Q&A Scene: The Elsewheres

THE ELSEWHERES photo credit WILK

Band: The Elsewheres 

Band Members:

Oliver Northam – Keys, Guitar, Lead Vocals

Reuben Maskell – Drums

Alyssa Jayde – Bass

Ned Morris – Electric Guitar 

Grace Phillips – Vocals 

Dylan Hamilton – Alto Sax, Vocals 

Dermot O’Brien – Trombone 

Billy Exton – Tenor Sax, Vocals

Quick band bio:

We usually say that The Elsewheres are a technicolour folk-rock collective with thumpingly raucous arrangements that champion honest storytelling. 

Essentially what that means is.. we’re 8 slightly odd friends who love to dress in bright colours and make as much of a racket as possible whilst singing lyrics that actually mean something. 

Tell us about your new single Run Away.

Run Away With Me is a gritty alt-country track with blazing horns, searing electric guitar and a winding narrative of reckless romance. But it wasn’t always so…

When I was about 14, my dad gave me his 16 track digital recorder, Maton acoustic and his old Roland keyboard (complete with floppy disks for each instrument sound). One of the earliest creations was Run Away With Me which in its original form was a synthy, pop-rock confusion. I always loved the horn line I’d written though and whilst studying songwriting at university I took it back off the shelf and re-worked it. Shortly after, I found myself waiting in a rehearsal room with Reuben Maskell (Drums) and Ned Morris (Electric Guitar). I began playing the new tune, they joined in, and soon we had played our first song as a band. After so many years of creating, nurturing and performing it, it’s a very surreal experience to have it out in the world. 

What’s your favourite work at this point in time?

Definitely ‘Wild Things Are’! It’s a relatively new tune we’ve been playing for about a year now. We always finish the set with it because we love playing it, it’s got a beautiful message about friendship, and I get to rip a fat organ solo at the end. You can bet that’s gonna be the next single! 

How would you describe your sound in food form and why? 

The thickest, heartiest, most explosive gumbo you ever did taste. Plenty of spice and 10 tablespoons of cannabutter so it only gets better with every mouthful.

Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.

The Bong & The Billet:  Whilst interstate playing a festival with our stripped-back trio arrangement. Grace (Vocals), Dylan (Sax/Vocals) and I managed, with the help of my cousin, to get our hands on some grass. The festival had billeted us with the most lovely old couple on the outskirts of town, but they seemed quite straight-laced so we would sneak out in the evening for a smoke down the road. 

We came back one night from performing to find the couple in the kitchen making tea. Whilst making small talk, Grace began looking at me intensely and leading me with her eyes to the overhead cupboard that had just been left open by the old lady. It took me a while to realise, but there, down the back was the tiniest little bong. None of us could believe it, and we didn’t want to say anything so before we left the next day we packed it with a little bit of weed as a thankyou. 

What, or who, inspires you?

It was because of Prince that I taught myself every instrument I could get my hands on. Passenger gave me an education in finger picking, and Bob Dylan showed me how to weave a story into a melody. However, it was my dad that truly made me believe that I could do music for the rest of my life. He fronted an amazing band MEO-245 back in the 90s and I grew up listening to him playing guitar, knowing that I had to do that myself some day. 

Which song do you wish you wrote?

So so many, I couldn’t possibly choose only one 

‘Georgia On My Mind’ (Hoagy Carmichael), ‘If I Had A Boat’ (Lyle Lovett), ‘Cecelia’ (Simon & Garfunkel), ‘If You See Her, Say Hello’ (Bob Dylan), ‘3 Arabesques’ (Nikolai Medtner) 

What’s next for you?

This single may or may not be part of a bigger project, that’s coming in on the tides of July… Beyond that we’re keen to kick back into gear with more shows around Melbourne and a few more singles that we have locked and loaded to begin recording! 

What’s your scene?

Honestly The Elsewheres began as a strictly folk outfit and have become increasingly rocky. Our scene definitely used to be more singer-songwriter vibes but we’re breaking into the rock scene baby! 

