Introducing Elephant Bay, a quirky and unique five piece from Lancashire. The band are made up of Emily on guitar and lead vocals, Bella on guitar and backing vocals, George on lead guitar, John on bass, and James on drums. The alternative rock-grunge infused sound the guitar has matches the delicate softness of Emily’s vocals beautifully in their music, making their sound very reminiscent of acts like Wolf Alice or Kill Moon (early Black Honey). The lyrics are soft and melancholy, especially on Everest which features a heavy guitar sound and soft intricate riffs throughout. Their music is very delicate and poised, rather than the typical messy sound you get from grunge bands. As Everest draws to an end, it slows down with Emily’s light vocal matching the meticulous guitar riff beautifully. Safehouse is a stunning track too, with the blaring riffs backing up the intricate riff played on lead guitar; the drumming is steady too, keeping the track very controlled and showcasing how well written and constructed it is. Wasted Paper Days is a favourite of mine (video further down in the article), with that heavy guitar giving their music a really powerful gritty feel. As well as this heaviness though, the band are beautifully delicate and soft too. They have a variety of stunning acoustic covers available to listen to online, a favourite of mine being their cover of Catfish and The Bottlemen’s Glasgow.
The soft blurred vocals from Emily and Bella remind me a lot of bands like Wolf Alice, Fat White Family, and INHEAVEN. The soft delicacy of the guitar reminds me too of bands like Blaenavon or Pulled Apart By Horses, giving the band a very interesting alternative rock sound. They’ve been together as a five piece since July last year, with Emily and Bella starting out as an acoustic duo back in 2014. Yet despite being such a small new band, there’s definitely a unique stand out quality to them which sets them up as an exciting band to watch this year.
For more on the band, you can read my exclusive interview with them below
Tell me about Elephant Bay; who’s in the band, where’s the name from, and how did you form?
Bella: Elephant Bay is a 5 piece alternative rock band, made up of Bella Casson, Emily Jackson, George Barnes, John Taylor and James Robson. Originally it was just two of us (Bella and Emily) who started as an acoustic duo doing covers on YouTube to gain a small following, but we soon realised that we wanted to make more out of it and start gigging at bigger shows and creating bigger songs which is how we came about the idea of starting a band. We spent a while coming up with our name and it’s actually an anagram, but what it’s for is a secret.
George: We formed through college and friends and through looking for the best musical teens in the ribble valley. As for the name, Bella went on holiday to Canada and was looking at all the restaurants names and she saw the “elephant” and the “bay” and various other restaurants, then she put the two together and it sounded great.
Emily: Elephant Bay is a 5 piece alternative rock band based in Lancashire. Me and Bella started out as an acoustic duo in 2014 covering songs on our YouTube channel and performing at various open mic nights around the North West. After a couple years of that we decided we wanted to progress, to start writing our own music and get some proper gigs so we decided to start looking for a band. It took a while to find people on the same wavelength as us and with the same aspirations, however by July 2016 we finally formed a 5 piece and began gigging. Since then we have lost and gained a drummer, so are currently working on getting back up to scratch on original songs whilst writing new ones so that we can start gigging again very soon! In terms of the name, it came about during a game of scrabble…
John: We’re an alternative 5 piece rock band from Clitheroe near Manchester featuring Emily Jackson singing and on guitar, James Robson on drums, George Barnes and Bella Casson also on guitar and myself, John Taylor on bass. I joined a couple of months ago after leaving my prior band Fret:64, a friend introduced me saying they were looking for a bassist and it’s been good times since then. We thought of the name ’cause I had a vision that told me to call my band elephant bay.
James: I’m not sure where the name’s from but I recently joined the band after the old drummer left.
Where are you from and what’s the local music scene like?
Bella: We’re based in Lancashire and around 40 minutes away from Manchester. In our area there isn’t many bands or venues so it’s difficult for a small bands like us to get gigs, so we usually have to travel to Manchester in order to get the opportunity to play to a crowd.
