New Elephant Revival Album Was A Sonic ‘Experiment’

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Photo: Nederland band Elephant Revival
Nederland band Elephant Revival

Editor's Note: This interview originally aired April 27, 2016.

It's still early, but Elephant Revival appears to be having a very good year. The Nederland folk band got top billing at Red Rocks May 22. And the group released a new album earlier this month titled "Petals." It's Elephant Revival's first album with producer Sam Kassirer, who has worked with popular acts such as singer-songwriter Josh Ritter and the soulful Brooklyn-based Lake Street Dive.

Elephant Revival says "Petals" strays from its past more pared-down sound. Cello, kick and snare drums, banjo and even metal chains are some of the new instrumentation the band experimented with throughout the album.

Vocalist Bonnie Paine, who also plays the washboard and musical saw, and singer and guitarist Daniel Rodriguez spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. Read highlights from the conversation below. Click the audio above to listen to the full interview.

Rodriguez on using metal chains in the song "Petals":

"The ones that [our producer Sam Kassirer] got were these really gnarly, big link chains that were really rusty. Those ones sounded the best. ... Bonnie writes a lot of maritime [songs]. You have this imagery of being on this big old ship, crossing the ocean and there's a lot adventure and mystery in it. Somehow those chains kind of created that image. And I think I heard of Tom Waits doing it once and was like, 'Oh that would be so good.' "

Paine on how a friend of the band, who has since passed away, helped the musicians stay together for a decade:

"She's worked with a few bands. I think one of the art forms of being in a band that you don't hear about it is communication with each other, and how to continue to develop that and not let it become a stagnant thing because we've been together... for over 10 years traveling in small spaces. So I think she really helped us grow and stretch [that way]."

This friend inspired the song "Peace Tonight."

Paine on what good communication means for a band:

"Listening I think is a huge part of it -- using your communication to make sure you're hearing each other correctly, which is good for the music also. That's the first step in creating music together is listening as big as you can, so you open up the potential of what can weave itself in and out of there."

Rodriguez on how band members document musical ideas as they pop into their heads:

"For me, there's files everywhere. There's files on my iPhone. There's many notebooks that I may forget where they are. I forget songs quite a bit and need to be reminded of them... And sometimes Bonnie will borrow my phone if she doesn't have hers, so that she can call... and leave one of her songs that she's writing on her voicemail."