Formerly known as 10-4 Eleanor, Elwayhails from Ft. Collins Colorado, a small college town in northern Colorado a couple of miles from the Wyoming border. After a few years of hard touring and amassing fans one by one, we wait anxiously for their debut Red Scare full-length release out on May 10 titled Delusions. I had the chance to sit down and talk to singer, songwriter, guitar player Tim Browne about their new album, touring, recording, Arthur Fonzerelli and feminism.
You recently changed your name from 10-4 Eleanor to Elway. I’m sure you’re tired of explaining this but I feel compelled to ask, why the name change?
Well, when we sat down and talked about the possibility of signing with Red Scare, taking the band a bit more seriously and pursuing a more rigorous touring schedule, we decided that a name change would be a good way to start fresh. When we first started playing, we were all so focused on making the band something fun and energetic that we didn’t really consider how colossally shitty a band name 10-4 Eleanor was. So three or so years later, we decided to change the name to Elway… Whether or not that was the best decision is debated with some fervor among some of our fans. We stand by the name and think it’s pretty sweet.
How did Elway get their start?
It all just kinda happened out of nowhere. I moved to Fort Collins in 2006 to go to school at Colorado State University, and had absolutely nobody to play music with. For the first year I lived here, I had very few friends and even fewer who were musicians interested in playing punk rock. I went through a pretty shitty breakup and started writing a bunch of songs in the summer of 2007 that would eventually become the Words Cannot Express How Much Fuck This Band EP and …Too Bad LP. In August of 2007, I got to be friends with Garrett and Joe and we started hammering out these punk tunes in the basement of my house. Brian joined us a year and some change later, and the rest as they say, is too boring to drone on about.
I saw you guys play in a bicycle repair shop two years ago in Boulder to about 10 people. Shortly thereafter you’re playing The Fest and signing with a label that’s given the world some incredible punk bands. Does it feel like everything has happened pretty quickly?
There are still nights where playing to 10 people in a bike shop would be an awesome show! After we put out …Too Bad, we worked real hard to get the word out to people. We toured throughout the summer of 2009 and played around 100 shows in the year after the album came out. A lot of the reason why we gained even the most lukewarm recognition was because we had some great friends helping us out. Jonathan and Scotty at Death To False Hope were especially helpful. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Spanish Gamble, Red City Radio and O Pioneers!!! Those are some of the most stand up guys alive! But really, we never felt like playing in this band was ever going to be more than a super fun hobby that filled the gap between work and school. Getting to play at the Fest to a room packed with people who are into the songs was an incredible feeling, and I think that we’re looking to work hard to make that happen more often.
How did you get into music? Was there a particular show, band or album that drew you into punk rock?
It was definitely Bad Religion that got me into punk rock. I listened to Against The Grain and Generator constantly throughout high school. I loved that a band could sound so aggressive and be so eloquent and well thought out at the same time. Bands of the Epi/Fat ilk were my bread and butter for years. I still listen to that stuff all the time.
What’s good about punk rock music these days?
I feel like punk rock isn’t so bro-centric these days. A lot of mellower, more complex and emotive sounds are becoming more and more popular. Punk rock doesn’t have to be something you slam Mountain Dew and ride Motocross to. The kind of genre blending that goes on between indie rock, folk, and punk rock is a welcome change in my book.
Another one of my favorite things about punk rock today is that it doesn’t take tons of money or technical know-how to make a great record. That being what it is, punk music is a very accessible and diverse genre. There are so many bands out there that are just as good as the bands on No Idea or Fat Wreck. The nature of the… ahem… music industry now is such that the best records don’t necessarily even come from labels with nationwide distribution anymore. The pool of unsigned bands that just fucking slay is immense.
Do you have a favorite place to play? Any good tour stories you care to share?
Oklahoma City, Gainesville, FL, Houma, LA, Brooklyn, and Chicago are the best places we’ve played in the country. We’ve met so many awesome people and played in so many rad places that it’s hard to pick out a specific story to tell. I will say that one of the weirdest things we ever did was get an e-meter reading at the Church of Scientology in Austin, TX. Those people are fucking wacky!
