After being moved across town to Northumbria University, the boys in Elliot Minor stop off in Newcastle as part of their Solaris Tour. George catches up with keyboardist Ali Paul and bassist Ed “Teddy” Hetherton, for their reactions on recent events; they talk around the lack of buzz for their band these days, cringing over fireworks, and Ali plugs Franko a few dozen times.
George: Can you say your names, and what you do in the band?
Ali: My name’s Ali, I play keyboards in Elliot Minor.
Ed/Teddy: My name’s Ed, and I play bass.
George: How’s the tour been so far?
Ed: Good! I think we got bored of playing the old stuff, so it’s good to be playing some new stuff.
George: How have Me vs Hero and Franko been received on this tour?
Ali: Pretty well, I think yeah, I mean Franko are so accomplished for their age, real professionalism, really good songs, Me vs Hero are perfect for just before we go on, they’re a bit harder sound, a bit more rocky, and they really get the crowd sort of buzzed, so yeah! Perfect supports.
George: Solaris has just been released, are you pleased with it’s initial reaction so far?
Ali: Yeah, I mean, honestly, I suppose we would have hoped for a wider audience to of heard it. We’ve had some issues behind the scenes, and with the promotion we were able to get from changing record labels and stuff, but from the people who have heard it, we’ve had an amazing response.
George: Is it the work you’re most proud of so far? Or did you prefer the old album?
Ali: You’ve gotta be proudest of your most recent work, it’s all part of the journey.
Teddy: Definitely, Alex is definitely proud of it. I think we’re all proud of everything we do, in terms of the music, I think it’s a very personal thing for Alex, ’cause it’s his music. We love playing it live, and when we put it all together, and we make a live show out of it and tour it, that’s when the rest of us get our moment, which is good.
Ali: I think it’s been a really good direction really, it’s in some ways it hasn’t really got that connection with the second album yet, but maybe this album will move into something bigger and better in the third album, who knows, it’s us being in the middle of it, it’s hard to judge really, and it’s too early to tell, this is only the first tour since releasing the album, it’s to sort of get the songs out there in a live format and then next year it’s history, so we’ll see.
George: Are your fans getting into the new songs as much in a live setting as your older material?
Ali: Some of them. Definitely the more rocky ones like I Believe, Shiver, but obviously they know the old songs better, so they’re still the favourites. I think we prefer playing the new ones, especially from my point of view, anyway.
Teddy: Yeah, like said, how interesting it is, we just got bored of playing, we played hundreds and hundreds of shows touring the old stuff, y’know, we were touring the old stuff before we’d even released it and stuff, so I think it’s good we’re playing new stuff. It’s a lot more interesting.
George: The classical element is still there, but in the previous album, you had a lot of orchestra-like stuff going on, interludes, outros, and everything, it’s not as apparent on Solaris, are you hoping to do something like that again, or was it just for the debut?
Ali: Again, it’s a personal thing to Alex, he loves doing them, from what I gather, a lot of the influence of the second album is more of a classic rock theme, bands like The Who and Pink Floyd we listen to a lot in the studio, and we think it’s a concious step back from what we’ve been described, as “Harry Potter-esque” [laughs] that step back may be putting people off, but to be honest, when there’s a third album, I’m sure that’ll come back, because it’s a love of Alex’s to sit in his dark room and write away! [laughs] Something to link two tracks.
Teddy: I think with the first album, it was so new to everyone, suddenly there’s this big brutal set up where we could record anything we wanted, it’s almost went over the top with layers and layers and layers of strings, orchestration and stuff, and on this album, Alex decided when there’s that much stuff going on, it’s hard to pick out the individual lines, so he kind of stripped it down, sort of make the string lines more pronounced, so in Solaris you’ve got that particular string hook, instead of layering it with loads of orchestra stuff.
George: Will the fireworks ever come back?
