COLUMNS | FEATURES | EVENT PREVIEWS
By Danny Coleman
originally published: 01/28/2014
“It’s funny, there’s a couple of stories, depending on who you talk to,” says Emperors and Elephants drummer Jason Meudt as he explained how this hard driving rock band from Chicago arrived at its name. “Jesse (vocalist Andrews) tells one story, Jeph (guitarist Stiph) tells another, I liked it because the “Es” looked really cool when drawn back to back! The truth is, we were all sitting around trying to come up with a name and like most bands we made a list. We just started jotting down names, words that came to mind and we settled on that; and I am able to draw a great logo with those “Es” back to back (laughs)!”
Drawing comparisons to heavy hitters such as Alice In Chains, Seether and Shinedown, Emperors and Elephants have been gathering steam since their formation circa 2010/2011. “Yeah, we got together a few years ago,” continued Meudt. “Myself and guitarist Jeph Stiph have played together on and off for a long time. We’ve been in bands together and we had been kind taking things slow, we were in between things for a bit and we hit a point where we thought we’d give it one more try. We were just tired of the drama that can come along with bands but we figured we’d give it another shot.”
Finding bass player Ron “Stoppable” Vanders in an opening act and front man Andrews when they least expected it, the group took shape instantly. “We found our bass player in a band that was opening for SOiL I believe, I approached him after the show and told him what we were doing and he was into it immediately. Jesse? Well, we weren’t even looking for him to be honest. He was a vocalist in a band playing in a really crappy club, I just happened to be there for a few drinks and hanging out with some friends. Jesse started singing and he was amazing! I thought, there’s no way he could keep that voice up all night; I was wrong, he blew me away. Then we added my friend Randy (“The Arsonist” Cooper) of The Texas Hippie Coalition on guitar and it completed the lineup.”
Little did the duo know that they would soon be putting a band together that would garner so much attention on local radio stations that they’d be making in studio appearances and are currently talking about a mid-west tour. “I think of us as something that hasn’t been done, maybe like I’d say in the last ten years,” says vocalist Andrews. “Which is, just a new band that has kind of taken like that grunge feel and kind of incorporated it into nowadays kind of music; we have that kind of, I always felt like the ‘70’s were all about the lyrics and all about the meaning behind songs, the ‘80’s were always about who could be the biggest, the baddest and who could have the best show and the craziest hair and then the ‘90’s scene kind of had that feel of like, you had that hard rock and that really, really good drive to be great musicians and that technical proficiency but then you also had like, no poetry. I feel like we kind of melded the two together. We have really, really good musicians and we have great singing but it’s got a little bit more heart than I’d say, I don’t know, some of the music I hear on the radio; I feel like there’s a lot of meaningless cookie cutter, you know what I’m saying?”
“Devil in the Lake” is their debut disc and will be available from Pavement Entertainment on January 21. This full length CD is packed from the first track on with tunes, which as Andrews alluded to earlier, are an effort of combined styles and musical tastes. “It’s interesting,” says Meudt. “All five members have different tastes in music. Jesse is grunge, kind of Alice In Chains, our bass player likes Rammstein, I feel we have a style that fits on rock or even heavier (radio) stations. The CD was recorded near us hear in Ingleside, we used producer Brad Osmond, a local guy and he was fantastic; he really flavored it up. Brad suggested things that we never would’ve even thought of and we were very open to it. We know that a lot of bands rarely let outsiders in but we were open to it.
With their live performances attracting more and more attention and a fan base that’s growing by the day, the band is battling the logistics of putting together a tour; starting small, perhaps in the Midwest. “We’re looking at the end of February, a little bit into March. I think we’re going for maybe ten to fifteen days, and then we’ll regroup and go out again maybe around the beginning of April,” says Andrews. “We’re pushing the current album, doing pre-orders, etc. Putting a tour together straight down the middle of the U.S. starting in the mid-west and as far south as Texas; we’re working out the details now,” added Meudt. “Our guitarist Randy lives in Texas, so when we book gigs and with this tour, we work around his travel schedule, he’s doing some things to get us in the right spots in Texas at the moment, so once that’s done, we’ll be getting things together and go.”
Considering Jason and Jeph were giving this “one more shot,” it looks like it was a shot worth taking. The band has made huge strides in just several short years and their success continues to grow seemingly by leaps and bounds. I asked Meudt where he saw himself and/or the band in ten years, which evoked a hearty laugh as he said, “Hopefully in ten years we’ll have enough material to have a “Best Of” collection and we won’t be sitting in some discount rack. Seriously though, we hope that people who’ve heard and seen us, or were part of us will look back and say, “They’re cool guys and man did they put on a great show.” I think that will be a good measuring stick.”
Emperors and Elephants are a hard rocking group of top notch musicians whose sound, at least in my humble opinion, is a combination of some ‘80’s metal, grunge and modern influences that just flat out rocks. They are lyrically superior to many acts on the circuit today with their main man, vocalist Andrews delivering them with an expressive style. Guitar work is superb, drums and bass are exceptional and the overall product is worth the price whether it’s downloaded, bought as a hard copy or seen live.
To find out more about the band, please go to http://emperorsandelephants.com/home .
Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 7:000pm EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.
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