Elroy started his career playing in other people’s bands - Connan Mockasin, Liam Finn, Neil Finn, Lawrence Arabia and Wild Nothing to name a few. But for the last six years he’s been slowly working away at his own music and his debut self titled album is finally being released at the end of this month. In the lead up to Elroy’s live album release party right here at Neck of the Woods, we sat down with the musician to talk about music to eat to and the six piece band bringing his album to the stage.
You started recording this album in New York but you finished it here in Auckland. How did those two very different locations contribute to how the album came about?
I started recording my own music for the first time while I was living in New York. It was sort of an exciting thing to do in my room where I’d stay up late, learning how to record music. So, I guess New York had an influence on that. I was playing drums in my brother’s band and we all lived together in a really fun apartment so I guess maybe that definitely had a big impact. But I guess finishing it in Auckland was just because I had a chunk of time where I wasn’t occupied or didn’t have plans and thought it’d be really good to finish it. Like I said I didn’t really know what I was doing so finishing it seemed like a daunting prospect but I had some good friends help me mix it and get it into presentable shape.
Listening to the album there’s so many layers of vocals and instruments. Who’s actually on the album?
It’s just me for the most part. My friend Daniel Ward (The Sneaks, Lawrence Arabia) played a bit of guitar on one song and my dad played some keys. My friend Jimmy Metherel played some keys as well.
So, from recording most of the album yourself, how do you translate that on to the stage with a live band?
Because there’s quite a lot of arrangement going on, I’ve got a 6 piece band for the live show. I’ve got the luxury of being able to put those parts across live which is awesome. I did a handful of shows last year with a very similar lineup.
Right, like at Whammy backroom.
Yep and Whammy main room and as part of the Others Way Festival. I had a 6 piece band for those shows. They’re all close friends but also really great musicians. Jol Mulholland (Pablo Vasquez) and Justyn Pilbrow, my cousin Harper was playing and EJ Barnes plus Jimmy and Daniel Ward. It’s a stella cast. I feel very lucky to have them involved.
You’ve also made music with Jimmy Metherel as The Hype Men …
Yeah, I have an ambition to make a record with Jimmy as The Hype Men that’s more shamelessly pop. It’s cool to have outlets and different avenues where you can indulge in styles and not feel like it’s not gonna fit the rest of the record.
Which leads me to Pablo Vasquez cos that’s again a whole other very specific thing you were doing there.
Jol and I started playing together in New York cos he was playing in my brother’s band as well. We just started noodling around on nylon string guitars and then decided the concept of a record that was designed to eat dinner to was a nice idea. I like music that’s not trying to grab your attention, that can be an accompaniment to doing other stuff. I think that’s my favourite sort of music at the moment.
That’s interesting because this new album of yours … I don’t want to say it’s background music cos it’s not at all, it really catches your attention but I’ve been listening to it at home and it’s quite nice to have playing in the background.
Cool, I don’t find that offensive at all!
I was flicking through some tracks again on the way here and my uber driver describes your album as “lazy man’s at home vampire music”. Discuss:
I don’t know how to break that down!
Right?! There’s a lot there.
It’s in three parts as far as I’m concerned. Lazy man, I’m assuming because it’s all quite slow? So I just might take offense to that.
But he said he meant it in a very good way!
Oh good! Ok well “at home” - if it provides you with the comfort of being at home then that’s good as well! Vampire, I’m still figuring out. Hopefully that means I’ll get a single on Twilight or something.
So, the show at Whammy last year, that was your first show as just “Elroy”. How does that vibe compare to playing with your brother or dad or even in your own thing with Pablo Vasquez?
I guess it’s a little bit more intimidating just because it’s a project I spent a lot of time on and no one really heard it for so long. Being a frontman isn’t really something I’ve ever had a lust for. I don’t see myself as this super extroverted charismatic frontman. But I think there’s a nice balance you can find that’s unassuming but still engaging. I guess it’s a little different cos drumming you can’t get notes wrong.
What was your ideal night out in Brooklyn and how does that compare to your ideal night out here in Auckland.
My ideal night out in New York, and I still do this if I get to go back, is just this Japanese restaurant that has free hot sake with your meal. Then there’s a bowling alley called The Gutter that I really like. It’s a dive bar attached to a really old 8 lanes bowling alley that was transported from Pennsylvania or somewhere on trucks and then installed into this warehouse in Brooklyn.
And here in Auckland?
I haven’t been going out a whole bunch lately. I’ve been a bit of a homebody trying to make a record. But I guess … fish n chips up Mt Eden? You can’t drive up anymore though which kind of spoils that a little bit. You don’t really feel like fish n chips after a hike.
What would like to see more of in Auckland’s nightlife?
I think there’s a real lack of cool small venues. Obviously Golden Dawn was a great hub for nightlife and bands and a sense of community. So, maybe a couple more venues for smaller bands to play and the rooms to feel full and vibey. I’m excited to play Neck of the Woods cos it’ll be different. And it feels like the whole For What It’s Worth series and community seems to be attempting to put some more good vibes into the scene.
What made you interested in doing your show as part of this series and for koha?
I like the idea of it being a “free” show. I’m not a super well established artist so the more the merrier and just getting people to hear it would be a cool start to the whole album launch. It’s a good incentive to get more people to live show and build the community up.
And of course the usual thing at For What It’s Worth is that you don’t pay when you come down, you pay after the show as you leave so you’re more umm...
Well ok! Definitely feeling a bit more loose with your change. But also it’s one thing getting people to buy tickets before a show but for people to have actually seen the show and be wanting to give…
And then say I like it or I don’t like it ... I like the fact that it’s koha based.
What are you listening to right now?
I’m kind of ashamed that I don’t listen to more music. I really enjoy listening to music at the beach or while I’m cooking dinner but I’m not up to date with every new release.
Oh that question is definitely not directed towards new releases. Most people when they answer are like … Led Zep.
Oh ok well, my favourite thing to put on is Shuggy Otis. That record Inspiration Information is pretty amazing. It’s good for any environment … dinner time, a boogie. My friend Rory’s just released a really great record under the name Infinite Bisous.
It’s funny, you’ve mentioned dinner time and eating and cooking .. do you enjoy cooking?
Yeah I don't make like a wide array of meals but the meals I do make I like to think I make well - mainly just pasta (laughs) but good pasta! I really enjoy cooking and I like eating. I guess like I was saying before I think music can be a great thing thing to be solely focused on with headphones on and on your own but I get just as much enjoyment when something is perfectly accompanying a conversation or a dinner or a hang.
I feel like people underestimate the importance of music to eat to.
It’s an untapped market. Essentially everyone eats dinner, if you’re lucky enough. So you’ve got 100% of the audience potentially interested in listening to your music.
And there’s nothing worse than someone putting on something too loud or full on as you’re about to eat and you’re like nah I can’t digest my food now.
Well it seems like Spotify playlists, a lot of them that are popular are in that alt-chill bracket, which as much I hate the name, I probably would fall into that category. So hopefully I can ride this current wave of chill-alt (laughs).
And people can listen while they eat pasta and have deeper thoughts.
Or you know, just have it as a little gentle massage in the background. It doesn’t have to be…
Life changing mind altering?
No, if you like it then you can go and listen to it in headphones and have an experience.
See Elroy and an incredible six piece band perform his new album live at Neck of the Woods on May 29th before it’s even been released. Entry is free but we ask you to give a koha as you leave after the show.
Check out the Facebook event page for the full line up and more details.
Follow Elroy on Instagram and Facebook