Behind Punk is a D.I.Y. punk blog/fanzine/record label based out of Moscow

We need to focus on positive change in the world, and it starts with our scene and the people within it. More hugs, less shrugs!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Interview with Tim of Elway

ELWAY IN EUROPE! Do yourself a favor, check upcoming EURO DATES for info. Support these great guys. Also check their tour blog
Thanks to Tim for taking the time out to answer some questions. 

Hey Tim! How are you doing? How's Colorado?

I’m doing pretty well. I’m just finishing up packing my bag for a trip to Iowa and Chicago with some friends. Colorado is just fine, it’s hot as hell outside and it’s got me craving a Mojito!

 First off, introduce yourself and members of the band:

My name’s Tim Browne and I sing and play guitar. Garrett Carr plays the drums, Joe Henderer plays bass and sings, and the venerable Brian Van Proyen plays guitar and sings.

So, tell me how 10-4 Eleanor - Elway originally came together? And how did the name come about and what does it mean?

It was either August or September of 2007 that we had our first practice and started to put songs together. I moved to Fort Collins from a small town called Monument to go to college, and the first year that I lived here I didn’t really have any friends to play music with, so I just wrote all these songs and never did much with them other than play the occasional open mic. I really started to get the itch to start a band after I got The Lawrence Arms’ “Oh! Calcutta!” record, because it reminded me of just how much fun it is to be shouting songs into a microphone with your best friends, and so I got really determined to get something together. I met Garrett and Joe through mutual friends and Brian, who moved up to Fort Collins later was already a good friend of mine, eventually joined up and we started writing and demoing these songs and ‘tightening’ up our live show. It’s still not very tight though, unfortunately. After spending an entire couple of practices mulling over various band names, we finally agreed on 10-4 Eleanor, which is a reference to skit by a comedy group from the 1960s called Firesign Theatre, because it seemed catchy and memorable, but above all not serious. The attitude that the band was founded on was to have fun with the music and never take ourselves (or anything) too seriously. We played our first show on December 16th, 2007 and it went over really well and from then on, we just survived off of the momentum. I think that we started playing at a time when Fort Collins was really hungry for a thriving DIY scene. We played basements and living rooms and made something of a name for ourselves around town just having a blast and drinking. Fast forward a few years, 2 LPs, 3 EPs, 1 split 7”, and 300+ shows later, here we are!

Why do you change the name of the band from 10-4 Eleanor to Elway?

Well, like I said, 10-4 Eleanor was the product of our mutual interest in not taking anything too seriously. The band name just seemed to have that essence of not giving a fuck that we found both funny and accessible. Once we signed to Red Scare though, we wanted to try to start fresh, so to speak, and really try to milk our luck for all it’s worth. We changed the name to Elway because it is a more memorable and more accessible band name, but really because it still carried the tongue in cheek attitude and sarcasm that still pervades our characters as people and as a band. The band is, ostensibly, named after an American football player named John Elway, who in Colorado is a living legend. None of us care much (if at all) about sports, so the rechristening of our Colorado-based punk band after a famous Colorado athlete is purely ironic, and also pays a certain homage to the place that we began as a band. Elway just gave us a sort of a new beginning without sacrificing our commitment to never taking ourselves too seriously.

What's your experience been like with Death To False Records? I remember Scotty put your two records "Too Bad" and "Words Can Not Express How Much Fuck This Band" for free download. how do you adapt to downloading music illegally? Do you support downloading music? How do you think small bands can make a profit?

When I first emailed Scotty about putting out 10-4’s recordings on DTFH, the label was in its infancy. The only records on the website were either projects that Scotty or label cohort Jonathan Minor were directly involved in. I loved the idea of a not for profit record label that helps to spread the word about good, hardworking bands to those who would listen. We had our recordings sitting around, and lord knows we weren’t going to be able to make people come to our Myspace page and listen on our own. So Scotty agreed to put our music up for download, and it turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened for our band. DTFH started to earn a reputation for promoting good music for good music’s sake, and people took note. It seemed like as early as our first tour there were people in town that seemed so far away that were singing the songs and buying merch and genuinely caring about the music. It’s hard to look at the free flow of music on the internet as being a bad thing. It is a very humbling feeling to play my songs in Germany, Wales, or Russia and see people singing along. It is a feeling so incredible, that it’s hard for me to be anything but smitten over the fact that they have heard the songs at all, regardless of how they acquired them. The music industry isn’t what it once was, and we’re not going back to the time where making punk rock records was in any way profitable. You can’t stop the free flow of information via the internet, and I wouldn’t want to anyway. If one person in Moscow hears Elway through illegal downloading and likes it, it is worth it. We only ask that that person comes out to our show and maybe buys a shirt or something to help us keep touring. It’s hard for a band our size to make a profit, but considering that we started this band in the mice-infested basement of a house in Fort Collins and toured our way across the country in basements and dive-bars, I don’t think that making loads of money is our main concern. We just want enough to keep doing what we love.

