Backstage With Elliot Minor

3 Dec

Alex and Ed Pose

By Rahsian Parris

On the 28th of November, Elliot Minor rocked the socks off an adoring crowd at the HMV Picture House in Edinburgh. Music News went backstage before the show to catch up with two of the Elliot Minor boys who spilled the beans on their new album Solaris.

I am standing in a tiny box size office that is directly above the stage at the HMV Picture House, Edinburgh. The rocking bass line, from the tunes of support band, Franko, are making the floor hum slightly and as I look around the ‘office’, the door that I am stood beside creeks open and Alex Davies pops his head round and introduces himself with a warm handshake. I inquire as to whether I will have the pleasure of just chatting to him today or whether the other band members will be joining us. Of course I do not mind either way, however, it is a particularly small room (with only two chairs, a desk baring a Macbook Pro and a couple of loose wires, it is more cupboard than ‘office’) and I am thinking that I do not want to be held responsible for the aching legs of rock superstars-to-be. Thus, we agree that he (Alex) should be accompanied by Ed Minton, the group’s guitarist, and that the two boys can have the seats whilst I stand.

MN: So what exactly is this room and whose laptop is that?

AD & EM: (Laughter)

EM: This is Gary, our manager’s, office, that’s his laptop

AD: It’s tiny

MN: Well as long as it ‘works’ and it’s comfy…

AD: (Nods) Yeah. True

MN: So… Ed and Alex?

AD & EM: Mmmm Hmmm, yup

MN: What instruments do you guys play?

AD: I sing and play guitar

EM: Same really

MN: (At Alex) You’re lead vocals Alex?

AD: Yeah that’s right

MN: (At Ed) Are there any songs that you sing on your own?

EM: No not really, I sing parts by myself, but once in a while

MN: So I’m really excited about your song ‘All Along’, who wrote that one? And do you usually write together?

AD: Yeah, I tend to write the songs

MN: So how did ‘All Along’ come about?

AD: Well the style is quite ‘Something Corporate'(y), you know, a piano song that is quite exposed and there’s not a lot of parts in it; that was the whole inspiration behind the song. It’s a bit like Konstantine, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that song

MN: Actually it’s one of my favourite songs ever

AD: Yeah, well it’s like that. It’s a bit like a Hymn really, which I thought was really cool

MN: Ed do you sing any vocals on this one?

EM: (Enthusiastically) Yeah. It’s quite cool because the vocals get quite choral at the end, it’s a good build up, by the end of it it’s just like there are vocals everywhere and the chord progressions (makes a satisfied sound)

MN: Yeah I love those epic kind of songs. So what’s your favourite song from Solaris?

AD: Hmmm (looks up), I think either ‘All Along’ actually, but I still really like ‘Solaris’ and ‘Carry On’

EM: I like ‘Coming Home’, well I obviously like all of them, but my mind keeps changing. I don’t really dislike any of them, but the only one I can skip on the album is probably ‘Electric High’ because I’ve just heard it too much, do you know what I mean?

AD: Yeah, it’s probably one of the more simple ones, whereas we kinda play more complex ones

MN: Ok. So are there any that you just have to put on repeat all the time?… I know they’re your own songs but…

(Laughter)

EM: Yeah that would be really bad (laughs)

AD: ‘Shiver’, I like ‘Shiver’ a lot

EM: (Nods) ‘Shiver’? Yeah, that one just reminds me of playing live, it’s kind of really different

MN: So does how you like a song differ then? How you like them when listening to the recording as appose to playing it live?

AD: Uhm, a little bit. We kinda speed up every song, like ten beats per minute anyways because it does seem quite slow when you play it live, so we speed it up; but then I guess you have the big guitars that come through live a lot more than they come through on the records. This album, all in all, is much more of a live album anyway, as appose to our first one, so we’ve already kind of got the live sound there on the album

MN: So what is the most difficult thing when recording an album?

AD: I think something that is a bit more strenuous and frustrating is the guitar…

EM: (Animated) AAAAah, guitar, yeah!

AD: …because you have to tune every single chord

EM: And Jim (the producer) is a perfectionist on guitars as well, so if you’re even a little bit out of tune you can sit there for hours trying to get out four or five chords because he’s so picky about it. I don’t think it really makes that much of a difference at this point

AD: …But it pays of because when it’s dead in tune, the guitar chords, you have this brilliance, this really nice sound, no frequency clash, it’s worth getting it right

EM: Singing? It can get quite stressful, but you know (shrugs) it’s alright. If think, first thing in the morning, I dunno, you have wait at least a few hours into the day just to kind of wake up instead of going straight into it

MN: It’s interesting that you mentioned the guitar thing. There are times when I am listening to other bands and think “that guitar, that’s definitely out of tune”

AD & EM: (together) yeah yeah, defnitely

AD: I think different producers just have a complete different approach on it. Some just want you to get a really live performance so, you tune it a little bit, but you just play the song until it’s finished so it’s gonna sound more out of tune. Whereas, other producers are more concerned about getting it really well recorded and you put the time and effort into it, because that’s what it is, time and effort.

EM: Indie bands?

AD: Not like Indie bands

EM: No, well Indie bands just jangle their way through the whole song and think ‘that’s it, my jobs done’

AD: Yeah, jangly guitars. Well it’s a different sound, it’s not right or wrong, just a different genre of sound

MN: So lets talk about the tour… How do you manage to make every performance different? I would imagine that with so many dates and being on tour for so long, half way through you probably get into a bit of a routine, but every crowd is different and there are always people at every show that haven’t seen the show before or haven’t heard the songs. How do you get around the ‘routine’?

AD: The vibes from people

EM: Yeah, I think you’ve got to play off the crowd a little bit…but it applies to venues too. If the stage is tiny, you’ve got a completely different show than if you’re playing in some big theater. I dunno, you don’t really think about it, you just kind of do what comes naturally when you’re there. We played in London the other day and the stage was just huge, compared to what we’ve been doing. It was the biggest venue we’ve had on this tour. We’ve been playing in little clubs up until the London show and it was like, we don’t really know what to do, we’re all about ten meters away from each other and it was like ‘woah’, but we manage to figure something out

MN: Who’s been the best crowd so far?

AD: Manchester? I think Birmingham and Manchester. London was great. All the major cities are great. Probably Birmingham. No Manchester

EM: Birmingham AND Manchester

MN: Why?

AD: Because you get those crowd that just come and watch you and they just wanna watch the show, then you get those crowds that are just full of energy and we definitely play off of that high ‘thing’. That’s what we wanna have, a really energetic crowd; and we play off of each other, so, I think, purely for that reason, I think those crowds were just a little bit more exciting than the rest of them

MN: So lets rewind a little bit to your first show. You won a competition to support McFly, how were the McFly fans?

AD: (really upbeat) They’re great and [McFly] are a really good live band, it was such a long time ago I can’t even remember (laughter)

EM: We didn’t really know what to expect

AD: We learned a lot from that performance, they really know how to do it, put on a good show and it was great, they’re lovely guys, the band is really good

EM: McFly’s fans are very responsive as well

AD: Yeah, there’s very high pitched squealing as well

MN: Well I was having a chat with a few fans earlier, maybe you can clear this up. Rumour has it that there’s a feud going on between you guys and McFly, what’s that about?

AD: (Genuinely looks puzzled) What? A Feud? No, not at all. Dougie came to one of our London shows, we get on really well

EM: Oh right! This is the first I’ve heard of a feud

AD & EM: (voices rise and they talk loudly, over each other about the ‘non feud’)

AD: No really, we get on really well

MN: Ok, I believe you (smile)

MN: If there’s any band you could play alongside with, who would it be?

AD: Ooh that’s a really hard one

EM: Yeah super hard

AD: I know who

EM: Who?

AD: Sigur Ros

MN: (Excited gasp) I love them, they are amaaaaazing

AD: Totally, it would be the perfect collaboration. They are amazing aren’t they?

(Alex goes on to tell us about his favourite Sigur Ros song and we get on to how Elliot Minor met and how they started out just playing acoustically)

MN: Do you ever think you will go back to your acoustic roots then?

AD: Yeah well I think that’s what we love about being in this band, we just wanna try new things out the whole time and we’d love to release an acoustic EP or something (looks at Ed), that might be the next thing to do actually, after this

MN: Definitely!

MN: I heard, from Ed..(laughter)

AD: (At Ed) Oh no, what’ve you been saying?

MN: (At Alex)… that you would like to cover the Black Eyed Peas if you could. Is that true?

AD: Oh yeah. Yeah totally! I’m not really such a big fan of that music, but I really like that song

MN: Which song is it?

AD: (Starts rapping attentively) Tonight’s the night (forgets the words) da da da DA

(we all laugh hysterically)

MN: Oh, you mean ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’?

(more laughter)

AD: Yeah. Ali got it for me, for my birthday, he bought me the album

ED: (shakes his head) No no, its not gonna happen…

AD: (dum dums the tune to the chorus of ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’)

ED: You can’t rap

MN: (laughs)

MN: On ‘Live Lounge’ you did a cover of Take That‘s ‘Rule The World’, how did that come about?

