El Ten Eleven
Nova Scotia

ETE - 12.14.13 - EL REY - DEBI DEL GRANDE - LA RECORD 1Over the years, we’ve come to learn that there are two types of interviews. One interview is very cut and dry, making sure to stick to all the necessary press points set out by a publicist or label. The other is completely non-conforming conversation that goes every which way except for what you planned. The latter is always more entertaining, and when it comes to El Ten Eleven, that’s the one you should expect.

After two twenty minute interviews with Kristian and Tim, we’ve come to find out that a conversation with these two is much like a conversation with two of your good friends. The laughs are abundant, the random references flow naturally, and you could never plot out exactly how it’s going to go.

We had a chance to once again sit down with this instrumental duo, and what ensued was nothing short of one of our favorite interviews.

TMN: Hey guys, thanks for taking some time to sit down with us again. Strangely enough, this is the same place we spoke two years ago! Let’s kick things off by asking you a very serious question. Are you guys cyborgs sent from the future for the sole purpose of touring constantly?

K: How did you know that? WHO TOLD YOU?

T: Maybe. I haven’t really figured out what my purpose is.

TMN: Speaking of touring, you guys seemingly always have a heavy presence in Colorado. We’ve seen you guys listed in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and some mountain venues. Is this one of your favorite states to hit?

T: Definitely. There’s so many different places and generally speaking, except for the kid who shot out our window in Colorado Springs, everyone has been awesome in Colorado. Seriously, the venues, the people who work there are cool, and it has beautiful white mountains.

TMN: With all that touring, you guys have to be loaded up with some good tunes. Do you have anyone in particular you’ve been into as of late?

K: I just discovered a internet streaming thing from London called NTS, I think. They’re really good. They play electronic music. There’s a lot of electronic music in the van, and a lot of hip hop. No post-rock, ever. We used to listen to a lot of comedy, but we’ve gone through everything we could find.

Chris (Tour Manager) plays Flume a lot.

T: Yeah, Chris drives most of the time, so he controls the radio, which is cool because he has good taste in music. Today he was listening to like Ludacris and Mase. It was kind of a 90’s hip hop trip. Which those are like my two least favorite rappers in history of rap, but that’s what headphones are for.

TMN: One thing we’ve often heard is that the lack of music is actually quite nice when touring across the country in a van/bus. You guys just touched on listening to stand up comedy, but what do you do to pass the time?

K: I usually just try to sleep. I’m also working on a book right now. I try to work on it every day, but a lot of times I’m really tired and I think “I’ll just take a nap and work on it later.”

We have our little positions in the van. Chris will get in the driver seat, you’ll (Tim) will get in the passenger seat. I get on the back bench. You’ll (Tim) end up with your laptop open, working on Logic, and I’ll end up falling asleep. It’s kind of a standard picture of the van.

TMN: Let’s chat about “Transitions.” It’s been out for a little while now, and has had a really warm reception. Talk to us about the overall concept behind that album, and the kickstarter to get it funded.

T: We did do that, but just for vinyl. That was the second time we did that, and the first time we had done it with vinyl. It was crazy. I still think it’s a great way to pre-order music. Everyone wins. Especially for vinyl. It’s really expensive to get made, so it’s one of those things that’s great to see if people really want it. If they do want it, then you get some money up front.

Usually what happens is: we’ll be getting vinyl made, re-upping CDs that we sell, and then trying to leave for tour all at the same time, so whatever money we do have gets drained before we leave. And then you’re rolling around, trying to make money as you go because you’re completely broke. So, it’s nice to get the money up front because people were going to buy it anyway and we get it on time for the tour.

TMN: If we remember correctly, you guys did some really fun and different rewards. You did a lifelong guest list reward, a helliopter ride, etc.

T: We tried to make it cool and fun, not just music and merch.

K: No one bought it though (the hellicopter ride). It was really expensive. Not because we were trying to rip anyone off, it’s just expensive to rent a hellicopter.

TMN: One thing we loved about this album was the subsequent remixes that followed. The Com Truise was one of our favorites. How did you go about picking remixers? Was this a management type deal, or did you guys personally select people?

K: It was our manager really, because he’s deeply rooted in the electronic world so he kinda knows everyone and their managers. So, he reached out on our behalf, and all the people who are on that record are the ones who said yes. In fact, maybe there was one or two remixes that didn’t make it on the record, and not because we didn’t like them but because they came in too late.

We were really excited though. We weren’t expecting all of those people to say yes, and they did. Their remixes were really, really good. Much better than we were expecting. So the whole project was really positive for us because we kind of secretly wish we were in the electronic music world. That’s the music that we love, even thought that’s not really what we do. So, it was sort of a way for us to sneak in the back door of that world.

T: We covered a remix of ourselves on the last tour. We’ll do a little bit of it tonight – a part of one of the remixes. We change up what we normally do on this part and add what the remix ended up being.

TMN: One thing that we caught was the fact that you guys don’t really want to be associated with a certain genre. In fact, we’re pretty sure “Math Rock” is a negative in your eyes. However, with the looping and timing signatures, it’s sometimes hard to avoid. If you had to have people “label” you, what would you prefer?

K: (Laughs) If someone came up with a good one that fit us, then we’d be all for it. We just haven’t heard one yet.

TMN: Given the nature – the looping, the timing signatures, stuff like that – you can kinda see where people would go with that.

K: Totally! We’re not offended by that. Usually when bands are described as that, it’s really specific. When I think of a math rock band I think of…I don’t want to name names because I don’t want to sound negative or anything…I think of bands that are straight up musician’s music. Like the only people who listen to it are musicians.

TMN: Like Hella or Maps and Atlases?

K: I wouldn’t call Maps and Atlases math rock. Here’s the thing – just because you use an odd time signature doesn’t mean you’re a math rock band. Math rock bands use odd time signatures, but to me it seems like they’re doing it in a show-off-y kinda way. Which isn’t interesting to me…it’s cool if other people are into it, but for us…I just want to write really good songs that people are moved by, not impressed by. We just happen to write in odd time signatures because it comes naturally to us. We never have once sat down and said, “Alright, we’re going to write a song in seven. It will really blow everyone away!” We just write a riff and it ends up being in seven.

T: Maybe it’s because we don’t have vocals that people kind of lump us in with those other genres that don’t have vocals.

K: We like pop music. We think of our songs as pop songs. There’s catchy riffs and people sing along to them at our shows, even though there’s no vocals. They sing out the parts. Those other bands…I’m not knocking them…that’s just where we differ. What was that one quote we used that one time? Our shows are head bobbing, emotional dance-a-thons.

T: That sounds cool to me. A long time ago someone said something to me, “It’s Justice meets Tortoise.”

K: Are people still into Tortoise? Are people still into Justice? I loved using that, but that was like five years ago.

T: Wasn’t it Radiohead meets Daft Punk?

TMN: Daft Punk definitely has those recognizable guitar riffs that you instantly recognize, so we can see that association.

K: Yeah, totally.

TMN: One label that we’ve found particularly entertaining is something that we believe to be self described. We read on twitter that you’re Bjork’s alarm clock. We gotta know – is that like a vocal thing – “This is El Ten Eleven, Bjork. It’s time to wake up for your morning Joga”.

T: Hahaha, that’s good.

K: We were playing with a punk band, this was a while ago. The bad that opened for us was a punk band…i think it was Albequerque. The guitar player was like, “Yeah, I don’t like your style of music at all, but you guys are really good.”

We opened up for them and from the stage he said, “I’d like to thank Bjork’s alarm clock for opening up for us!” I fucking loved that.

TMN: While you guys are obviously heavily rooted in touring, one thing that people may not know about is your TV/Movie placements you guys have. What has been the most gratifying? Horatio strategically taking off his sunglasses, or Chefs opening up a mystery basket to your tune?

T: See, I’ve never heard it on Chopped. People all the time say like, “I heard it on NPR.” In my whole life, I’ve only randomly heard us twice. Once on NPR and once somewhere else. I think I maybe did the CSI Miami thing. The one that was kinda cool was the MTV video awards and Kobe was presenting an award for something. As he walked up, “Hot Cakes” was playing. No one would ever know, but it was kinda cool.

