This mini review is reprinted from the July Issue of Earth Tones Studios' Newsletter. They are one of the fine distributors of our music.
"Drumstruck: Off the Beaten Path is the latest release by Elvendrums. All of their previous albums contained some pretty awesome drumming, and some contained a few tracks of just drumming. Drumstruck does just what us Elvendrum fans have been longing for, pure drumming bliss. You won't find anything, except drumming on this album. If you can't beat it with a stick or your hands, you won't hear it on Drumstruck.
Drumstruck is sure to give you goose bumps, with its raw and earthy sound, and is sure to inspire a drum circle or two. The album covers a worldwide range of drumming, from Hungary to the Middle East to Polynesia.
In true Elvendrums' fashion, there is a track entitled "The Exotic Mating Dance of the Rare, Glowing North Antarctic Forest Squid". Only Elvendrums could tell the story of a rare, glowing North Antarctic forest squid, and by using only drums. If you like Elvendrums, you will love Drumstruck. "
Watch for another review in the upcoming August issue of PanGaia Magazine.
Listen to Drumstruck on our website.
We've made a few changes to our website, most notably adding a "New" link from the front page. We've also added a second newsletter for you fans of workshops and writing. We're pleased to announce that Devan has started giving workshops again and dedicating time to her writing. To find out more, sign up for the Writing & Workshops Newsletter.
Our friends at Earth Tones Studios have published an interview with the band in their August newsletter and given us permission to reprint it here. They sell our CDs and many other great recordings. Visit them at:
1. How did Elvendrums get its start?
Ten years ago, at Heartland, Avatar and I met and spent the weekend playing drums together. We formed a band and began writing songs based on elf and faerie folklore with lyrics about magic, mystery and the experience of being Other. As our sound evolved, Elvendrums moved from a tribal percussion ensemble to a progressive folk rock band, adding layers of harmony and instruments such as didgeridoo, hurdy gurdy, organ, electric guitar and percussion instruments from around the world.
2. Introduce each member of Elvendrums and tell us a little about each one.
I'm Devan, vocalist, composer, lyricist, drummer and co- producer. I'm a folklorist and amateur physicist, studying everything from faerie magic to perception of time and space. I've been writing and lecturing on faerie for many years, collecting notes and outlines for a book on the subject. As a storyteller, I try to work this wild mixture into lyrics and tunes that become the songs of Elvendrums. I'd describe myself as creative, imaginative, outgoing, impatient, perfectionistic and intellectual, always questioning.
Avatar DeDannan is vocalist, composer, drummer, co- producer and guitar player. He has a strong drive and desire for self freedom and finds himself guided by that. As an anti conformist, he likes bizarreness and an almost controlled anarchy, right on the edge. "I like go get out on that edge a lot and to bring that forward in other people," he says. He finds himself most inspired by the creativity inherent in being a member of a songwriting band. In Elvendrums, he often observes, everyone sings and half of us write. Few bands have that blend of talents and it's kept us going all these years.
Dragontina is the embodiment of a woodland faerie. Vocalist and drummer, she's always been musical, waking up as a toddler singing and performing for her stuffed animal audience. She describes herself as moody, very emotional and really caring about other people. In stage performances, she loves the surprise factor and has often observed that people have no idea what to expect when they see a band of elves. Effervescent on stage, she's a bit shy and quiet in her personal life, and is very mysterious.
Nerethel Solindas, vocalist, drummer and keyboard player, is everyone's vision of an Elven Ranger. He describes himself as a conglomerate, with his well- publicized goofy moments, subdued moments and tendency to go with the flow, which is an unusual trait for a Leo. Empathetic, intuitive and intellectual, he enjoys gaming, sword dancing and live action role playing in his spare time. He and I rarely have spare time since the birth of our daughter, Kaia, who is now 3 ½.
3. What would you say has had the biggest influence on your music?
I'd have to say my feelings of not fitting in as a child and searching for my otherness. It's a theme I've explored in a number of songs. For me, the combination of my research, my work with faerie, and the slow realization of my true nature has been the biggest influence on my music and writing. As a band, we're influenced by many of the same musicians: Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, Rush, Dave Matthews Band, Baka Beyond, AfroCelt Sound system, Waterboys, Mark Knopler, Procol Harem and Kitaro. I was really influenced by John Denver and Dan Fogelberg as a child, moving quickly into Styx, Genesis, Rush and Moody Blues. We each have our own special influences as well: Avatar loves Lorenna McKennit and Celtic music that is "spacey and magical." Dragon and I grew up with Herb Alpert and the Tiajuana Brass and Mystic Moods orchestra and Nerethel's family listened primarily to Classical and German language pop music. His current influences are Will Smith, Jean-Michel Jarre and Yello. No wonder our styles are so diverse.
4. Tell us about your newest release, Drumstruck
Our latest release, Drumstruck, was originally conceived as a way to highlight the drumming found in previous Elvendrums recordings - a simple project that would take a month or so to produce. We'd isolate the drumming from The Dragon and Gateway, add a few tracks, and polish up the sound. Ascension, Journey, Drumcircle, Rifka's Dream and Raks al Beledi were created and digitally re-recorded, based on previously- recorded material. We recorded multiple new tracks for each of these songs, re-editing and re-mastering them, creating entirely new compositions.
Returning to our rehearsal studio in Jefferson City, MO, we created a series of new compositions. Mandala, a celebration of sevens, began as a simple drumming pattern Nerethel and I use for relaxation. Paikea emerged when Dragontina began hearing the swishing sounds of Polynesian grass skirts in a drum pattern we'd played long ago called Mahi Mahi. Forest Squid, the most unusual track on the CD, began as a celebration of our beginning as a drumming ensemble playing the lanes at Renaissance Festivals. In those shows, we'd share wooden bowls and spoons with the audience, creating a jam session on benches, tankards, bowls and sticks. The forest squid, which Nerethel envisions as an ungainly, bouncing mobile of faerie- found junk in the woods, hanging from tree branches, is a reference to the "rare glowing north Antarctic Forest Squid..." he speaks of during live performances of Walking in the Woods. It's the ultimate, faerie-led jam session. Another composition on Drumstruck harkens back to Avatar and my camping days, when we played frame drums around the dying fire as the sun began to rise. Sunrise blends the voices of two Mickey Hart- edition Mylar frame drums with a chorus of other drum voices and the eerie sound of a gong and the rushing of animal feet through fallen leaves.
Drumstruck is our thank you to all who have supported and encouraged us over the years. For me, it is the acknowledgement of the power that drumming has had in my life. It's a celebration of ten years exploring the paths of rhythm, the recording that fans who knew us from the beginning have long asked for. Creating it was more fun than I could have imagined, and in many ways it's my most intimate recording.
5. Is there anything else you would like to say to your adoring fans?
There is nothing quite like creating your own music, your own genre of music, and being shocked to find that anyone else likes it. Over the years, we've been amazed by the reaction from audiences, especially children. As you can tell from our music, we never set out to do anything commercial, and we're still amazed by our success. For 10 years, our secret has spread thanks to all of you - sharing the faerie magic and music with others, writing to tell us how our music has changed your lives. Our music is written to be a mirror, to show you something you've never seen before, in the hopes that you'll learn something new about yourself. In the liner notes of Drumstruck, I write that until I knew a drum, I did not know myself. We love you, we honor you and we hope each of you will find yourself along the path of your own making.