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- Posted on Mar 9th 2010 7:37PM by Chris Opfer
For a band whose members bounced around the Los Angeles indie circuit for years, Everest has led something of a charmed life since forming in 2007. The five-piece Americana rock group, led by frontman Russell Pollard (Sebadoh, Folk Implosion, Alaska!) and guitarist/keyboardist Jason Soda (The Watson Twins, Slydell), recorded their debut effort, 'Ghost Notes,' in just a few weeks. They were quickly scooped up by Neil Young's Vapor Records, which released the album in May 2008. From there the band was off on a whirlwind of tours, opening for alt-country heavyweights My Morning Jacket, Wilco and the legendary folk rocker himself, Young. 'On Approach,' Everest's second album, hits stores on April 20. The band travels to Austin for a spot in Vapor Records' SXSW showcase at Maggie Mae's. Spinner recently caught up with Pollard to discuss his band's rising star.
How would you describe your sound?
Weird. Unique to ourselves.
You guys recorded both 'Ghost Notes' and 'On Approach' using analog tape. Were you trying to capture a certain sound?
Yeah. That was the best way to sound natural, especially when we were a new band. We thought, "Let's just get together and play live and record it." It's an ever-evolving process of trying to fulfill ourselves and, by doing that, fulfill people who listen to our music.
How did the band get together?
We formed over tacos in Los Angeles, discussing records. It was really casual how the band got together. All of us had played together before or had heard each other play. Me and J. Soda and Joel Graves had a bunch of songs, and we just started playing songs together.
Has everyone's experience in other bands made this one better?
This band is slightly different. It's more of a fused idea of the five of us. We went in knowing what we don't want to do and don't want to repeat. We know what people are expecting of each other and how to communicate. When we went in to do the second album, we weren't scared about making mistakes. We just kind of went for it.
Who are your biggest influences, musically?
Pretty much the same as everyone who likes good music: The Beatles, Velvet Underground, CSNY, Radiohead ... I'm just realizing how relevant [Radiohead is] to us. They've been around a long time and made a lot of amazing albums. They're just doing whatever they want, and it's great.
How did you come up with the band name?
J. Soda and I were talking about how the Beatles were originally gonna call 'Abbey Road' "Everest," and it just kind of stuck.
So you'll take the Beatles over the Stones?
For me that's a daily battle. Today, I'm feeling the Stones.
Does one band influence your music more than the other?
They're equal parts. It's a dead-even split. Throw Pink Floyd in there and that makes it 33 and a third each, in terms of influence.
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
Sade. It's not even a "guilty" thing, but some people might look at it that way. It's just good music.
What's your biggest vice?
Smoking. It always happens more out on tour because of all the time you spend getting from A to B. I probably don't fill my time with enough positive activities.
Touring with Neil Young and Wilco must have been pretty wild.
Yeah. Watching Neil every night, It was like going to school. You know all the songs, and it's amazing to be a part of the audience. To see Wilco react the same way we did, that was funny. Kind of mind-blowing.
How did you guys get hooked up with Neil?
His record label, Vapor, signed us. He hasn't signed many people, but when I found out about [Vapor], I was really interested in seeing if they would put [a record] out. I sent some songs to his manager and then Everest got together and presented them with a full album, and they liked it. After we signed with Vapor, we went out to Sundance to play a show. Neil was out there for the CSNY documentary, 'Deja Vu,' and he surprised us at our show. He walked into this tiny club to see us play. I remember thinking, "I can't believe this is happening." He's given us a lot of opportunities and really fostered our band.
Have you guys been to SXSW in the past? What do you make of it?
All of us have done our fair share of SXSW performances. Everest as a band played there two years ago. I always feel like I'm in a city full of people who are just like me. I'm like, "Really? Are we all trying to do this?" It can make you feel small. But we all love Austin, from the crazy birds to the great food.
Chris Opfer is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.