Like a cloud of folk-soaked smoke curling down a hazy highway, the new single Run Away With Me out today from technicolour folk rock collective The Elsewheres welds gritty textures laden with oscillating brassy licks and fluttering guitarwork. An ode to freedom and intoxicating romance, Run Away With Me also arrives today with an accompanying music video, seamlessly complementing the raucous and tongue-in-cheek single that will also be launched on full display on Thursday 10 August at Melbourne’s The Curtin Hotel. 

A release years in the making, Run Away With Me simultaneously nods to the songwriting prowess of Paul Simon, John Lennon, David Bowie and Passenger, as well as a distinct nod to the anecdotal stylings of Bob Dylan throughout proceedings. Simultaneously playful and powerful, Run Away With Me is also equally steeped in fantasy and reality as lead singer and songwriter Oliver Northam explains, “Run Away With Me captures a fantasy I’ve always had of an unexpected meeting between two unlikely lovers who, although uncertain, long to abandon their mundane lives. For me, it is a story of freedom and the beauty of a recklessly romantic love. Although fictional, Run Away With Me does draw from real moments and memories. The inspiration for the ‘topless bar’ in which our characters meet in the opening verse comes from my first job out of high school as a pianist at a burlesque bar. It’s within that smoky, sordid world that I see these characters breathing.”

Brought to life during the songwriting process with Oliver working alongside Ella Hooper (Killing Heidi) and Alex Gow (Oh Mercy), Run Away With Me ultimately reached its final form when Melbourne composer Lee Bradshaw reached out to Oliver during lockdown, with Michael Bradshaw mixing, and mastering by Jeremy Chua. From sleep-deprived nights to its final polished form, Run Away With Me not only presents a mesmerising antidote to mundanity; it also significantly stems deep into The Elsewheres’ creative journey, as Oliver reveals, “As the oldest song in our set, this little sucker has been with us in every crowded bar and every empty room for years. It’s the first song we ever played together as a band and it’s one of our absolute favourites because it can’t be played without smiling. I wrote this tune way back in high school and after such a long journey in my pocket it’s a very proud moment to finally be setting it free.”

Working alongside Matt Wallace (director) and Lawrence Phelan (producer), The Elsewheres’ accompanying music video is a beautiful exploration of love on the run. Matt wrote a fantastic cinematic concept of a runaway couple galivanting through the countryside. We were all immediately in love with the idea…” says Oliver of the heart-warming clip. Filmed around the roiling hills just beyond where Oliver grew up in Harcourt, he notes “There’s an old abandoned out house which I used to climb on as a boy, and I knew this had to play a role. Matt had also written in a scene where we would sneak into an old ladies’ house and steal some freshly baked cookies, and so it was absolutely hilarious when mum stepped up to the plate for her debut role. She nailed it.”

Consisting of a formidable 8-piece squad armed with blazing brass, toe-tappin’ grooves and vocal harmonies to make you weak at the knees, The Elsewheres champion honest storytelling coated in raucous and thumping arrangements via their vivid folk rock flair. Helmed by Oliver’s vulnerable and searingly intimate narratives, The Elsewheres resoundingly emerged in 2019 with multiple festival appearances, including Newport Folk Festival and Nightjar Festival, while their debut single Into His Arms snagged community radio support and spent five consecutive weeks in triple j Unearthed’s Top 10 Chart. Alongside Oliver’s pursuits beyond The Elsewheres, which spans being selected as one of seven songwriters to represent Australia in the London MX Music Exchange, winning the Push Songwriting Competition in 2020 and working as a contemporary musician at The Australian Ballet School, Oliver and The Elsewheres have a special launch show locked and loaded in Melbourne on Thursday 10 August at The Curtin Hotel. And, as Oliver reveals, there’s a whole lotta The Elsewheres magic still to come in 2023: “Run Away With Me is our first release in three years but it’s not going to be our last this year. We’ve been working like dogs to get some new material ready for your ears so keep ya mincers peeled, there’s something bigger coming!”.

Run Away With Me is out now!

THUR 10 AUG | THE CURTIN HOTEL, MELBOURNE VIC | 18+

Tickets here – https://rb.gy/q47f4

About Mary Boukouvalas 1576 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.