A Chat With: The Elwins
Toronto pop rock band The Elwins stopped to play a show in Montreal during their fall tour promoting their third full length album: Beauty Community. I had a chat with Travis Stokl (drums), Frankie Figliomeni (bassist) and Feurd (guitarist/keyboardist) about their complicated relationship with Taylor Swift, who comes up with the most dad jokes and of course, they tell me all about the new album!
photo: by Vanessa Heins
I want to start off talking about all the stories you’ve been posting with Taylor Swift stuff, how much do you love her, like what’s the deal?
Frankie: We have a complicated relationship with her
Feurd: Especially within the different band members, there’s conflicting views on Taylor in the band. I, personally think she’s got some great music, she’s got some jams that I love jamming to. The new record is not jazzing me super hard so far but I havent listened to the whole thing yet and I look forward to that.
Travis: I’ve never been a fan and I don’t think I will be...Frankie?
Feurd: Frankie has the most complicated relationship with her because he’s been saving himself for marriage for Taylor.
Frankie: Exactly, and that’s what makes it so hard! When I was such a huge fan, loved her older music and these past couple records I’ve seen her slowly drift from what I enjoyed, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you know, you still care about the person but you also don’t really enjoy what they’re currently doing. Its tough to say, its like losing a family member.
Feurd: Yeah, and its been hard for us because we’re always trying to get Frankie to get out there and date and meet people but he always says ‘i’m saving myself for Taylor’ so that can be frustrating sometimes.
What about a Taylor look alike?
Feurd: We’ve tried that!
What’s some of your favourite song of hers?
Frankie: Fifteen, Story Of Us, Dear Stephen, Teardrops On My Guitar
Yeah, like those two first albums
Frankie: Yeah! I thought it was cool when she put out whatever her first big one was and people were like ‘oh she’s just co-writing with other people’ and then on the next one she wrote everything by herself. I thought that was a cool move.
You guys have been on the road a lot, how do you keep it fun?
Feurd: We try to find hotels with pools
Frankie: We’ve been watching some shows together. We really like watching Nathan For You.
Feurd: That’s an amazing show! But yeah, hot tubs and pools-we found one kind of weird, broken down resort hotel we stayed in Wisconsin, it had a mini waterpark and basketball nets so we ended up playing basketball for a few hours.
Frankie: We were surprisingly tired the next day
Feurd: Exhausted! Exercise is good
Travis: Indian restaurants too
Frankie: Yeah, we’ve eaten at like 6 Indian restaurants so far
Feurd: I seek out good coffee because I like good coffee. Like a coffee adventure, a little me time you know?
Frankie: Yeah, its fun finding little things like that to do so it's not just waking up, going to the venue and doing soundcheck and go the show and then go to sleep.
And what’s some music you have to listen to when you’re driving?
Frankie: We always like listening to Dawes when we drive
Feurd: Really good driving band for sure! Um, we’ve been listening to the new Glorious Sons record which is pretty cool. I discovered an artist Tove Styrke, this Swedish singer and I’m liking that right now.
Frankie: Travis showed me an EP today
Travis: Rory Lavelle, the Cassini EP. Its about a real life satellite going to Saturn I think and it speaks about humanity, its cool.
Frankie: It has some great lyrics!
Feurd: There’s many more but Dawes is a staple. Every tour we have multiple Dawes days
Frankie: The Dawes days are not over ahaha
You guys often post puns and jokes on social media, do you guys joke around a lot?
Feurd: Yeah, we’re very jokey on each other
Travis: Its part of the joking, we definitely like puns, each of us are quite quick witted and we like to share those sort of things. Sometimes they're original and other times we just find them and post them
Feurd: All the dad jokes and puns on Twitter are all courtesy of Travis, he can take 100% credit and praise!
Has any Toronto or other Canadian bands influenced the new record?
Frankie: I really enjoyed Born Ruffians music. I think they’re really great songwriters in general. I dont know if the sound of their records directly influenced how ours sounds but in terms of songwriting they’re always a band that inspired me or motivated me.
Feurd: Totally! I think Born Ruffians and Tokyo Police Club are two bands that we’ve always admired their songwriting. And like Frankie said, the sound isn’t so informed by them but they’re definitely the people who have influenced us and have been great friends of ours. Its great to have friends in the music industry and you can learn from them and enjoy their company and experience.
You have a lyric video series coming out, talk to me a bit about that
Feurd: So, we kind of were like ‘what’s something simple we can make for each video to make a lyric video?’ and we thought about making it in New Market, the town where we all met. We thought of doing it as a one-shot thing which would’ve been crazy because it would’ve been a 42 minutes one-shot video but we wanted to get it done really quick. Slowly the idea expanded and it kept getting bigger and bigger and we thought maybe New Market would want us to do this. We started talking to the town and they were really excited about it and got on board and helped us get all this stuff. They got us to shoot all night in the mall, like the middle of the night when it was closed and we had a drone in the mall and wearing heelys hahah. We got to do a bunch of cool stuff. So yeah! It's a work in progress but it's a video for each song and we’re starting to release them which we’re excited about.
