about it. I happened to mention the name to my drum teacher at the time and one day he showed up to my place with a shirt that says The Elwins. We thought it looked good on a shirt and figured, "why not”."
Who are some of your biggest influences?
"There are so many really. It’s kind of an ever-changing thing. That said, in reality it’s more like a list that's getting bigger as the years pass. As an example...I’d like to think my love of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers when I was a teen doesn’t influence me now but that’s just pure denial. I know as a band we all collectively like Frank Zappa which is kinda odd because we haven’t really tapped into that realm with our own music. We all enjoy Dawes in the past five or six years I’d say. Sometimes it goes in phases where a couple of us will be really into The Strokes, Weezer, Sloan or like Deerhoof but then it’ll subside. Like I said at the beginning of this already too long answer, it is rather ever-changing."
Got the chance to preview the new music, and the whole album sounds amazing! Our absolute favorite song is "Take Me All The Way"! What was the inspiration for that track, and how long did it take you to write it?
"Thanks! Matt wrote that fairly fast. When we decided that we wanted to write for a new album, it was one of about seven or eight that he immediately whipped up over the chorus off two weeks if memory serves. We got the arrangement quick and then even played a show and debuted it. Even though we got a great response from it at the time there were some doubts about it for a few months. Eventually we came around to it again and worked out some minor things here and there because we all felt it was kind of undeniable."
You guys paint such an peaceful image with your track "Backyard At My Mom's" - is it a true story, or imagined creativity?
"We thought it’d be cool to record that one literally in Matt’s Mom’s backyard where he wrote it so that’s what we did. I can’t speak to the true nature of the story as Matt would have to chime in here, but he’s not here at the moment, sorry!"
Because of the covid-19 pandemic, touring is quite scarce for musicians at the moment, any cool plans or interesting ideas on ways of reaching your fans with the new album, such as live-stream performances or fan chats?
"Scarce is definitely putting it lightly haha! I mean, yeah, we did a bunch of live streams in the first four months or something where it was just one of the guys doing songs or as a full band (which were fun I’ll admit). It’s an interesting climate to be promoting in general. Some days it doesn’t feel right with everything else going on but then again, every single person is just trying to get by. Through all that’s happened this year I reckon it has changed a lot of people’s perspective about over saturating your audience verses fighting for your place amidst a sea of whatever it is that you do; music, yoga lessons...the list goes on and on."
In a dream situation, if you could open a show for any artist in the world (living or dead) who would it be?
"It’s funny y’know, right away I think THE BEATLES! but then I think about what that must’ve been like for those bands/artists who did open for them way back when and how the audience likely didn’t care about anything else except for who they actually came to see. It would be super special to see them though. So maybe it’d be worth it overall even if it was just to see the massive crowd of smiling faces together."
What new music are you listening to these days? Any recommendations?
"I found this artist called Brigt (I reached out to him about the pronunciation and he said it’s dealers choice). Anyways, his little mini album called Showcase is really amazing. Easily one of the best things I’ve heard all year, I can’t get enough of it. Also, I’m not sure if they’d be in the bracket of “new” anymore but Kero Kero Bonito are one of the best bands going right now in my opinion. Lastly, there’s a band from Florida called Dirtbike who are mad good."
And finally - What's your definition of cool?
"That’s actually a good question to probably check in on every once in a while with yourself as it can be dangerous if accepted under the wrong perspective - think bullying at school when you’re a kid or some twisted crap like that and how it’s celebrated sometimes. To me in this moment I’d say it means some particular event or action that gives a surge of new delight, be it a neat part in a song that just sorta blows you away for whatever reason(s), an enticing wink, magic trick, impressive action sequence in a film or even a surprising flavour combo."