Smile Politely

Elsinore use down time for collaboration and definition

Lately the only choruses of Yes Yes Yes to be heard have come from sound systems (or commercials or DVR’ed episodes of television dance competitions). It’s been some time since a crowd has shouted those words in unison with Elsinore, as the group has stayed off the stage for the past few months.

During their brief concert hiatus the Elsinore boys have been busy, though. After touring in support of their first full-length, Yes Yes Yes, the band has set aside time to create new music for their next full length.

“We haven’t been taking it easy because we’ve been at work since probably Pygmalion. We’re refining some of the songs we did on the Life Inside an Elephant tour like ‘The Thermostat, the Telephone,’ ‘Ultraviolence,’ and ‘Life Inside an Elephant,’” lead singer Ryan Groff said.

Writing songs is going a bit differently this time around for Elsinore. For one thing, the band has a new space to write and record. Groff has constructed a new home studio in his backyard, complete with a live room, a monitoring room, and a vocal isolation room. It’s a space Elsinore can use to practice and fine-tune new songs, and a space that Groff can use for his music lessons and to record other bands looking for an alternative to the higher end studios in town.

Another difference in the preparation for the new album is that instead of just laying down the songs they have already come up with, the group is setting about writing a large number of songs and culling the collection down to a cohesive album. Already, the band has written 11 songs, but Groff says they are not done yet.

“We don’t feel like we’re trying to have just enough for a record, we’re trying to write 15–20 songs so we can go in, record them, then pare it down and have five or six left over for bonus material, another EP, giveaways, that kind of thing,” Groff said.

Coming up with a larger selection of songs to draw from has not been too challenging for the group, and the songwriting has even become a more inclusive process for Elsinore.

Since YYY, bassist Chris Eitel has rediscovered his knack for song craft (Groff said Eitel had been going through a lengthy spell of writers block) and drummer Dave Pride penned his first songs. The inclusive songwriting is a product of the band finding a sound they feel comfortable as the “Elsinore sound.”

Between the band’s first recording and YYY, they began to develop their sound, switching from a more acoustic “folk orgy,” as Groff describes it, to the electric sound they now employ. During that transition, the songwriting duties primarily fell to Groff, but now that everyone has an idea of the band’s general direction, things are a little easier for the frontman.

“Everyone is giving more and more and it feels really good,” Groff said. “Because of the length of Elsinore, seven-and-a-half years, we all understand what Elsinore sounds like. We have a common vision now.”

Though the band has found a niche to occupy, Groff does not think anyone in the band feels trapped within the constructs of that sound. Among the group of songs the band has already written, there is room for some creativity. Groff said no one was afraid to put forward something weird. He cited “The Ghost of You Lingers” by Spoon as the type of song he could see the band fitting into their new album.

The songs (besides those few from the Life Inside an Elephant EP) remain a mystery to those outside of the band. Based on YYY, fans can guess what the “Elsinore sound” is and what the new songs might sound like — or they can go to Krannert on Saturday.

Elsinore is getting back on stage this weekend for the Pygmalion Spring Concert Series and they plan on sharing at least four of their new songs with fans.

“It’s time to play these five new songs no one in C-U has heard. These shows will be a big unveiling of these new songs we’ll be recording, probably, in the fall,” Groff said. He added that no old songs are out of rotation, however, and fans of their recorded material can count on hearing plenty of familiar tunes in their next few performances.

Elsinore are performing at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts with fellow C-U rockers Common Loon. The show starts at 10:30 p.m. and is free to attend.

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