Ali: [laughs] I think we all cringed even when we were listening to the album, I remember we were in a radio station, and they said, “We’ll play any track off your album.” and we said, “Play New York City.” and it got to like four minutes-thirty, and we realised the fireworks were coming in, and we were like “No, no! Stop stop stop…” and it was on live radio. [laughs] But yeah, erm… No. [laughs]
Teddy: Definitely some elements on that first album that were a cringe. I mean, we haven’t played Still Figuring Out live, the way it’s meant to be played, for a long time. We start it differently, because on the track, it’s got all those sparkles. [laughs]
Ali: At the start, it’s all sweet and twee, and Ed singing his little vocal line, and then it sort of breaks into the pop-punk thing, we got rid of all that and just started to break straight in. [laughs]
Teddy: We haven’t played the track version for… It must be two years now.
George: Well, kind of what’s been said in your answers, there’s not as much of a buzz around you as opposed to when the debut album came out, what’s changed and are you okay with it?
Ali: Definitely okay with it, it’s a natural thing, there’s basically two elements to it, there’s behind the scenes, with our record label and why we’ve been so quiet, there’s been all sorts of shit going on, we were set to record the second album with Warner Bros, with funding from Warner Bros, and we got going on it, then the credit crunch happened, and it became Christmas, and it was New Year, and eventually, we had to ask them where we stood. So we sent a ten day notice saying they either record the second album with us, or we’re gonna part company, because we needed to move on, we’d been away from the scene for about six months by that stage, and they didn’t take up the option, so that was another six months to record the second album without even getting it finished, so overall it’s been a year with no pushing from anyone.
Teddy: Shows as well, a buzz sort of comes from being in demand, I remember in the early days as we were getting bigger, a fair few shows were selling out, and I think that gives a buzz, the whole sort of live scene is collapsing, there’s so many bands out there who aren’t selling as many singles as they were, and if you’re gonna create a buzz again, you have to drop down and start selling out the smaller venues again to get that buzz back.
Ali: There’s something Ed always says, with changing times is changing music, you’ve gotta adapt, you can’t keep plugging away at the same thing and expect for people to follow you, and I think that’s what 2010 is gonna have to be, a sort of adaptation period. We’re doing good, I mean, this tour’s done fine. It’s about adapting, and if things are having to scale down a little bit, it’s cool, we’ll come back with something better next time.
George: I guess it shows who your real fans are?
Ali: Yeah, I mean that’s the thing, these shows are really our hardcores. [laughs]
George: A couple of years ago, you took You Me At Six out on tour with you, what do you think of their popularity growth?
Teddy: There’s obviously been some really good decisions made along the way, perfect timing as well, there’s been a lot of association credibility with those guys, they’ve toured with Angels & Airwaves, Fall Out Boy, and now about to go on tour with Paramore, it’s obviously worth it, they’ve made good decisions.
Ali: They’ve done well, it was evident throughout their first album, they never overspent, their videos were real sort of, not basic level, but really backroom stuff, and people could relate to it, and I think that was a hugely positive thing for them. I love them, they’ve got a second album coming, we’ll see how that does.
George: You guys used to be an upcoming UK band, who are your favourite upcoming UK bands, and why?
Ali: Franko! Seriously, I think they are probably the most accomplished young band I’ve heard, and people have gotta look past their young, shaven faces, and it’s not a hard rock, it’s sorta rock ‘n’ roll, with a Coral edge to it, that’s my prediction, they’ll be huge.
Teddy: It’s different.
Ali: Yeah, it’s kind of an indie rock, almost gypsy sounds. [laughs]
Teddy: I dunno, I’m just trying to think of any…there’s loads of bands in the scene that I like, The Blackout and things like that, but they’ve been around for a while, they’re not exactly brand new, but I can’t really think of any new bands, when we’re away on tour, we sort of lose touch with what’s going on, we never sit down and watch Kerrang! or mess about on the internet and stuff, so I don’t know, I haven’t listened to any really new bands.
