Dante Elephante plays surfy garage-pop songs that are more than a perfect fit for the band’s home setting in Southern California. Fated to meet by a Craigslist ad, Dante Elephante is comprised of members Ruben, Kevin, Tommy and Chris. Since forming, the band has released two albums and have a third on on the way.
Ruben of Dante Elephante and I had a chat about the band’s previous albums, Lollipop Records, and the upcoming release in the works.
So who’s all in the band?
So it’s Me, Kevin, Tommy, and Chris. I met them in 2010, when we formed.
And it’s been the same members the whole time?
Yeah, it’s been the same.
That’s awesome. How did you all meet?
Well before Dante Elephante I was in a couple of garage/punk bands and I just got tired of that. So I just put up a Craigslist ad and that’s actually how I met everyone.
What was that Craigslist ad like?
It was pretty simple, I just said that I was looking for a few people and just named WILCO and few other bands like that. The first guy that contacted me was some Irish dude but he was just a frontman. I was like “Do you play anything? No, just a frontman?” So that didn’t work out. But aside from that, everyone else I met worked out on the first time which was nice.
What bands were you a part of before Dante?
Yeah so I was a part of a band called Young Blood and the Dirty Dicks – my friend Jesse was YoungBlood and we were… the Dirty Dicks.
And you were playing drums?
Yeah I was, and then I was also playing in a band I Am Brain, then Groms. A bunch of different bands. At one point I was playing in 4 different bands at once.
Those are some interesting band names for sure. Where did the name Dante Elephante come from?
It actually was the bass player’s girlfriend that came up with it.
Oh, so not based off of anyone named Dante?
Nope, I actually don’t know anyone named Dante. We were wanting a name that was rhyme-y so we just brainstormed and came up with a couple of other pretty good names… The ones I remember were Milwaukee Talkie and Cincinnati Ice. Like Natty Ice.
Haha those are some pretty good names as well. Hopefully no one steals them. Were you always from LA?
No, I’m originally from Santa Barbara and I moved to LA about 2 years ago.
Why did you want to move?
Well my friends all moved out of Santa Barbara, and I had just finished out a 3 year relationship. It was one of those where I just wanted to move zip codes after.
Yeah, I understand. Santa Barbara is kind of a small town too, right?
Yeah It’s a small town, you see the same people everywhere all the time. I just wanted to get out.
So your new-ish album released through Lollipop records – how was the first one released?
The first one was independent – and then we switched to Lollipop Records for Anglo-Saxon Summer, and they released the tape and stuff – it took about a year to mix and pitch the whole thing. It took sooo long, I definitely don’t want to do that again.
Was that because of Lollipop at all?
No, it took long because we were trying to find the right label. We had friends that were on Lollipop but we just wanted to reach out to a bunch of labels. You never know unless you reach out. But we ended up signing with Lollipop and we have absolutely no regrets with that.
Do you think you’ve gained more exposure through Lollipop?
Yeah definitely – they helped push that record to people who probably wouldn’t have listened to it in the first place.
I definitely believe that. But it seems like now Lollipop isn’t releasing as many records or they don’t seem as credible maybe as they were circa 2013-2014. Do you have anything to comment on that?
Well, yeah – there was a big change. First was the move from Echo Park to Royal Heights, and moving from more of a DIY scene to having a storefront and being a bit more established. Around 2013-2014 the number of releases definitely was really high, and that was like the peak for the labels I think. But I agree that there has definitely been a shift in both Burger and Lollipop records. Lollipop seems to be releasing less and I think that they are maybe trying to be smarter about their releases, versus just releasing a ton. One of my buddies Cheap Tissue just signed on with Lollipop. That band is Youngblood (aka Jesse) from Youngblood and the Dirty Dicks. But for Dante, we are going to try to pitch to a different label next, just to have some variety.
I see. So your first album, German Aquatics, was released in 2013. And the second, Anglo-Saxon Summer, was released in 2015. Compared to the first record, Anglo-Saxon Summer seems to be more of a pop record. Why was there this change in sound?
Yeah the first album was definitely more surfy, versus the new one that was I guess a little more pop-y sounding. Anglo-Saxon Summer was produced by Jonathon Rado of Foxygen, which was cool. Working with him was definitely a learning experience. We did get away from the surf thing, but I wanted to anyways. I’ve just been playing that kind of music for so long. So we got together and I said “lets do a pop record but not super pop-y” and that’s Anglo-Saxon Summer.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ADAM LEAO
Any more in the works?
Yeah, so we actually started recording in March of this year – we rented out a studio for a month in April and recorded all month. We spent some time mixing and mastering after that. Then in probably July through September we were pitching to labels. Now we’re figuring out the final stages of the artwork and coming out with a music video. The single will be out by Feb 9th. Hoping for the album to be out by May or the beginning of summer.
Do you have any upcoming shows for the new music?
No exact dates yet, but we’re definitely going to Texas for South By Southwest, then probably hitting Salt Lake City and some other places after. And we also have a show next week in LA at The Hi Hat (December 4th) with Diners. That will probably finish off the year for us. Then we have some West Coast dates in the works too.
Any places that you would like to play outside of the West Coast?
Definitely want to hit Chicago, and the East Coast soon. That would have to be a big tour, so we’ll see.
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THIS INTERVIEW WAS EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR CLARITY