In a time where no one is buying records, small labels are scraping by, kids are illegally downloading albums by the gigabyte, and gas is $4.00 a gallon, being in a touring punk band seems like a losing proposition. Why do you do it?
It’s hard to look at the state of the music industry and not get a nightmarish post-apocalyptic vibe from it all. Things aren’t what they used to, but you know what? We’re a pretty young band, and we were born into this climate that is pretty unforgiving, and we’ve learned to accept that we’re not going to conquer the world and Scrooge McDuck our way through pools of money. The reason why we want to do it is because it’s personally rewarding. Playing music for people that want to hear it is the best feeling in the world, and the fact that we can’t make a boatload of money doing it doesn’t deter us. Music culture isn’t exactly conducive to young, broke touring bands, but if you love what you do, you’ll find a way to do it as much as possible. I’ve met some of my best friends in the world playing this silly fucking music, and that makes it worth every mile we drive.
After signing with punk rock impresario Toby Jeg at Red Scare Industries, you were almost immediately in Chicago recording your forthcoming full length Red Scare debut, Delusions. How was it recording with someone as renowned as Matt?
Matt Allison is an incredible producer, engineer, and all-around dude. We spent 2 weeks gargling down Busch lights and hammering out tunes, and it was an amazing time. The days building up to our arrival in Chicago were pretty nerve-wracking. I mean, this dude recorded The Greatest Story Ever Told? To me, that’s the best punk album ever recorded. I thought for sure we would be found out to be imposters after a few short hours in the studio. It turns out that Matt is a sweetheart and made us feel right at home and had some great input on how to liven up the tracks. I’m definitely really stoked with the result.
Who are your biggest influences (besides sweet tea vodka and cheap whiskey)?
Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Elvis Costello laid the foundation, 90’s Epi/Fat punk taught me how to play guitar and write songs, but the stuff that Elway plays can be summed up in five albums: Osker’s Idle Will Kill, Propagandhi’s – Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes, Hot Water Music’s Caution, The Lawrence Arms’ The Greatest Story Ever Told, and Refused The Shape of Punk To Come.
Your lyrical content is heartfelt and borders a bit on the melancholy. Are your lyrics rooted in personal experience or observation?
Most of the stuff I write comes from personal experience. I spent a long time in other bands playing punk rock songs that were just lyrically mindless. I grappled with a tendency to resort to emotionless political sloganeering and singing about getting fucked up and how sweet it is. I still sing about drinking, but I feel like it’s become more of a peripheral detail to what’s actually happening in the songs. Singing about political issues is a tough one for me these days because I am an opinionated guy, but I try to handle that sort of stuff delicately, because I don’t have all the answers and I won’t pretend to. All I do know is that I can only ever honestly write about what I experience and how things make me feel. Melancholy as they may be, I think my lyrics are honest.
I know that you work at a women’s health clinic during the day so I’m fairly confident that you feel strongly about women’s reproductive health but let’s test some feminist theory shall we? Do you think Fonzie was a misogynist or just a loveable bad boy with a heart of gold and a healthy appetite for the ladies?
Misogyny is structural. It is ingrained in many of the facets of our culture by way of reflecting large sociological constructs like religion, classicism, and political and economic hegemony. The Fonz is a symptom, not the sickness.
I heard that you just got a new passport photo. Any tour plans coming up this summer?
The lady taking my picture at the drug store told me I need to smile more often because I look like shit. She’s probably right. We’re going to Canada and the northeast US in May for a few weeks and we’ll be roving around the rest of the country this summer.
You recently dedicated a set to people that wear Affliction and TapOut t-shirts. Is this because you’re down with designer graphic t-shirts with rhinestones or was it somehow a statement about American culture today?
I think that the entire subculture that has come to be affiliated with mixed marshal arts fighting is completely gross and ought to be quashed from our genetic heritage via chemical or bolt cutter castration. I can’t think of many things more infuriating than the parading hordes of self-ascribed tough guys celebrating the triumph of manliness by watching two other simian idiots fight in a cage. Clothing companies like Tapout turn these sacks of redundant protoplasm into billboards for the cult of masculinity: Just what this phallus-worshiping, trigger-happy country needs.