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Arts and Entertainment

Celebrating Doomsday: Meet Elvis Perkins (in Dearland)

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Elvis Perkins in Dearland - Wyndam Boylan-Garnett, Elvis Perkins, Brigham J. Brough, Nick Kinsey I Photo: Reuben Cox

Elvis Perkins in Dearland - Wyndam Boylan-Garnett, Elvis Perkins, Brigham J. Brough, Nick Kinsey I Photo: Reuben Cox

Elvis Perkins is back with a brand new sophomore album, Elvis Perkins in Dearland and this time he's ditching the solo act and bringing his band with him. The result is this delightfully eloquent collection of songs about live, love, and death is inspired by the New Orleans tradition of having a raucous band follow a funeral march. We sat down with Perkins before his show at the Troubadour and asked him a few questions about his new EP Doomsday and the end of the world. You sing in "Doomsday" that "I don't let doomsday bother me, does it bother you?" What's your theory on doomsday. Is the world going to end in fire or in ice?
I can't say I know or have too much of a theory that I think is any good. If I had to guess at the speed we are moving it would be a mix of the two, a world on fire with ice hearts. But we are not going to let that happen now, yes?

Elvis Perkins In Dearland - Shampoo

How old were you when you first picked up an instrument?
I've seen a picture of me holding a guitar when I had gone five or six times round the sun but it was a couple down the line that I found myself sitting at a piano beside a then terrifying lady who had gone many more times around then I. It didn't last long.

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Where is Dearland? Is it a place or a state of mind?
Yes. A better one, or two. In an afterthought it seemed to me the name describes the common action of any band, addressing the world in a sort of singing telegram.

What inspired "Shampoo"?
It was a guitar thing that had passed in an out of my hands for several years when one afternoon it more or less spontaneously combusted into the talky we hear today.

Who is the little sweeper boy in that song?
I don't really know where it came from and you probably have as good an Idea as I about who he might be.


Photo courtesy of Elvis Perkins' MySpace.
"Stop Drop and Rock N' Roll" has such a 1950s feel. Where you listening to anyone from that era when you wrote that song?
I think the "American" is always listening to that sound. It might run in our veins and be raveled up in the DNA. I forget his name and The Blue Flames helped in the end I think.

You describe the Doomsday EP as "a document of impulses sleeping egos and their superiors let pass to tape." Are they all your egos? And if you're aware of do you know that they're sleeping?
I must have been referring to the egos of the band and mine together. Without awareness of one's ego very little of note can go on and chances are if one is not at work putting theirs to sleep, it is wide awake.

I heard that "Slow Doomsday" was how Doomsday was originally supposed to sound. What made you change your mind and make it this joyous romp on the record?
We had thought of putting both on the record but ran out of all things that might have made that possible. The fast was the priority as we'd been playing it live to good effect for some time, making it something of an Elvis Perkins in Dearland staple. On the new EP, you will find both versions.

What song are you most proud of on this EP?
"Weeping Mary," JP Reese could sure make a perfectly concise and spherical song. The arrangement cam together very easily, and it being the work of another helps it to feel to me very light and unburdened by time.

What was the worst show you ever did?
We played terribly unfamiliar and, for some of us, rusted instruments the first time we appeared in Spain having lost all of our tools to air travel. It was at a big festival in Barcelona and witnessed by quite a large crowd. Thankfully it was a very well-tempered and generous one. I asked it for a harmonica and it provided the key I most needed.

Rusty instruments? That does sound awful. If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?

I'd do away with the disposable ("recyclable") plastic water bottle that greets one in most every greenroom and meeting room and festival there is. The because is that I hear they are really not helping the situation here on planet Earth.

If you could sing with anyone in the world who would it be and what would you sing? Cesaria Evora and we'd sing the "Waters of March" in French.

What album can you not live without?

I can foresee one day living without albums altogether, and there's not currently one without which I would stop breathing. However, George Harrison's production of Ravi Shankar's Chants is a one that has helped me though some shadowy time.

Do you have a favorite local band at the moment?
Paul Chesne. He's a great man, writes great songs, and has a great band.

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What's your favorite thing about LA?
The point on Laurel aiming north just passed Olympus where one must decide whether to take the main road or the narrow chute off to the right. It's the first image that came to my mind, it must have some archetypal coding in there for space and light and dilemma from my early days.

If you were throwing a party in Heaven and a party in Hell, who would you have headline for each show?
He's still with us but assuming he can come and go as he please I'd have Ronnie James Dio do Hell, preferably with Rainbow. In Heaven, I'd have Marlene Dietrich backed by the crickets close the everlasting day.

I didn't know she sang. Well thank you for talking with us, Elvis.
Thank you.

Be sure to check out Elvis Perkins in Dearland Saturday night at the Troubadour with Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit and Correatown. Doors open at 8pm. Tickets are $13 adv / $15 day of.