Interview: Elliott BROOD (Toronto)

Toronto power-folk trio Elliott Brood return with 4th LP Days Into Years: an introspective historical concept album breathing musical life into Canadian monuments found in European cities. Lead vocalist Mark Sasso shares his thoughts on recording in old army barracks, keeping his sweet voice fresh on tour and turning up the intensity. Days Into Years is available now.

Besides the fact that the song is melodically very strong and easily hummable, why choose “Hold You” as the single?

We weren’t really aware that a single was chosen  for the US release. Funny thing singles, as we view our songs much like chapters in a book, sure they stand up fine and well on their own but they become that much stronger when heard and digested as a whole when listening to the entire album.

Do you think there is a Canadian-ness to your music besides its historical content? If not, what are three words you would use to brand your work?

I believe there are elements of our music that are Canadian as that is where we live and spend a great portion of our time, so that tends to factor into what you see and write about. We tend to try and search outside of our everyday life to find inspiration and lean towards using a multitude of sources. All in all I guess I wouldn’t want our music to be seen or limited to just describing one geographic region.

I would describe our music as a “Badass Revival Meeting.”

Because this record was inspired by Canadian military history across the pond, do you plan to tour Europe again?

Ya, we are definitely heading back to Europe. Most likely in the Fall. We are quite eager to get back and keep building.

Some critics say this is a more mellow album compared to your previous work – do you agree/disagree and why?

Its hard to agree or disagree really. Much like our previous records the albums float through an array of emotions. But I do think this album has some of our fuller/louder songs that we’ve written. Hold You, If I get Old and Will They Bury Us? are all pretty intense songs.

How do you manage to infuse the record with the same energy and earnest you deploy on stage?

As with all of our albums we’ve tried to capture as pure a moment as possible when recording. As such we’ve always recorded live off the floor. Its not to say we don’t over dub instruments but we feel that we all need to be playing and feeling the song together as a band to get the right energy.

How did your last US tour go and what do you expect on this upcoming one? Any spots you’re looking forward to?

Our last tour in the US was pretty good. We had an amazing time touring with our friends The Wooden Sky. We are really looking forward to getting back to the Pacific North West. Seattle and Portland specifically got on board early. We have made some great friends as a result of KEXP and Pickathon. As a result we have amazing shows up there.

10 years ago you started out finding success on the campus circuit, do you find your audience is growing with you or has it changed over time?

It feels as though our audience has grown along with us. It blows my mind when people come up to you to tell you that this is their 10 or 12th time seeing you and that they’ve since converted all of their family and friends into fans.

Was recording in army barracks in rural Ontario important? A statement? A happy accident? How did this location affect the sound of the tracks recorded there?

Recording in the old barracks was a total accident as it is now a town hall. It had been moved there 50yrs previous from an abandoned army base. Our initial reason for recording there was for the room sound and the fact that it had two five pin bowling lanes in the basement. We discovered its original purpose after reading the photo history in the basement. The building factors heavily into the song “Owen Sound”

My favorite song is “West End Sky” because the vocals sound more fragile – it adds another dimension to the record. What is it about?

West End Sky is essentially a breakup song. Its about two people who can’t figure out how to keep it together. I liked the idea of weather describing the relationship. Kind of about things continuously getting better and worse in cycles

How does Mark keep his voice fresh on long tours?

Not sure really, rest is good but we don’t get much of that while on tour. Long drive days and late nights in clubs don’t help. One plus that has definitely helped in the last few years has been the absence of smoking in clubs.

Thoughts?