George: We’re mainly based in Clitheroe where the music scene is average so we’ve not done that many local gigs, the other half of us live near Blackburn, where of recent the music scene is slowly growing and we have recently played at the Napier which is a really good venue for small bands. The pub music scene in Darwen is very good and with ease you can find a good pub with good live music in it.
Emily: We’re based in the Ribble Valley, Clitheroe to be specific, which unfortunately doesn’t have the most exciting music scene; a few pubs and one larger venue (which doesn’t really cater for up and coming bands). I think our biggest struggle as a band is finding the right venues to play at in the right area since there is so little around where we live. We’ve travelled to Manchester a number of times to gig there which we love, however it would be so much easier if there were decent venues a little closer to home.
John: We’re based in Clitheroe where there isn’t much of a music scene really, there’s an upcoming band called Good Foxy who recently went on a tour round Europe and a few small teenage bands but as far as bands go that’s about it.
James: We’re mostly from around Clitheroe, I’m just getting started so I’m quite new to the music scene and I haven’t got an idea of what it’s like yet.
How did you get into music?
Bella: Music plays a massive part in our lives, we’ve been brought up listening to so many different bands by our families and we’ve always loved music produced by people who have a real passion for their instruments and writing their own material. We really want to be that band writing that song people can’t stop listening to which is why we wanted to pursue careers in music.
George: I’ve been into music for a very long time and am doing my grade 8 this term in both piano and trumpet. My dad was in a band and was always taking me to gigs around Lancashire and he taught and inspired me to play guitar.
Emily: As cliche as it sounds, I’ve been into music for as long as I can remember and I’m fairly sure my family have played a huge part in that. I’ve grown up surrounded by musicians and lovers of music, my grandma was a jazz singer and later formed a band, my uncle played in a rock band and 2 of my cousins write/produce their own music, so I guess it was pretty inevitable. I started learning the keyboard at school age 8 then stopped that to teach myself piano, then about 3 years later my uncle bought me my first guitar and the rest is history.
John: I got into music when friends started a band and needed a bassist. I always wanted to play guitar but never really considered bass until then.
James: I first started playing piano at primary school, but I got bored of that and moved on to clarinet, I also found this too boring and I stopped playing music for a while until Christmas one year when my younger brother got a drum kit. He didn’t play it much but I took an interest in it and started getting lessons on it when I was 11. I have now been playing drums for just over 6 years and I have no intention to stop now.
What influences your lyrics?
Bella: We place importance on not overthinking our lyrics or making them sound pretentious and like we’re trying too hard to say something influential or inspiring. A lot of real life events that we’ve experienced have a big part into what we write in our songs, most times it’s when we are feeling strong emotions towards someone or something – relationships, friendships, arguments etc. We are naturally quite poetic so more often than not, we’ll mean one thing and write something completely random or metaphorical to reflect that – just to make it sound more interesting to a listener, so most of the time, we are the only ones who can understand our lyrics.
Emily: I’d say I’m quite an emotional person so most of my lyrics are driven by a particular emotion. Most of the time it’s a particular situation that will spark an idea for lyrics, other times I’ll just overhear phrases/conversations and if something catches my attention I’ll make a note of it and write a set of lyrics around it. The one thing I’d say about my lyrics though is that I always have a connection with them, I could never write a song about an experience I’ve never had unless it was metaphorical or symbolic of something I could relate to.
Is the impact of politics something you’d ever consider embodying in your music?
Emily: As it stands at the moment, I could not possibly have any less of a grasp on politics than I have now. I know that sounds really ignorant of me given what’s going on in the world, but the more I try to understand it all, the less I do. Even if I did have some sort of understanding on it, I can’t say I’d definitely let it influence my music, I know it’s extremely important but personally, I prefer listening to music as a means of escaping the real world and forgetting about reality without getting too caught up on concentrating on political issues. Maybe I’m just not very intellectually-minded.