How did you guys get involved with Red Scare Industries? How has it been working with them?

Me and Brian were having a few cocktails one night at the local punk bar in Fort Collins, and through some kind of cosmic punk rock happenstance, we managed to bump into Brendan Kelly from The Lawrence Arms, who was in town visiting family. After a few drinks, we managed to convince him to play an acoustic set while he was in town and we arranged for our band to open. I can’t really remember the specifics of the show, but for whatever reason we must have done pretty well, because after the show, Brendan got us all in a room and told us that he wanted us to do a record with Red Scare Industries. This was hugely stoking for us, as we’re all pretty big fans of the music that Red Scare has put out, and it was a very exciting prospect to be working with them. So after a few months of talking back and forth with Red Scare head honcho Toby Jeg, we hatched a plan to record Delusions in Chicago with Matt Allison. We put the record out May of last year and have been touring on and off ever since. Our new EP Hence My Optimism is coming out next week (June 12th) and we’re just as stoked to be working with Toby and Red Scare now as we ever were before.

I know "Hence My Optimism" just recently came out, how has the reaction been from fans? Are you working on anything new? Maybe an EP/split/album?

The EP only came out a week ago now, so it’s hard to gauge the reaction just yet. I can say that we’re very proud of the new songs and we hope that people will share in our enthusiasm. In terms of new material, we’ve got a pretty substantial batch of songs in the works that will eventually become our 3rd LP. Hopefully we can get to recording sometime late this year or early next year.

How was european tour with Nothinghton? You've played a lot shows in many cities. What are the main differences between playing shows in the U.S. as opposed to European shows? 

Touring with Nothington in Europe was as awesome as it was totally strange. It was my first time in Europe, and it was really great to get to experience all these new places with a band that I’ve been a fan of for years. I was playing drums, which is not by any stretch what I am used to doing in bands. I’m a decently capable drummer, but the live dynamic is totally different from playing guitar and singing. It took some getting used to, but it wound up being crazy amounts of fun! Playing in Europe, best as I can tell, is in almost every imaginable way better than touring the US. At every show we played in Europe, we were provided with dinner, a place to stay, and usually breakfast! That is unheard of in the US! The drives are shorter and people seem to really appreciate what you do. Not that people over here don’t appreciate musicians, they just don’t have such a forward way of expressing it.

Which of your shows was the most memorable for you?

This isn’t just lip service because this is for a Russian blog, but my favorite shows were the 3 we played in Russia. All of the people we met who were involved with the shows were so energetic and awesome. I mean, one crazy fucker actually crowd surfed on an actual surf board at one point! Our show at Lo-fi in Moscow was probably the craziest show I’ve ever played in any band.

Do you try to go out and see things when you are in different cities?

Being that it was my first time in Europe, I was trying to see as many tourist-type things as possible. It’s actually equally rewarding to me to see ‘the sights’ in different parts of the world as it is to play shows in different parts of the world. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do the things I do, and so I try to fill my days with exploring cities that are new and strange to me.

What's your favorite and least favorite part about touring? How do you handle the rigors of the road?

My favorite part is meeting new people who you feel like have been your friends for years! One thing I’ve noticed about touring is that the world seems to become a smaller place, and you feel more connected with people all over after having met them and shared an evening drinking and singing songs. It’s one of the most amazing feelings to converse with somebody halfway across the world who loves the same music or literature as you! I’ll quit jobs and go into debt to have that feeling with as many people as possible! The worst part is probably that you have to leave familiar places and people and spend a lot of time without the comfort of a permanent home. Being always in motion makes it hard to relax sometimes. I must say though, it’s really a minor gripe considering how fulfilling it is to be able to take my music on the road.

Since you guys are touring kind of by yourselves, you’re on a lot of bills with local bands. Have any of them really stood out to you?

Nothington had the privilege of playing with some really great bands on this last European tour. Some of my favorites were Terrible Feelings from Sweden, All Aboard from Germany, Sam Russo and Leagues Apart from The UK, and Rooftops from Russia. It’s really awesome when you show up to a town you’ve never played before and there’s a local opener that just rips. I’m excited to see who will be playing some of Elway’s shows!

How is the Colorado scene? Any acts we've been unfortunately overlooking?

Colorado, and Fort Collins in particular is a pretty great place to start a punk rock band, as the living is cheap and simple, and the geographic isolation just begs for a DIY punk scene. It’s not one of the first places you think of when you think emerging punk rock markets, but you can find some real gems here! Sour Boy Bitter Girl, Arliss Nancy, Anchor Point, St. Fall Apart, Boldtype, Allout Helter, and False Colours are among the best Colorado bands, and everyone should check them out!

