I recently had the opportunity to interview the band Eliot & Eads which gave me the perfect opportunity to test out my Rolling Stones interviewing skills!
2. What genre of music do you play?
At the most basic level our music is Americana folk rock, but when we’re collaborating in the studio, the three of us have found that we stray into moments that feel like they were conceived in a late-night jazz club; other moments feel like old folk songs, sung on a porch swing in the deep Bayou. That spontaneity in our collaboration has really been a positive force in our music.
3. Please explain how the band got started–take us back to the beginning (including who is in the band).
The band is comprised of three members: Peter Tchoukaleff, Alex Frankel, and Sam Stephens. We all grew up in and around St. Louis, Missouri, and have been playing music together for many years. During our time in high school, we would convince a few of our musically-inclined teachers to dust off their old guitars and play shows or school events with us. Naturally, students went crazy when they saw their biology teacher or spanish professor rock out on stage. It was an incredibly fun conception of what is now Eliot & Eads.
4. Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
We really put our influences front-and-center in our work. Musically, we are heavily influenced by a number of American rock bands; Chicago-based Wilco, Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog and Moscow, Idaho-native Josh Ritter all readily come to mind. More generally, early-Dixieland, mid-century modal jazz,and modern bluegrass have certainly left an impact on our material. Non-musically, Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, and the landform-series maps by Erwin Raisz were pretty central in influencing The Flyover States. A second-story bowling alley in St. Louis’ South City neighborhood, Saratoga Lanes, also left an impact on us.
5. What are your dreams and goals? Where do you see the band in 5 years?
We’re are taking things one day at a time, with the goal that, come June, we can spread The Flyover States to as many people as possible.
6. Who writes the songs, what are they about?
I wrote the initial music and lyrics for the songs on The Flyover States. The record opens with a song, “A Memo,” that essentially lays out our premise: let’s sing about the places we know. The three of us left home and realized we hadn’t fully appreciated the history and culture that surrounded our early years. I hope everyone can find relatable moments in these songs.
7. What advice would you give to fellow bands that are starting out?
Technology today is such that, with time–and maybe a bit of fundraising–independent, unsigned bands can easily circulate their music. Social media, video-sharing, and music distribution sites on the internet are valuable tools for bands. We have had people in countries all over the world view our promotional videos on our website. For a kid that grew up in a town of 30,000 people, the reach and impact creative material can have today blows my mind!
8. What are the biggest obstacles for new bands and how have you overcome them?
For Eliot & Eads, it’s physical distance. Sam is in New Orleans, Alex is in Philadelphia, and I’m in D.C. I would generally suggest new bands form in one, centralized location… In our case, it’s hard to break up something that’s working, so we’re pressing on!
9. How did you come up with the name for your first record, The Flyover States?
The term, “the fly-over states,” holds a bit of a negative connotation in the U.S. It’s often synonymous with “the Heartland,” or “the Bible-belt.” With our record, we aren’t promoting a negative phrase in a cynical or ironic way. More than anything else, this record is aimed at tapping into pieces of our country’s history and culture that aren’t always prevalent. For us, The Flyover States has become synonymous with “the untold.”
10. How are you using social media to promote the band?
Social media has been vital to growing our network and spreading awareness about the group. We are a band working on a budget. Tools like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and tumblr are incredibly easy, inexpensive (in some cases, free), and have such a positive impact in reaching out to friends and fans. We like to engage with our followers and social media is a great forum to do that!
11. You are running a successful social media campaign. Do any of you have backgrounds in public relations/social media or are you learning as you go?
You’re too kind, Elana. Thanks, though, for noticing our hard work! In short, we couldn’t do it without a huge friend of Eliot & Eads, Tayler Lofquist, who works in the social media and communications industry. Alex also runs a successful blog that has been a great amplifier for the work we’re doing. As for me, I’m largely learning as I go…!
12. You guys are starting a Kickstarter campaign. Can you please explain Kickstarter and why it is an invaluable resource for any new venture? How are you guys using it to promote your band?
) is a completely secure, web-based, fundraising forum to promote and propel creative start-up ideas. We know a few bands who have utilized Kickstarter campaigns to raise funds for their own albums, and it is so inspiring to see the public help support musicians and creative thinkers they believe in and enjoy. Eliot & Eads is launching our very own a Kickstarter campaign. To debut the campaign, we are releasing a brand new video featuring music and footage that takes our followers back to the conception of this project and explains our inspiration and motivation to create The Flyover States
. We’re also offering a few thank you gifts for everyone who helps us along the way!
13. What social media/PR tips do you have for new bands?
Two bits of advice: 1.) Spend money when you need to spend money. People likely won’t find your website if it isn’t memorable (or is riddled with backslashes). A custom URL can say a lot about the professional demeanor of an independent band. 2.) Use your social media to share good content; don’t just push your music. Give your band it’s own social personality–share things you like, things you care about, things you’re doing with your followers. That can go a long way in growing your network.
14. Can I be your groupie?
Of course! I’ve got to say, you’ll be in good company. Our bassist Sam’s dog, Harry, is a diehard groupie.
15. Do you all have full time jobs? If so how do you balance working and pursuing your passion?
Two of us work full-time, one works part-time and is a full-time student, graduating in May. We are definitely busy. I think our passion for music, our excitement of working together, and the rewarding aspects of the creative process keep us going.
For more information regarding things I’ve spoken about, your readers can visit:
Our social media: Eliot & Eads on Facebook; @EliotandEads on Twitter
Be sure to check our Eliot & Eads and to buy their Flyover States when it comes out.
The Preppy Post Grad
P.S. Check out their Kickstarter campaign!