Ali: Rock’s gone quite underground now, as well, because the charts have become so dance-related, RnB, and stuff, which is good for rock in a way, because rock doesn’t like being mainstream, but I think it’s gonna make rock a far more intense, competitive market in the next couple of years, if this dance craze carries on. [laughs]
George: A few times I’ve been down to York, Teddy, I’ve seen you, and Dan, in Fibbers, and I’ve heard you all kind of get there once in a while, do you think it’s important to support your local music scene?
Teddy: I think so, you sort of belong there.
Ali: From a band point of view, if you’ve ever played a local venue, even if you think it’s an utter pile of shit, they’ve put on a gig for you, you should always return the favour by going to see a gig, because so many live gig venues are closing down all the time, and people will be left with nowhere to listen to music anymore. So you’ve gotta support them, you really have, and it’s fundamental of the music industry.
Teddy: When we first started off, we were really quite young, and we didn’t really get invovled with the other bands at all, and now that we’re a bit older, we’ve made quite a few friends at shows, we’re mates with the guys in Glamour Of The Kill, they’re really good guys, and it’s quite nice to be able to say that you’ve got a sort of music base that you come from, it’s quite cool, but definitely, I mean, the more people you get to a venue, the more likely bands are gonna come through and tour there.
George: Would you guys ever take Glamour out on tour with you? Even though they’re completely different?
Teddy: I’d love to, it’d be so funny.
Ali: They’d rock the shit out of us, wouldn’t they?
Teddy: Yeah! It’d be so funny.
Ali: They’d love to.
Teddy: Yeah, they’d love to.
Ali: It’d be polar opposites, really.
Teddy: We’ve been talking about a York show, just a one off, it’d be awesome. A co-headline, just go and do it, I think it’d be really funny.
George: What would you consider as a band, your greatest achievement?
Ali: You first…
Teddy: I’d say our show in Tokyo. The fact that, I know Ed and Alex have been over there quite a few times, but it still didn’t prepare me for the fact that there were four hundred kids on the other side of the world who’d bought tickets for our show. It sold out like a month before we went over there. I loved that show. We went over there for a week, and getting over to Japan to play a show there is one of our greatest achievements.
Ali: I’ll go for London Astoria show. We didn’t quite sell it out, it was about a hundred tickets or so, but it felt sold out and it was just incredible seeing near enough 2000 people, it seemed really tall and everything and at the time I thought “This is definitely what I want to do”.
Teddy: I think there’s the obvious; the album position. Number 6, first album, that was an achievement.
Ali: If you’re looking at facts and figures, that’s something you can always drop…
Teddy: Yeah, if someone doubts you…
Ali: Yeah, we’ve got a number 6 album. [laughs]
George: What’s in store for Elliot Minor in the near future?
Ali: God knows.
Teddy: No idea! We’ve got loads of ideas, we’re not short of ideas, it’s just working out…
Ali: There’s a planned release for like, March time next year, and the idea is to tour around that release, and everything from then on is based around that. It seems to be the concern, there’s a lot riding on this future release, so we’ll see what comes from that.
George: Change the record, who should we be listening to?
Ali: White Lies, Franko! It sounds really bad, but I only understood them, when I saw them live.
Teddy: Just for influences and stuff, Biffy Clyro. They’ve got a really nice song on their new album called Bubbles, which is a really cool song. Those guys and Billy Talent, I like Billy Talent, good band.
George: How were they? I remember you saying you were off to see them…
Teddy: They were really good! I saw them in Newcastle, then again at Leeds Festival. Leeds Festival was on another level, because there was so many more people there, and the vibe was incredible. I dunno, I’ve spent a lot of time on the tour bus listening to old stuff, I’ve been falling asleep listening to The Police, and The Who, Iron Maiden, stuff like that. I think that’s the case with the charts being sort of dance-orientated, there’s not loads of big rock acts coming through, so I’m sort of turning to my back-catalogue. The older stuff.
George: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Teddy: We always get this, don’t we?
Ali: Yeah, and we never know what to add to it. [laughs] If you haven’t heard the second album, have a listen, if you hate it, listen to the first one! [laughs]
– George Cannings.
Many thanks to Elliot Minor, for more information, visit: www.myspace.com/elliotminor