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Mystery, come smother us again

October 14, 2008

Remember back when I said I had to keep an open mind about this project?

How it was something I didn’t have enough information about to be able to make any substantive claims?

How I was trying to write about an entity that still exists and is constantly changing?

Turns out I was right.

When I first had the idea to write this book a few months ago, the Elephant Six Recording Company was mostly stagnant if not completely dead. Some of the bands were still active and many of the members still played with several bands, but the Collective as a whole was barely recognizable compared to early incarnations, and in its current form wasn’t much more than “a bunch of pretty good bands.”

Then, in an interview I conducted with John Fernandes, he mentioned that he and a bunch of other E6ers would be touring in the fall, “where everybody plays on each other’s bands and plays a couple songs from a lot of different people.” As you can probably guess, he was talking about the Holiday Surprise tour I’ll be seeing this weekend, where he’ll be joined by people like Julian Koster of the Music Tapes and Will Hart of the Olivia Tremor Control. As Fernandes mentioned in the interview, it’s the sort of thing that used to be common in the Elephant Six but hasn’t been tried in a few years.

Though the tour hasn’t been playing huge venues (the pictures in my previous post are from the 10/11 date at the Knitting Factory in New York City, which only holds a few hundred people), the early reviews have been superlative. There’s no reason this can’t continue to be a regular deal.

Is this the start of an Elephant Six revival? Not necessarily, but maybe. Or maybe not. There’s no real way to tell until after the fact. At any rate, something is happening, and instead of writing about something solely in the past tense, as was my original plan, it now seems more likely that I’ll be covering a lot of this as it happens.

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