Elliott Brood inspired by history

With a catalogue of songs steeped in history, Toronto’s Elliott Brood resides comfortably in the present. Boasting a sound that has been labelled “death country” on past efforts, the band has chosen to embrace the electric guitar for their newest album Days Into Years, released this past September.

Elliott Brood, comprised of Mark Sasso, Stephen Pitkin and Casey Laforet, has been amazing audiences since their 2004 debut and are making their long-awaited return to the Maritimes with a show at Sackville’s Royal Canadian Legion on Monday evening.

Speaking with Elliott Brood guitarist-vocalist Mark Sasso last week, we asked if the group felt expectations were higher for Days Into Years than with past albums, given that the band’s profile has risen higher with each new record.

“Yes and no,” Sasso begins. “As a band, I think you end up putting pressure on yourself, pressure to make a better record than you did the last time around. You expect more as you grow as songwriters and as performers. It didn’t inhibit our writing by any means though.

“As a group, you have to be selfish in one sense and write for yourselves and just not think of others. If you let others into the process of writing your songs, it becomes extremely easy to over-think what you’re doing. Instead, we have found that trusting in your abilities is a good thing and with every record that we make and the more songs we write, we are gaining confidence as a band which ultimately results in us going full force towards the goal.”

Heading into the making of Days Into Years, Sasso says that the group had approximately 16 songs to choose from. Though it is common to hear of bands writing more than double the amount of songs that sometimes end up on their records, Sasso says that because the band tends to embrace a theme for each record, it helps make the process of selecting material that much easier.

“By approaching our albums with a specific theme in mind, it ends up making the process of selecting songs for the record easier. It can sometimes be a tough decision but ultimately, we look at our albums as books. If you have a chapter that sticks out and doesn’t fit in the bigger context of the book as a whole, it shouldn’t be included.”

A theme central to the making of Days Into Years dates back to one of Elliott Brood’s first European tours in 2007. It was in France while on tour that Sasso, Pitkin and Laforest happened upon a graveyard that was the final resting place of more than 11,000 soldiers from World War I. The experience was a moving one for the trio, all of whom are history buffs.

“It was the first day of a five-day trip that we were into. We spent a good hour there, just walking around, taking in the names of those buried there. It really drove home the impact of war; it is not something that is easily described. It ended up being a very personal experience for each of us,” Sasso shares.

Days Into Years marks Elliott Brood’s first release for the Paper Bag Records label, home to critically acclaimed acts such as PS I Love You, Austra and The Rural Alberta Advantage.

Elliott Brood’s move to Paper Bag comes after releasing their past two efforts via the Six Shooter Records label. Sasso insists that the band’s move to Paper Bag from Six Shooter wasn’t the result of a bad experience as much as the group wanted to potentially expand their reach.

“We have such great love for the Six Shooter label and the bands that are a part of the label. We had simply more-less completed our deal with Six Shooter and when it came time to discuss our next move, Paper Bag had ideas that really spoke to us so we thought that it was maybe time for a change. It is an opportunity to maybe hit different people that might not have heard of us before. A different approach is not a bad thing by any means,” Sasso says.

Article published in November 25, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript