UK Interview

Russell Pollard (guitar and sing)
Having rocked Hop Farm, we quizzed Everest:

Everest is a group of Los Angeles music community alumni and friends who decided to create music together. The band was formed by Russell Pollard (vocals, guitar, drums), J. Soda (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Rob Douglas (bass, vocals), and Joel Graves (guitar, keyboards, vocals), with the help of friend and drummer Davey Latter. Kevin Bronson of the Los Angeles Times observed that the band members “sport resumes longer than the intro to ‘Cortez The Killer’” and it’s true - these guys have spent time in bands such as Sebadoh, the Folk Implosion, Earlimart, Mike Stinson, Slydell, John Vanderslice, and the Watson Twins. When discussing the formation of the band with the members, one word seems to come up time and time again - natural. Shortly after the band began playing live in 2007, local press in Los Angeles began to pick up a vibration from the stage uncommon in the “scene.” The band’s collective touring experience, chemistry, and unabashed passion for playing was infectious. In August 2007, the band entered Elliott Smith’s former room, New Monkey Studio, to document the music. Ghost Notes was made on classic vintage equipment with producer/engineer Mike Terry (The Eagles, Foo Fighters) recording and mixing the entire album to analog tape. The album was recorded in two weeks, mixed in one week in November, and mastered one afternoon a few days later. The resultant album “Ghost Notes” is a stunning debut. From the gentle infectious melody of album opener “Rebels In the Roses” to the pulsing “Reloader”, from the brooding dischordant rock of “Black Covers” to the beautiful melancholy of album closer “Taking On the Future”, this is an album of harmony, melody and powerful songs… When the band signed with Vapor Records, the label presented them with a cake that said “Welcome Home Everest.” To Pollard, it was another step down a road he’d always hoped to be on. “I’d wanted to be on Vapor before I knew they might be interested. It’s Neil Young’s label, so obviously it was somewhere I wanted to be.”

How are you? Where does this Q&A find you?
I’m well thanks, in Los Angeles.

How did the recording sessions for your new release go?
We recorded at New Monkey Studio in Van Nuys, California with our friend Mike Terry at the console, producing. The studio is full of vintage gear and instruments and the vibe is really special, we worked together well in that environment. Most of the songs were cut live to tape. There were no computers involved, which was refreshing. No editing of a hundred drum takes or auto tuning vocals, just capturing music played by a band in a room.
Two cool New Monkey Facts: There is a baby owl that lives near the alley behind the studio and a Mexican eatery down the road called La Fogata that is the jam.

What goals did you set yourself before you started recording? Did you do anything differently this time, on purpose? why?
Ghost Notes is Everest’s debut, and our goal was to make an honest record. We were inspired by each other and we wanted to push ourselves to make something together that we could be proud of.

What do you feel are your own limitations when it comes to creating/writing music?
I spend a lot of time trying not to feel limitations. I could learn to be more patient.

Tell us 3 of your favourite songs from your career and the inspiration behind them?
This is not the most comfortable question to answer, but I commend you for putting some thought into it.
Rebels In The Roses- is very meaningful to me. Louisville, KY is the inspiration behind it.
Broken- is a song I wrote in a band called alaska!. A dream about a fox was the inspiration.
I See It In Your Eyes- Joel (our guitar player) and I wrote this song. The inspiration behind it is mystical.

What do you love and what do you hate about life on the road? Tell us your funniest tour experience yet?
I love playing every night, growing as a band. I hate the obvious, bad food, lack of proper sleep, hallucinations created by long drives and paranoid visions of highway tragedies. Our funniest tour experience occurred in Belgium on a night off. We stayed with our friend Steven who took us out for some strong Belgian beers. At the end of the night, we borrowed some stools from a local bar and carried them through the streets singing football songs at the top of our lungs on the way to Steven’s house.
The stools were chopped up and burned in his backyard where we sat back and warmed ourselves, told stories and ended the night in a drunken grass fight. Awesome!

What are the bands plans for the rest of the year? What exactly do you want to achieve with your band, now and in the future?
We’re touring quite a bit for the rest of the year. We’ll be out with Neil Young, Death Cab For Cutie and Wilco this fall. We’re playing the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco at the end of August and touring the American west coast for the week following that. I guess we’re doing what we want now and as far as the future is concerned, I try not to think too much about it.

How would you describe your own/bands sound, or what do you hate being labelled as?
We sound Warm. I don’t hate being labelled as anything.

Who is currently moving you musically at the moment?
Animal Collective-I really like the African influences that these guys reveal. Feels is such a great album.
Neil Young-I’ve been listening to On The Beach every night for the past week. I freak out on Revolution Blues every time.
Tartit-An ensemble that is nomadic. They roam the Saharan desert playing what is referred to as Tuareg Rock. Trance blues mixed with 60’s soul-funk-rock. All performed in head to toe robes.
Robert Palmer- Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley is a masterpiece. Came out in 1974. His version of Sailing shoes is soulful and segues into Hey Julia seamlessly. I would put this record in my top 10 without hesitation.
Other current listens; Wooden Shiips, M. Ward, My Morning Jacket, Free, Fairport Convention, Vetiver, United States Of America, The Misunderstood, Tomorrow, Clear Light, The Zombies, The Kinks, Black Sabbath, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Cash.

What album changed your life and why?
Kraftwerk-Radio-activity (1975)
I listened to this record for the first time after a friend had turned me onto Karlheinz Stockhausen. I had heard that this record paid homage to his work.
I put it on my turntable in a dark room and sat with my eyes closed. I had never really heard anything like it and after hearing it, I never viewed playing music the same way. It’s the exploration of radio waves in the electromagnetic spectrum, combined with pop hooks. Genius.

How do you see yourself altering the band and your sound in the future? is there anything you wish to attempt in the future that's inspiring you right now?
A band is a hard thing to control or alter and the future really doesn’t exist. We just want to create things. Produce music that we like, that’s honest, oh, and we really want to keep buying amps and guitars and keyboards and build upon the foundation of instruments that we use to shape the songs.

The revolution comes, who would you like to be first against the wall (and if you're feeling particularly bitchy, a second, third, fourth and so on...)?
I hope when the revolution comes that the concept of “The Wall” itself is shot down.

Best piece of advice you'd give to aspiring musicians, or the best piece of advice you were given when you started?
Don’t worry about what others think. What do you think?

If you're in a car going at the speed of light, and someone turns the headlamps on, would they do anything?
Sure. Unless they were broken, or maybe a fuse blew or they got covered in mud or fur.

1.Robert Palmer-Get Outside-The grove is amazing
2.Neil Young-Revolution Blues-It’s raw and unfiltered. The rhythm section smokes.
3.Django Reinhardt-Honeysuckle Rose-It makes me smile.
4.Bee Gees-I’ve Gotta Get a Message To You-Harmonies, sweet harmonies!
5.The Budos Band-Up From The South-It’s so classic sounding.

“Ghost Notes” is out on the through Vapor Records on the 4th August 2008. Vapor Records are distributed by ADA in the UK.