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Interview with Russell Pollard of Everest

Bill Ketelhut provides the "blog" to this anti-blog

Wild At Heart

The band Everest will be coming to town this Friday and I had the opportunity to talk with band member Russell Pollard (who formerly played with Sebadoh, The Folk Implosion, and Earlimart). He describes the band as a “really transcendental live band” that strives to bring a unique and individual experience to the audience.

They are currently touring with their third album, “Ownerless”, which seems to have really solidified their sound. The first album “was just an attempt to be cohesive as a band” while the second album was us bringing in songs put together after touring as a band. This third album really shines as the 5 of them have really found their identity as what they want to sound like. It is a pure collaborative effort and “everyone comes in with ideas” and we work with each other to establish a set of standards and challenge each other to meet them.

Members might come in with a whole song that just needs a bit of tweaking or just have the nucleus of an idea where the other members will help to bring it together. On this album, a lot of the songs came from the road. We found ourselves with a lot of time and spent off time “trying to be productive” like the song “Games” or the instrumental. “Games” for example, came from a sound check in Toronto where “I went behind the drums and it happened”.

When asked about his process, Russ states “songs just find you and have this way of just appearing”. When you have to work at it and force it you usually find yourself disappointed. You “need stuff that comes easily” and you need to see “everyone around getting excited” and it is then you know you have something. “It is like catching a fish” and “you know it in your bones” that you have that song. You just feel it.

On their webpage you can listen to tracks from the new album as well as listen to short intros by band members about the tracks. The idea was to give “people a taste of the personalities of the guys in Everest” and tell a bit about the songs. “My frankness and humor doesn’t always come through (the songs)” and this was a chance for the fans to see some of that.

When thinking of humor, one can look at some of the influences in his music. Everyone has a calling in life which is one reason Russ finds children interesting. If you watch them “you can figure out what they want to do”. As a kid, my parents “bought me a drum kit” and “I wanted to listen to records and figure out the drum parts”. Music was something I just wanted to do, “it called me to do it”.

Early influences included a nice variety starting with the song “No Quarters” from Led Zeppelin’s ‘Houses Of The Holy’ which “really stimulated me”. As a kid in California “it was my soundtrack”. Then on the other side was Devo which “really stoked me out” when I first heard them. It was weird, unusual and clever in a way that “hit me hard”. As a young adult, it was “really cool to have a station that had both Zeppelin and Devo” and you just don’t hear that anymore (except maybe college stations, go WXOU). The music back then just seemed more urgent and “had something to say”. Other influences on Russ include the Talking Heads, Ramones and Sex Pistols. Everest is trying to bring that feeling back and plying from the heart.

Russ admits they “are not trying to change the world” but just hope to do their own thing and not let pop culture dictate what they do. This idea comes clearest from the song “Hologram” which explores all the regrets we have in life and the idea that “what if” the world was like a hologram where you could just “press the reset button and get rid of all the bullshit and everything”. It would be nice to be able to “get rid of that weight off your shoulders”. The song becomes a way of “dealing and coping” with everything that burdens us in life.

That sounded very Philip K Dick to me and it turns out he is a big fan of Dick (pop culture fans would know him as the guy who wrote the stories that became Total Recall, Blade Runner, Minority Report and A Scanner Darkly) citing the book “Valis” which is very surreal. He also refers fondly to Vonnegut and those ideas in those stories can also “translate into my music”. Good writers, whether of books or songs, put their soul into their work and “it connects to you” in a meaningful way.

Russ was also of the pre-internet era and “for me everything was encyclopedias”. I remember “reading about pygmies whom I knew nothing about and it blew my mind”. Out of boredom, he got to read these books and he got these lessons in return which showed so much to know out there and it all influences who you are.

The band is excited to be coming back to Detroit where they had one of their best shows last year. As a band, “when you roll into Detroit” there is this feeling “ this place is fucked (in the best of ways)” and you cannot wait to get into this town. The city has “a lot of mystery and is a “town of survivors”. The city “had its heyday” and now is struggling and has this appealing underbelly. It is a cool town and it is “one of the gems of the country”. I have to agree so look to make Russ and the band a fond welcome when they come back to promote their newest album.

Make sure to check out their webpage and listen to a few songs. My personal favorite was “Rake Me Over The Coals” which is about disappointing others and being OK with that but you can definitely check them all out and I think you might be pleased. They will be at the Crofoot opening for Alberta Cross this Saturday the 7th. Enjoy the show!