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Justin Brake
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Elliott BROOD has toured West, North and now adds St. John's to its tour track

Elliott BROOD built its foundation in Toronto and the band's popularity quickly expanded outward to Alberta and British Columbia in the West, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the East, and even to the Yukon up North.

Now, with a solid fan base and invites to large festivals overseas, the once self-proclaimed "death country" trio will finally add Newfoundland and Labrador to its tour repertoire with a visit to St. John's for a show at The Rock House Saturday.

Members of the Toronto Band Elliott BROOD will perform in St. John's at The Rock House Saturday night. - Submitted photo

Elliott BROOD built its foundation in Toronto and the band's popularity quickly expanded outward to Alberta and British Columbia in the West, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the East, and even to the Yukon up North.

Now, with a solid fan base and invites to large festivals overseas, the once self-proclaimed "death country" trio will finally add Newfoundland and Labrador to its tour repertoire with a visit to St. John's for a show at The Rock House Saturday.

The death-country title, guitarist and lead singer Mark Sasso tells The Telegram in a recent phone interview, was a tactic to deflect further labelling as a bluegrass band.

They've also been described as "blackgrass" and "urban hillbilly," but on its MySpace page BROOD chose "folk rock," "acoustic," and "soul" as the three genres that best describe their music.

With guitars, banjo, ukulele, drums, harmonica and a suitcase - yeah, drummer Stephen Pitkin also plays the "luggage" - the sound is heterogenous any way you look at it. The combination and separation of weighty guitar riffs, catchy ukulele and banjo lines, generally up-tempo, steady beats and Sasso's lush but wayward vocals make for, more than anything, a high-energy experience.

"People kept coming out to our live shows," Sasso explains, referring to the band's early days in 2004. "I think that's the best representation of us. I think we sound great on record, but live is a totally different thing. It's a rock show."

Last year, the band released its second album, "Mountain Meadows," to widespread critical acclaim, much of which credited the band with its ability to transcend musical borders. The continued success paid off when BROOD was later nominated for Best Roots/Traditional Album and Best CD Design at the 2009 Junos.

The new album's central theme revolves around the historic 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, an event which took place in the Mountain Meadows region of Utah, where 120 men, women and children emigrating from Arkansas to California were intercepted and slaughtered by a Mormon militia. Only some of the youngest children's lives were spared and they were raised in the Mormon community because it was assumed they would not remember the incident in their adult lives.

"Myself and (guitarist) Casey (Laforet) came to it from two different vantage points," says Sasso, explaining that he watched a documentary on the massacre while Laforet read a related book, "31 Years on the Plains."

"We're not trying to retell history or anything like that. We love history and we find it interesting, but to retell history is kind of boring - we don't want to regurgitate it. So we use it as a jumping-off point where we can create characters.

"They actually let 17 children live, and we were just like, 'Well what happens to them in the future?' and ... we just jumped into their lives and wrote songs about that."

Asked if he has any preferred accomplishments from the new material, Sasso is humble in sharing the credit for the songwriting.

"I think my favourite moments are falling in love with your bandmates' songs as opposed to your own," he says. "Casey has 'Without Again' and he also has 'The Valley Town' and '31 Years,' and those are some of the greatest moments, I think, on the record."

Escaping generality, much of BROOD's high-intensity music is almost paradoxically dark in its lyrics, a tendency Sasso says is influenced by his susceptibility to night terrors.

"It's kind of an affliction that I have, and I think that factors into how I write or what I think about when I'm writing," he explains. "The song 'Only at Home,' ... is about the night terrors. For whatever reason it plays into your person and then filters into your music."

But ask any fan, or even Sasso himself, and they will tell you the show's the thing.

"We get mesmerized by the music we're playing," Sasso explains. "You kind of fall into it and next thing you know you're losing yourself in it, and we hope that's what happens to the people to listen to our music.

"I think every night is a do-or-die night. That's how I see it for myself. You have to go out and represent every night. It just puts more pressure on you to perform, but I think I kind of like that. As a band I think we like that."

