Having featured them as our Artist of the Week
and really digging their latest album
we felt it the time was right to chat with one of our favorite new bands, Everest. We caught up with singer Russell Pollard who discussed the difference between being on a major and an indie label, the band’s fans and a strange encounter with Bill Murray backstage at Madison Square Garden.
DK: What was the transition like going from a major label, Warner Bros., to a smaller label, ATO Records? Did being on a smaller label have anything to do with how the album turned out?
Russell Pollard: I guess in a way it did because they didn’t have one single ounce of comment for us. In that way, with their lack of presence, we were able to do whatever the hell we wanted, which here was to put trust in us as a band. We wanted to make each other happy and it was nice having ATO around because they said “here’s a little money, go do what you want and we’ll talk about it once you turn it in.”
DK: So the burden of having an A&R guy hovering over you guys was gone?
RP: Exactly. When we were with Warner Bros., it never felt quite right to me. It felt like I was wearing the wrong kind of shoe. They didn’t know how to develop a band, they’d rather change you. They basically shot me down when I brought the record into them and that’s not a good feeling. Regardless of whether you believe in the record or not, having nobody backing you, it’s just bad. Once we got out of that relationship, which wasn’t messy at all, they were good to us and just let us go. Getting out of that, there was no more fear or worrying about what we were doing. Now it’s just up to us and one of the cool things that ATO said to us was “all you have to do is turn in a good record and that’s up to you guys.”
DK: Despite all of that, the band continues to maintain a rabid following amongst serious music listeners. Are you aware of these fans?
RP: Yeah, of course. A lot of guys seem to be record collectors and listeners on a deeper level. People know about us and know we’re not afraid to play guitar solos and transcend regular, mundane set lists. I think it’s great that we have a fanbase of musicheads. They seem to appreciate what we’re doing.
DK: So it’s cool to have this type of listener as fans?
RP: Of course, we’re not snobs. We love that they recognize a band that has a lot of soul and a lot of heart and has stuck around and done things their way. It’s a total 360 kind of experience: the band loves that the fans appreciate them and the fans feel the same way about the band. As much as they’re giving you, you’re giving them.
DK: Have you felt any changes in the pulse of the band? Kind of like that big changes are looming?
RP: I think that’s the dream. I was talking to someone a few weeks ago and is in a very successful band now and makes a lot of money and he said “there’s no better feeling when you shift from playing small clubs to the first time you’re in theatres and sell them out. When the band you’ve been in and have played to the bartender, and when you kind of round that corner for the first time and see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s amazing.” I’m not predicted that happening yet, but I’m starting to feel just the beginning of that, which is the positive reaction and support from everyone.
DK: What are the next steps?
RP: Touring with Alberta Cross in July and some Neil Young & Crazy Horse dates later on in the year.
DK: Opening for Neil Young must be pretty badass.
RP: It’s as good as it gets. Getting invited to do one show would be great, but touring for a length of time is amazing. For me, the best part is the free ticket to watch them play from the side of the stage each night.
DK: How many shows are you playing with them?
RP: I think 12-13. The last time he did a really big tour was 2008 and we played like 40 or more shows with him. It was fantastic and he treated us like family. When we heard he was doing an album with Crazy Horse, we joked with his manager Elliot (Elliot Roberts) that we should open for them and he kind of laughed. Then not too long ago, Elliot calls our guitar player Joel (Joel Graves) that they wanted us to go out again. We thought he’d want us to play a few West Coast shows but it’s more than that and ending in Madison Square Garden. It was like Christmas morning.
DK: What are the first and last things you’re going to do when you get Madison Square Garden?
RP: We played there once already with Neil on the last tour. I remember the first thing I did was go out onto the stage, standing in front of all of Neil’s gear and it was literally an incredible feeling. The last thing we did was eat grapes from Bill Murray’s hand.
DK: What? Bill Murray? How did he come into the equation?
RP: Yeah (laughs). Bill Murray was backstage at the show and walked into the dressing room with grapes and offering them to everybody. Obviously I’m going to take some grapes from Bill Murray.