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INTERVIEW: Ellen & the Escapades

September 23, 2010 by  

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INTERVIEW: Ellen & the Escapades

1. Tell us who you are and where you’re from.: We are Ellen & the Escapades and we are from Leeds. We are Ellen Smith (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar), Jeff Schneider (Electric Guitar), Chris Quick (Keys), Andy Calder (Bass Guitar), James Warrender (Drums)

2. Describe your music.: JW – Our sound is quite diverse. We all take influence from different things including country, rock and the more obvious folk genres. Its all kind of mixed together to get our sound. We have quite mellow tracks with very careful arrangements and also full on quick numbers with guitar and harmonica solos.
ES- Its song based music, kind of folk/pop I suppose… with a bit of rock.
AC – …some of our songs are quite upbeat and have been played in club nights whilst others are really stripped back, the sort of stuff you’d want to chill out to.

3. Tell us how the band formed in three sentences.: AC A few of us (including Ellen) were in other bands at the time that she started playing in bars around Leeds. We were all friends in college and would go and watch her play with her friend…then she started writing more of her own songs and Chris started playing with her, but it was still on the side of their other bands. After one gig, where we all happened to be there, we decided to try playing together for a gig she had in two weeks time and it just took off from there.

4. What did you do before you were in a band?: JW – Before this band I was in a Rock band similar to The Goo Goo dolls, and before that I was in a Punk band based in Sheffield. And before that I was too young to gig, and so probably just played basketball and picked my nose.
ES- Before being in a band I was doing various solo/duet gigs… before that I was studying and I used to teach a bit of gymnastics for a while after school.
JS- Complain about not being in a band…
AC – I’ve been in a band for the last 12 years so it’s hard to say. I used to play tennis a lot and ride my bike, and I was really into drawing. I’m pretty sure I can’t do any of those things now. After finishing my A levels and working for a year in a supermarket, I moved to Leeds with the band I was in at the time. They all went to university but I didn’t want to so I did a course at the music college to see where it would take me, my old band split up under the pressure of degrees and having to study abroad so I carried on playing with various other people and eventually found my calling.


5. List the first CDs/records each of you bought.: JW – I think the first single I bought was a red nose charity version of ‘when the going gets tough’ (not really a classic). Or it may have been a Robbie Williams track. Never really had to buy music for a long time as my parents have always had more CDs than HMV. The first album I got was Jamiroquai’s ‘The Return of the Space Cowboy’, which is still one of my favourite albums.

JS- The first CD I ever purchased was The best of Louis Armstrong. I absolutely loved his voice!
AC- The first one I owned was Trash by Alice Cooper when I was six but that was given to me, the first one I bought was the Godzilla Soundtrack.
ES- Ha, I can’t remember exactly what this album was, but it was a 60’s mix tape (on cassette!) Had the likes of Jerry and the Pacemakers and Cilla Black on it. I absolutely loved it as a kid.

6. What’s the band up to over the next few months?: ES- We have a new EP coming out on October 18th so we’re doing a couple of small tours to promote it. All the gigs are listed up on our website… I think we’re also going to record a few demos of some new stuff and work on some of the new ideas that are floating around.
JS- Starting next month we’ve got a small tour booked to support the release of our EP “of all the times”. It should be pretty exciting considering it will be our first tour in the UK

7. Best item of fan mail you’ve ever received?: JW – I do vaguely remember someone complementing my drumming in an email once. May have been a friend though…
JS- Well, I’ve never received anything personally. I think Ellen got some chocolates from Austria which is pretty cool.
AC- My postman steals all my fan mail.
ES- We don’t get all that much but I’ve received a couple of lovely packages- mainly consisting of sweets and chocolate.

8. What music do you have on repeat in the tourbus? : JW – This ends up being a very strange mix of albums due to everyone’s differing tastes. The last road trips we had included Genesis, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springstein, Broken Bells, and I do remember Avril Lavigne rearing her head at one point for some reason.
JS- The best of Yanni Vol. 1
AC- It depends who’s in the bus and who’s driving, The Beatles usually make an appearance, maybe a bit of Radiohead, Paul Simon and then Tower of Power.
ES- Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours always makes an appearance. Usually some Beatles, Kinks and Neil Young too. “Greatest Hits” are always good in the van.

9. What gear do you use?: JWI use a Sonor Jungle Drum Kit at the moment, but that may change in the coming months as I plan to get a new one. Its black sparkle so very pretty, and all small sizes which is great for throwing in small vans on tour. It does have some punch to it though. All my cymbals are Zildjian K Customs, with a few Hybrids thrown in (anyone other than a drummer isn’t going to have a clue what im on about!). And then I have a Black Panther Maple Snare. That’s pretty nice. Has a gold finish on the hardware so that’s my bling.
JS- Well this is kind of a geeky question. I’ve got a Les Paul studio guitar plugged into a Pod XT live which I use for all my effects. That all goes through my Blackstar HT club 40 watt amp.
AC-I have a Lakland 55-94 Deluxe bass with Bartolini pickups and run an Ashdown 500 head through a Gallien Kreuger cab
ES- I use either a Takamine TAN 45C or Taylor 114ce electro acoustic guitar through an AER acoustic amp. I also use a SM58 beta mic.

10. What’s your best on-tour story?: JS- We were heading home after finishing a two week tour in Switzerland. We had packed all the bags and left for the train station which was just over an hour drive away from where we were staying. When we got there everybody got their bags from the back of the van and it suddenly occurred to me… “Where’s my backpack ?” I realized that I had left it at the house were staying at. More importantly It had my passport safely tucked inside. At this point I knew that there wasn’t enough time to go back and get it. I had to embarrassingly wave goodbye to my bandmates as they boarded the train home. On the bright side of things, Switzerland isn’t such a bad place to be stuck for a couple of days if you’re gonna leave your passport somewhere.
AC- Erm, it’s hard to pick…our driver once turned up with all the windows smashed into little pieces on one side of our already battered van. He’d been hit by a pole sticking out from a pickup truck but we were halfway through a tour so we just taped it up and gave a pair of skiing goggles to whoever sat in the ‘Danger Seat’. If we went over a certain speed loads of glass would start falling on us, then we rocked up at a five star hotel and parked next to a load of plush cars belonging to all the other acts (Joss Stone, Seal etc). I think they told us to park around the back.

11. What do you demand on your rider?: JW – We don’t make demands. We only ever ask that the temperature in the dressing room be at exactly 20 degrees, and that there are an array of animals, preferably with fur that makes use of all the major colours in the rainbow. They may be painted for effect.
JS- Tom Jones
AC- Not enough, we played a gig last week and the other band had a cheese board! That’s going on ours for sure…mostly we just ask for beer, water and maybe a few sandwiches.
ES- We recently found out we should push these boundaries a bit more. Stornoway had a cheese board on theirs the other day….. we’re usually happy to get a few beers and some sandwiches! To tell the truth, I don’t even like sandwiches very much.

12. What’s your website?:



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