By Kim Friederich
Coming to you from New Zealand is Elliot Brown a man with so much talent that it made me stop and drop what I was doing and just listen. I found myself listening to his songs one by one over and over again . I was mezmerized with what I was hearing. Do yourself a favor go listen to his music.
Elliot Brown: Hello, my name is Elliot Brown. I am a 24 year old songwriter from New Zealand and I've written approximately 4 tons of music for various bands I've been in including The Stomps. I am currently a solo artist.
Punk Globe: Where did you learn to play?
Elliot Brown: My dad taught me guitar when I was about six, then I continued to teach myself, then, at 12 I got some lessons from a jazz/classical maestro, then I went back to teaching myself. As far as singing goes I picked it up, like a rook or lyre bird, from my musical family and the records that were played during my childhood. I understand that this is probably how most people learn.
Punk Globe: Looking through your influences is a trip down memory lane for me. Most I have not known anyone else had even heard. Tell me about who are your biggest influences and why?
Elliot Brown: Hank, being the guy who invented music, is possibly my biggest influence. I have been told that there is no need to mention The Beatles or Radiohead when asked about influences as they have so obviously influenced most modern songwriters. This, for me, is true of The Beatles. The Pixies, of course, is another influence that needs no mention.
I grew up listening to traditional, Carter Family type Moe Ash/folkways music and 50's/60's Rock and Roll. I found the melodies of these kinds of music to be far better crafted than anything on contemporary radio. The lyrics were secondary (so far as Rock and Roll goes anyway-though the lyrics from the Folkways collection far excel anything in modern music). For a similar reason I was taken by old country music (not to be confused with the tripe that rapes the ears of modern country fans-the stuff I liked was Hank, Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, Bill Munroe, and all from that ilk-the good ol' boys). I think the fact that decent melodies are so rare these days is the fact that a lot of modern songwriters didn't grow up listening to these old time songs and so don't know no better. Dang. Roger Miller = awesome.
That's the melody done. I learned to appreciate harmony from the complex works of Bach (my first classical hero. From Bach I also learned the invaluable auto-didactic technique of taking someone else's work and re-arranging it.
Lyrics I learned from Edgar Allen Poe. No mention of Bob Dylan needs to be made as he influenced most songwriters and his influence is obvious. I learned from Poe how to write with proper meter. I recommend reading his essays on the subject, especially where he explains how he composed The Raven. It kills none of the charm of the poem by having some elements of its construction illuminated. I also learned a lot from Lyrical Ballads (Wordsworth/Coleridge). I am eternally indebted to these great writers for having the generosity to explain their theories and some of their techniques.
I learned from Brian Wilson's work all I know about vocal harmony. Most people probably did.
Punk Globe: You are not signed to a label,which I find quite funny since its been a long time since I have heard this much talent. Is it hard to get a record contract in New Zealand?
Punk Globe: You say that members of the band Elliot Brown and The candy caps line-up frequently changes. Why is that?
Elliot Brown: Because there are no Candy Caps. I am the Candy Caps. Candy Caps is a mis-hearing (a Lady Mondegreen) of "Canned Heat tapes".
Punk Globe: Tell me about writing the songs for your album Delirium Tremens.
Elliot Brown: DELIRIUM TREMENS, the song, is pretty self-explanatory. It was originally written for an amateur musical for a character who drank too much. I was to act this character's role (as Ringo would say "all I have to do is act naturally").
GROUND COFFEE I wrote about finding yourself in someone's house hungover and unwelcome. Well, that's the meaning of the song but the music itself is an exercise in brevity and compactness.
SUMMER GIRL is about alcohol-not about summer or a girl. Aren't I cryptic! That'll fool 'em. I'm sure you can already see an underlying theme emerging in a lot of these songs. In no way do I try to promote excessive drinking but it would be insincere for me to avoid the topic just to be more accessable to a modern audience.
SMART MAN is about all the ghost stories, UFO articles, and conspiracy theories I immersed myself in when I was younger which kept me up all night. This song is more about the lyrics than the melody (which is bone-simple). I wrote this song after seeing Paul Simon's concert in South Africa on DVD. I write a lot of my songs as answers to songs I've previously heard (though I certainly don't try to imitate). Give credit where it's due.
ANNA: There is creek running through my dad's place by which I read books and smoke cigarettes when I can. Anna is a friend of mine who sends me all manner of books to read. An American friend of mine looked out her window and saw her neighbour jumping her souped-up Mustang with her lawn tractor. I made the rest up from there. The talented artist Cybiont helped me record this song and added a lot to it. As an aside the melody for the bridge was taken from O Little Town Of Bethlehem.
ONE DOWN was recorded, as with a lot of my songs, with Jackson Hobbs (the other member of my band The Stomps). It was the last song we recorded in the style of The Stomps. THe greatest compliment The Stomps ever got, apart from being called "Bluegrass on P (pure methamphitamine)", was that we were told of a local neighbour smashing his house to buggery while blasting our demo album.
BEAUMAINS was based on the mysterious Book 7 of Sir Thomas Mallory's Le Mort D'Arthur which was the only whole book in the great work not taken from previous sources. The story deals with the Philosopher's Stone and Alchemy (though there is no explicit mention of these in the book itself) and follows a knight who serves in King Arthur's kitchen for a year until he can go out on an adventure proving his worth and true identity. Jacko and I recorded this song with Damien Golfinopolis of Auckland. It is a combination of two songs I'd written. This song works live.