Which musicians would you say have had the biggest impact on your music?
Bella: We’d say bands like Catfish and the Bottlemen and Nothing But Thieves have had a big impact on the way we write and act onstage, they have had a big influence on our stage presence and the way we look. We also like to compare ourselves to female fronted bands like Wolf Alice, as we can relate to them and get ideas from the way they style female vocals with much heavier rock music so everything balances really nicely.
George: On me myself, I am heavy influenced by Jimmy Page and George Harrison, as a band I’m not sure, I would say we are very unique as we spread across a few genres.
Emily: In terms of inspiring me to be in a band, it has to be Catfish and the Bottlemen. During mine and Bella’s acoustic days we came across Catfish just as they were starting out and followed them on their journey which was incredible to be a part of. We fell in love with them instantly and from then on all we wanted to do was be in a band. Since then I’ve always looked out for smaller bands to support and watch grow, such as Nothing But Thieves, Wolf Alice and Circa Waves (who have all ended up being massively successful). I think it’s important, when you’re in a band, to follow other bands that you can relate to and learn from, which is exactly what we’ve done.
John: There aren’t many bassists who influence my playing but generally I listen to Earl Sweatshirt, Death Grips, Danny Brown, MF Doom, Chance The Rapper, Swans, Childish Gambino, Funkadelic, The Doors, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cream and Led Zeppelin.
Who are your favourite small upcoming bands?
Bella: I’m really into upcoming bands such as VANT, Sundara Karma and Gengahr. They are all quite different to one another but they have a real passion for producing good music in their own unique styles which is why it’s such easy music to listen to and enjoy.
George: My favourite upcoming bands are Blossoms, Cabbage and DMA’s
Emily: We’ll there’s the bands I’ve been following for a while like Sundara Karma, Gengahr, Darlia and The Academic, to name a few, and then there are those that I’ve got into after seeing them support other bands such as VANT, Airways and Caro. There’s also a local band called Good Foxy that I’ve seen quite a few times now and really really like them.
John: My favourite current upcoming bands are Wand, Goat and Myths.
What plans do you have in terms of future gigging and recording?
Bella: We’re aiming to do some more small Manchester gigs in 2017 and hopefully get to a position where we can travel into different cities around the country and do some support shows. We’re definitely in a place where we could record a full EP which is one of our goals by the end of the year.
George: We’re planning to record an EP sometime this year and continue to gig wherever we can.
Emily: We’re in the process of trying to book a load of gigs actually, mainly support slots cos we aren’t big enough for our own gigs yet, but we’re also planning dates to start recording a few singles/ an EP so that we can release our own stuff and start getting a bit of a fanbase going (hopefully). The dream right now would be to release an EP, get some publicity and then be invited on tour with a proper band, that’d be fun.
John: Our plans for the future are really just to record our first album, we have a few songs down but we still have a lot of work to do. We’re also waiting to hear back from a few festivals who are fairly local which would be really fun to play at, and really just growing our fan base.
James: I know we’re planning a lot of gigs in the near future, not sure exactly where but I know we will be doing a lot!
What venue/ festival is the dream to headline?
Bella: Personally, I’d love to headline Manchester Academy, cause we’ve been to loads of gigs and seen so many bands play there. It would be such a surreal experience for us to be the band that everyone would come to see. Leeds would also be a dream festival to headline cause the crowds are always crazy!
George: Leeds festival.
Emily: I’m with Bella on this, gotta be Manchester Academy for the venue. It was there that our passion to be in a band really started out and it would just be the absolute dream to get a headline slot there. In terms of a festival I’m gonna be boring and say Glastonbury just cos you know you’ve made it when you’re headlining that.
John: Anywhere in New York.
James: I’m not too familiar with festivals/venues but probably Glastonbury just because I’ve always enjoyed watching it on TV and imagining us playing there is just so awesome!
© photos 2, 3 & 4 to Tim Pockney