Shady Elders is a relatively obscure indie-rock band out of Denver, but their delicately crafted, somewhat eerie sound will make you wish you’d heard of them earlier. Lead singer and guitarist Fox Rodemich’s gentle vocals will draw you right into her dark yet colorful world, while lead guitarist Miles Eichner will keep you floating along in a trance like state. Their latest EP The Night Air (released December, 2014) is the perfect blend of clangy guitars, punchy bass, and dreamy synths; a mountain town take on surf rock, dream pop, and garage. Add in the hauntingly sweet vocals and you have a band that is ready to bring their sound to the nation.
A supergroup of sorts, Shady Elders formed in 2011 when Fox, then performing solo as Shady Elders, was introduced to Miles through a mutual friend. After realizing their similarities and potential, they then recruited local musician and band member Casey Banker to jump on bass, and they had their first EP No Favors out in April of 2013. As they recently got back from a west coast tour, I had the chance to sit down with Miles and Fox, and ask them a few questions.
So you guys met on the Denver music scene. How would you guys define that scene?
Fox: That’s a tough one, there’s a lot of bands and a lot of people that support each other. I would say that, with some of the bands that have gotten bigger over the past few years like the Lumineers and now Nathaniel Rateliff, It’s more of a folky scene. So our band doesn’t really fit that niche, but it’s all supportive. Everybody sort of goes out to each other’s shows, everybody plays shows together, and it’s just a great group of people who get together often.
Miles: Yeah, and I think generally there is sort of a big folky vibe here but I think that’s just how people tend to view Denver. I think what’s cool about being in sort of a sub-scene like we are here, there are some really good indie-rock; indie-pop bands and that sort of thing here, and all of those bands support each other because of this sort of shared feeling that we’re not that typical folk, Americana Denver sound.
Speaking of your sound, How do you think your initial coming together affected the sound and direction of the music you were making?
Fox: Well, we’re still a band that’s evolving. We have influences, of course and yeah we pull from those influences, but I think we’re getting better and better at songwriting as the years go by. In terms of certain sounds and directions, It’s really easy in this band because when we all came together it was like ‘what music do you listen to?’ and ‘what are you’re influences?’ and right off the bat we were all interested in the same kind of music. It made it really easy in terms off creating, because we all could kind of pull from those influences and we were all coming from a similar background. Each band we were in before Shady Elders was different, but I think that it’s constantly changing. The Shady Elders I first created and the Shady Elders now are way different, and it will be different probably five years from now.
So when you guys did meet was it just by circumstance or…
Miles: It was kind of circumstances, I was playing in another band which was sort of my main project at the time. The lead singer from that band introduced us because she thought we’d get along personally and musically. I feel like it slowly started to build up as a main focus. I was playing in three separate bands, but over the course of a few months it became more and more my main focus and now it has been for a while.
Right on. well, in regards to your name ‘Shady Elders’ is there anything in particular you’re trying to evoke?
Miles: What do you think it is? *laughs
Fox: There of course is an actual story behind the band name. However, it’s one I don’t really like sharing. Shady Elders can be interpreted in so many ways and I kind of like that about it, that people get to choose what it means to them. It could mean older people who are corrupt as fuck, or it could be trees. It could be whatever and that’s kind of what I like about it.
Miles: The thing I like about it is, it could be both of those things, but either way it evokes a kind of dark mysterious vibe, and like Fox was saying there is a story and we leave it up to people to decide, but generally that vibe comes across.
Interesting. Well I know this is personal so don’t feel obliged, but are there any particular experiences or world views that helped shape that shadier side to your sound?
Fox: Hmm, You know I think of music as very therapeutic. In terms of writing and lyrics, if I’m writing and I’m going through something really dark or deep, I can totally express it through music. And not that I’m this dark depressed person all the time, but in those darker more emotionally deep times in your life, you end up creating your best art. So I would say that my life experiences are directly connected to the music I create. Of course we have a pretty democratic way of writing, so they have their input, but I think in general what ends up coming out is a little bit darker but that’s just probably a lot of me being a darker person. *laughs
So what’s the ideal setting in you’re opinion to listen to Shady Elders?
Miles: One thing I think is cool for any music is the setting that your listening in can kind of change the feeling that the music itself evokes, so…
Fox: I was gonna say on a rooftop in New York City when you’re wasted.
Nice. I might do that tonight… So you guys just ended your tour in June. How’d that go? Highlights?
Miles: It went well. Seattle and San Francisco were definitely super fun. I’ d say they were our two favorite cities to play in. So, no surprise there.
Cool. East coast coming soon?
Fox: Oh yeah, were hoping to. We’re recording a full length album for next year so I’m hoping once that’s all wrapped up and getting released I’d like to do an east coast, west coast, all across the country. We want to get out soon and as often as we can.
So you said you’re currently recording a single. What’s your writing and recording process like?
Miles: I mean we generally record and mix by ourselves, with little help. It’s pretty contained, but it’s not necessarily something were going to continue in the future.
Fox: When somebody has an idea we try it. When they work, they work and when they don’t they don’t. We’re all pretty smart in terms of when we hear something and want to try something we know pretty quickly if it works. So there never comes a time when we’re arguing over something. It’s very much like ‘let’s try this, if it doesn’t work then whatever, let’s move on.’
Cool. So what’s in the future for Shady Elders?
Fox: Well we’re gonna be releasing a single hopefully in the next couple weeks and we’re gonna be writing and wrapping everything up for this full length album coming out next year, so really what we’re doing now is just writing and recording.
Miles: Yeah, we’re over EP’s.
Definitely. So last question – If Shady Elders could transport to any time and place in history, when and where would that be?
Fox: Oh man, okay I’m just gonna say, because of our sound, I think the best place and time would be the prolific CBGB’s era late seventies – early eighties.
Miles: I mean technology wise, If we could go way back and still sound the same, we could just completely blow people’s minds from 120 years ago, that would be fun. It would be an adventure.
Totally, an Excellent Adventure. *laughs Well thanks again for your time guys, the beasts appreciate it!
Make sure to check out Shady Elders before the Summer ends, and keep your eyes out for their new single coming soon! It’s the perfect transition in to a cool and spooky Fall.