I'LL BE DAMNED is an angry song with naughty words in it. I wrote the riffs while screwing around with my Fender amp (Super 60-yeah be jealous) drinking beer, and thinking about how hard it is to deal with dire penuary and bad relationships at the same time.
BIG TALKING ANIMAL: Fuck all old people who tell young people that they can't know about life until they've fought 5 World Wars, been enslaved by a moron (read boss) for 50 years, and done nothing with their lives. That's what a Big Talker is. The song, however, is more about kidnapping idiots and reprogramming them. It's also about country hospitality. Jackson is responsible for the African sounding drum beat in the background (possibly the best part of the song).
GET YOU IN THE END was originally a love song. I thought about it a lot, realized I wasn't in love at all, then changed the lyrics to something I was actually concerned with. This is the most Garage song we've ever recorded. I play the lead with a bottle for a slide. Try it. It's street as! This song is my answer to half-hearted university "Socialists" whose most detailed plan for taking down The Man is to wear a Che Guevara T-Shirt.
TOM O'BEDLAMS is an upbeat and delirious experiment in telling everyone who's ever preached to me to go fuck themselves. This is the only song I've ever recorded sober-I was not a happy chappy.
PUMPKIN is a basic folk-funk song. It's Tom O'Bedlams on valium.
THE BITCH HAS DONE IT AGAIN is self explanatory. It is also the first Stomps' song ever recorded and is very simple. Catharsis. Works well live and has a naughty word in it. It's cool to swear-it proves you're hard.
ONE MORE NIGHT: In this song Jackson wrote the melody for the verses and the lyrics for the bridge whereas I wrote the lyrics for verses and the melody for the bridge. It started out with me showing Jacko the bassline and he seemed to like it. My middle name is Ulysses so I had to write a song about the Odyssey eventually. We wrote the majority of this song when we were on the road living in a beat-up old van (purchased from the Exclusive Brethren cheap) and playing 5 days a week. Actually.
DRAW I wrote when I was growing poppies and experimenting with opiates. I'm happy to say I am not a junky. Jacko wrote the words to the chorus.
JUST DOING HIS JOB I wrote after being given a Draconian fine for a technicality by an anal policeman. This is just me and the guitar.
ARBOR TOWN: I have no idea. BY THE END OF THE DAY was written for a musical. It is pure fiction and is about the mundane subject of executing unfaithful lovers.
EARTH WORM I wrote after reading a poem about King Arthur telling one of his knights to throw Excalabur back into the lake so he could go peacefully to Avalon. The knight claimed to have thrown it in but King Arthur knew he was full of shit because the knight didn't say anything about a big old hand reaching up to grab the dang thing. Cheeky sod probably wanted to put it on eBay.
AMBER'S REGRET is a story I made up about a girl to a minor key version of the tune to O Dear What Can The Matter Be.
HIRED GUN was The Stomps' way of saying it's more profitable to be an evil bastard than it is to do good or be a musician. We used anything we could find in Jacko's barn to record this song, including a 40 ounce of 80-proof Jacko is responsible for the production of this song which a lot of people have commented on.
SLEEP NOW is one of the many songs I wrote when I was much younger and have regurgitated since. I have many more songs like this which poverty alone has prevented me from recording if anyone is feeling generous (hint). I stole the line "you crazy heart" from Hank's song 'You Crazy Heart'. I was listening to a lot of Gillian Welch type music when I did this one.
Punk Globe: How did you come to name your album Delerium Tremens?
Punk Globe: Where does your inspiration for songs come from?
Elliot Brown: I wish I knew so I could call on it more often. All I know is that most of my songs are written while driving or being a passenger. I never have the radio or tapes on while driving so I think to myself "what kind of song would I want to hear right now?" -and often I come up with the very song. So basically I write for myself and if anyone else happens to like the song that's a bonus. Really. Actually. You heard it here first.
Punk Globe: Whats coming up on your calender?
Elliot Brown: A (quite possibly half-arsed) attempt at university for the second time in my life. Last time I made the attempt music and poverty distracted me from it and I wouldn't be half surprized if the same bloody thing happened again. Look on my works ye mighty aspiring musicians and beware! Be prepared for poverty unless you have rich daddies and mummies to help you cheat your way to the top.
I will still be writing songs and, whenever I have the means and the funding, will record more. I have a backlog of music which I am unable to record for financial reasons.
Punk Globe: Where can we find out more about Elliot Brown and buy Delerium Tremens.
Punk Globe: Any final words you would like to tell punkglobe readers?
Elliot Brown: I've wanted to play in the US and certain other parts of the world (such as the UK) for a long time, as there are far more people listening to my music there than in my own country. The catch 22 is that I'm not successful enough here to afford tickets to travel out of here. I'm no good at boat building or making rafts. I would have to be a far cooler person than I am to have the balls to stow away on a freight boat.
I would like to thank all the people in the world who have taken the time to listen to my music and passing the word on to their friends. Without them I'd be Rodgered. Piracy is a good thing sometimes-it may prevent us musicians from getting money but it's sometimes the only way for us to get heard. Thank you Punkglobe and thank you Kim for the support! It is much appreciated!