Getting to Know: Everest
by Cameron Bird | 09.17.2008
Orphaned, creatively malnourished and looking for a place to stay, the five men of Everest recently gained entry into a very, very fine house. Inside, an adoptive father led them to the kitchen and offered them something far more caloric than bread and far sweeter than wine. This sagacious Daddy Warbucks, none other than rock patriarch Neil Young, reached from within and doled out a rare nugget of wisdom.
“Do what you want and if you persevere, then hopefully you’ll make a living,” said guitarist and keyboardist Jason Soda, paraphrasing Young’s admonition to the Los Angeles band. “You know, as opposed to, ‘In ten months, if you don’t do this or that, you’re on the fucking sidewalk.’”
And so, in January, little orphan Everest inked its initials on a contract with Young’s indie-minded Vapor Records, joining a family whose sibling membership includes Tegan & Sara, Jonathan Richman and Acetone. After more than a year of going at it alone, the quintet welcomed the artist-friendly terms just as graciously as Young welcomed the band into his inner confines. In an industry undemocratized by “band as brand” deals, in which labels control and profit from every artistic impulse, Young vowed never to turn Everest on its head and shake out its pockets.
Ghost Notes is the band’s first release under this safe and secure roof. It’s an effortless and unshowy collection of largely acoustic-driven alt-rock that has been fairly—though oversimplistically—bracketed with the entirety of that genre. The truth is, in order to pursue this new old-fashioned dream of theirs, Russell Pollard, Jason Soda, Derek Brown, Rob Douglas and Joel Graves have ducked out from many of the acts with which they are associated: Earlimart, Sebadoh, The Folk Implosion, John Vanderslice and The Watson Twins, to name just a few.
Just as the stars of those bands were getting legitimately dizzy off their fame fumes, the contact high was tapering off for the future members of Everest. Second-hand drunkenness, they learned, is both a tall order and a tall tale. “Our experiences in other bands have shown us what we don’t want to do and has made really clear what we want to do to be happy,” said Soda, who previously toured with The Watson Twins, flanked by Everest’s lead singer, guitarist and sometimes-drummer, Russell Pollard.
Since the beginning in 2007, everyone in Everest has been indispensable to the songwriting process, and the harmonious results have taken their toll.
Self-induced tear tracks do mean something: synchronicity. Despite Pollard’s request for “time to make this right” on “Trees,” the second track of Ghost Notes, Everest doesn’t need any deadline extensions. “It’s getting to that point where we can go into a room and things just start to happen,” said Pollard. “There’s a creative flow that I haven’t really felt in other bands because we didn’t even have a shot at input.”
Instead of scooping scraps off the floor, Everest is taking a collective seat at the adult table. And like the faucet in Neil Young’s kitchen, the pressure is off, and yet, crystalline creativity streams forth.
Can you hear that? It’s the sound of friends punctuating each other’s contributions, lighting each other’s fires and placing flowers in the vase on the proverbial windowsill.