Elephant 12 originate in the depths of London,England. The three piece, known for their highly energetic performances and quirky fusion of unapologetic punk rock laced with a magnetic electro bass lines. Quickly becoming the talk of the town, and already generating industry buzz, having been praised by the likes of legendary Canadian broadcaster Alan Cross and BBC Introducing for their refreshing approach. Elephant 12 has landed profile venues in London, England, NYC, Toronto as well showcasing at the 2013 unofficial SXSW Conference and 2013 Canadian Music Week.
The new Elephant 12 EP ‘Sold Out’ seems to be a fitting title due to the vast downloads in its first week of release. The band consists of Robbie, Andy and Thelonious Jones sharing various duties on Drum Machines, Guitar, Bass, Percussion and Vocal. The band recently left us their thoughts and footprints in an exclusive interview with Jamsphere.
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
Andy: Started song writing about 20 years ago with a humble guitar my folks bought for me and progressed from there until I could finally afford the equipment needed to get the ideas fully out of my head and into something tangible.
Robbie: We have been creating interesting noise with E 12 since 3 years and it all started outside a gig in North London after I randomly bumped into Jerome… Few months later it happened again but this time on the bus so we swapped contacts and we decided to have a jam back at my flat.
Jerome: Really focused on music since 2008…Just a desire to be happy and express my true calling
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Andy: musical influences skinny Puppy, Nine inch nails, Ministry, Pink Floyd, Nick Cave I could go on there are so many.
Robbie: Well I grow up in a very musical family, my sister was studying classical piano and my older brother used to be in bands playing the keyboard so he brainwashed me with 70’s music, so I kinda had both worlds right in my house until they moved out and I have absorbed it all like a sponge.
Jerome: A Reggae artist called Buju I guess he painted the struggle of Jamaica… then my all-time favorite Sam Cooke.
3. How did you meet and decide to form ELEPHANT 12? And how did the band name come about?
Andy: I can only answer from when I joined the band which was quite recently. I’d worked with Jerome before and he liked what I was capable of in regard to programming etc so when Manlio left he asked me if I could help with their tour so I did.
Robbie: The band’s name is also another peculiar story. I went to see a gig at a place called the Garage, you know the process of searching for a cool name it could be a bit tricky so i have approached some youngsters having a cigarette and I said; look ‘ I’ve got a band and i need a cool name ‘ one of them said I could have the name that was voted off in his ex-band…Went back home spoke to the rest of the band, I liked it, they liked it, we took it.
Jerome: What Robbie said, we met outside a venue where Q-tip from Tribe Called Quest was performing… we chopped it up…then months later we met he was coming off the bus, I was getting on…then I went on top of the double decker bus and met Manlio the original third member.
4. Describe the first piece of musical equipment that you actually purchased. And which is the one piece of hardware (or software) you’re still looking to add to your collection?
Andy: ok that would be a korg x50 synth but I really want a moog.
Robbie: Ah ah wow that’s a trip down to memory lane… it was a cheap Japanese copy of a Fender Stratocaster for about $150 but it was good enough for me as I was a total beginner…Umm Hardware or Software?? I pass this one to Andy…
Jerome: A out of tune drum set at age 16, don’t even remember the brand name
5. Tell us something about your current band line-up, who does what and, how does it all work from writing material to performing?
Andy: rom my side it’s mainly programming the electronic tracks for live purposes and helping to program new track ideas.
Robbie: I’m mainly concentrated on the composing, sounds and arrangements
Jerome: We all contribute and inspire each other in some ways so the most honest answer I can give you is we all do it together.. I inspire to create together, but Robbie plays the guitar and Andy programs
6. Live gigging or studio work, which do you prefer and why?
Andy: That’s tough because there are equal elements of enjoyment to both. It’s great in the studio when an idea is really coming together and from the live perspective its adrenaline rush.
Robbie: I love both, the buzz of being on stage, everything can happen and also getting creative in the studio isolated from the rest of the world.
Jerome: I love the live gigging just feel I can express myself better without have to do take after take.
7. Which one of your original songs do you feel is the absolute “crowd pleaser” at live gigs and do you remember when and why you composed it?
Andy: Didn’t compose it but I have seen diet coke go down well with crowds.
Robbie: In my opinion is Diet Coke, I’m sure the majority of the crowd gets the message of the song but it’s also has a very hypnotic groove and we get the crowd involved when we play it live
Jerome: Diet Coke gets everyone rowdy…I wrote that song after I went to a party and it was just a cocaine fest… Everyone is on a Coke Diet… I feel I got some great lines on that track no pun intended…haha
8. On which one of your songs do you think you delivered your personal best performance so far, from a technical or emotive point of view?
Andy: I can answer that after the next tour.
Robbie: I think Money Talks; it has a serious message and also sounds urgent and choppy, delivering a good wall of sound.
Jerome: Guys With Guitar … I truly love playing this song but the only way you will hear it is at a live show no recordings of it anywhere and I love the fact we can experience something in the moment. Maybe I will record it…
9. Which ingredient do you think is most essential in making ELEPHANT 12 music sound the way it does?
Andy: well I guess that would be Robbie’s modeled guitar sound and Jerome’s vocals and crowd participation.
