Ray's account of Elk City's origins:|
Elk City unofficially formed when Peter auditioned for the band that Renee and I had been in together since 1990, Melting Hopefuls. Realizing the three of us were better suited to begin a new band rather than pretend to be the old one, we did just that.
We began playing together as often as possible. Usually three to four times a week. We were very excited about where this new thing could go.
We began our first attempts at making a record. Four tracks from this era ended up on our debut LP.
"Chocolate Girl", "Freeze Two Over Eight", "Tell the People" and "Solar Girl".
1998 in general:
We spent most of 1998 in our recording studio/rehearsal space, the WOMB, jamming, writing, making noise, and recording every moment onto multi-track tape. I've got hundreds of hours of material on DAT from these days. All these tapes would help us to shape our songs and sound. I'd make copies of these recordings for Peter, Renee and myself, and we'd all listen to them until the next rehearsal. When we'd return to the WOMB, what was just a jam would have turned into a song, with each of us bringing what the jam had meant to us into a new version.
From the beginning, Renee and Peter would each sing their own words and melodies over whatever music we were playing at the time. This was completely natural and organic. Right away their distinct personalities came through. After awhile it just wasn't an Elk City song unless both singers were featured.
Not yet known as Elk City, we played our first few lives shows in NYC at Baby Jupiter and Knitting Factory.
We began playing a monthly slot as Elk City at Lakeside Lounge on Ave. B in NYC. Renee didn't play bass yet. It was just guitar, drums and two voices. Really raw. We had so many songs stored up we could play four or five sets with no repeats. Just crazy amounts of stuff. We also had started trying to get more of our songs recorded . Not an easy task, because we had so many ideas we wanted to try on each song.
Our first band road trip was a very inspiring week-long vacation to visit friends in Athens, GA. Some of our best songs to date were written in that week of jamming into hand-held cassette recorders. The first track on our debut, "Dreams of Steam", as well as the live favorite, "Crimson", are good examples.
Though we didn't have a gig on that trip, we got a good taste of what was in store for us when we traveled together.
We spent the summer recording what would become "status". Originally intended as a single, then an EP, we didn't realize at the time that we were creating our first LP.
By mid summer it became clear that we possessed a full-length of quality material. The problem? What to do with it.
October 10, 1999:
We played at the wedding ceremony of Jude and Midori, friends of Peter. Not the reception, the ceremony. We performed only one song that would become our first UK single, "Judori". It was for this event that we first realized the wonderful live effect of Renee playing bass on a keyboard. Long sustained notes that worked well with our music could easily be obtained. We immediately began playing shows with Renee singing as well as playing a Novation Bass-Station analog synth. A whole new world!
Later that fall we played with Versus at Columbia U using this new live sound. Our gigs were no longer confined to small venues. We became a more developed live act.
As the century drew to a close it was decided that we would release "status" with American indie, Hidden Agenda/Parasol. They imposed no strings to speak of and promised to release the record promptly. Sounded good to us.
On a random trip to a fave music shop, the Guitar Bar in Hoboken, NJ, I found an instrument that would further develop our live sound: the Fender Rhodes Piano Bass! Being sold on consignment by Tom Verlaine, it was simply too perfect for us to be true. Renee began making it her own right away and we haven't looked back. The Rhodes Bass is all over our new recordings and an important part of the live sound of the band.
June 6, 2000:
"status" is released in America!
Back to the present . . .