Everest | Climbing Mountains

“We like St. Louis a lot, we have a good time every time we come here. It’s become a regular tour stop in the last eight months, it’s been almost a bi-monthly thing.”

 

 

Everest has just finished touring to promote their second album, the May 2010 release On Approach. This is not the first time the 5-piece rock band from LA – Russell Pollard (vocals, tambourine), Jason Soda (guitar, vocals), Joel Graves (guitar, keyboard, vocals) Elijah Thompson (bass, vocals), and Dave Latter (drums, percussion) – has played in St. Louis. I sat down with Russ and Joel before their April 2 show at The Firebird to ask about where they’ve been, how they got there and where they’re going.

 How did the band get formed? 
Joel: Long story short, were all playing in other bands and we were friends and we were unhappy in one degree or another in those bands. We liked playing together, and Russ had some songs that he started playing for us that we started getting excited about and decided to be a band.
 

Between your first release, Ghost Notes and On Approach how have you evolved as a band? 
Joel: I think we’ve become better communicators and a more cohesive unit through playing live, a lot, and as a result of that we’ve developed our voice as a collective.
 

Have you gone on many tours then?

Russ: Quite a few tours. This is our fourth time here in basically eight months. So, that’s just sort of a sign how many times we’ve been around the country. We’ve done some tours, did a tour with a band called Minus the Bear where we played here, opening for them. We played some shows with My Morning Jacket, another tour with Guster – we played the Pageant with them – then Matt Costa, we played with him as well. Just a bunch of touring, we just wrapped up a month of residency, local – well not local – but we’re from California so we played in San Diego, L.A. and San Francisco on different days of the week in the same place, so this is kind of the end of touring for On Approach. We’re just about ready to go back in and make another record when we go back home. 

Any ideas on directions for your new stuff? 
Russ: Sure, I mean we’ve recorded a few songs already, and those are sort of leaning towards a step in the right direction and about 10 notches above where we were when we made our last record, which is great. It’s where we want to be.
 

What’s your favorite tour been so far? Where’d you go, was it national or international…? 
Joel: Sort of both. I mean, for me at least, we opened for Neil Young and Wilco for awhile and that was  in the US and Canada. It was pretty special.

Russ: That was…a couple years ago? That was probably my favorite too. That, and also we did a tour in Europe with My Morning Jacket which was a good solid month of shows in England and Europe which was unbelievable, so cool. 

Everest was signed by Neil Young’s record label, Vapor Records.

Joel: If you knew them, the Vapor part would make a lot of sense. 

How’d that come about?

Russ: How’d that come about? Well, when we made our first record we went into the studio, recorded it pretty quickly, and paid for it ourselves. Joel had a friendship with Elliot Roberts who manages Neil and who had helped run radio –

Joel: Radio promotions, artist relations…it’s a small company. 

Russ: Joel really made it happen and I had actually sent some demos in a previous band I was in, and Joel was at Vapor at the time so I was really really into the idea of being on that label. I heard Tegan and Sara were on it, that it was Neil’s, basically it was his label and there weren’t that many bands on the label, I thought it was something, in my opinion, that was of the highest esteem in my mind of where I could go and have records put out and have it be a D.I.Y. kind of situation or relationship that was full of integrity and you do what you wanted and suddenly when I met Joel, we formed the band together. He invited Elliot Roberts down he liked the record and asked when we wanted to put it out, it was like that easy, and it was more or less a handshake deal that we had with him. He wanted to see us grow and develop and see us turn into a great band and he had a lot to do with it, and Neil was introduced to us and saw us play a show and liked it and invited us out on some tours and that went really well and when we made the second record he listened to the rough mixes and had a lot of input and thoughts so he got really involved and became a fan of our band, a supporter. It’s been really great. We’re still associated with Vapor but Warner Brothers has kind of taken over. 

So who are some of your influences, both personally and band-wise? 
Joel: For me personally, I kind of grew up, I mean, we’re all into…Eli likes to say, the last 60 years of recorded music, which is true. We all have really diverse record collections. The doorway really into music for me began with falling in love with guitar players like Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix and stuff like that, and learning about punk rock and music that opened up other doors for me like Sonic Youth and Fugazi. I think everyone in the band would answer this question differently which is part of what makes our sound what it is, but Neil Young is a huge influence, I think Russ and I definitely share a strong, common thread there.

Russ: For sure. I think for me, when I a kid, I grew up in a town that was kind of deprived of culture and college radio wasn’t in existence so when I went to the record store it was like Tower Records, and it was basically like whatever Top 40 and classic rock. That was pretty much it, so I got super into The Who and AC/DC and Led Zepplin, and when I got out of Fresno where I grew up and moved to Kentucky to Loiusville I dove into the Velvet Underground and Captain Beefheart and some 70s German bands who were super groovy and inspiring and got my head split in two with some of the coolest stuff I had no idea ever existed, and that really spiraled me into wanting to be in a band. That’s when it really started happening for me – I was kind of a late bloomer, I was like 18, but Neil was definitely in the mix of my biggest influences and Bob Dylan as well, Paul Simon and it just goes on and on, but we listen to so much music, I think it’s just who we are at this point, it’s part of us. If there’s hints and clues on our records that remind you of other things, I don’t know if it’s so much conscious as much as who we are, how we think, it’s what comes out of us. Lots of music. 

Have there been any particular memorable moments this tour, or any tour?

Russ: Yeah, there’s been some good memories. Playing opening day in Chicago for the Cubs, that was a  super fun, weird experience. It was like 8:30 in the morning, at this bar, and everybody was buzzed and we were live on the radio, it was neat. We played on TV, we met a 6-ft tall duck, man in a duck suit, and that was at like 7 a.m. so that was trippy. But the show in Chicago was really good, it’s been a good trip.

Joel: Meeting people after the Milwaukee show was really cool. It was our first time playing in Milwaukee  and the crowd was a really pleasant surprise. The people who came out, their response was really genuine and appreciative, and that was one of the most gratifying things I’ve experienced in a long time. It’s been an action-packed tour, they’ve been keeping us busy. 

Joel: We like St. Louis a lot, we have a good time every time we come here. It’s become a regular tour stop in the last eight months, it’s been almost a bi-monthly thing, coming back, it’s been nice to come back here and hopefully that’ll continue and we’ll get to know a different group of people while we’re here.

Russ: Yeah, go Cards!  | Eva Connors

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