Smile Politely

Elsinore on the Move

Photo by Brittany Pyle

With the launch of a long-anticipated new album coming in a few months, Elsinore is off on a quick, pre-holiday eastern tour this week, designed to highlight their progress. Shedding their identity as a folk-rock/Americana quartet, the guys have undergone a year-long transformation that has them preparing for national recognition on the indie-rock scene. They’ll follow up next spring with a six week tour through the southwest.

On the eve of their tour’s kick-off show at Urbana’s Canopy Club, I got a chance to talk with Elsinore front-man Ryan Groff.

More after the jump …

Smile Politely: Can you give us a rundown of the upcoming tour?

Ryan Groff:
12/14 :: South Paw in Brooklyn
12/15 :: Cake Shop in Manhattan
12/16 :: Lee’s Palace in Toronto
12/17 :: The Smiling Moose in Pittsburgh
12/18 :: Hi-Fi in Lakewood, OH(just outside Cleveland)
12/19 :: Locals Only in Indianapolis
12/20 :: Cicero’s in St. Louis.

SP: Why the tour, why now?

RG: We haven’t been out east yet, and Mike (Ingram, our booking agent) promised himself he’d get us out there before the end of the year. So, he lit the fires and made it happen. We’re also road-testing some of the new songs that will be on the new record.

SP: You guys have toured before — how was that experience? Are you expecting anything different this time around?

RG: Our month out West in July was hot and had a lot of 10 hour drives between cities, but that’s what you have to do when geographically, and logistically, you don’t have a choice. But, it made us realize we’re doing the right thing, all of this “career musician” business. It was jarring and inspiring and abrasive and squishy and exactly what we needed after three years of not playing anywhere further than five hours from Champaign-Urbana. With this week out east we’re excited to again be hitting brand new cities for the most part, with this tour being our strongest week on the road in terms of quality of the venues and size of the cities. Plus, CANADA!

SP: How do you prepare yourselves for a tour?

RG: We couldn’t rehearse any more than usual, but we pack enough in every week so that things don’t really get rusty. Besides that, we’ve just got to have the “business trip-slash-vacation” mindset: How much money do we need to have on hand, how much damn gas will we use, who do we know in all the cities (which usually means more accommodating sleeping arrangements and showers), and what situations do we need to avoid (what lessons did we learn) from the July tour?

SP: Any thoughts on traveling?

RG: We all bring really good books. This keeps us from getting on each others nerves or developing nervous ticks while driving. All the foot-tapping, etc. … The “sleeping on couches” scenario is never that bad. We’ve got air mattresses and I pretty much bring my entire bed-set (down comforter, thick sheet, two pillows). I’m really particular, so I just bring what works. We’ll have our friend Nathan Bell in the van with us. He’s a photographer, and an all-around amazing guy, so besides shooting every show, he’ll fill a driving slot as well as that much-needed fifth voice … the tie-breaker.

SP: You guys have made it known that the last year has been dedicated to changing your sound. The General EP showed the first glimpses of this reformation. How would you say this process is coming along?

RG: This musical rebirth is coming along very naturally these days. With the amount of hours we’ve spent working on the new record and rehearsing the newest songs, we’re finally honing in on who and what we are. It’s all warm and fuzzy these days.

SP: Any words about tour mates, We Landed on The Moon?

RG: They seem like a really talented group of people in the exact same situation we are, and getting to tour with them for four of the seven days will be a first for us. It’s been just us so far. We haven’t toured with anyone else, and luckily we like what they’re doing. Honest appreciation always works out so much better than polite pats on the back.

SP: What’s in the works for the next year?

RG: The new record is at about 90% as of today, and it couldn’t get wrapped up any sooner. It’ll be new, it’ll be fresh (not like Kanye West) and it’ll be our first real step into being serious about ourselves musically, I think. We know better now how to do that. Also, we’ll leave at the end of January for six weeks out west leading up to South by Southwest (music festival), which will be our first time down there. New record, bigger tours, a more focused career plan … I think that all sounds just about right.

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