For all the indie pop fans, we present to you: Elephant Stone. Coming all the way from Montreal to promote the release of their fourth album Ship of Fools (Burger Records) we met up with frontman Rishi Dhir, to talk about the band and the philosophical nuances of this latest release.
Welcome to Paris! How’s the tour going?
Thanks! We just drove into town and nearby we saw two guys get into a crazy fight, smashing beer bottles on each other. I’ve been to Paris before and it’s always been awesome, but that was pretty intense. Weird times. We’ve previously played at l’Espace B, l’International, and we opened for The Black Angels at Le Trianon a few years ago.
Tell us the story of Elephant Stone.
I was in a local Montreal band for about 10 years and we toured a lot. We had some level of success, but nothing crazy. Then I quit that band and started Elephant Stone, about 8 years ago. It was supposed to be this sitar, electronic, garage, instrumental project, but then I started writing songs. We released our first record in 2009 and it got nominated for the Polaris prize. We recorded our second record, but then I joined The Black Angels and toured with them for about a year. After that, we finally released the second album and then Elephant Stone toured together with The Black Angels. The third record came out in 2013, in 2015 we put out a remix album with a bunch of friends (Alex from The Black Angels, Anton from BJM, Tom from The Horrors, Pete from The Dandy Warhols) and our fourth album Ship of Fools came out in November 2016.
Where did the name Elephant Stone come from?
I had a stone elephant statue of Ganesh, he’s the hindu god of new beginnings and prosperity. I found the symbolism powerful, but I’m also a Stone Roses fan!
You recently released an album entitled Ship of Fools. Why did you choose this title?
I had read a story about Neutral Milk Hotel and the album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Apparently while writing the songs, he was staring at a picture of Anne Frank and trying to look for stories and inspiration. I thought that maybe I could try to find a painting and get something out of it. A good friend of mine, Daniel Barkley, is an amazing painter. He has this painting called Ship of Fools which is inspired by Bosch and the whole allegory of how we’re all on this boat together and no one is guiding it, but everyone thinks they know which way the boat should go. But the boat just goes in circles, you never get to where you’re going. With a lot of my lyrics, I found that appropriate. The title for the album came first, and the songs after. All the songs are a commentary on society. Manipulator is about those who are in power, Where I’m Going, the title says it right there. There is definitely a theme throughout the record.
How has this album evolved or differed from the others?
With all our albums, there has been a definite evolution with our sound. The sound of the band is always in tact, but my knowledge of other instruments has grown. I grew up on Bollywood, grunge, shoegaze and ABBA, so when you put all that together, you kind of get what we’re doing. With the remix album, I got all my friends together who presented my songs back to me in a whole new way. With Ship of Fools I wanted something more hifi and groovy. It’s more keyboard based than the previous records.
Ship of Fools rings very « pop. » Who are your main influences?
I grew up on The Beatles. I love Elliott Smith, Air, The Chemical Brothers… lot’s of stuff!
How would you describe your music for those who don’t know Elephant Stone?
I guess people always comment on the sitar. I’ve been a sitar player for about 16 years. We’re definitely a psychedelic, pop rock band.
Any side projects?
I have a side project that I’ve started with the guys from the remix album. Alex (The Black Angels), Tom (The Horrors), myself and my friend John Mark (The Late Cord) I’ve been friends with all these guys for years then one day I e-mailed everybody saying, « how about we all make a record together? » We’ve been working on something for the past few years, the record should come out in a year or two.
Can you recommend some coups de coeurs from Montreal?
The Besnard Lakes are a great band, they’ve been around for a while.
Best and worst thing about Montreal.
The best is that it’s beautiful, the worst is that it’s winter.
Plans for the future?
We’ll be back in Europe in the summer time for festivals!
[hr gap= »40″]