Back to the basics. The sounds of Elefant will have you reaching for that bong you made in 9th grade and reminisce on the girl or boy who stole your heart…then stomped on it with 5-inch heels (he was into weird stuff like that, what can I say?). But wait, before you throw an emo label at them along with all the stereotypes that go with such crappy music, just think about this: Weezeresque garage music infused with the glitzy styles of the British Invasion. Add hard-core drumbeats and sic-heavy bass lines and shake…or just lean up against a jukebox and dance by yourself like Madonna in an ’80s movie.
Signed to indie imprint Kemado, the NYC four-man group recently released their first full-length, Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid, and hit up Ice Palace in downtown Miami last Saturday along with The Occasion and main-event Interpol to provide a hot-as-hell performance that had enough smoke to rival Dennis Leary and his “No Cure for Cancer” act. Notably, Kevin McAdams, the band’s drummer, shook the stage with his animated style and timeless John Bonham hairdo, while Mod’s distortion-soaked guitar solos flooded in and simply set the line between Elefant and White Stripes bandwagon bands.
In a melancholy style that fits the saccharine nature of their lyrics, Elefant’s lead singer, Argentinean-born Diego Garcia sat around on lush couches to chat with Life & Art about pot, music and pot while the sounds of Interpol doing their sound-check wailed in the background.
Q: So, why does the sunlight make you paranoid?
Elefant: Umm, yeah [laughs] …it’s really just like, you’ve had a crazy night and the sun starts creeping in the window…someone always says something like…”the sun’s making me paranoid”…you could be high or on a drug or just be partying with your friends. That’s where that came from but then the song kinda developed into this statement on the environment that New York City is in since 9/11. There’s a lot of stress on the streets. So lyrically, it touches on that. It’s a little escape from all that shit.
Q: A lot of your lyrics are about girls breaking your heart, girls you don’t like and so on…Does this change when you get famous? Are the girls easier?
E: We wouldn’t know because we’re not famous. But girls have never been a problem for me…I didn’t get into rock to get girls, though. I kinda just started it to travel…
Q:In “Misfit,” a rather melancholy track, you said that you wrote that song while you were sober. In what state do you usually write your lyrics?
E: Maybe I just watched a good movie, you know, or I’m high and I just heard a good song…there’s a lot of reasons why you just grab the guitar and start writing. Writing sober and when you’re really aloof, that helps. Sometimes when you’re really fucked up, you can write something good, too. You can’t really write a song for the sake of writing a song – it just has to be a very natural experience.
Q: Do you plan on being sober after the show tonight?
E: Tonight, we have a hotel room right on the corner, so, no…we’re going to get fucked up.
Q: A music critic said that your show is better live because you could charm the pants off of chicks in the audience and that would be cool to see. Does it ever happen?
E: It’s funny, we just did a show in Atlanta and this woman came up to me and she was like, “I’m a lesbian, but I couldn’t take my eyes off you.” So, I think that’s pretty funny. But, if you sing about girls, you’re going to get girls in the audience. If you sing about dookie…or like nookie…whatever Limp Bizkit sings, you get nookie in the audience. But, no, we sing about girls and we sing about nice stuff, so we’re going to get nice people…nice girls.
Q: Is the crowd tougher in New York than here?
E: Yeah, I mean, that’s why we can survive everywhere we go. NY bands are tough, you’ve got to play to people who are gonna hate you. It’s not easy and then you get to come to Orlando and kids are just going crazy, but then eventually NY catches up and now our shows are just incredible.
Q: What kind of bands do you want to see open for you?
E: Umm…I would like just cool kids. I mean, I just couldn’t imagine having animals playing before us that smelled bad and didn’t have any manners and stuff. That would just drive me crazy. So a good mannered band, a polite band – that’s what I want opening for us…and, of course, they have to suck.
For more info, check www.kemado.com.
Linda Hoffman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.