Could you please talk about your involvement with the DIY punk community, how you got involved in it and how it affects your lives (putting out your music, going on tours and playing shows, etc)

When 10-4 Eleanor got started in 2007, Fort Collins didn’t have too much of a DIY punk scene. We were fortunate enough to have a lot of really awesome, motivated friends that operated house venues and warehouses and other show spaces. In the first year we were playing shows, we saw Fort Collins go from being a city without much of a DIY presence to one of the best scenes we’ve ever experienced in the US. We got our start by spraypainting our CDs and handmaking cases out of old 5 ½” floppy discs. We put our first EP and LP online through Death To False Hope Records, which is a really rad donation based record label out of North Carolina. It was through those connections made online that we were able to bust our asses touring all over the country and make a little bit of a name for ourselves. Of course, we still play basements and DIY spaces all the time. The fact that you can go all over the world and find people who are interested in independent music and places that will host it is an awesome testament to the power of DIY ethics.

Do you think it's necessary for independent musicians and bands to have a form of ethics?

While I would say that I find it very important to know what you believe and why you believe it, I wouldn’t say that every independent musician has to live and play by unbendable rules. For Elway, it is very important not to take playing music so seriously that it becomes a job that is no longer fun. We believe in the power of making a name for your band via self-determination and DIY ethics, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to have the assistance of an independent record label like Red Scare Industries or a booking agent in Europe like Benny from Klownhouse tours. The problem I see with a lot of DIY punk bands is a lack of flexibility in their beliefs. When bands are utterly unyielding and loudmouthed in their commitment to being self-determined and self-propelled, they sometimes come off as being stubborn and arrogant and small-minded. I don’t shun bands for wanting to make enough money to pay some bills, and I wouldn’t expect people to shun me for doing the same. Being able to understand and respect different viewpoints on how to conduct yourself as an independent musician is what allows for artistic and professional growth. I’m not going to tell anyone how to express themselves artistically, and it annoys the shit out of me when I am told how to express myself artistically.

What's your biggest gripe with the punk/hardcore scene?

I can only really speak about the American punk/hardcore scene on this one. I will say that in the United States, one thing that really bothers me is the attitude that a lot of people have about the consumption of music both live and digitally. Because of the widespread availability of music for free on the internet via piracy, the actual physical representation of our music is highly devalued. It’s very difficult to make enough money on our record sales in the US to keep touring. That’s fine, it’s unrealistic to expect that people will ever go back to buying music like they did before Napster. The problem arises when people also refuse to pay a reasonable price for a show as well. Going on tour in the US in a huge gas-guzzling van is very expensive. It involves a lot of financial compromises on the part of the touring band in order to get their music out on the road. While I know a lot of really great people have an understanding of this, many others treat small touring bands like garbage, or they refuse to pay $8 for a show with 2 touring bands. The entitlement some people have about it is astounding! You’ll hear things like “If $5 was good enough for Fugazi, then it’s good enough for you!” Such bullshit! When Fugazi was touring, gas was $.89 a gallon and people actually bought records! If fans of independent music are going to download hundreds of thousands of bands’ records without paying a cent, they shouldn’t be allowed to complain when a band so audaciously asks to be paid enough money to get to the next show. That kind of attitude and atmosphere is what leads bands to financial ruin and breaking up. There are a lot of really awesome and talented bands out there who deserve to be heard, and a lot of people who could help these bands out. The fact that some fans of this niche market of music would rather drop $25 on a bar tab than $6 on a punk show just goes to show how shitty and entitled the information age has made some of us. Luckily, this doesn’t seem to be the case with the European or Russian punk scenes from what I’ve noticed on tour with Nothington. As long as people are stoked on touring bands coming to their town, and willing to help us get to the next city without going broke (again), I am perfectly satisfied with the punk/hardcore scene.

What does the future for Elway look like?

Well, we’re going to be touring with Teenage Bottlerocket and The Dopamines in late July. We’re going to Western Canada and the West Coast of the US. That’ll be loads of fun. Then we’re going to tour out to the East Coast in September and fly to Europe and Russia for a 6 week tour. It’ll be our first time there and we’re so fucking excited! We’ll get back in late October and tour down to Fest and back, then we’ll start work sometime shortly thereafter on our third LP. It’ll be a pretty busy second half of the year and we couldn’t be more excited.

Thanks for taking time out to talk with me Tim, can't wait to see you in september! Anything else you'd like to add/share?

Just a big thanks to anyone who is reading this who has taken or will take the time to check us out and maybe come out to a show or two while we’re in your neighborhood! It’s so humbling to hear people getting stoked about our band in other parts of the world. We can’t wait to come and hang out with everyone!

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