AD: I think we just go asked to do it

EM: It’s the scariest thing we’ve EVER done

AD: Oh it was horrible

EM: Just because everything was COMPLETELY live so if you screwed up, that’s it, that’s your chance gone. We were meant to do a different song, by Sugababes,  ‘About You Now’

MN: That would’ve been amazing

AD: Yeah it would’ve been great, a great cover

EM: We had it all ready, then it was literally a day before Live Lounge and our record label called us up and said the “The Cortinas are covering it so you’ve got to do a different one”. So we were there, the night before Live Lounge, in the rehearsal studio trying to figure out how to play ‘Rule The World’. Then we woke up the next day and it was just nerve wracking as hell

AD: (nods gravely) It was

EM: (nods towards Alex) We thought he’d done a runner. We’d all just got in a taxi to go to Radio 1 and no one knew where Alex had gone and he wasn’t picking up his phone and we thought “oh shit, he’s actually done a runner”, but then it was ok, he eventually showed up.

AD: (lowers his voice and shakes his head) It was just so scary, really really scary

MN: It was so good though, that was the first I had heard of Elliot Minor and I am a bit Take That fan, I was impressed

AD: Oh yeah? Really?

EM: It was so funny because straight after Jo Wiley came up to us and was like “so guys we’re gonna put that on the CD right?

MN: And you recently did ‘Battle Fields by Jordin Sparks right?

EM: Yeah, I really liked that

AD: Yeah, what a cool song, amazing song

EM: It’s actually the chord progression to ‘All Along’

MN: Really?

EM: Yeah, but that song hadn’t come out yet

AD: ‘All Along’s actually a little more complex

MN: You guys should release a covers album or something

AD: Dya reckon?

MN: Yeah that would be awesome

AD: That’s a really good idea actually

EM: Yeah, totally

AD: (Nods and talks to Ed) We’ll definitely think about it. It wouldn’t take really long to do would it? Just go back home and record it

MN: So you guys are getting pretty famous

AD: We are? Really?

MN: Yeah totally. How successful would you like to be?

AD: I think we’d just like to have a HUGE album, a bit hit, just so people listen to the album, just because it’s a really good album and it’s hard to get it out there unless you have something like a huge hit because it really is a promotional tool

MN: So do you think you will just do ‘this’ for as long as you enjoy doing it, no matter how many fans you have?

AD: Yeah and the longer you can stick around, it shows something as well, you gain credibility…some bands…they get really lucky and get big straight away and some it takes them ten years. It’s just time and luck. I think the longer you’re around the more likely you’re gonna make it

MN: So Ed told me about this great mug for his green tea that he got from a fan, what’s the best thing a fan has given you Alex?

AD: As a band we got given this Plaque

EM: Yeah, it was this picture of us that this artist had done

AD: It’s just WoooooW

EM: We’ve got it hanging up in the studio at home

AD: Yeah and we still need to get our plaque, you know, for our album (laughs), we’re nearly there, yeah, I think we’re nearly there. That would be cool

MN: Well really best of luck with that guys

AD: That’s another reason to get a hit, just so you can get (emphasises) ‘the plaque’

MN: Yeah that’s what everyone wants isn’t it? The platinum disc

AD: Yeah totally, or I might just think f*** it, I’m gonna make one

(we all burst out laughing)

AD: Yeah, I’m serious, make your own, you know, get your dads vinyl out, spray paint it, get a marker and write ‘Elliot Minor…one BILLION albums’

(we are all still laughing)

MN: So what are you guys up to after this?

AD: Well we’re going to Ireland, we’ve got three dates in Ireland, gonna do a bit of recording I think, we’re working on getting another single together and work on one of the tracks, make it a bit more single suited and we’ll probably just be in the studio I think. [Ed’s] going back to Japan.

EM: Yeah I’m going back to Japan to see my family

MN: Ok, great! Well thanks guys, it’s been a fantastic interview

AD: Ah you’re welcome, it’s been really good

MN: Yeah? Did you like my questions?

AD: Yeah, a lot better than the usual crap you get

(we laugh)

AD: No, honestly, it’s nice to be able to talk about the music for a change as appose to things that we don’t really care about

MN: Yeah like “who is your favourite Sugababe?”

AD: Yeah exactly… [pause]

AD & ED (in unison) Heidi, the blond one

(laughter)

MN: Excellent! Thanks again and good luck with the show, I shall wave from the crowd

(we laugh).

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