House of Prog - Band Profile

by Olav Martin Bjørnsen
November 4, 2013

ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND is a US band fairly new to the scene. They released their debut album “Home Away From Home” in 2013. Besides getting a fair amount of critical acclaim, this initial production also made such an impact that it lead to them being booked by US progressive rock festival ROSfest, where they will perform in May 2014.

The current line-up of Elephants of Scotland consists of:
- Dan MacDonald – bass, vocals
- Adam Rabin – keyboards, vocals
- John M. Whyte – guitar, vocals
- Ornan McLean – drums & cymbals

Adam Rabin is answering on behalf of the band in this interview.

- Can you tell us about when and how the band was formed?

We formed in early 2010. Ornan and I had been playing together in a cover band for a few years and I decided to start up an original project based on Ornan’s and my common interest in progressive rock. At this same time, Ornan’s other band – a rock fusion outfit – was breaking up so we recruited the guitarist from that band. That trio spent the better part of a year writing and working on the material that would become the first Elephants of Scotland album, without a bass player.

When it eventually became clear that that guitar player wanted to go in another direction, we pondered the year plus of hard work that might not go any further. It took about a week to recruit John Whyte (“Lefty”) who was also in the aforementioned cover band as the new guitarist. But this time I was determined to find a bass player and a few weeks later found Dan online, playing some outstanding Rush covers and we knew we had our man. We just had to convince Dan first. Dan had not played in a band in many years but was getting back into it through online collaborations with people all around the world.

The new incarnation of Elephants of Scotland spent the next year reworking and re-envisioning the existing material, finding a new sound and developing a chemistry.

- What inspired your choice of band name?

We wanted to call ourselves Journey but we found out that it was already taken.

- What can you tell us about your debut album “Home Away From Home” from 2013 and events during the creation and promotion of it?

With “Home Away From Home,” we just wanted to see if we could do it – if we could make an album. We’d been writing and playing these songs for so long that we just wanted to get them recorded. The response has been overwhelming. We’ve gotten many great reviews and people from every part of the world are finding us and supporting what we’re doing.

One of the more rewarding parts of the album is that even after playing these songs for over a year, we were still finding new ideas to include in the recordings – new harmonies, instrumentations, and sounds.

- What are your ambitions at this stage of your career?

We’re focused right now on recording our second album and preparing for shows in 2014. With the enthusiastic response we got from our first album, we’re pushing ourselves to follow it up with something even bigger and more ambitious.

We’re also eager to start playing out more and having more to share online. Our fans are scattered around the world so we want to record more performance videos so they can all see us in action.

- Are there any particular artists that the band as a whole or individual band members would cite as influential?

Of course. We all grew up on the classic prog bands so they’ve rubbed off on us. I think what keeps the band interesting for us is that we enjoy finding our own sound – our own take on the general “proggy” style.

- What artists have your music been compared to?

The previous and next question address this pretty well, I think.

- What music do you enjoy listening to yourself?

We’re all children of the late 70s and 80s so we tend to listen to a lot of the classic Prog bands. But we each have our own other interests. I listen to plenty of piano based rock artists and I know some of my bandmates are more into the heavier stuff like Foo Fighters and Liquid Tension Experiment.

- Are there any artists or labels you’d like our readers to check out?

Too many to count, really. I would just tell people to hang out at sites like yours and ProgArchives or ProgStreaming and just sample everything. Find what appeals to you. Even within the genre of Prog Rock there are so many styles and different ideas.

- Any thoughts you’d like to share on the music scene where you’re based or the music scene in general?

As easy as it is to complain about the state of music these days, it’s really a boon for artists in specific genres like ours. There is so much of a community online that we feel very lucky. People all over the world are finding us. This is especially fortunate since that the music scene in our little corner of the world (Vermont USA) is so limited and remote.

- Do you have anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Even almost four years into this band we’re continually finding our style and coming up with new ideas. It feels like we’re still forming and that’s so energizing and encouraging.