NEO-TRAD quintet The Elephant Sessions have appeared on festival stages and at venues from Belladrum to Rome.
This weekend the north band stay a little closer to home with shows in Aviemore and Inverness, but in this season of goodwill, the group — Alasdair Taylor (mandolin), Euan Smillie (fiddle), Greg Barry (drums), Mark Bruce (guitars) and Seth Tinsley (bass) — are hoping north music fans will provide them with some good cheer this Christmas.
Mark Bruce explains.
How did the band get together?
We formed in March 2012 after realising that our musical ideas were very similar. We had all met at various points through movements such as Feis Rois. Three of the band have studied on the Folk and Traditional Music course at Newcastle University. We all have a love of traditional music and have been involved in it for years, but also share a common interest in pushing the traditional boundaries and exploring what we can get away with.
For those who haven’t heard you, how would you sum up the music of Elephant Sessions?
Imagine a brew of self-penned melodies, dirty bass lines and tasty grooves. A potential recipe for disaster — we like the idea of bands flying by the seat of their pants.
You have your support slot with the Treacherous Orchestra to look forward to in the New Year at Strathpeffer Pavilion. Are they a like minded band?
Yes, we have always admired them as a band and they are definitely high up on our list of influences, so it’s great pleasure to have the opportunity to share a stage with them so close to home. There is a long list of musicians that have inspired us, it ranges from people such as Highland heroine Julie Fowlis, to international stars like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
You are based in the Highlands, but where have you found the most appreciative audiences?
We’ve been lucky enough to get a great response at home festivals such as Belladrum, but we think the highlight for us was opening for Peatbog Faeries at the O2 Academy in Newcastle.
You are financing your debut album through Kickstarter. Why did you decide down this route and has the process been more complicated, more simple than you thought?
We decided to go down the Kickstarter route as we thought it would be the best way to finance the album without a record label. It means that we give people who like the band a chance to be part of the process.
Pledgers can have anything from their name inside the album cover to a private gig and if there is any super fans out there, they could even own a pair of each of the bands underpants. We felt it enables us to connect with people that like the band. It’s an ongoing process and we are yet to reach our target so our only advice is to not aim too high and make sure that you give yourself enough time to reach your goal.
Our Kickstarter is running until Hogmanay, it would make a great Christmas present for your little sister.
What musical items would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas?
We would like Santa to bring us a couple of G strings for Mark and Alasdair.
What are your hopes for 2014?
To release an album that we are proud of, and to continue to on the journey of what has been the best craic we’ve ever had.
If you’d like to listen to our music or help us with our album, please check out www.elephantsessions.com
• Elephant Sessions appear at The Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore on Friday 20th December and Hootananny’s Ceilidh Bar in Inverness on Saturday.