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Elephants in Mud: Bear hunting and space echo rock n’ roll
By EA Poorman
Fort Wayne Reader
Elephants in Mud have been around in some form or the other for nearly 10 years. That's a lot longer than this music journalist thought. I wasn't aware of these indie/dub rockers till just a couple years ago when they graced the cover of another local publication and won some awards for this, that, and the other. Three dudes making more noise than three dudes should be allowed to make, their brand of rastafarian rock and indie jangle is a beast unto its own. Something like Archers of Loaf getting busy with a bottle of Cuervo Gold, some herb, and Bob Marley and the Wailers' Exodus. They recently released their newest(and best) record yet, the excellent Machinery&Scene&Sound. Jared Mud took some time to talk to me about the band, the new album, and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
"I can't think of any better motivator in life than Sir Anthony Hopkins screaming "WHAT ONE MAN CAN DO, ANOTHER CAN DO!!!" in your face over and over again," says Jared Mud when I ask him about the sample used on "Foxes(Slight Return),” the new album's closer. "I wanna hire him to just walk around with me and scream that in my face at certain points throughout the day. I'm talking, like, inches from my face. As loud as he can muster. With royal spittle just flying everywhere. Everybody has a bear that needs killing." Maybe not so in the literal sense (unless maybe your an Inuk living in the wilds of Canada), but this could be taken more as a metaphor for life. I sit down and talk to Jared just as they're readying for some shows in support of their new bear-slaying soundtrack Machinery&Scenery&Sound. "We recorded Machinery&Scenery&Sound last summer at Megastation Studio, which is in the basement of our friend TJ Walstrom's house here in Fort Wayne. We wanted this album to sound fairly live, so we limited ourselves on the amount of takes and overdubs per song. It's easy to lose the feeling of a song when you do 1,000 takes of it and bury it in crazy overdubs. So that's why this album sounds more raw. We did it pretty quickly, it just took longer to mix because we all left town after we made it, so there was this huge gap in the process. Oh, and I got to use an original '73 Roland Space Echo on ‘Stoop’ when I came back to mix. So it was hard not to just dub everything into outer space."
In comparison to previous releases, the album is definitely more of a raw, rough-around-the-edges affair. Lots of distorted vocals, crackling, jangly guitars, and big drums make it something of a beat up gem. "Well, like you said, it's a lot more raw,” Jared says. “It's darker and heavier, but still weird and fun. Like a serial killer on the loose at a super fun beach party. And people are still doing the surf rock hand claps even though they know the end could be near. And there's a guy sitting in the lifeguard chair just putting way too much space echo on everything." You can never have too much space echo in my opinion. But enough from me, what about influences on the sound of M&S&S? "While we were on tour last spring, our pal Steve introduced us to Burger Records while he was cooking us a delicious breakfast. Eggs, bacon, and home fries I believe it was. It kind of triggered something in all of us and reminded us that music isn't supposed to sound perfect. The weird little deformities often become the most beautiful part of a song. It just made us discover a whole new plethora of music that we instantly loved because it reminded us of the music that we grew up with. Rock n' roll. So thanks, Steve. And thanks Burger."
Pass some of those home fries this way, son. What? Oh, sorry. So how does the songwriting process go with a band of ruffians like EiM? "Usually, Jon and I will show each other songs or bits we've each been working on and then we'll take them to Lynn and get the actual parts down so we can play them live and eventually record them. Something like that."
On the subject of songwriting, I wondered aloud how these guys have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time, and whether there's another album already conceived and waiting to be released on an unsuspecting public. "Actually, I've been doing this band for almost 10 years. I started E.i.M. in 2004 with my friend Tom Robertson while we were juniors in high school. We moved to San Diego right after graduation and I stayed there til 2009. Then I came back to Fort Wayne and hooked up with Jon and Lynn. And they've both been playing music forever too." And on songs not yet released? "Jon and I both have a nice fat stack of songs that we are stoked to finish up and put on the next album. The next album is gonna be so fun. And bizarre. I can't wait."
Jared promises EiM will be hitting the road to promote M&S&S as well. "Yes, we're going to hit all the states we can. And then form new states so we can hit those too." I like this guy. He's got moxie. You have to have moxie to name your band Elephants in Mud, which comes from where? "The name Elephants in Mud comes from Chapter 23 of The Dhammapada. "Be not thoughtless, watch your thoughts! Draw yourself out of the evil way, like an elephant sunk in mud."
I'm not sure what the Dali Lama would have to say about killing bears, but I imagine it would be hilarious. Either way, I asked Jared one last question before I slumped back to my one bedroom apartment located in a sad apartment complex just off Parnell and nowhere in particular. Where does he see Elephants in Mud in five years? "In a slightly nicer van."
Spoken like a guy that's slept in a van more than his fair share. Now get on out and buy a copy of Elephants in Mud new long player Machinery&Scenery&Sound. Grab it at either Neat Neat Neat Records or Wooden Nickel. Or both. You can also download it directly from their Bandcamp page at elephantsinmud.bandcamp.com/album/machinery-scenery-sound.
Help make their dream of a nicer van a reality. And see them on a local stage near you. Check live dates out at facebook.com/elephantsinmud.