Elliott Brood looks to the past

Posted by Amanda Ash on 26 July 2013

Mark Sasso is painting the trim of his house. In the background, his dog barks at a field mouse that's crept into his Toronto yard.

The vocalist for Toronto death country trio Elliott Brood enjoys these little pleasures. For a small band, Sasso says they tour incessantly. The simple life comes as a meditative reprieve.

It's moments like these that help Sasso and his bandmates - guitarist Casey Laforet and drummer Stephen Pitkin - recharge and reflect, especially right now. Time always seems to fly by for Elliott Brood, which is why Sasso can't believe the three-piece band has been together for 10 years. As he paints, he marvels at how far they've come and what they're doing to celebrate.

Elliott Brood will be re-releasing their debut EP Tin Type on vinyl in mid-August to mark their decade-long existence, adding three more songs to the record - The Trail, Rusty Nail, and a cover of Parkdale's Cranes - that initially didn't make the cut.

"We didn't expect to be a band. Here we are 10 years later, and we get to play music for a living," Sasso says over the phone. "(Tin Type) was more of a demo that turned into a platform for us to get out there. We always wanted to do a hard pressing of it and we always wanted to do vinyl. Being that the initial idea was a demo and it was only six songs, we kind of afterwards wished we had recorded a full record. So this kind of makes it a full record."

Elliott Brood are set to embark on another Canadian tour, hitting up festivals like Edmonton's Interstellar Rodeo that will put them on the road through October. They'll be following nearly the same path their first tour took them in the summer of 2004. Then they'll turn their gaze forward as they begin recording their fourth full-length album.

Tin Type became a success in 2004 thanks to songs such as Oh Alberta and Cadillac Dust. It was followed by 2006's Juno-nominated Ambassador and 2008's Polaris Prize-nominated Mountain Meadows.

In 2011, Elliott Brood released their latest offering Days Into Years, inspired by a First World War military cemetery where more than 11,500 soldiers were buried. They stumbled upon the grounds while driving the back roads of France in 2007.

"(Being in the cemetery) just catches you and takes you to a different place. We were inspired by it, but we ended up writing Mountain Meadows in between. Sometimes you need time to digest things and we took the time to read books and about the soldiers and what they went through, just to put ourselves in that place and time.

"It's all about trying to make it through life to survive. It's a universal theme."

Sasso says he's always been inspired by stories and tales, which is why many of their songs are steeped in history. Their next record, however, might not find its muse in library books, museums or graveyards. For Sasso, the recent reminiscence with Tin Type has them eager to revisit their own past, rather than the lives of others.

"(The new album's songs) are a bit more rustic, I guess, than the heavier ones we've done - more akin to Tin Type. More acoustic guitars, foot stomping and sparser instrumentation.

"Some songs are maybe more personal, I think. But we never know until we really start to put it together."