Entertainment Features

Elliott BROOD Town And Country Tour Comes to The Warehouse

Elliott BROOD Town And Country Tour Comes to The Warehouse

By David DeRocco                            dave@gobeweekly.com  https://twitter.com/?lang=en 

There are a lot of talented Canadian bands out there who often fly under the radar, undetected by people who only listen to radio or to their own curated playlists. That’s too bad, because they often miss the opportunity to fall in love with great bands like ELLIOT BROOD. For the past 20 years, this eclectic three-piece has been producing its own brand of highly infectious and stylish music that demands attention. In celebration of their 20 year career, the band has produced two excellent new albums, TOWN (released in November) and COUNTRY (release date this April) that provide a comprehensive mix of the alt rock/roots/country/banjo-infused hybrid that has earned members Casey Laforet, Mark Sasso, and Stephen Pitkin legions of fans across the country.

In anticipation of the band’s show at The Warehouse in St. Catharines, Casey took time to chat with GoBeWeekly.com about the new albums, the past 20 years, and the future of Elliott BROOD.

GoBe: You’re touring Canada in February. You need to have a chat with your management.

Casey: It’s funny you say that. This is our 20th year of touring the country and we’ve definitely done less of it in the winter. I will knock on wood. We’ve been pretty lucky with the February weather we’ve seen so far.

GoBe: It has in fact been 20 years since you’re debut EP Tin Type came out. Reflecting on a career that’s now into its third decade, what stands out to you? What’s that immediate visceral thought that comes to mind about the past 20 years?

Casey: I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Mostly everything we’ve been able to see that I never thought I would see or that I never would have if I hadn’t gotten into this band. We now have friends all across the country and around the world we’ve known for 20 years just because we get to do this. Canada is a gigantic country and we’ve crisscrossed it multiple times. To feel at home everywhere is pretty cool. And obviously to be able to play music for a living is great because you don’t make a lot of money doing it.

GoBe: I say that all the time. You should pick up and learn an instrument because you’ve always got an immediate affinity with somebody somewhere. Has that been your experience?

Casey: Absolutely. The universal language thing is absolutely true. Just to know the language of music a little bit – you don’t have to even know how to read it, just to be immersed in it. Teach yourself, learn on your own. It’s definitely something that brings people together.

GoBe: For you, or maybe the band collectively, what were the original goals or dreams when you made that first transition from guys who practiced hard to learn how to play instruments to professional musicians recording albums as a job?

Casey: I still remember that. We did our first tour out west in 2004. And then we came home and went back to our jobs. We got a call to come back and for a little while in the beginning we had to manage our band and our jobs and going on tour. I had a great boss that let me go whenever I needed to. It made the beginning very doable. We’re not rich now but we definitely weren’t rich then. To me, half the love I have is the travel and the driving. I don’t think we had lofty expectations of what would happen. After the first tour it was just like, we want to go back and do that again. I don’t think we had an end goal. Twenty years ago if we knew we’d still be doing it I think we’d be pretty satisfied. Along the way we’ve had some benchmarks, like playing at Massey Hall, the Commodore in Vancouver, sharing the stage with bands we love. I always said we’d do it as long as possible and here we are 20 years later.

GoBe: And probably while it’s still fun. You probably wouldn’t be doing it if you didn’t enjoy each other’s company and the music you’re making.

Casey: Absolutely. We’ve been a three-piece since the beginning. It makes it a nice little democracy. We fight like brothers, we’re friends like brothers. Our visions don’t stray too far from each other musically. I don’t think it would have worked if that was the case. We look at it like a three-way marriage we’ve been in for 20 years.

GoBe: A three-way marriage sounds like a good idea but in practice it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be.

Casey: (Laughing) On paper, yes. We’re all partners in this. We all profit equally from whatever profits come in. We’re all 100% invested in making it work. And we love what we’re doing.

GoBe: When did the two album Town and Country concept first start to take root? Was this a product of COVID?

Casey: These songs mostly started at the end of COVID. But the idea for Town and Country kind of came from both sides of what we do as a band. We have a louder rock and roll kind of side, and a softer, mellower acoustic banjo kind of side. The original concept was to put all the loud songs on the Town side and all the country style songs on the Country side. It’s basically companion albums that go together. I use the analogy of Guns and Roses Use Your Illusion 1 and 2.

GoBe: That’s a good analogy. When I was listening to them going back and forth, I was surprised that the Country album kicks off with a rocker, “Wind and Snow,” into a cover of one of my favourite Stones tunes, “Out of Time.”

Casey: It’s funny you mention the Stones one. I never knew the Stones version. Del Shannon covered that song on an 80s album he made with Tom Petty, and that’s the version I always reference. It’s been going over really well at live shows.

GoBe: Who helped guide the production of these albums. Did you self-produce?

Casey: Yes. Steve our drummer is our engineer. I do a lot of work out in Los Angels where I live ahead of time, I guess pre-production. Everything on these albums is the three of us, other than remastering. That’s generally how we’ve worked over the years. We generally know what we want. We’ll bring in songs and by the time they wind up on a record we’ve all had a hand in them.

GoBe: They’re both really good. For me I think my favourite song from both is “Paper Money.” I don’t know why but I love it.

Casey: Thanks. I think that’s my favourite as well. I love 70s country. I wanted to write something poignant and clever. I hope that’s what that does. It’s also been going over well live.

GoBe: What does success look like for you upon the release of both these albums. What would be the bar for the band?

Casey: Well we sort of have seen it on this tour already. Just literally being able to do it at an independent level is a success. The fact that we are maintaining our families – we all have partners that help us do that. But one of the cool things about now being out here for 20 years is seeing some people’s kids at the shows. They were sort of raised to our music and almost force fed it. Their parents are bringing 16, 17, 18-year-olds out to the shows. We met a kid the other night named Elliott after the band. He was 15 and he came to the show in London. That’s pretty cool to see the next generation come out to a show and ask for an autograph.

GoBe: Whenever I talk to artists I ask about that surreal connection fans have to a band’s music, unbeknownst to you until you meet them and then they weave you a story of what your music means to them.

Casey: Until it’s in your face you don’t really think about it. Some of these songs mean a lot to people’s lives, as do many songs to me. I have my own soundtrack of the bands I grew up loving. Some of these songs are on their playlists of their lives. They played them at their weddings, their divorces, all the life events. That’s pretty reassuring to know your music means something.

GoBe: What’s been the biggest challenge for the band making music in Canada. What’s industry support, or lack of support, been like for the band? What’s the relationship been like with radio and record labels.

Casey: We’re back with Six Shooter. We’re sort of prodigal sons. We left the label and came back. Labels have always been supportive. We’ve never been a band you’ll hear on regular mainstream radio. I fully understand. I don’t think we fit a lot of those formats. The CBC has always been good to us. Satellite radio has always been good to us. There’s always challenges. The whole streaming industry that has come in, there’s not a lot of money from digital sales. You lose that secondary income. Somehow, we’ve managed to eke our way through with satellite play and college play. We were just talking about this. How do you keep it going? Our fans are not getting younger. It’s hard for people to come out who’ve been coming to our shows for 20 years. The challenges change. Everything is way more expensive. Gas is more expensive. In Canada it’s not easy. The drives are eight hours between major centres. One of the things we’ve been doing over the past few years is starting to hit all the smaller places. We do really well outside of big cities. Fans are a lot more engaged.

GoBe: What’s your hope for 2024. What’s the best case for you.

Casey: The best case scenario is we keep doing what we’re doing. We get hired to play more clubs wherever they are, and we can get another album out. I’m the youngest one in the band at 47, so every record we get to make and every trip we get to make to go see friends is just a blessing.

GoBe: For fans who may never have seen the band live, what would you say to them to get them out to The Warehouse February 28th.

Casey: Give the banjo a chance. (laughs). Just take a risk. It’s like you said. Once you get a taste for it, you’ll want to see and hear more. I think what we try and do is bring a lot of energy, bring a lot of fun. It’s like a kitchen party where there’s no difference between the stage and the audience. We’re just trying to have a great time together.    (Photo credits Dustin Seabrook)


Looking for things to do in Niagara? Need Niagara event listings? Searching for Niagara’s best entertainment, music and theatre? Want to search Niagara concert listings? Before you GO out, BE informed. Log onto https://gobeweekly.com/.