We’re jaded with our overabundance of artistic choices in LA, so it’s refreshing to perceive our sprawling music community through the eyes of appreciative newcomers. Relevant Elephants bandleader and rhythm guitarist Zack Hankins acknowledges that it feels weird having to drive everywhere after seven years of not needing to in Boston, but says it’s worth it.
“The best thing for us so far is there’s definitely more enthusiasm out here,” Hankins says, speaking on the one-year anniversary of his and lead guitarist Drew Lucas’ relocation to LA. (Bassist Adam Khalil and drummer Mack Suhre are planning to join them soon.) “Back in Boston — don’t get me wrong, I love the city — you had to be a big act to get people to your shows. The general attitude here is much more about making music and having a good time doing it, and showing a lot more support, telling people about our shows. It’s not as much of an uphill battle as before.”
Hankins, Lucas, Khalil and Suhre paid dues busking in Boston before graduating to cramped pubs and rock clubs lacking proper stages. Hankins says they’d eventually like to busk on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade or elsewhere in the California sun; it would be a welcome contrast to playing guitars in the snow. “In the New England winter in 2015 all our shows were canceled,” he recalls with a laugh. “No one would hire us because no one could get to the bars.”
Last year, the enterprising foursome released “Paper Walls,” a good-natured set of scrappy rockers like “Starving Artist,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Band” and “Allston and Brighton Are for Drinkin’ and Fightin’.” “Paper Walls” did well on Spotify, which featured it on a playlist.
“We made all the money back we put it into making it,” Hankins says. “We could see where our sales were coming from. Seattle, San Francisco, Vegas — and LA. It was by far our bestselling city. It wasn’t even close.”
The Elephants will debut a new song from an album they’re recording when they return to Old Towne Pub Saturday (with bassist David Walker and drummer Tom Zamarono subbing for Khalil and Suhre). They also plan to give away swag from an unexpected endorsement.
“I don’t know why I did it, but one time, at 7 in the morning, there’s a breakfast spot in our neighborhood and it was so good I was compelled to tweet, ‘This hot sauce is awesome hot sauce.’ Yucateco [answered] saying, ‘Hey, we need to talk.’ So we talked. And they have now sent us a couple of shipments of coozies, sampler-size bottles, etc. They were like, ‘If you tell people about us, we’ll keep sending them your way.’ It works out. We get free stuff and they’re out there promoting us. It’s definitely been one of the funnier things that have happened to this band.”
The Relevant Elephants return to Old Towne Pub, 66 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9. Call (626) 577-6583 for cover charge and other info. therelevantelephants.bandcamp.com, facebook.com/therelevantelephants