Black Elk: The best they can be
Black Elk combine punk stylings that are accented by elements of metal – meaning their music is incredibly powerful. After their formation in 2004, Black Elk became a driving force in the heavy rock scene of the Pacific Northwest, eventually joining The Jesus Lizard on an expansive tour that spanned the U.S. West Coast, Europe, and the U.K. After a three year break, the band has reformed with a rejuvenated line-up and attitude.
The current Black Elk line-up consists of guitarist Erik Trammell, vocalist Tom Glose, bassist John Cota, and Alex Organ on drums. “Tom and I have been in the band since the beginning,” Trammell said. “We began playing together when we started hanging out more and we took it from there.”
Trammell noted that the line-up changed consistently between their first and second record. “Don Capuano used to be our bassist but he left in 2009. Also, Jeff Watson used to be our drummer.” After their second record came out, Black Elk began earning a strong reputation, which inspired Trammell and Watson to move to Los Angeles. “Once we moved to L.A., Jeff got a job that didn’t allow him to go on tours,” Trammell said. “That’s one of the reasons we haven’t come up north for a long time. That and Don’s departure from the band.”
The newly added Cota and Organ are welcomed additions, Tramell said. “We’ve been practicing together since October and they’re just really talented. We’re lucky to be touring with them.”
Although the members of the band are still new to one another, their level of professionalism has attributed to a more cohesive group. “Alex and I have only played together a total of 30 times,” Trammell said. “He’s only played with Tom four times, but we’re all working so well together, it’s really flowing nicely. By the time we get to Bellingham, we’ll be even better.”
Trammell added that, while scheduling band practice can sometimes be near-impossible, their live shows will be their chance to tighten up their performances.
“We already have a couple of new ones,” Tramell added, when talking about the band’s songs. “By the time we play in Bellingham we’ll have about four or five new songs.”
The new music comes from the band’s break from the road during the past three years. “After I moved to Los Angeles, I took a couple years to figure out what to do next,” he said. While taking a break from Black Elk, he spent time writing music on his own. “During that time I probably wrote about 50 songs. I just have tons of material and ideas and we want to work together on our new music.”
The band, Tramell added, is influenced by many different styles of music. “We’re into punk rock and what people call ‘traditional metal’ but we also like country and western swing, too,” he said. “Actually, my favorite band is Kraftwerk, so we’re all over the place.”
Trammell has been the main songwriter of the group but he would like the band to work collaboratively this time around. “I have songs in mind but I really want to show them to the band to get their input,” he said. “We all respect one another and I think it’s going to really help us write great music in the future.”
At this point, Black Elk are in the process of selecting a record label to work with. “I estimate that our record will be out some time next spring,” Trammell said. “That’s really our next major goal.”
With the prospect of an album in the future, Black Elk seems excited for the future and to be back on tour. “Basically we’re just trying to play as much as possible. We’re going to have new stuff, we want to work on more touring, and we haven’t been north as much as we want,” he said. “We used to be based out of Portland, so we’re definitely stoked to be coming back to Seattle and Bellingham.”
Trammell also expressed a great deal of gratitude towards the reformation of the band. “We’re really lucky to have another chance to play our music, both old and new,” he said. “Not a lot of bands get that shot but we’re back and we’re going to be the best we can be.”
Catch Black Elk on May 12 at The Shakedown with The Ruby Doe, Akimbo and Dog Shredder. For more information, follow the band at facebook.com/blackelkband.