TMN: Helvetica had to be pretty cool though.

K: That was an artistically satisfying thing, whereas CSI Miami was a really nice paycheck. I had never seen that show, so I watched the episode to hear our song and was like, “Wow. This is a horrible show.” I don’t like to be negative in interviews, but…this is popular? Really? I guess this is why I don’t have a TV.

TMN: Ok, let’s talk about one of my all time favorite tunes, “Yellow Bridges,” which is named after you growing up in Pittsburgh. In our ears, this song carries what we love about you guys most. Do you feel like this is “the one” from Transitions?

T: I would say “Transitions” encapsulates the album better, but “Yellow Bridges” was kicking around for a while. We had it as a recording from two or three years before we recorded it. I have this folder on my computer of El Ten Eleven future stuff. That one kept hanging around and I think some of the record was already recorded. That one took a bunch of different lives. It ended up being cool and I’m glad we gave it it’s fair shake.

TMN: For that video, you guys worked with award winning English surreal animator Cyriak. What was that process like?

K: It was so easy (laughs). I was just a fan of his, and I thought, “It would be so great to have that guy do a video for us.” I don’t know if you’ve seen his other work, but it’s a lot of gross stuff. I literally just emailed him.

TMN: Ok, so we typically like to ask some random questions at the end of interviews. Seeing as we know your personalitites a little bit, these might get weird. If you were Hall and Oates, who would be who?

T: Ha! I would be Oates. He’s shorter.

K: I have a great voice though. Although, I have curly hair.

T: Interesting.

K: I’d be happy to be either of them though. Not joking. I think they’re awesome.

TMN: What’s your favorite Hall and Oates song?

K: “Private Eyes.”

T: “She’s Gone” is mine. That song kind of saved my life. I was driving from San Diego one time, and there was a mixed cd, and I was so tired. I just kept putting that song on repeat like, “I’m going to learn every word, every harmony.” By the time I got home I was fucking killing it, and I was home.

K: I’m going to change my answer now. “I Can’t Go for That.” That one holds up to this day. You can play that at a club full of hipsters, and everyone will start dancing. It still holds up.

TMN: If you could transform into a cover band for a night, who would you guys pick?

K: Could we have someone else singing?

TMN: You could have someone else singing. Theoretically, yes.

K: DEVO. That could be fun. RIP Bob Casale.

TMN: If you could trade places with any duo for a day, who would you pick?

K: Whoever makes the most money.

T: Whoever has the most fun.

K: The White Stripes, maybe? Who’s the biggest duo in the world right now?

TMN: Daft Punk!

K: You’re right. Hell yeah! Just get on stage and press spacebar with a motorcycle helmet on. Boom!

T: I wouldn’t want to switch back with them though. One day wouldn’t be enough.

K: But in one day we could make enough money where we wouldn’t have to work for several years.

TMN: If you both had super powers, what would they be?

K: What are you saying? Have you seen the way I play double neck? (Sarcastically) Being able to fly would be cool.

T: Hmm. I dunno. I wouldn’t mind being smell blind. Is that a super power? It gets a little crusty in the van sometimes.

K: It would be cool to kill diseases. Not to get serious, but could you imagine…

T: You’d have to do it in a cool way though. It couldn’t be like a “Boom, you’re cured.” Like some big cancer eradicating storm. Like, “Step into the cancer tornado!” That probably already exists in a comic book.

TMN: If you could cameo on any 80’s TV show, what would you pick?

K: Magnum PI.

T: I probably would have wanted to be in Duke’s of Hazard.

K: That’s good too.

TMN: If you could write the jingle for any 80’s product’s commercial pick?

T: OB. Isn’t that a tampon?

TMN: (Laughing) Why are you asking me? Am I supposed to be well-versed in 80’s tampon commercials?

T: Prell.

K: That’s a good one.

TMN: If your music were an animal, what would it be?

K: How about Elephant. Wisdom. They’re old and wrinkled.

T: Shit. Hopefully not a mouse. There was a mouse in the venue last night and it was freaking me out.

K: I can’t believe you were freaked out by that. It was like this big. (Holds up tiny mouse hand motion)

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