“Music's a funny thing. To my mind, it's very difficult to describe verbally to someone,” he says. “I’ve had so many people tell me about an artist, then I check them out and they're nothing at all like what was described to me. I think that's what's great about it- it really needs to be listened to personally.”
Elliot’s EP, Provisions, comes out May 6, 2014. The first single, Benny’s A Bum, is out now.
“I work at it. I try to write a little bit every day, especially when I don't want to. I think that inspiration comes whenever it's gonna come, but if you're sitting around with a pen and a piano, you're more likely to do something cool with it,” he says. “There have been so many times that I've had great ideas, and then they've slipped away because I wasn't working steadily at creating something.
His subject matter has no single source; it comes from all over. But the material is all personal but he tries to keep a certain distance between him and the subject—figuratively.
“It’s deeply personal, but I try to remain as objective as possible with the material I'm dealing with (if that makes any sense). I don't want to interrupt a process with my personal feelings.” says Elliot.
Elliot is not a “gear nut” sort of musician. He feels that the musician makes the instrument.There is a lot of truth in that. A beautiful instrument doesn’t make you a better instrument and a lot of musicians—especially early blues musicians—played on what could be considered terrible instruments.
“As long as I have a voice, a pen, and something to keep time with, I think I can always write.” he says.
“At this point, I've been confined by a small budget, but we're hoping to change that. We'll be recording with John Agnello next, and are very excited to be with him during the process,” he says. “I like to record as live as possible. I try to be minimalistic with the overdubbing. For my work, I think that a live feel captures it best. I've tried to record instruments separately, and it always comes out sounding inauthentic.”
Agnello is known for his work with bands such as Dinosaur Jr., Screaming Trees, Drive By Truckers and Sonic Youth (among many others). But that is Elliot’s NEXT, release, after Provisions. What is the upcoming EP about and how will the material created with Agnello be different.
“It was not easy to come up with a title, but I thought that using a word from one of the songs might help. Provisions came from Ballad of Priest and I thought really summed up all five of the EP's tracks- I don't know, there's just something about the word," says Elliot. “The new stuff I'm working on... I always try to write differently than I was writing before- I don't want to be one of those artists that constantly puts out the same record over and over. Not that there's anything wrong with that- it's just not what I want to do. I'd say that the new material is very promising, and will have one of my musical heroes, John Agnello, working on it.”
Elliot started taking piano lessons when he was 8 but quickly noticed that the musicians he liked all played guitar. Naturally he wanted to be like them. He taught himself the guitar and started writing as a teenager. He returned to the piano as well. Music is something Elliot feels he has to do.
"If I'm not writing, I'm usually pretty unhappy,” he says.
He confesses to some envy for people with more traditional careers because he is fond of consistency. If he weren’t a musician?
“I don't know- maybe I'd be a school counselor. I seem to get along with kids...”