Elliott BROOD plays The Rock House on George Street Saturday and will be joined by special guests The Gramercy Riffs, winners of The Scope's 2009 Best of St. John's award for Best New Band.

Tickets are $14 available at The Ship and Fred's Records.

For more information, visit www.mightypop.ca.

Organizations: The Rock House, The Valley Town, The Scope The Ship Fred's

Geographic location: California, St. John's, Toronto Alberta British Columbia Nova Scotia New Brunswick Yukon Newfoundland and Labrador Mountain Meadows Utah Arkansas George Street

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  • Susan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Yes, Big Thanks to Jud Haynes & Krista of www.mightypop.ca who bring in great musical acts for affordable prices. These guys are awesome & are doing terrific work. Along with other musicians like Alison Corbett who encourage their musical friends to spend some time here on the rock. Here are Mighty Pop's past shows:
    PAST SHOWS:
    2009
    MAR 21, 2009 - SWORDS CD Release, GEINUS, SURGEON - The Ship
    MAR 6-8, 2009 - GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS, KAT MAKI, Black Thorn Stick Cafe/The Ship
    MAR 1, 2009 - MATT MAYS solo, Black Thorn Stick Cafe, Corner Brook
    FEB 27-FEB 28, 2009 - ECMA NO CASES, Black Thorn Stick Cafe, Corner Brook
    FEB 12-16, 2009 - UNITED STEEL WORKERS OF MONTREAL - CBTGs, Clancys, Whelans Gate

    - PATHOLOGICAL LOVERS, NARROWS, SPORTS, AOKE - The Rock House
    - CURTIS ANDREWS, CD RELEASE
    - JULIE DOIRON, CALM DOWN ITS MONDAY, JODY RICHARDSON - George St United Church
    - IN-FLIGHT SAFETY, JENN GRANT, AE BRIDGERMERCY THE SEXTON - The Ship
    - CUFF THE DUKE, POOR DARLINS, SUSAN WYSE - The Rock House
    - SHARE and THE DARDANELLES - The Ship

  • Loves da Indie Music
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Really looking forward to this show. These guys are awesome. One thing the the article failed to mention was the work of Mighty Pop to bring these guys here. Big thanks to those guys for bringing in some of the great Indie acts they've gotten over here so far. Keep up the good work and keep the shows coming.

  • Mr. Ed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Interesting interview!

  • Susan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Yes, Big Thanks to Jud Haynes & Krista of www.mightypop.ca who bring in great musical acts for affordable prices. These guys are awesome & are doing terrific work. Along with other musicians like Alison Corbett who encourage their musical friends to spend some time here on the rock. Here are Mighty Pop's past shows:
    PAST SHOWS:
    2009
    MAR 21, 2009 - SWORDS CD Release, GEINUS, SURGEON - The Ship
    MAR 6-8, 2009 - GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS, KAT MAKI, Black Thorn Stick Cafe/The Ship
    MAR 1, 2009 - MATT MAYS solo, Black Thorn Stick Cafe, Corner Brook
    FEB 27-FEB 28, 2009 - ECMA NO CASES, Black Thorn Stick Cafe, Corner Brook
    FEB 12-16, 2009 - UNITED STEEL WORKERS OF MONTREAL - CBTGs, Clancys, Whelans Gate

    - PATHOLOGICAL LOVERS, NARROWS, SPORTS, AOKE - The Rock House
    - CURTIS ANDREWS, CD RELEASE
    - JULIE DOIRON, CALM DOWN ITS MONDAY, JODY RICHARDSON - George St United Church
    - IN-FLIGHT SAFETY, JENN GRANT, AE BRIDGERMERCY THE SEXTON - The Ship
    - CUFF THE DUKE, POOR DARLINS, SUSAN WYSE - The Rock House
    - SHARE and THE DARDANELLES - The Ship

  • Loves da Indie Music
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    Really looking forward to this show. These guys are awesome. One thing the the article failed to mention was the work of Mighty Pop to bring these guys here. Big thanks to those guys for bringing in some of the great Indie acts they've gotten over here so far. Keep up the good work and keep the shows coming.

  • Mr. Ed
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Interesting interview!