Saturday, 16 February 2013

20 Questions w/ A Fucking Elephant

A Fucking Elephant w/ Robert (Touring Yucca)
 
This music is of the elite, the intelligent listener, very thought provoking and exceptional. I can only wonder what a full length would sound like by this band and how much work it would take to make a lot of this kind of music.   Lee Diamond

Hey sludgers,  another 20 Questions for you and that was the praise Lee heeped on A Fucking Elephant's latest record 7"inches.   Following the release of their superb new record, I hooked up with the band towards the end of Jan 2013 to get the lowdown on all things A Fucking Elephant.   Here is what these crazy ass two piece had to say. So settle back and enjoy this great interview.  Thanks for reading and see you next time. 


Hey guys, How are you and a happy new year?  I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us, here at the Sludgelord.
 
Greg: Hi Aaron, happy new year to you! Thanks for you interest and for having us at Sludgelord.
 
Q) First of all congratulations on your recent release 7 inches, it blew me away.  I think Lee did a great job with our review.  You must be pleased with it?
 
G: Thanks! We're very pleased with the record, and pumped about the positive reviews it's getting. Colin Marston did an amazing job laying down these tracks for us, and we couldn't be happier with the results.

Q) Where are you guys at the moment and what are you doing in terms of the band?  I read that you’re preparing to begin a tour throughout Jan?  Exciting times ahead?
 
G: That's correct! In fact, we just got back from that Jan tour. It was a blast, we had a really good time on the road, and it turned out to be a very successful tour for us. We tried to get through this interview in the van, but judging from our facebook posts and the numbers on this scale I'm standing on, I think we were way too busy eating.
 
Matt: I wish we had weighed ourselves before and after, it was brutal.  Most bands hurt themselves with booze and drugs we just eat like assholes.
 
Q). Sorry, to get down to the boring stuff and I am certain you have been asked this a millions times, but for the benefit of our readers who may be new to your band, could you tell us a little about the history of the band and some of the bands you've played with? Where you’re from? When A Fucking Elephant first formed? Current band members? What was your motivation to start the band? Did you guys know each other prior to the bands inception?
 
M: Greg and I met at Rutgers in 2001 and had been trying to start something up for years.  In 2007 I started writing music for a 2 piece and went straight to him.  The previous two bands I played in were each 5-6 member bands, and even simple tasks like scheduling practice was a headache.  When I started writing material for my own project I knew I wanted to keep it as minimal as possible.  
 
G: We've always been a duo, just drums (Greg, that's me) and guitar (Matt), and the occasional vocal outburst from whoever feels like dishing it out. We've played with some sweet bands throughout the years: Dysrhythmia, East of the Wall, Hivesmasher, Joan of Arc, The Gay Blades, Cryptodira, Zevious, El Drugstore, Smother Party, Bangladeafy!, All Parallels, So is the Tongue, Noxious Foxes.
 
Q)  Is A Fucking Elephant a full time commitment? 
 
G: It is and it isn't. This band has and will likely always remain the top priority over other projects we have been or will be involved with. That said, we sort of operate seasonally and take time off from the band to make room for life, work and school in Matt's case.
 
M: I’m finishing up a degree in electrical engineering this year, after which I certainly hope I’ll have more time to write music and tour.  With that said, I’m quite pleased we have been able to squeeze in recording sessions and touring during the little free time I have.
 
Q) I have to ask, why the name A Fucking Elephant?
 
M: Basically, I wanted something memorable.  We were originally going to be called Fucking Airplanes, but my friend Corey went on a rant about how crazy it would be if a fucking elephant were running at you. The idea stuck.
 
Q) Since your inception, what have been your aspirations for the band?
 
M: Nothing more than to write and record original music.  The fact that we get to play with bands we look up to, and travel the country spreading our stupid noise is the icing on the cake. 
 
Q) With all the changes in the music industry, it genuinely does appear harder to make a commitment to a band. What with potential for constant touring, promotion for very little financial reward, what motivates you?
 
G: The love of music, and the love of touring. It's nice to get paid, even better when you can break even or turn a profit. But at the end of the day, I'm simply having fun being in a band, writing weirdo music, and beating the shit out of my drums in front of people.
 
Q) How important has the introduction of sites such as Bandcamp been for the promotion of underground bands?
 
G: Sites such as Bandcamp, Soundcloud and many others have definitely made it easier for musicians to share their work in a listener-friendly format. I think promoting your band is much easier when your audience can readily find you and hear your music without jumping through any hoops.
 
Q) Could you give us an insight into the gestation of producing your music ?

G: Well, mostly, we just eat a lot of shrimp, some avocados, hi-five a few times, and then Matt goes diddly-doo, diddly-diddly-doo, didly-doo-dah on his guitar. We do some math, I slap down some whah-pah-tahs in there, and we play some rock/paper/scissor to decide what order everything goes in. Bam! See Matt's response for a rational translation of what I just said.
 
M: I usually come to practice with a handful of riffs and we jam on them for a while, figuring out what transitions work, what could be more interesting, and what things actually sound like outside of my head.  We’ll then write a rough arrangement and mess around with it until we’re satisfied. 
 
Q) How easy is it for bands such as yourselves to get gigs and tours?  Is it a struggle? Are you reliant on other bands to give you support slots etc?
 
G: It's a social industry, no doubt about it. We try to stay in touch with everyone we meet, play with, drink with. We trade shows whenever possible. Every show we've every played to date, including this January tour, wouldn't be possible without our friends, bands we love, bands we've played with, and fans who support us by coming out to shows, hooking us up with crash spots, listening to our tunes, and buying our merch.            
 
Q) Your music is definitely progressive, however what words spring to mind, if you were to describe you music?  Has is evolved?  Was the reduction in the use of vocals a natural progression?
 
G: Loud, huge, complex, and minimal are some words that come to mind. But they're just words. I've never enjoyed talking about music, it's sweeter to just listen. The reduction in use of vocals was definitely natural – our songs always start with the music, and sometimes we come up with vocal ideas, sometimes not.
 
M: I fully planned on writing vocals for the new record, but after demoing the songs we decided they were solid as is. 
 
 
Q) Are you big fans of rock/metal, if so what are you listening to at the moment?
 
Dysrhythmia – Test of Submission
Loincloth - Iron Balls of Steel
Schnaak – Cool Drink Town EP
Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
Arbogast – I
Hazel Rah - The Africantape EP
So is the Tongue – A Child of Divorce
mOck – s/t
Eastern Anchors – Drunken Arts and Pure Science
Kayo Dot – Gamma Knife

Q)  Who would you say are your influences/heroes both musically and artistically in terms of the bands sound?
 
G: Hella, Mastodon, early Dillinger Escape Plan, The Melvins.
 
Q) I’m assuming all musician like to talk about gear, so with that in mind what gear do you use in terms of guitars, amps and why? Also what tuning do you use?
 
M: Current setup is a Gibson SG into a Mesa Mark V with an Emperor 2x15 and 4x12.  I build a lot of my own pedals, mostly to learn how they work, and because I can’t afford the originals. I fool around with different tunings when writing to get myself out of the same old habits, but all of our songs are played in standard tuning one full step down. 
 
Q) What is the scene like in your hometown?  What are your thoughts?  Where do you think AFE fits within that as your music is difficult to classify?  Any bands we should be keeping an eye out for?
 
G: New Brunswick has a huge hardcore scene that we don't overlap with too much. But there are a lot of cool bands in central NJ. Check out El Drugstore, East of the Wall, In Musth, Eastern Anchors, Holy City Zoo, Neur, to name but a few.
 
Q) How do you feel your band has generally been received and does it surprise you when people buy your music and merch?
 
G: I think we're generally received pretty positively, even when we're the odd band out on a bill, or playing to a crowd that expects to hear something else. It's always a pleasant surprise when people take interest in our sound.
 
Q)  How valuable are blogs  such as the Sludgelord reviewing your records? Do all forms of media coverage translate to people buying merch, downloading music, coming to shows, etc?
 
G: Any press is good press, haha. Blogs, reviews, fans ranting about stuff, all of this is great for a band. People want to know what other people are getting interested in, so spreading the word about your band in any form is going to eventually trickle down in some way to people coming to shows, buying your merch, or simply paying attention to you and enjoying your music.
 
Q) Reviewing records within any genre, you often listen to a lot of stuff which is quite similar. What sets you apart from your peers and what are your thoughts about being part of any scene?  Do you give much thought to keeping up with trends? 

G: We've always made our music purely because of the joy it brings us. I know that sounds silly, but it's so fucking true. I spend less time classifying sounds, and more time getting super pumped about the sounds I'm creating. It's amazing and intense to learn that other people are as into it as we are, but my enjoyment of my own band will always come first. Because of that I don't pay much attention to scene politics, etc, but you can certainly say we have a little scene of our own among all the bands involved with Nefarious Industries. 

Q) Do you have any interesting stories from your tours, favourite places you’ve toured and bands you’ve toured with?  I understand you take a plant on tour with you?  What’s the deal?
 
G: Robert is our touring Yucca cane plant. We've had him for over 3 years. We take him everywhere. For more background info on that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7Np7UCvhi4
 
Q) Did you have an agenda when you began writing the new record? What were your aims for Seven Inches and how do you feel about the record now that it has been unleashed on the unsuspecting public?  Do you feel under any additional pressure to top what you did the last time?
 
G: The tracks on the new record have been bouncing around for a long time in some form or another, so there was no true agenda, or even a concept of writing a new record. We had these unfinished tunes, and we wanted to hit the road hard, so the goal was to wrap up what we could with enough time to record, put out an attractive product and book a serious tour. I'm very happy with the results and happy it's out.
 
M: No pressure, other than wanting to be happy with ourselves.  We do whatever we want, our next record is just as likely to be a collection of Fiona Apple covers as it is to be a doom record. 
 
Q). In terms of the band, what are your plans for the rest of the year and 2013?  Can we expect a full length record?
 
M: New music and touring for sure.
 
Finally is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
 
G: Eat avocados. Listen to music. Tell someone you love them. Then head to http://nefariousindustries.com/ and buy our records.
 
Also, don't forget to check out the FREE SAMPLER from Nefarious Industries, available right here: http://nefariousindustries.com/freesampler/


Another great interview.  Thanks to AFE and Dave from EarSplit. Support this amazing band.  Check links for more info about this awesome band.  Buy here




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