Elephants Of Scotland released their debut album Home Away From Home in the spring of 2013 which was met with positive reviews and praise from the international progressive rock community for which the band was previously relatively oblivious. On the strength of this album alone and with very few gigs under their belts, they were invited to play the prestigious three-day international progressive rock festival RoSfest in Gettysburg, PA in 2014.
Check he interview we did with Adam below:
Interview by Diego Camargo
Adam Rabin - Ornan McLean, John Whyte, and I all played in a 1980s cover band for a few years. We were playing Cyndi Lauper and Duran Duran tunes and it was a lot of fun. But I had always been more into writing and recording originals so Ornan and I joined up with an old band-mate of his and we started writing stuff on the side. Eventually John joined up with us and we found Dan MacDonald. Ornan and John actually still play with the 80s band.
After about 9 months together we felt we had enough songs and we were tight enough that we felt it was time to record the first album. We didn't really have any plans or expectations for it. We just wanted to make the album for ourselves.
Progshine – And talking about your two released albums, how different you think they are from each other?
Adam Rabin - Considering they were released just over a year apart, I think they are surprisingly different. Home Away From Home I think is a bit more whimsical and has more of a groove to it - almost danceable in spots. With Execute And Breathe we definitely went darker and heavier. By that time we were much more confident and we were much tighter as a band so we pushed ourselves to be a bit more technically challenging.
Progshine – And talking about your new album, Execute And Breathe, how was the process of writing and recording it? How much time did it take and how’s the response so far?
Adam Rabin - As with just about all of our songs, I'll come to the band with a song that is more than halfway ready. Then the four of us will learn it and tweak it and each of us will make it our own. I can really only write the chords and melodies and a few riffs. Each person in the band molds their own parts.
We released Home Away From Home in January of 2013. At that time we already had a few of the songs for the next album written. In the Spring of 2013 we started writing in earnest and used last Winter to record.
Adam Rabin - Good question. We have one new song written called "The Sun-Dipped Orphans and the Wizard's Teapot" that we are really excited about. We'll be premiering it in New Hampshire in a few weeks. I also have another song that includes some ideas that Dan and I were jamming on. Both songs feature lyrics by Greg Skillman so I want to get Greg's feedback on the new tune and iron out some of the transitions before I present the new one to the band.
So, now that we have two songs in progress (and I, of course, have a few other seeds of ideas brewing) I'm starting to see a direction for the next album. I think it will have the whimsy of the first album with even more of the technical insanity that we've only hinted at so far.
Progshine – You use all the digital retailers available to distribute your music, like Bandcamp and others. How important is the digital selling to Elephants Of Scotland right now and how is it to be the artist, the manager and your own label?
Adam Rabin - I had originally suggested to the band that for our first album we just release it digitally. I didn't think there'd be enough of a market for physical CDs. I, myself, haven't purchased more than one or two CDs in the last few years. But Ornan lead the cause to print up actual CDs. He's more old-school when it comes to listening to music. He still has a ton of vinyl - he didn't just get into it recently. And so he wanted to be able to hold an actual Elephants of Scotland CD. The other guys sided with him so I relented. I'm glad I did.
Prog fans really appreciate the full package, the classic album listening experience. Sales have been equally split between CDs and digital downloads.
As for being our own managers and label, I can't even imagine it any other way. We're Vermonters. We do things ourselves.
Progshine – Do you think that being an American Prog band makes any difference? There is a Prog scene in the USA?
Adam Rabin - I don't know if being American makes too much of a difference anymore. I think it once did. In the 1970s and a bit of the 1980s there was still a heavy blues and blues-rock influence on US bands like Styx and Kansas. Over in Europe, the classic bands were building off of classical and traditional folk. Over the decades, though, I think everything has melded together. Prog Rock has become a standard form that includes all of the blues, classical, and folk sources along with the special flavors that the great bands like Yes and Genesis brought to the genre.
Sadly, it is more difficult to find an audience in America. There are some hot spots like Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey where Prog is doing well. That's about 6 or 7 hours away from Vermont. That's where the internet comes in. We've sold a small handful of CDs locally but we're doing really well in Europe - where we've never even been!
Adam Rabin - Goodness, no. We all have full-time jobs. We make just enough money making music to help us cover gas money and afford new gear now and then. As nice as it would be to not have to keep a day job, it is just as enjoyable to be able to make whatever music we want at our own pace without worrying about the bottom line. We have nobody to please but ourselves.
Progshine – As a reader, I have always liked to know about my favorite artists tastes such as their favorite bands and albums. If you guys could name the bands/albums that influenced Elephants Of Scotland music, which ones would they be?
So, I'll say two things to our fans. The first is thank you. Thank you so much! The other is that our future depends in part on your support. When you buy an album from us, with the exception of a tiny bit going to credit card fees, that money goes directly to us. We put all that money right back into the band to print up more CDs or buy equipment to help make our next album sound even better.
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