South Siders might have a bone to pick with Everest for agreeing to herald in the 2011 baseball season with the Cubs instead of a certain World Series-winning team, but what do a couple of follicly blessed California boys know anyway?
“We understand [the rivalry], but we’re kind of neutral when it comes to baseball,” guitarist Joel Graves explains in regard to the band’s early morning gig scheduled for Opening Day. “I feel like an underdog sometimes and I look at the Cubs and how can you not love an underdog like the Cubs?”
The comparison falls flat upon a quick rundown of the quintet’s brief but illustrious history. After forming in 2007, the band immediately entered the studio, knocking out its debut “Ghost Notes” in a mere two weeks, which caught the ear of Neil Young. Impressed by its nuts-and-bolts songwriting swathed in a sheen of mellow gold, the Canadian rocker placed the album on the roster of his Vapor Records and took the group out on tour (including a one-of-a-kind doubleheader at Madison Square Garden). Bolstered by the Hall of Famer’s stamp of approval, Warner Bros. joined the fray for Everest’s 2010 sophomore effort, “On Approach.”
It might look predestined on paper, but as Graves (along with frontman Russell Pollard, guitarist Jason Soda, bassist Elijah Thomson and drummer Davey Latter) readies a third attempt at vinyl immortality, life on the front lines has been an evolution of sorts.
“You could compare it to the development of a child or anything like that. Some of the first stuff on ‘Ghost Notes’ was recorded the first time we all played together. So it was kind of like we captured our crawling stage on the first album,” Graves says over the phone from Los Angeles. “And the second record we had toured a bunch and we’d actually been a band on the road for a while and… we had enough time to develop our relationship to a point where we could throw out a song idea that might seem a little out of context for what we used to be and figure out a way to make sense for who we are now and what we hope to grow into.”
Graves admits a few of the album’s tracks instilled a sense of fear in the hearts of the career musicians, most notably the irresistible single “Let Go.” Centered on a slicing, precise monotone guitar riff dreamed up by Soda and augmented by dueling percussion, the song deserves MVP status not just in the context of “On Approach,” but also in the greater sphere of popular music. Fortunately, the band pushed through its doubts.
“It kind of shocked us a little in the beginning and I just had to come around to it myself and wrap my head around it and figure out where I fit in with it and embrace it,” Graves admits. “Now it’s totally joyous to play live. I love it.”
Fans of the CW’s steamy soap “Gossip Girl” got a taste of “Let Go” when the song accompanied the attention-grabbing antics of Serena and Blair, after careful consideration and a full band consensus.
“Trying to be a band and stay a band and… getting financial aid from something like ‘Gossip Girl’ or anything like that, that helps us with our agenda, it’s a fine thing for us to do,” Graves says. “It’s playing as background music during a scene, it’s playing as background music in somebody’s car right now too, so it doesn’t really bother me.”
Roll up the windows and turn the volume knob all the way to the right.
March 31 at Subterranean, 2011 West North, (773)278-6600, 7:30pm, 17+. April 1, Cubs Opening Day broadcast at Yak-Zies, 3710 North Clark, (773)525-9200.