The Easton Ellises are a four-man band from Montreal, Canada. Their polished yet wild sound is the result of the collision between punchy electronic music and fierce rock'n'roll. Following two brilliant studio EPs and a maxi-single, and after 12 months in the making, they are finally back with NIGHTWAVS, released exclusively on Jamendo. Taking their explosive dance/rock even further, this 4-track piece marks an evolution for the band, who delivers refreshing and varied tunes, from 80s synth-rock to funky disco. There's one thing that doesn't change, though: we're still addicted!
Get to know the band with the interview they gave us before the release of NIGHTWAVS.
- Hi guys! First of all, can you tell us who The Easton Ellises are and what brought you together as a band?
Simon and I are best friends since schooldays. We met back when Simon was studying music and I was studying visual arts. We have since been making music together for the past twenty years, playing with many different bands going from psychedelic music to punk-rock, experimental to progressive house.
In 1999 we formed a band called Stereomovers, which took us on a long musical journey. We played abroad in important music festivals and parties in the United States, Europe and Asia. We also released a dozen twelve inch record with respected electronic music labels from both side of the Atlantic.
We eventually got tired of playing clubs and raves at 6am. We wanted to create a pop album. So we spent 5 years mostly working in studio with a renowned producer, perfecting the art of song writing and production. But when too many people are involved in a project, many problems occur and everything becomes hard to deal. That’s why, in September of 2011, we decided to place the Stereomovers project in a box on the top shelf and turn the page. We chose to move onto a new project in which we would have more control of what we wanted do with our music and so the Easton Ellises were born.
- Is there a story behind your band name and your logo (two symbols intertwined - "play" and "infinity")?
Searching for a new band’s name was a headache! Especially these days, it seems like all the names have already been taken by other artists somewhere on the planet. That’s why, instead of using words in the dictionary, we tried to invent one. We always loved band’s name inspired by known personalities, a bit like the "Dandy Warhols", “Kasabian” or “Franz Ferdinand”, bands that influenced our sound a lot.
Also a long-time fan of American novelist Bret Easton Ellis, we decided to play a little with his name to give the "Easton Ellises". His novels and his writing fit perfectly with our musical style. Sex, drugs & rock n roll!
For the logo, graphic designer Dom Prevost was inspired by the architecture of Los Angeles, the birthplace of Bret Easton Ellis. We wanted something both complex and structured with a little touch of 80s. Dom really hit right on target.
- Your music is an interesting mix of rock and electronic influences, which makes for a really unique (and addictive) sound. How did you come up with that 'Easton Ellisian' genre?
Ha ha ha, thanks for the kind words! We grew up listening to the music of the 60s and 70s. Our first band was influenced by progressive and psychedelic rock. In our teenage years, we were huge fans of the Britpop movement. Bands such as Oasis, Stone Roses, Suede, Blur and Kula Shaker have played a major role in our musical direction. Still today, we listen to a lot of new British bands.
In the early 2000s, we started going out in clubs and big indoors parties. Then we discovered electronic music and started listening to Underworld, Orbital, Kraftwerk, Chemical Brothers and many Global Underground DJ mixes. There was something different from rock music that fascinated us, the rhythm, the sound, the mechanical groove. That was the moment we decided to sell our guitars and drums to buy samplers and sequencers.
- Can you tell us more about the creative process of crafting your music? Who writes the lyrics, composes, produces the music etc.? Is the work divided in the band?
We compose everything and record all the ideas in our studio, Le Bunker. We usually start with a vocal melody. We want to find the hook first. Then everything is built around that. Once the melodies are found, we make sure we have the proper tempo and the right key. Sometimes the idea is first recorded on an acoustic guitar. Then we replace it by synths or electric guitars. Once the form is done, Simon works the synthesizers and rhythms. I work on the lyrics and spend most of time on the production. After that, we open a bottle of wine and share our ideas. Then we work on the details of the song, the clever bits. While we produce the song in the studio, Gerald, our guitarist and Luc, our bassist work their parts to add a human feel to the songs.
At the very end, we turn on the amps and play it. It’s at this moment that we know if it really works. If it does, we rent studios with analog gears and huge consoles and record everything. Then we finalize the song in our bunker before sending it to the mix and mastering. Good takes on professional equipment is the key to a good sound and is also easier to mix and master!
|EP: One||Dance It, Dance All||EP: Two|
- What would be your best advice on how to create a song (writing, composing, recording)?
Hooks. What you want is something that sticks in the head at the first listening. It can be a vocal melody as any other instrument. It doesn’t matter, what matters is something you can sing along.
- Is there a particular theme behind the lyrics of your songs?
Yes, usually lyrics speak of impossible love, feminine beauty and artificial joys. We want nothing too depressive or dark. I did not want to talk about conspiracy or corruption, its got to be a party to make people dance.
For example, the first song of the upcoming EP “Stay” talks about a "magical moment" that you wished you could stay in forever. We try as much as possible to be positive in our lyrics.
- You make electronic/dance/rock music, but do you listen to other genres? What are your main influences, your favorite artists/bands? And what is your favorite tune at the moment?
We actually listen to a lot of different music genres. From rockabilly to techno, from britpop to downtempo, Arabian to jazz, etc... But our main influences are indie rock, britpop and electronic music. It's really hard to actually name bands that inspire us because there are so many of them!
- If you could invite one artist to collaborate with in the studio or on stage, who would it be, and why?
I think if we had to choose one, for studio and stage, it would be Noel Gallagher, former Oasis. This guy knows how to write hit songs, he’s a great melodist, songwriter and has musicianship. He also worked with electronic artists, such as The Chemical Brothers. It would be like going back to University for a PhD.
- If I'm not wrong, you're currently preparing an upcoming EP... Can you tell us more about this project?
Yes, we’ve been working on that EP for quite a while. Many songs have been written for that EP but only 4 have been selected. They all have a different groove and a different style. This time we record everything on analog consoles for a fatter and more authentic tone. It is also the first EP as a four man’s band. The first song, Stay is an up-tempo song that reminds Duran Duran in the mid 90s. Fall for you; the second one is an infectious guitar riff influenced by Nile Rodgers. It is a kind of electro-funky-rock. The third song, Falcon 69 is more spacey with a guitar theme reminding of Ennio Morricone. And the last one, Artificial Joy is a song with a much more complex form and a slower groove. Dom Prevost is the guy behind the artwork again.
- I am pretty sure your music goes to a whole other dimension when played live. Do you have any live memories or anecdotes you would like to share ?
Of course it is much more intense and loud on stage. Nothing compares to a show. For each and every live show, our mission is to get the crowd dancing.
I remember that show in Asia back in 2004, if my memory serves me right. We gave an exterior show in the mountains of Malaysia. It was in the middle of a jungle so the weather was hot and the vegetation dense. During the soundcheck, and between songs, we could hear the monkeys or maybe it was parrots. I don’t really know what it was but Canadian wildlife doesn’t sound like that.!
- Let's get inventive for last question: choose one place (beach, club, countryside...), one color, one element (fire, water, wind...), and one animal that would best describe your music.
Not an easy one! But I think the one that would describe the most our music would be a road by the ocean with the wind in the hair and foot on the gas. Complete feeling of freedom and wellness.
As for an animal, well, it could be a cat because they combine glamour, agility, night vision and they are skilled hunters plus grumpy cat of course.
The Easton Ellises - Falcon 69 - Video by Joshua Sikora