Robbie: Every ingredient is needed…Jerome’s rapping, his lyrics, Andy’s electronic sounds, my threatening guitar sound, basically our personalities.
Jerome: I think you need Robbie’s guitar sound and my vocals to make Elephant 12
10. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you day after day to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
Andy: It has to be passion that’s the strongest, positive and most rewarding emotion. you cant do your best without it.
Robbie: I would say desire, why? It keeps me alive, probably the secret of a good life
Jerome: Desire that’s what drives me and I’m passionate about it
11. Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Andy: Being independent allows you full creative freedom however it also means its incredibly hard to push your work to a relative audience.
Robbie: Well, first of all that you are in complete control of your artistic expression but on the other side it’s hard to reach out for the bigger audiences.
Jerome: Nothing of an Independent artist drives me at this moment…For anything to reach a massive appeal you need a team and money.. yeah you can get a nice buzz and do your thing but on global status lets be real…as Robbie said “Money Talks”… go download that track off our 1st EP “Elephant 12.
12. If you were given the chance to be a member of any world famous band right now (other than ELEPHANT 12 of course), who would that band be, and why?
Andy: Nine Inch Nails
Robbie: I would be in Queens of the Stone Age..they are still keeping it “unreal” in the Hard Rock business.
Jerome: Well I have different genres for my personalty r&b Jodeci, Hip Hop Tribe Called Quest, Rock “Muse” and Reggae “The Wailers” I would play the hell out of tambourine for Bob Marley…
13. How involved are you in any of the the recording, producing, mastering and marketing processes of your music?
Andy: I’m involved in recording and programming the beats and synths.
Robbie: 100% we cover it all.
Jerome: I get involve with everything just to leave my footprint this way it’s truly an Elephant 12 experience
14. The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Andy: Follow your dream ( cliché I know) Have confidence in yourself, wish I had followed that more.
Robbie: There’s not a perfect formula for success in this kind of business and you can’t listen what everyone says, also because every artist is different, just go with your instinct.. yeah someone advised me to have a softer guitar sound and i told him to piss off, NO REGRETS! 🙂
Jerome: My biggest lesson in this business so far is that no one truly no anything we all make it up as we go along and I guess the same could go for life in general. I will listen to advice and do it to make me and Elephant 12 better
15. At this point, as an independent artist, which is the one factor you desire most and feel will undeniably benefit your future and that of the band (for example increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, bigger live gigs etc…)?
Andy: Better production and more exposure.
Robbie: Definitely a proper distribution and promotion, supporting bigger acts and why not having access to a very expensive studio, i think that every artist wants to sound like a million dollars right?!
Jerome: I feel we just need more exposure and slowly we’re getting there.. We’re constantly improving our sound and ideas but without an audience it’s difficult to gage where you’re at and about to go
16. Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
Andy: no it does still help to some degree there’s always a new one coming along every few years which you can get better exposure from. yes it gets swamped with copy and paste but good things come from that too.
Robbie: think that the media plays a key part in a band success, the fact is that loads of artists have a very good team behind them and when it comes down to the substance they flop, so it’s up to the artist to deliver the goods when put in a privileged position to reach the masses.. example, some of the biggest bands in the world ever didn’t have all the modern media tools we have nowadays, look at Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the list goes on…they are still selling records and left a mark into this world, still inspiring millions of young musicians..
Jerome: Social media is a great tool to exhibit your expression but at the end of the day it as to be relatable so even with the garbage on there doesn’t mean it will be successful
17. What are your personal thoughts on TV talent shows like The X-Factor, The Voice etc. ?
Andy: I have mixed emotions because it does give people the chance to put themselves out there but at the same time the not going through true steps of experience and getting thrown in the limelight can be destructive.
Robbie: I’m personally against it, there’s a lack of authenticity and a lot of desperation for being something that they are not, or maybe some of them are something but they are “in” for the wrong reasons, being famous for the sake of being famous, i think they all are a bunch of “sandwiches” best before, after that date they go off
Jerome: I truly think a lot of the contestant got talent but it’s not for me…it’s no different playing in a club one night and getting discovered. These shows picked up where A/R left off.
18. Winning awards or selling records, which do you prefer? If you had only ONE choice, would it be a Grammy or going Platinum?
Andy: selling records, what can i do with statues.
Robbie: Umm I don’t know
Jerome: Selling Records… Awards will follow
19. What do you think is the biggest barrier you still have to face and overcome, in your quest to achieve your goals and any commercial success as ELEPHANT12?
Andy: The music industry itself. It’s a beast.
Robbie: I think we kinda getting there,our sound has improved, our experience in being spontaneous at the live shows, i guess we need more exposure to the people out there to discover our unique sound.
Jerome: There are no barriers we will achieve our goals.
20. What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do, to achieve a successful musical career?
Andy: Be Greedy
Robbie: Cut my dreadz 🙂
Jerome: Lie and Cheat to people
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