The Ups and Downs of Elevator

By Roman SokalThe word Elevator is much more than just a name for the Moncton, NB originated psychedelic rock collective, which had it origins in the legendary group Eric's Trip. The evolution of their sound — reminiscent of the shadowy, earthy bulldozer grooves of Black Sabbath and the airy, cerebral and hypnotic notations of Syd Barrett — is also marked by persistent name changes from Elevator To Hell and Elevator Through to Elevator. When combined with artwork that explores stream of consciousness text and colourful images, they come the closest to creating a complete experience. Darkness -> Light, their newest album, recorded at Blue Rodeo's studio, is quintessential Elevator. It is a document of the now-quartet, including Tara White and Mark Gaudet, with additional "radio station" and country-esque Byrds-style trips provided by guitarist Dallas Good of the Sadies. They are progressing by shedding themselves from business entities as well as familiar ground to leave only an identity of art in their wake. They are becoming musically more focused by way of devolution. After all elevators travel from the underground to dizzying heights and back. It is all intentional.

Guitarist, co-vocalist and visual guru Rick White explains: "I really don't feel like we treat being in a band the way most bands do. You have to live your art. The truest art is to try to get across your deepest — what you are — a document of yourself without trying to think about it. I find visuals, words, music is all sort of the same. It all looks the same to me — music sounds the way it looks. I put it together that way. It's more like some sort of spiritual artwork, but when it put out on a CD and it's reviewed with other band's albums it doesn't make much sense to me. I don't feel like we're trying to push ‘the band' anymore."
The album is released under the Blue Fog imprint, a new record venture out of Toronto. In fact, the album was almost given away for free. "I'm just trying to reject labels," White says. "I just didn't like the angle that labels take. I thought I might as well do it with a friend, an investor, and do it myself. The last record we put out was just a CD-R with a photocopied cover because I wanted to prove to myself that I could go back down to the purpose of making demo cassettes — just putting out the music for the music. At that stage, I found you can still do a professional record and not have to go through a label or money marketing thing. Hopefully, people who do see it as a different kind of thing will just spread it to their friends. That's the best way music gets around anyway. And I don't mind if it's dubbed. We were originally just going to put it out on the internet. It's weird times right now — we should just be ‘doing.' I don't want to worry about anything too much."

The weirdness and chaos is what Elevator has decided to examine on this record, in an attempt to get a better understanding of things. "I think we went through a big era where it was cool to be pessimistic — to hate and make fun of everything," White says. "Right now we're at a point where that has gotten us all depressed and fucked up, so I am looking for some sort of peace in the middle of chaos, by going back to the simplest of forms, so it makes sense to me. On this record I tried to bring it all to the two sides — split apart all my negative thoughts and my positive thoughts and write songs that were completely separate from each other and try to put the record together in a way where it takes you from one to the other. I did it to see if it could give me any answers. I tried to simplify everything down to the simplest symbolic words — black, white, rivers and trees — to try to make everything so obvious using words that were simple images. One side being the heavy, negative music that we have done in the past; the other side has the more soothing sounds. And the big long song in between is sort of a crossover."

Worry not. This Elevator may travel in any direction — pushing the boundaries from frightening to cosmic to elating — but it will return. "It doesn't mean we are going to be all light now," White says. "All the words I tried to make positive, which is new for me. It's weird to try to ask someone to write a song about goodness and love; you can feel really silly or self conscious about it. It's hard to write a nice song these days. I tried to make myself do it to make myself better. While we were doing it, it felt so strange — like I was supposed to write about war and death, but it felt good to write something nice for a change."
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Article Published In Dec 02 Issue