Elephants in the Room

How I know them:

I interviewed members of the band (Lauren and Meagan) back when they were The Frills, a badass three-piece band, after they rocked hard in the dusty basement of UMass’ Campus Center, underneath the On Air sign of WMUA during a live radio show. You can check that interview out here. All grown up and making new moves, they’re now Elephants and they’ve taken some gigantic steps. The music has grown wiser and maybe even a little heavier. They still have stayed true to their influences and their roots, because we all know – an elephant never forgets.

Photo credit: Lauren Garant
Photo credit: Lauren Garant

Elephants are a Boston-based rock band that has a sound as big as the gentile beasts that inspired their name. They’ve been compared to various nineties bands (most that they’ve never heard of), but they can guarantee one adjective that can be attached to their brand – “loud.”

The band consists of four members: Lauren Garant (rhythm and lead guitar and vocals), Ryan Young (rhythm and lead guitar), Meagan Day (bass) and Mike Cashin (drums). They’re indie (but not like the indie of the past 10 years) and they’re punk, but they’re also a bit too poppy to be considered what most call “punk.” What we can all agree on is the volume. It’s intense, but not aggressive. It’s what a fellow musician surmised to them as “unpretentious, unadulterated rock ‘n roll.”

The guitarists, Lauren and Ryan, created Elephants in the summer of 2011, when they began recording and performing as a duo. Mike joined to add percussion in March of 2012. He was one of those musicians you find on Craigslist, trying as hard as they might to find their musical soul mates. After jamming with other bands and not feeling like the shoe fit, he eventually found Lauren and Ryan. It clicked. What really sold him was that they were people he could hang out with and not just make music with – something his other projects had lacked in the past. Mike said in an interview, “I think that’s why Elephants rocks so hard, because we’re all having fun playing with each other.”

Meagan came on board to complete the sound by bringing the funk, just like she did for The Frills, her former project with Lauren that disbanded in 2010. They lived on opposite sides of the Bay State until she heard Ryan and Lauren’s first Elephants performance and knew what she had to do – pack up and head east. As the last elephant to join the group, Meagan admits that she had a lot of catching up to do, but she was ready to go live by the end of June 2012 for the first performance – all four elephants in their right place on stage, bringing that colossal sound of shred-pop to the people.

When asked about their influences, Ryan named the following bands off: Guided by Voices, Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr., The Jam, The Replacements and Ted Leo. He said, “That’s just what we like listening to and it filters down into our songs.”

They’ve played about 30 shows in the Boston area and beyond since that first show. You may have caught them at Precinct, Radio, O’Briens, PA’s Lounge, The Midway Café, The Democracy Center, The All Asia Bar, McCann’s, The Cantab Lounge or the Elk’s Lodge if you frequent the Boston scene, or maybe you’ve seen them at various shows they’ve played in Worchester, New Bedford, Providence or Western Mass.

If you ever see their name on a bill and want to check them out, make sure to say hi after the show. They’ll love it. They’re all about personal connections, whether you’re in another band or you just love music. You can start your friendship on Facebook now, if you want, but I’m assuming you’ll want to hear them first.

That’s easy. They have free streaming you can check out here. You can also watch this awesome video for their song, “You Like Dags?” below.

You can also purchase a full-length version of their album in digital or physical form. Their self-titled album was released on April 16th, 2013, after being recorded in December of 2012 with Trevor Vaughan in his New Bedford warehouse studio.

They also have two self-recorded and self-released EPs that Lauren and Ryan recorded with a Tascam Portastudio 4-track cassette recorder in 2011. They did a split single, also self-released, with their friends Nick LeBlanc and the Pink Beans, which was a collaborative effort between the two bands.

Be sure to check out the track “The One Thing.” Meagan said that people really seem to respond to it and added, “I think its because the song is surprising.”

Mike agrees and said, “People should listen to our music because it’s really fucking good, first of all. Also, we’re not afraid to rock hard and that is something that is not as appreciated these days as one would hope. We’re also not afraid to experiment, to try new things, to fail and then climb triumphantly out of the pit we dug and get back to rocking. People should listen to us because we’re just like them. We’re all nine-to-five-job-type people, so when we do come together to play or record, we always put our best effort forward. We want people to walk out of a show or put their headphones down and think we were worth their time.”

Lauren says you should listen “Because it’s loud, it’s fun, it’s earnest. It’s thick without being aggressive or angry, it’s poppy without being bubblegum. Everybody’s coming at the music from a different angle (in terms of both influences and writing style), so our songs end up all sounding really different, while still maintaining a common stylistic or aesthetic thread throughout. It keeps things interesting.”

Photo credit: Lauren Garant
Photo credit: Lauren Garant

Are you on their Bandcamp page yet? Make sure to take a look at the graphic components delivered by the band. Mike said, “The art/visual component of the band is very important. We’re lucky that we have Lauren in the band, because she has considerable artistic talent. In fact, our show flyers are usually her handy work. On top of it, she also manages to get great photos, one of which is our album cover. Meagan also has turned out to be a useful resource in the more technical aspects of album design. We’re very lucky to have people with the “know how” to turn out amazing visuals.”

Ryan added, “She uses watercolors a lot and I like it. For our album, I suggested we use a picture of our friend Jeff skating that Lauren took.”

There’s a lot to be excited about for the future of Elephants. Mike said, “We have a rotating list of new songs we’ve been playing at shows. They’re new, awesome and people now have the chance to hear them before we record them for album #2. Oh yeah…album #2 is not that far away.”

Meagan added, “We’re planning a week-long tour for the beginning of August, and will be playing about an album’s worth of new songs.”

Ryan further expanded on this and said, “We have plans to record another album in the fall or winter. We’ve also thought about releasing a 7” record.”

“We’ve written the majority of what will be the next album, and we’re working on some interesting (dare I say experimental) projects outside of that as well,” Lauren illuminated.

They’re definitely keeping it fresh and headed down a path that doesn’t mind being considered less traveled. On this topic, Ryan said, “I just want to play music to as many people as possible. Fame is not the goal for me.”

Lauren delved in and said, “It’s hard to say what’s going to happen in the future, but I’d like to believe the best is yet to come. We’re all really passionate about what we’re doing, we have a lot of creative drive and we want to branch out and play more and more shows. Our songwriting is always improving, and we have a lot of momentum. As far as “making it,” there are lots of bands that I consider very successful not because of mass-scale fame, but because of how their music has impacted people and influenced other artists. I consider that impact more important than popularity in and of itself.”

Mike’s two cents on the future were “We are headed for bigger and better things. Who knows if we’ll make it, the way the ‘music biz’ works, but we’re going to have fun playing for people nonetheless. I think the most pressing thing we want to do is to play better and better shows for as many people as will have us.”

Elephants really seem to have it all going on.  However, Meagan and Lauren both wish that Joe Strummer was one of their band mates, if they could have anyone from history join them – because “The Clash.” Mike would adopt either John Lennon or George Harrison “because they were Beatles.”

The only thing that this band needs to be even better, in Ryan’s opinion, is a band puppy. He’d also like to pollute your mind with the following, “Have a good time, all of the time.” Elephants are truly gentle and wise – and they make really loud noises with their trunks.

Leigh Greaney can be reached at lgreaney@thoughtpollution.com.

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