On a typical Saturday night, you can find Lafayette native Brad Threlkeld serving up tasty brews at the Black Sparrow downtown.
But as of late, he’s better known as the bassist for an electrifying, dynamic group of musicians called Elsinore. Described by nationally-recognized Paste Magazine as an Indie-Pop quartet, Elsinore grabbed the attention of producer Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie, Bob Mould), based in Portland, OR. From there, neither 2,200 miles nor drastic band member changes could stop the cooperative creativity that resulted in Push/Pull, Elsinore’s newest album since 2010’s Yes Yes Yes. Though Elsinore is no stranger to national attention (their music has been licensed on more than a few national television series), Push/Pull is the exciting, new step in their nine-year journey.
Last May, I had the joy of hearing a few songs off of Push/Pull at a Jurassic Pop-sponsored show at Foam City, and have been following the band closely all year. Today, coupled with their album release, I had the chance to interview with Lafayette’s very own Elsinore member.
Bobby: So, when did you first start playing bass?
Brad: I bought my first bass when I was 14. It was a Samick… Not a great bass by any means but a decent starter. I took a few lessons, but am mostly self taught. I started playing in bands at the age too. I’ve had a love of music since I can remember, and known from a young age that I wanted to pursue music.
Bobby: And you joined Elsinore early last spring, is that right? And how did you first meet Ryan Groff (lead vocalist) and the rest of the band?
Brad: I actually joined Elsinore last October as they were going in the studio to record PUSH/PULL. Their bass player and drummer quit 5 days prior to Beau Sorenson flying in to record the album. We worked on the album from October till January then started rehearsing for live shows.
I met Ryan and Mark in 2009 when my old band, Why I Like Robins, opened up for them at Hunters Pub in Lafayette, IN. Both our bands hit it off that night, and ended up trading shows back and forth between Lafayette and Champaign. We’ve been good friends ever since.
Being in a very active band such as Elsinore is a little difficult on the time commitment side of things, right? (Especially when most of the band lives an hour away) How do you find a balance between the band, day jobs, and the other intricacies in the life of Brad?
Luckily I have an awesome job at The Black Sparrow. Paul (the owner) and John (my manager) have always been very supportive of my musical endeavors, and never question the time I need off for the band. My wife, Holly, has also been ultra supportive since day one. The day Ryan called to ask me if I wanted to join Elsinore I ran upstairs while on the phone and whispered to her what had just happened. She told me “To go for it!” It can be a tough balance at times but is definitely worth it.
Let’s talk about Push/Pull. Portland, OR producer Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie, Bob Mould) worked with you guys on this record. Tell me about that experience. Did you ever have to drive out to the Pacific NW? How did the logistics of that work?
Beau contacted Elsinore through a mutual friend after hearing their last album, Yes Yes Yes, and wanted to record their next record. He flew out to Champaign, and we recorded at Pogo Studios for 2 weeks. Ryan flew to Portland for the mixing in January, but most of the recording happened in Champaign. Beau is an amazing engineer and producer. He definitely knows what he wants in terms of sounds and direction of songs, but does so in a way that is not intimidating or frustrating. It was a great experience working with him on this record, and I look forward to working with him the future.
Bobby: So, the band is pretty much split between Champaign-Urbana, IL and Lafayettte, IN, right? Tell me about the differences between the two cities as far as the music and arts scene go. They’re both of relatively similar size, both have Big 10 Universities close by, yet they seem to be different animals completely.
Champaign definitely has a different music scene. It helps that they have several venues such as The Highdive, The Cowboy Monkey, Mike N’ Molly’s, The Canopy Club, etc… that can provide a good environment for small to mainstream bands to play in. Lafayette/West Lafayette doesn’t really have any venues with a good PA/sound person to do shows. Lafayette Brewing Company is really the only place that comes to mind. Lafayette is a perfect stop between Chicago and Ohio or Kentucky, but without a venue that has good sound and location for students it’s hard to get bands to come through. I think Lafayette does have a very supportive music scene though. Bands always have a great time when they come through, and the people who do go to shows are very receptive and welcoming. Without the Lafayette music scene I would have never been met Ryan and Mark. I am very grateful to the people of Lafayette who have supported my bands in the past and continue to support Elsinore now.
Bobby: Who has served as the biggest inspiration for you as a musician, bassist, or artist? And, What’s the best advice you ever received?
My dad listened to a lot of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, and The Traveling Wilburys when I was young. I remember taking cassettes out of his car and listening to them on my stereo over and over. The 90′s “grunge” movement also had a profound effect on my interest in music. I remember buying Ten by Pearl Jam in fifth grade. From there I started listening to Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and anything that was played on the local alternative station.
Even further, what makes you tick? Or, what keeps you going after all the commuting, studio hours, and hard work that you’ve put into Elsinore and Push/Pull?
My love of music and performing. There is nothing like the feeling of writing a new song or playing an amazing show. My wife, friends, and family being so supportive helps a ton too.
I first saw you guys play at Foam City last May, just when the new Push/Pull songs had surfaced in your guys set. What’s your favorite one to perform?
Fatal Flaw has such a cool grove and is really fun to play live. I really love all the songs though. Chemicals was the first Elsinore song I heard in 2009 so I really enjoy playing that song.
Who writes most of the songs in Elsinore?
Ryan usually comes up with a riff or vocal melody, and we all work together on that to form a song. We’ve been writing quite a bit lately.
I read somewhere that Ryan wants to play on Saturday Night Live at some point. What’s your ideal venue, festival or show location to perform at?
We’ve been lucky to support some really awesome bands this year (the love language, chairlift, the Mowgli’s), and that has been really exciting for me. If I had to pick one venue though I think it would be The Metro in Chicago. I’ve seem some unforgettable shows there and would love to play on that stage. Saturday Night Live would be great, but right now I’m pretty excited about any touring/shows we do. In a month we’ll be leaving for the east coast. I haven’t been to New York, Boston, D.C., or Philly. That will be a lot of fun.
Elsinore’s Push/Pull officially releases TODAY, October 15th! You can catch them next week at The Black Sparrow, in downtown Lafayette, Thursday, October 24th. Check out their website, ElsinoreMusic.net, where you can purchase their album on vinyl, cd, or digital formats.