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Everest Reaches the Summit

Everest talks to us about Neil Young, what it means to be "Ownerless" and why they love San Diego.

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Everest Reaches the Summit

Ryan Cowen

Everest headline at the Casbah on Friday night.

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Los Angeles indie-rock group Everest’s third album, Ownerless, is the record they’ve been dying to make.

“The gas pedal was to the floor creatively, and we were really excited about the music we were making,” Everest frontman Russell Pollard said in an interview with SoundDiego. “Ownerless is an extension of what we were trying to do with the first two records. The first two records, we definitely were making music that we were excited about, but this record was more reflective of our many days on the road and many nights discussing what we felt about music what we wanted to make; it was more about ‘our sound’ as a collective group effort, and it was childlike in a way that it was very open and free. We just let the music flow.”

The group that consists of Pollard, Joel Graves, Jason Soda and Eli Thompson will take the stage at the Casbah on July 22 as part of their tour with Alberta Cross.

“They’ve been really complimentary to us as far as our performance,” Pollard said. “They’re very intelligent guys with similar tastes as far as what we listen to and how we want to be viewed, and we’ve pushed each other and learned from each other.”

After respective stints with bands like Earlimart, Sebadoh, Alaska!, John Vanderslice and the Watson Twins, Everest formed in 2007 as a group of like-minded friends who enjoyed jamming with each other.

“We were friends and admirers of each others bands,” said Pollard. “We had a moment in time where everyone was available and started jamming together liked what we were doing and the result was to make a record.”

That record was 2008’s Ghost Notes, which caught the attention of Neil Young. Young signed the group to his Vapor Records imprint and invited them on tour. The word Pollard used to describe this interaction? “Panic.”

“My brain couldn’t process that I was going to be on the road with Neil Young,” recalls Pollard. “It was like a little kid getting to hang out with Superman every day. The little kid wants to do it and dreams of doing it, but once he gets in front of him he gets shy and wants to curl up in his mom’s lap and cry.”

There was no time for crying though. “We had to stand on our own two feet as a band and prove our work,” he said.

They more than proved themselves, as the band is scheduled to tour with Young again as part of his upcoming tour with Crazy Horse. “I enjoyed being in a room with him and his energy and looking him in the eye and him telling me our band was good and we deserved to be there,” he said. “We’re friends,” he adds, clearly a little in awe of that reality. “[Neil’s] inspired me to do whatever I want to do and not listen to anybody else. He’s encouraged the band to adopt that mentality and to pursue and deliver vision.”

Young has always been a huge supporter and embraced their creative freedom, however the “poor” performance (by industry standards) of their second record, On Approach, led them to be dropped from media giant Warner Bros., the label in charge of distribution. This experience had a part in titling the album Ownerless.

“The efforts we put forth didn’t match the efforts that Warner Bros put forth,” he revealed. “They put pressure on us to make a single.” Making singles has never meshed with Everest’s organic style of writing and recording. 

“We’ve always made records we want to make; its always been our adventure and pleasing ourselves and in doing that our fans appreciate and enjoy that we’re not trying too hard to do something to please somebody else,” says Pollard. “We’re there, it's organic and it's a musical experience that transcends.”

It helps that, as a band, Everest's members are actually pretty big fans of each other, “I’m in a band with musicians that absolutely blow my mind,” he conveys enthusiastically. “[Bassist] Eli, and [guitarists] Joel and Jason constantly amaze me.”

Everest’s live performance is where the band's heart and soul truly come to life. “Before we step on stage the band huddles and we talk to each other,” he says. “We tell ourselves we’re about to ‘go through the gates’ and as soon as we go onstage it’s a blank canvas: we’re free.” It's a feeling Pollard hopes is contagious to the audience, “If we can take 45 minutes to an hour and allow everybody who watches us to transcend the daily drag and have a feel-good experience, then that’s it. That's why we started playing music. That's why I sat on the floor of my room listening to records. It's about coming together and getting our minds blown together.”

San Diego’s minds especially, “Its probably one of our best towns to play,” he says. “The vibe i get from San Diego everytime is complete and 100 percent support, volume and energy. We always play a better show in San Diego, it's hands down my favorite city to play. No joke.”

As if he hadn’t flattered us enough, he continued, “I grew up in a small town and had to seek out a tiny record store in town to get exposure to music. If I had grown up in San Diego I would have had an easier time accessing really cool art and music.” Pollard cites inspiration from San Diego bands like Black Heart Procession, Rocket From the Crypt and Pinback that have made San Diego a great music town. “I’ve always been amazed at our ability to fill the Casbah.”

Come and help fill the Casbah and check out what’s sure to be an amazing show with Everest and Alberta Cross on July 22. Check out their newly released record Ownerless and stop by their Facebook page to say hi and see what the guys are up to.

Related Topics Everest, Casbah
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