By Al Kaufman
Elephant Revival is not your typical band. While a typical band may revolve around the music it creates, Elephant Revival revolves around the music that is in nature and the cosmos. Their goal is to live in harmony with that nature; to create one world through music. A little too metaphysical for you? That’s okay, if you just appreciate a good rhythm, Elephant Revival is there for you as well.
The five person collective from Nederland, Colorado consists of Sage Cook (banjo, guitar, mandolin, tnor banjo, bass and fiddle), Bridget Law (fiddles), Bonnie Paine (washboard, djembe, musical saw, stompbox), Daniel Rodriguez (guitar, banjo, bass), and Dango Rose (double-bass, mandolin, banjo). They all write and they all sing, in harmony, of course. While songs like “Go On” have the lo-fi, indie rock qualities of the Lumineers, the band is at its peak when performing jams such as “The Pasture,” a Celtic flavored jig.
Taking time out from their tour and work on numerous progressive causes, Dango Rose answered a few heady questions about the band and its place in the world.
You have five people, all singing, all writing their own songs. I know you all preach love and harmony, but there must be some occasional turmoil or fights for power, or someone must sulk if their song doesn’t make it onto the album. How do you guys work that out?
In all relationships, there are challenges and conflict. Yet it is how we focus our attention that is important. Focused attention creates intention. And our intention – or, at least I can speak for my own intention — is for the betterment of our society through the medium of song. Music is a healing force that creates a sense of unity through experience. It is a powerful conduit like nature, art and the written word.
Our relationships benefit from envisioning the ‘positive outcome’ before the egoist issues of ‘this or that’ come into play. The more we focus on what is best for that which is asking to be expressed, ultimately the happier we are. This goes for our music as well, especially when we recognize that what is ours is actually not our own. Power struggles cease to exist when we work more and more for others, and personalized sulking becomes unnecessary when we realize the enormous scope of positive change that must take place each and every day.
How do music and social consciousness work together?
It’s been this way since the beginning of time. Since the first aboriginal drum beat brought together the tribes.
Music is a conduit for bringing people together as well as for individual epiphanies to arise. Thereby, social consciousness and music go hand in hand. The outcome is the emergence of new ideas that expand upon the old ways; Tradition and Innovation ~ Innovation and Tradition. It’s a beautiful world.
Your band name stems from that sort of social consciousness. How did you come up with the name?
The name comes from an experience busking outside of The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago in May 2005. There was a pair of elephants that had been together for 16 years. Salt Lake City needed an elephant, so Chicago shipped one in a big 18 wheeler across Interstate 80. In transport, the elephant died. Within days, the other elephant at the Lincoln Park Zoo passed away for unexplained reasons. Elephants are tribal creatures and their family structures stay intact throughout their lives. The passing of these two elephants served as inspiration to gather the tribes and to allow the band to emerge. Adopting the elephant as a totem animal for the group felt appropriate at the time and continues to feel more and more apropos as time move on.
You invoke so many styles of music into your songs; folk, jazz, Celtic, bluegrass, even some hip hop. Who is a band that you like that nobody would believe you do based on the music you play?
Dispatch, Digable Planets, Handsome Boy Modeling School, Nirvana, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, The Roots, Stravinsky.
You wake up tomorrow deaf. What would you do?
That’s a question I’ve never thought about. I’m so grateful to be healthy and to be surrounded by people that I love. Most likely, I’d figure out a new way of being and it would be incredibly challenging. However, like stated in the answer to the first question, I would focus on the positive outcome.
Elephant Revival plays Eddie’s Attic Friday, May 2nd.