Your last album was in 2015, why did you guys take this much time to make this album?
Feurd: You know, it takes some time to make a record sometimes. This one did take us a while and that’s something we’re always conscious of. Between our first one and second it was even longer. We’re trying to shorten it up, we’re already thinking ‘okay we gotta tour on this record and have lots of fun but we have to start writing again, let’s start making our plans’. We want to keep ripping the tunes out into the world! I guess it just took a while to make the record and figure out how we wanted to release it and stuff like that.
Frankie: Its a funny balance where I feel like going into this one we were very conscious of not wanting to take too long but then in some ways we didn’t have a united front going into it, that also prolonged it in a lot of ways but we’re really excited to start working on the next one now.
The album is very fun, was it as fun making it?
Feurd: It was definitely both. There were fun moments and hard moments where you’re stuck on something or not everyone agrees and there’s moments where everyone’s really excited about it. We definitely wanted to make a fun record where people would have fun listening to it. Its something we’re conscious of because that’s the type of band that we are, we like to make music that people can enjoy and coming to the shows is gonna be energetic. But yeah, definitely a mix of fun and hard times. It's a complex thing making a record!
Frankie: Even though there were some weird or hard times making it, its cool to be at the end of the creative process and seeing that we’re all still together and made something together. It makes up for any weird vibes.
What’s the worst thing that happened during the process?
Feurd: I guess just being in the middle of the process and wondering if you’re doing it the right way. Which is, I mean it's a big thing making a record its like, you put it out there and its there for the rest of your life! That was probably the hardest thing and just having to think about that and then making your way through it.
Frankie: Yeah, its like we’re four different people who are pretty involved in what we’re making, its different opinions so it can be tough in that way but its cool that we successfully created something together.
On the album, Your Very Own Beauty Community is an instrumental, why did you decide to include that in the album?
Travis: We just wanted to try to make an instrumental cause we had never done one. We talked about it in the past but never got around to it and then when we were in the last parts of making the album, we tried to do it and to see if it breaks it up nicely. We did it and we liked it and yeah, we put it on the album kind of as a halfway point.
Feurd: It was interesting too because it started as an idea of an interlude and it grew into its own thing. It became a song length sort of thing but it is a nice break, a space in the record to decompress before you get into it again.
Frankie: And its cool because Travis plays guitar and banjo on that, Feurd plays drums on it so we got to switch things around which was fun.
Did anything inspire it because it sounds a bit like a toned down Tame Impala song
Feurd: Oh cool! We were just jamming
Frankie: I don’t know if it directly inspired it but during the first chunk of the writing for this record the four of us were kind of working independently and there was a turning point where we started working more closely together. That was one of the first things we did when we were back together. That was the cool coming together.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Travis: My favourite song is This Is It, the last song. I think it was one of the first songs on the album, I think it was Matthew's first song that he had written in a while and it was about a relationship of his so it comes from a really real place. I really like the bridge a lot, like the instrumental bit, it kind of wakes up the song to me, not that it's a sleeper but, it has a slight The Strokes vibe in that part which I really like. It wasn’t intentional, just as we play it live it reminds me of them because of the guitar and the drums are so simple and the neat bass line comes in and it rocks on that for a while, it doesn’t really change. But I don’t know, I really like that one a lot.
Feurd: My jam right now is Never Felt So Good. I love playing it live and I listened back to the recording the other day and I was like ‘this recording is sick!’ I was just really feeling pumped about it. That’s one of my favourites for sure, it’s just a fun song.
Frankie: I feel like its something that changes a lot for me and its funny having certain songs where I sing on and others that Matthew sings on. Sometimes I get to sit back when I’m not singing and be a fan of Matt’s songs on the record. Right now I think This Is It is also my favourite. It's a song, like Travis said, its one of the first ones we recorded and it just sat there for a while and now that we play it every night we got reacquainted with it and its like ‘oh yeah, I really like this!’
Cool! One of my favourites and the one that hit me first on the album is OMG, can you tell me a bit about that song?
Feurd: That one is really fun to play live!
Travis: That one also hit me, Matt brought in the demo and I was like ‘yeah, that sounds like its gonna be on the record’ It felt like he had really worked on it and it reminds me of OutKast a lot just in the groove and simplicity. I think we actually listened to a few OutKast songs just to be like ‘what are they doing?’ and trying to gain some inspiration there and decode some of the instruments in their hits.
Feurd: It was a vibe we had never really done before so it was fun experimenting with that, it was a new territory for us.