Interview with: Jesse Elliott (These United States)
Location: Via Email
Please introduce yourself and the band please.
Hey. I'm Jesse. I'm in a band. It's called These United States. It lives in Washington DC, where I and Tom live, and in Lexington, KY, where Justin, Robby and Colin live. That's TUS. Just the five of us. Like the song by Will Smith. But with five.
Where exactly are you right now?
Miraculously, thankfully, very much in the spirit of the season, I'm actually at home right now. For a few weeks too.Then we head back out, Colorado-way this time, for some serious New Years Eve fun in Denver and then a whole bunch of driving up and down mountains in blizzards. We need to get a new travel agent.
I understand this is a new line-up so could you give a bit of a band history breakdown?
The five of us have been together for a little over a year now, Before that, it was Me and Tom and Robby and Justin, and we were often joined by a guy who goes by Vandaveer in the music world. Before that, Tom and Robby and I did a lotta tours together. Before that, Me and Tom. Before that, Me and Robby and Vandaveer. Why are we travelling backwards in time right now? We need to get a new travel agent.
Were any of you in bands before?
I had a band in High School. It shall remain nameless. This is my first serious band. The other guys have been in too many to count, so we'll just go with the most recent. Robby and Justin play together as The Fanged Robot. Colin's been in St. Jude over UK-way. Tom plays with just about everyone in the Federal Reserve, a music collective we have here in DC. Robby and I have a TUS side-project called Refried Friend. It has two songs - "The Refriend Friend Anthem" and "The Refried Friend Anthem (reprise)". It is amazing, but very rare to see live and in the flesh.
It sounds like you are a very busy band. Where has playing in These United States taken you geographically so far?
Just about all lower 48 - maybe 43 at last count, I think. And over to the North of Europe - the UK, France and the Netherlands and Germany.
Any places stand out in particular?
Ah yeah, and Canada. Vancouver is incredible. People there are not afraid to yell things back at the stage. Funny and smart things, even. And they graffiti-ed our van's spare tire cover, which is emblazoned with a flapping American Flag that came with it from the Lion's Club of Fairfax, Virginia, where we got it... they graffiti-ed it with the succinct "Canada Rules!" in ballpoint pen. Which we thought was rather polite. For graffiti.
I understand you've played Glastonbury Festival. Can you tell us about your 'Glasto' experience?
It bends the mind, just to see the scale of the place. You really have to hike up one of the surrounding hills, 30 or so minutes from the middle of the fray, to even begin to get a glimpse of what 180,000 people creating a temporary civilization in the middle of a sacred valley really means. It means a lot.
Three albums in two years is pretty impressive and a prolific start. Was that a conscientious decision or just something that happened naturally?
She said, "Where ya been?", I said "No place special." She said "You look different", I said "Well, I guess". She said, "You been gone." I said, "That's only natural." She said, "You gonna stay? I said "If you want me to, yes".