Elliott Brood waxes on Call the Office

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Elliot Brood

Call the Office is no Air Canada Centre, but for Elliott Brood, it’s the intimacy with its fans that matters most.

“We want [the fans] to have a good vantage point, to feel everything in their chests, to be part of it,” lead singer/guitarist Mark Sasso, says. “We’ve played Call the Office a couple times and it’s cool because we used to go there when we went to school in London.”

Elliott Brood’s lineup includes Casey Laforêt on guitar/vocals/bass pedals, and Stephen Pitkin on percussion/vocals.

The roommates-turned-band-mates met while studying at Fanshawe College and Western. After playing together for a few years, they decided to take their music global with the goal of “playing for as long as possible and doing the best shows possible every night.

“I thought the character ‘Harriet Brood’ [from the movie The Natural] was named ‘Elliott.’ After I realized I heard wrong, I figured that if she’d had a brother, he’d be named ‘Elliott,’” Sasso says.

The band’s avid fans have fallen in love with the ‘death country’ trio " a genre that began as a way to avoid the label ‘bluegrass.’

“Just because there’s a banjo, people think it’s bluegrass. The banjo is in the forefront in our sound, unlike its background role in bluegrass.”

The ‘death’ part of country originates in the band’s lyrical inspiration from books and films about death and murder.

“The banjo sounds better with sad songs than when you sing happy songs,” Sasso, who started playing the banjo on a lark, says.

Inspired by family, and even bus drivers, Elliott Brood follows in the musical footsteps of Neil Young. “We also follow Smashing Pumpkins and bands in that era,” Sasso adds.

With chilling vocals and lyrics reminiscent of Bob Dylan, Elliott Brood integrates Canadiana into songs like “Oh Alberta,” which carries an uncharacteristic mellow tone.

Despite its popularity, Sasso says starting out was difficult.

“Our first album, Tin Type, was wrapped in brown paper because we didn’t have the money to press a bunch of CDs. Wrapping it in paper was better for our mental well-being and for the album. It worked with the design of the album, and really the art is just as important as the music. If the art doesn’t work, it plays off [badly] on the music.”

Elliott Brood is set to release a new album to follow up its most recent Atmosphere, and it enjoys testing new material on the audience.

“We like playing lots of new tunes before recording. It allows us to feel out the sound in different venues and the receptiveness of audiences before we record.”

Call the Office reminds Sasso just how powerful music can be.

“It’s always amazing to realize that your music has taken you to that next level. Playing here is amazing.”

Elliott Brood played at Call the Office last Thursday.

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