Daniel Ellsworth and The Great Lakes are an awesome group of transplants from all over that now call Nashville home. They’re about to hit the road yet again in support of their new album, Civilized Man, and we had the chance to check-in with them before they left town for a 15-city adventure that will include a stop at the Daytrotter HQ (check out recent set by fellow Nashville outfit, Sugar & The High Lows – we’re loving Daytrotter lately).
Learn more about the band and why they’re proud to call Music City home below (spoiler alert: it’s the weather. Well, other stuff, too!)
Give their most recent release a listen and read up. There’s video to reward you at the bottom, we promise!
No Country: What’s up right now that you’re particularly excited about?
Daniel Ellsworth: We just returned from a 2 week tour up to NYC to play CMJ and now we are getting ready to head out on a 3 week fall tour through the Midwest, Colorado, Northwest, West coast, and Texas. It’s our second time this year making this run. We’re pumped to be heading back to all these places. Consequence Of Sound named us one of their 10 favorite acts from CMJ this year – that was exciting for us – it made the insanity of playing 5 shows in 3 days up there feel totally worthwhile. We’re also doing a Daytrotter session on our upcoming tour, which we’re really excited for. Those guys have a lot of good music come through their studios, so we’re honored to get to be a part of that.
Timon Lance: Writing for the new album. We’ve been playing a couple new songs during our recent live shows and it’s felt great. The response to the new material is incredible.
Joel Wren: I’m excited to go out west again… I’m also excited to keep working on our record and line up who we’re going to do it with.
No Country: You guys are all transplants to Music City, yes? Why are you proud to now call Nashville home? What about the city makes it a great place to live and work?
DE: Yes – I’m originally from the Twin Cities in Minnesota – Joel’s from Wichita, Kansas – Marshall’s from Columbus, Ohio – and Timon’s from Youngstown, Ohio. I’ve lived in Nashville for close to 9 years now. What makes me proud is seeing our city finally getting the recognition it deserves for the rock music scene here. There is so much more than god-awful pop country in Nashville and I think people outside of this town are finally starting to see that. There are so many unbelievable rock bands in this city – Every time I go out I see a new band or artist that blows my mind. People like Jack White and bands like The Black Keys moving here and calling Nashville home has also helped shine a light on the rock scene here. Love them or hate them (I love them), they’ve helped to give the “new” Nashville music scene some serious validity. I say it all the time, but what really makes this town a great place to live, is the people. There are so many wonderful like-minded people here and everyone is either involved in music or a serious lover of music.
TL: I feel like we’re part of the up and coming rock scene in town. Obviously there’s been a rock scene here for decades but bands like the Black Keys and Jack White have helped put Nashville’s rock scene on the map. In some small way, I like to think that we are a part of that growth, along with dozens of other hand-working rock groups in town.
JW: Nashville is a big small town. I like the size and I also like the weather. I’m particularly proud to call Nashville home because I’m a part of the newer rock/indie music scene coming out of here. I’m not a tool who plays pop country. I’m in a good rock band.
No Country: You crowd-funded your first record and folks all over are doing the same (Amanda Palmer, Rhett Miller, Ben Folds, etc.) – what advice do you have for other local acts interested in platforms like Kickstarter for funding?
DE: My advice would be that every band should crowd-fund a record at some point in their career. For us, it was our first record. We had no money and no label, but we did have some fans. More important than raising the money – for us, it was a great way to connect with our fans. That would be my biggest piece of advice – If you do it, make sure you do an amazing job of keeping your fans connected – give updates during recording, make videos for them, make them feel like they are a part of the process – because without them, you wouldn’t have a career and you wouldn’t be making an album. Also: ignore the crowd-funding naysayers. They are just a bitter, confused, uninformed people. It was a game-changer for us and nothing but a positive experience.
JW: Enjoy it. Have fun coming up w/ incentives for donations. We had a lot of fun doing our videos and fulfilling all our commitments from our kickstarter campaign.
No Country: So, there was a little television show in your life — how has the Sing-Off impacted you? Are we gonna get to see you on Nashville?!
DE: HA. The Sing-Off. Yes. It was a once in a lifetime experience, I was on national television, I made a lot of life long friends, and I would never do it again. All the people I met on that show were supremely talented, kind, amazing people. Our group, The Collective (made up of Nashville artists (Ruby Amanfu, Rachael Lampa, Sam Brooker, Isaac Hayden, David Jennings, Perrin Lamb, Kaleb Jones, and Jonathan Lister), got the chance to get to know and hang out with Ben Folds (one of the shows judges) back in Nashville. He also brought us in to sing on Sara Bareilles’ song “Stay” from her EP that he produced. For me, that made the whole thing worth it – getting to know and work with a musical mind, and musical hero of mine, like Ben Folds was totally badass. And…no.
JW: Yes, I’m guest starring on episode 10 of Nashville. (Sarcasm, dear readers – what’s that emoticon, again? Oh yes, the “sarc-mark” — this.)
No Country: What other Nashville acts are you into these days?
DE: Heypenny. We toured with those guys a little bit this year and it was insane amounts of fun. On top of being our good friends, they are, hands down, one of our favorite bands. Their record and arrangements are amazing. Their live show is unmatched. They should be famous. Alanna Royale. We just played with her/them the other night at The Basement. They are new on the scene, but I’m willing to bet it won’t be long before everyone knows their name. Alanna has an unbelievable voice. The rhythm section was tight as all get out. Think Alabama Shakes meets Amy Winehouse meets Black Joe Lewis and you’re in the right vicinity. Some of my other favorites include: The Electric Hearts, Colorfeels, Kyle Andrews, Majestico, Ravello, Matthew Perryman Jones, Jeremy Lister, everyone from The Collective….
JW: Heypenny, Heypenny, and Heypenny.
No Country: What are you you sick of people writing about your band? (You can say you’re tired of people asking about The Sing-Off, it’s ok!)
DE: This question: “What style of music do you guys play?”
JW: SingOff for sure.
And a little live-action for your liking. Also Audio Tree session via jump: