Elephant Revival(ER) played a sold out show on April 13, 2017 at Woodlands Tavern in Columbus, Ohio. Supported by opening act, The Dead Horses, they presented a 90 minutes plus set that showcased their instrumental skills & lush harmonies. I arrived early and was able to catch their sound check. I was scheduled to interview Daniel Rodriguez, guitarist & vocalist for ER. While waiting, I spied Bonnie Paine grabbing a chair & her cello & heading out back to practice. I enjoyed listening for about a half hour until Daniel became available. We then headed for the bus for the interview(see below).
The show was magical. Dead Horses opened. Based out of Wisconsin, Dead Horse got the evening started right away with their folk styled sound that was a perfect lead in for Elephant Revival. Their set drew the audience in from the beginning and never let up. There were 2 new songs in their set, “Flight Patterns Weather” & “Snowman” and I got to hear one of my favorites “Grace Of A Woman”. They did a 90 minutes set and a 2 song encore. After they left the stage, the crowd kept chanting for one more song. After a few minutes, Elephant Revival obliged and came back out to perform “Good Graces” acoustically in front of the stage. Dead Horses joined in on all the encore fun as well. What a great night of music.
Tom Wickstrom: I’m interviewing Daniel Rodrigues from Elephant Revival. How did the band name come about?
Daniel Rodriguez: The name came from Dan Rose, who plays bass and sometimes mandolin in the band. He was in Chicago & busking outside the elephant cage at the Lincoln Park Zoo. There were 3 elephants in the cage that had been there fr about 15 years. The Salt Lake City Zoo called them and asked if they had an elephant to spare because they didn’t have one. The Lincoln Park Zoo said sure and shipped the elephant to Salt Lake City. While taking the elephant to Salt Lake City, the elephant died presumably due to the separation from the other elephants. Within a few weeks, the other elephants died also. Big elephants typically survive in the wild but the only world they knew was inside the cage and the bond the elephants had with each other and the separation tore them apart. The name came from that experience & story. Before the band we all knew each other but were living in different parts of the country. It was about getting us all together. Kind of a sad story in a way.
TW: You’ve had the same lineup for the last 3 or 4 years with the exception of Darren Garvey. How long has Darren been with you?
DR: Almost exactly 1 year. His first show was Red Rocks last year.
TW: As far as songwriting goes, do you write together or separate?
DR: We mostly write separately. We’ll each bring different things to the band. If a song need to be arranged differently for the bands sake, that input can come from anyone. There have been a few pieces we’ve written together and there’s been a lot of co-writes where 2 or 3 band members will work on a piece.
TW: Do you ever get political in your songwriting?
DR: I definitely have songs I’ve written that get sort of political or opinionated. We don’t try to get too political on the microphone but sometimes have political undertones in a song. Because it could easily divide your audience and our whole objective is to bring everyone together and have an experience. Sometimes people get a little too left-brained when you get political.
TW: I caught your performance in March at the Anastasia Festival & saw the special bond you have with Fruition. They jammed with ER and visa versa. How did you guys meet?
DR: We shared a booking agent with the Shook Twins, who we had been friends with for a decade or so. When we would have a gig in Portland, we would stay with the Shook Twins. They were friends with Fruition. One night after a show in Portland, we went back to their house at 3am. They invites Fruition & Brad Parsons over. They came over, played music and we jammed together. From the moment we heard their harmonies and the drinking of PBR’s, we’ve been friends ever since.
TW: Any other bands you share a musical bond with?
DR: Obviously the Shook Twins. The Deer out of Austin Texas, Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon & Heywood Banks also come to the top of my head.
TW: You’ve played a lot of places. Have you been out of the country yet?
DR: Yes, we’ve toured Ireland, Scotland, England & Wales and we’re about to go to Czechoslovakia.
TW: What are your favorite places to play?
DR: Playing Scotland & Ireland was special. The shows were packed and the integrity of the listener was awesome. It was pin drop silence during the songs, but as soon as the song was over, the applause was uproarious & ecstatic. The shows over there were phenomenal. We’d love to do Australia sometime also. As far as a specific venue, Red Rocks is one we look forward to every year. Nothing tops the experience of playing Red Rocks.
TW: Do you have any new music coming out?
DR: We have tons of new songs we’re excited about. I wish we could do a 30 song album. There’s so much stuff that we can’t wait to share.
TW: Have you road tested any of the new songs?
DR: We have been trying them out. We rehearse some of them at sound check. We’ll probably play some tonight. Tonight feels like a night where we’ll try a lot of new stuff.
TW: Tell me about the bus fire last year.
DR: We had flown into Nashville, got on the bus and grove all night to Hickory, NC where we were playing. About 8:30am Dan Rose woke up & smelled smoke and then Bonnie woke & started yelling smoke, which woke me up. I opened my eyes and the blankets at the foot of the bed were raging on fire. I had been sleeping in the fetal position so luckily I didn’t get burned. We all quickly got off the bus in only our underwear. Our bus driver went back in and tried to put it out but couldn’t. We watched smoke pouring out of the bus. The fire department came & Fox News was also there. Everything was a complete loss including a lot of unique musical instruments we had collected over the years. Even though we lost everything, you realize you don’t really need anything to be happy. It was like starting from scratch. Sort of liberating in a way.
TW: What has music taught you about yourself?
DR: It’s taught me a lot about space, vulnerability, courage & really just how to listen. Choosing how to speak or not to speak. Sometimes silence in certain moments is more powerful than trying to express something. Yeah, music has taught me a lot.
TW: Is there anything you want to say or tell your fans?
DR: Just that we’re in it for the long haul. We can’t stop doing this. We have tons of music we’re excited to share with everyone.
Here’s the link to all the pictures I posted from the show on Facebook: