The Untitled Interview #27 – SXSW Edition: Starring Jesse Elliott (These United States)

I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s almost time once again for the annual industry hootenanny known as SXSW. To celebrate the impending week of absolute havoc, Austin-style, we’ve thrown down the interview gauntlet to see what some of our favorite bands are going to be getting up to whilst down in the wilds of Texas.

Up first, may I happily present to you the head honcho of one of my current favorite of favoritest bands: Jesse Elliott of These United States. Having recently put out their third album in just about two years (not-so subliminal message: buy them all), Mr. Elliott and the gang are once more amblingly and ramblingly venturing down south to spread the good word of DC-meets-Kentuckian out-of-this-world-folky-soul-poptacularness. If you’re heading to the festival, make sure not to miss ‘em. Fortunately, since the band is full of busy little bees, you’ll have plenty of chances to catch the live These United States experience. And if you’re lucky enough to be going to the 2010 installment of SXSW, Jesse has some sage advice for you. Read on.

Les Enfants Terribles: How are you getting to SXSW? Plane, train, or automobile?
Jesse Elliott: The only way we travel – the U.S.V. Heyoka, fondly known as “Evangelina” for short. Comin’ the long way, from DC to Kentucky to Colorado to Seattle to San Diego back to CO and down to Austin. We’ve never been known for our efficiency. Sure do get to see a lot of good things, though.

LET: Inevitably, you will forget to pack:
JE: So far along the way out west we’ve left a sleeping bag, a guitar stand, a case of beer which woulda coulda shoulda served the purpose of holding us over til the next day when we rolled into Boulder at 2 am. These are all things we can do without, of course. Not much is really and truly necessary, when you get down to it.

LET: How many showcases/parties will you be playing?
JE: Seven of ‘em over the course of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Hopefully gonna squeeze in at least one more informally – our buddy Tom Inhaler is throwin’ a killer shindig via his label, Supply & Demand. Max Sorenson, who made this amazing video for our song “Everything Touches Everything” is showcasing in the Film part of SXSW too – so I guess 9 or 10 if you count those.

LET: Band you’re most looking forward to seeing at the festival?
JE: The Loom, from Brooklyn, put together this incredible backyard BBQ on Friday. Lotsa favorites of ours there – Roadside Graves and The Love Language and The Rural Alberta Advantage and a lot more. The Loom included. Come to think of it, every party and showcase we’re playin’ll have a great lineup…sadly, that’s prolly all we’ll have the time and energy to see.

LET: What’s the first thing you plan on doing upon arrival in Austin?
JE: For me, I’ll change out of my Minnesota snow boots and into my shitkickers. Justin’n’Robby, they’ll be glad just to thaw out their holy Converse’n’snakeskins, respectively. Tom’n’Colin, they should be pretty set with good solid footwear to hit the ground running already. Footwear makes er breaks ya.

LET: What was the first festival you ever attended, either as a musician or a member of the general public?
JE: Musta been the 3rd grade science fair at Coleman Elementary. I think that was the one I made the spinning bowl that was supposed to prove something about the difference between centrifugal and centripetal force. I never did remember that lesson.

LET: Favorite thing about festivals?
JE: Science! Spinning! People! Motion! Sound! Fury! Collision!

{Photo by Sarah Law}


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