Interview-The Power of Elves: Athens band brings magical flair to Cville
Athens-based indie rockers Elf Power have been around for a decade or so; starting as a home-recording project of guitarist Andrew Rieger, then evolving over the years through collaborations with members of the Elephant 6 Recording Company, a loose collection of artists comprising some of the most successful indie bands of the '90s, including recent Charlottesville players Of Montreal.
Elf Power quickly found a place of its own, churning out ten albums including their most recent release, a forceful and poignant remembrance of their late friend and collaborator Vic Chesnutt, the partially paralyzed singer-songwriter who committed suicide on Christmas Day in 2009.
Rieger tells the Hook he was a big fan of Chestnutt, having begun listening to him long before they first collaborated in 2008 on the Dark Developments album and its subsequent tour.
The Hook: How did the collaboration with Vic Chesnutt come about?
Andrew Rieger: He was asked to do this live music television show, and he asked us to be his backing band. We rehearsed with him for awhile, and he really liked the arrangements we came up with for his new songs, so he suggested we do an album together.
The Hook: And what was that process like?
AR: Over the course of a year, we'd go to his attic studio in his house and he'd show us a song. We're used to coming up with demos, a long, gradual process. Vic had an instinctual feeling, didn't want us to over-think it, so it was a really cool way to record. We'd run through it, record it, then move on.
The Hook: So how does this new eponymous album reflect your grief?
AR: Some people have read into some of the lyrics, and asked, "Is this about Vic?" Vic died on Christmas, and we started recording the second week of January. We were definitely thinking about Vic while we were recording, but it was all written before Vic died.
The Hook: Elf Power has been around for over a decade now. What keeps you going?
AR: I've thought that there will be a point where I want to stop this, but it's become such a natural part of my life. This is what I do, and I'm always writing, every day. The music keeps flowing, and people still seem to enjoy it.
The Hook: Can you go back to those first home recordings and enjoy them?
AR: I was 22 when we started, and I'm 38 now. Sometimes some of the early stuff makes me cringe a little bit. The early recordings are crude and primitive, but in a really cool way.
Elf Power plays the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar Saturday, October 9. The Hilarious Posters and Lost in the Trees open. Doors open at 8pm, and tickets are $8-$10.