“We all felt it was time to kinda step back, to close that chapter,” says Garcia in a delicate timbre belying his smoldering South American sex-symbol image (his parents are Argentine). “We all went our own ways really—it was sort of beautiful. And now we find ourselves coming back to L.A. on that same vibe: It’s not like we all called each other and said it’s time to do this—it was just a bunch of things all clicking together. It’s time now to sort of say hello again and go back into the studio and finish off our third record.”
Formed in New York City in 2000, Elefant (completed by drummer Kevin McAdams, guitarist Mod and bassist Jeff Berrall), released their debut album, Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid, in 2003 on Kemado Records. Their taut pop/rock drew comparisons to 1980s Brit new wave and fellow NYC Anglophiles Interpol and The Strokes. Following the success of the single “Misfit,” the Disney-owned Hollywood Records swooped in, re-issued Sunlight and then released The Black Magic Show. Diego wryly recalls Elefant’s time on the label as “purple pool tables and flat-screen TVs.”
“We’re actually having a really hard time playing any songs from The Black Magic Show,” he explains. “For these shows in L.A., we’re drawing from Sunlight and some songs we never really played and always wanted to, and, of course, new material—but very few songs from Black Magic Show . . . It’s just a chapter we don’t remember even being part of and we just don’t relate to anymore.”
“[For the new record] we went back to what I think we all felt made us happiest. We looked at both albums and we all related more to the first record: to the innocence, to the sort of freak poppiness that it has, and we just built on that. I would say that this record is unapologetically sweet. We put up a track called ‘Cereal’ on the MySpace page—the chorus is ‘thinking of you-hoo,’ but when I’m singing I’m thinking about Yoo-Hoo the chocolate drink. We’re not spending too much time on editing or re-recording . . . ‘Cereal’ I literally wrote the day before I played it to the band. They heard it and we recorded it that afternoon. So that’s kind of the MO for this new album—not spending too much time thinking about things; just playing from instinct.”
During Elefant’s absence, Garcia played solo shows and has almost completed an album based around acoustic guitar, cello and “unapologetically romantic lyrics about the malady of love.” McAdams released a solo record; Mod went “deep into experimenting again with sounds”; and Berrall “went back to his grass roots old hippie music,” according to the singer.
“There’s something quite special that happens when we’re together, because we’re all coming from such different backgrounds. It’s exciting because I’ll bring a song to the table and I’ll have no idea how it’s going to come out. There is an element of mystery to the band . . . and I think we lost that a little bit after that second album.”
Garcia predicts that Elefant’s new record will be finished by mid-September, at which point the currently label-less outfit will start searching for a home for it (or may even self-release the album). But there’s some road-testing of the fresh material to be done first.
“These shows coming up at the Fonda and The Glass House are straight-up rehearsals for us. We’re going to L.A. to really test out the new songs before going back into the studio to finally record them and finish this album.”
Elefant with The New Division, Everybody Else play the Glass House, 200 W. 2nd St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802, www.theglasshouse.us. Sat., Aug. 8, 7PM. $20.