Turn of the Century Ice Cream Guru reborn as an Indie Folk Rock Duo - Introducing Percival Elliott
>> This past week Floated was able to shoot some Qs at the up and coming English indie-folk rock duo, Percival Elliott (Olly Hite and Samuel Carter-Brazier). If you haven’t yet heard of these dudes, they’ve been performing to sold-out crowds on a national UK tour, and have even done a collaboration with FATBOY SLIM. The name Percival Elliot comes from Hite’s Great Grandfather. Literally. That was his name. The O.G. Percival Elliott was born in 1883 and was a war hero, inventor, and the creator of one of the first ice-cream emporiums in Brighton.
Check out our interview with Percival Elliott (the band) below, as we chat about ice cream, lyricism, instruments, and 18th-century public house lock-ins!
(To Hite) Growing up the great-grandson of an ice cream mogul, are you sick of ice cream now?
Why are you not an ice cream man, for real, that sounds like a dope gig?
Olly: How can anyone ever get sick of ice cream. Love the stuff. Regards to being an ice cream man, I do carry a childhood little fear of the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. “Pie, Treacle Tart. Lollypops, Come and get your lolly pops… and they're all free today!” That nose, that hat, and the scary long coat. On reflection that coat/cape combo was pretty cool, but creepy… so no ice cream jobs for me!
Is there a certain time period you try to tie your music to? Do you find you prefer older songs and guitar riffs and piano chords than newer ones?
Olly: We are big fans of the old school analogue recordings; records from the 60/70’s do sound richer, more alive and not so polished, unlike today’s digital productions. Our debut album leans on both formats. The convenience of today’s technology mixed with the old school recording rules. It’s definitely given our album some colour.
Sam: I think we wanted our album to sound honest, so if there were any background noises or slight recording issues, chances are we left them in the mix (somewhere). Adam Stanton and I worked extremely hard on this record to make it sound as authentic as possible. We rented huge spaces to record pianos, drums, and guitars. Begged & borrowed vintage guitars, antique pianos and beaten up drum kits. Almost all the sounds recorded are from real instruments played by real human beings. We did hire a clockwork robot to play the triangle but that pile of junk was quickly fired. His attitude towards recording stank. Call it creative differences.
Your music is hailed as “honest lyricism”, do you find this tag to be accurate and if so, what’s the alternative?
Olly: Honest being emotionally true, music from the soul, hearts and worn on our sleeves. We want our lyrics to speak to the listener on a personal level, give them a slice of pure emotion.
Sam: Our songs are about every day emotions, stalkers, and cat captains who sail the seven seas.
What makes music dishonest?
Olly: Soulless, emotionless, drivel, basically fast food, compared to a family banquet dinner… no comparison in my eyes.
Sam: Making music for the sole purpose of earning money.
Being from the “south coast of England”, how does your location affect your sound? What’s the music scene there, any favourite local groups? What are your favourite spots to hang and be creative?
Olly: Brighton and Portsmouth are two amazing seaside cities that both have a buzzing music scene.
Sam: I don’t think I could live inland. Living by the sea is amazing. You tend to get the bad weather first but it’s the perfect excuse to saunter along the promenade and blow those emotional cobwebs from your soul.
What’s the hardest part about reaching audiences outside England?
Olly: You know what, I spent some time playing piano in the Hollywood bars, and I can tell you that the Americans are so receptive and up for live music. I couldn't believe the enthusiasm. The UK does have a bit more of a… ‘Come on then Mr. music man, now entertain me’. Which does keep you on your toes.
Sam: There is so much good music out there and so many great social media campaigns. I think the hardest part about everything is trying to ignore technology and to focus on your craft; it’s easy to get bogged down with the latest trends. The world has gotten a lot smaller but it’s not seeming too hard to communicate with fans in other countries.
Make sure to check out their latest video for "Forever" that JUST dropped! It reminds me of summer...come back sweet, warm sunlight. I've missed you.
How important is your musical gear to you? Was there a lot of experimentation to find that perfect sustain, perfect strings, etc, or was it all pretty natural?
Olly: The album has loads of different pianos, guitars, and drums. We've used different instruments to give the record a personality.
Sam: I borrowed a lot of guitars from friends as well as using my own. I did, however, spot a 1978 Gibson Les Paul custom in natural (Like Mick Ronson’s) in a local guitar shop. I just had to buy her. As chance would have it, Eva (my Les Paul) came off the production line on my fathers birthday (different year, but same day). Magic that axe.
Do you ever feel you need to focus more on one type of music, or is it a much more organic “how you’re feeling” writing experience?
Olly: Write how you feel. Sam and I have never said lets right a song like this or that. We generally let the song write itself by giving it space.
Sam: Songs tend to write themselves. Sometimes they take a little more time and or guidance to complete, but it’s like following the building instructions for a piece of Ikea furniture. Occasionally the directions are written in a different language, then you have to make it all up and hope you end up with something that resembles a chair.
The phrase ‘true friends’ have been used a lot to describe your friendship, where did this term come from?
Olly: We are just really good mates. The fact we write, record, and perform together is just a bonus. I’d say touring with your best mate is pretty damn cool.
Sam: We’ve shared a lot of beer, good food and amazing times on the road. I don’t think there has been a day where we’ve not contacted each other. Sometimes the raven gets lost in transit so I’ll have to send out a telegram.
Are there certain things you do to prepare for an album, like staying in a haunted house or looking through old photos or tracking down family stories?
Olly: Yep all of them. You've just hit the nail on the head. That was basically the format.
Sam: Coffee, lots of coffee, and maybe a bourbon biscuit.
What band would make the most badass cover-version of your track “Forever”?
Olly: Hans Zimmer, why? Because he's ace!
Sam: Zimmer would be incredible, good call. I’d love to hear a band like Porcupine Tree or Go Go Penguin cover ‘Forever’ and hopefully something unique and far away from the original.
What does a Percival Elliott after-party look like?
Olly: We are lucky to have some amazing people around us and we are all such good friends. So it'll be no different to any party. Surrounded by the people you love. Maybe another lock in at our local, a stunning 18th Century public house, all huddled around the piano with craft ale and Scotch whiskey on tap. Perhaps the pub dog on backing vocals.
Sam: Wing back chairs, open fire, laughter, and good company. A bit like Christmas but without the dead tree in the corner. <<