Since Elway is releasing Leavetaking I got on the phone with frontman Tim Browne to discuss the new record and plans for the future. The conversation got a little off topic at times (apparently Browne is a big Greg MacPherson fan!) but we still got the relevant questions answered too:
I understand you just finished recording Leavetaking in February?
Yeah, we were there for 2.5 weeks in early February.
What made you decide to go back to Matt Allison in Chicago?
Well, the cool thing about Matt is that heís just like a really super laid back guy. Itís sort of a no frills recording process, itís not super regimented. Last time we recorded with him in 2011 we got to be good friends too, heís good at being reflexive with the bands he works with and offering good input, finding the best way to get a good take and make a good record. We liked the way the last one turned out and it was sort of natural for us to want to go back to him this time.
What would you say was the hardest part of the recording process?
When we recorded Delusions those songs were kind of like the accrual of years of the band being on the road and never really having a good recording. It was our first album and we had been sitting on those songs for so long. We had refined them to the point where we knew what we wanted so the recording process was real natural, we banged them out so fast because we had been playing the songs for so long. But with this record, some of the songs are a lot newer and we didnít have as much time to work on them beforehand. But nonetheless the songs are really important to me and we wanted to do them justice. It was sort of hard to find the time in the studio, the time that Matt was able to afford us it was hard to find the time to fit everything in. There was a lot of bouncing around and trying to squeeze everything in before our time in the studio was up. We were a lot busier in the studio, if that makes sense. The hardest part was trying to do justice to the songs that we really love on this record in the amount of time we had in the studio. I think we did it though.
Aside from the issue of time, how would you personally say Leavetaking varies from Delusions?
Delusions was sort of like a mission statement for the band I guess. A lot of the songs were road tested and kind of anthemic sort of songs. Lots of sing alongs and it was a product of the band we were at the time, always playing basements while being in love with our friends and the scene. Leavetaking is a little bit different, when we made the record we intentionally wanted to focus more on lyrics and song writing rather than making big huge anthems and sing alongs. God willing thereíll still be plenty of those on the record, but I think this record is a little bit more, weíre trying to maybe expand out a little bit lyrically. Thereís less of that sloganeering, like punk sloganeering we did on the last record with the big choruses and things like that. Weíre more trying to get across the overall message and thematic element of the record I guess, I donít know, I donít know how to make that not sound douchy. Itís a darker, more lyric driven record than Delusions is.
When youíre talking about the thematic element what exactly do you mean?
It sort of refers to the fact that our band is sort of in a transitory period. When we wrote Delusions we were all a bunch of college kids, getting really drunk, playing shows in basements and fucking having the time of our lives. Leavetaking is 700 shows later, lots of tours and sort of the idea of moving on from things for better or worse. The record deals a lot with the idea of changing for the better against the odds, I suppose and we try to reflect that in songs that are about people who are our friends. Just going through changes and not letting it derail you. Being in a punk band and all of a sudden touring all the time, it makes your home life unstable and your financial life incredibly unstable. You have to learn to take those things in stride, bounce back and make yourself a better person because of it. I guess thatís sort of what weíre trying to do with Leavetaking.
How did you end up choosing Leavetaking as the title?
It comes from a poem by Sylvia Path called ďThe Ghostís Leavetaking.Ē I kind of use a lot of Sylvia Plath imagery in the lyrics on this record because I became completely obsessed with her at a certain point. And so it refers to sort of a schism between the individual and their own spirituality, kind of abandoning faith in a God and thatís kind of how I tried to frame it. The whole record isnít about people losing their faith particularly, but leavetaking in the poem refers to something that haunts you finally leaving your life and you being better off for it. Thatís where the title comes from.
I see, Iíve read The Bell Jar but I still havenít dived into her poetry.
Youíve got to read Ariel, the collection of poems, itís amazing and itís also the title from one of the songs on the record. The Bell Jarís cool but sheís not really a novelist you know? She was a fantastic poet, thatís where she really shined and I recommend it.
Whatís your favourite track on the record and why?
Letís see. Thereís a song on the record called "One Flew West" and itís a song that I wrote the day after having a sort of drug-fueled existential crisis that kind of scared the living shit out of me and made me realize a lot of things about myself, about my friends and about my future. I kind of woke up the next day and the song just kind of wrote itself it felt like, it flowed really well. When we recorded it our friend Anika from a band called Chumped from Brooklyn sang on the chorus with me and I think it sounds fucking fantastic. Itís a really cool song and I think I like it above others because thereís a lot of different sounds and tempos. Itís not just a four chord punk song, there are still plenty of four chord punk songs, but on this one we tried to approach new territory. For now thatís my favourite, but thatís going to change week by week.
As a Canadian I have to ask what inspired you to write a song called "Montreal?"
The song "Montreal" I wrote when we played the first Pouzza Fest and we were doing a tour with The Holy Mess. At that point we had never left the country on tour, Montreal and Toronto was our first time touring outside of the United States. And Montreal is such a beautiful city, itís so captivating because it seems so alien to someone from Colorado who hasnít traveled much until that point. We still have real modest expectations of this band, as far as weíre concerned weíre still drunk pieces of shit. So to be in that city and playing music for people and meet new people and being immersed in a new culture was an amazing thing for me. I felt for sure that Montreal is the most beautiful city Iíd ever get to go to with my music so I wrote the song. I felt so lucky to take my music on the road and see new things. That song is actually the oldest on the record, I think I wrote that in 2011. It predates the Captain, Weíre Sinking song, if that's what you're getting at too.
Whatís next for Elway?
Weíre doing Red Scare Across America with Masked Intruder and Sam Russo, then weíre going to Europe and then weíll go to Fest and then weíll head home. Maybe weíll do something in December, Iíd like to do something with Captain, Weíre Sinking, but I donít know. We donít have any concrete plans after Fest.
Unless you have anything else to add thatís pretty much all Iíve got.
One of the greatest things after our last record came out, we were just a bullshit band from Colorado and then all of a sudden we got a bunch of great opportunities to tour. I just want to thank all the people who came out to shows, bought the record and put us up because without them who knows what goddamn terrible boring job Iíd be doing. Thank you.