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The Elms Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and The Elms lyrics)
The Elms Biography
Once upon a time, in the mid-1960s through the end of the 70s, memorable bands like The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Byrds, The Who, Badfinger and The Raspberries made powerful recordings that were both infectious and compelling. They were classic pop rock songs destined to be heard everywhere. Eventually, this music would launch a generation and change the world. But, that was then. And they just don't make records like they used to - do they?
Scratch that last thought. Enter - The Elms.
With the release of Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll, The Elms have emerged as the new champions of intelligent pop rock. The group's sophomore effort, on EMI/Sparrow Records, is destined to touch your heart and get you on your feet.
From the powerful opening chords of "Speaking In Tongues," through the emotionally-charged introspective rock ballad, "You Saved Me," past the jingle/jangle guitars heard prominently on "Let Love In," Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll is 52 minutes of thought-provoking rock built upon irresistible hooks.
Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll, is a spiritual album for the mainstream world. "We called the album Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll because these are the three most important things to me and the band - in that order," admits Owen Thomas, lead singer, rhythm guitarist and songwriter for The Elms. "Truth is the one thing that everyone on the planet has as a common denominator. Within every person is the desire for truth. There are language barriers and cultural differences, but everyone has a desire. The way we play music and present it is designed to tell people that that truth is attainable and you can find it. You just have to know where to look for it.
"Soul has a double meaning. It represents one's spiritual inner core, his or her soul, and it is also meant to represent the intangible, uncontrollable moment that takes place when we connect with each other, with our audience. And rock and roll - well," he says, laughing, "that speaks for itself.
"It is a very hopeful record," continues Owen. "If you listen to the collective body of work, you'll find that we are a band that is very much aware of spiritual matters and always considering those things. The only truth I have known through relationships and heartbreak is that God has been faithful to me throughout it all.
"'Let Love In,' 'Smile At Life Again,' or 'You Saved Me' - these are the songs that scream hope," adds Owen. "I have been there and I have been down. I have been lied to; I have been disheartened. Yet, the one constant is that tomorrow is another day and God will be there for you. He will still be as faithful today.
"There is something about how you engage your audience and put them right in the moment with you," explains Owen. "I don't feel like that is a common factor amongst most modern bands today. I love the idea of four guys getting in a room and starting to bang out chords and singing about the dirt they went through yesterday. We still enjoy, after driving as hard at this as we have over the last few years, getting on the stage and the vibe of all that. Guitars and hands swinging, we enjoy playing music. Too many bands get consumed with business and career and they lose the essence of what I think a band should be about. There is a spirit and soul when four guys get together and make it happen."
Make it happen is an understatement. Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll never lets go of that eternal power chord and the sound of melodic voices blended together in harmonies directly out of the school of the Fab 4 and the Everly Brothers. Although never derivative, The Elms openly pay tribute to the great pop rock recordings, while never losing its own musical identity.
The four members were all brought up with a steady diet of rock 'n' roll, which ultimately, made a powerful impact on their musical development. "My dad is a huge fan of rock 'n' roll," says lead guitarist Thom Daugherty. "I grew up listening to all the classic records of the 60s and 70s. I don't feel like I had a chance. I knew I was always going to play guitar in a rock band. It was in my blood.
"We can't deny what we are or what has inspired us to do what we do," says Thom. "I never get tired of the Beatles. They are my absolute favorite band. I just don't think anyone else was ever better at writing and recording pop songs. Myself, I am a huge fan of the more jingly songs on Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll. But I am a huge fan of rock 'n' roll, so everything on the new album is cool."
"I think the 60s had something really magical about it. The music was incredible and it seems like the pretenses weren't there as much as they are now," adds Owen. "I can look at an era that gave us Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles and The Kinks and just a few years later you had ABBA. They just unashamedly made pure pop music. They did it and they did it well. So, the point is: just do what you do and do it well. Sincerity in the long run is what it is all about. Doing what you do with inspiration. That is what we strive for."
In addition to Owen Thomas and Thom Daugherty, The Elms feature Owen's brother, Chris on drums, and bassist Keith Miller. Formed in 1997 by the two Thomas brothers, the band went through several resurrections and formations before changing its name to The Elms (named after a restored coach house owned by the Thomas' uncle in England) and signing with Sparrow Records in 1999.
In 2001, the band released The Big Surprise, received two distinguished Dove award nominations, and began a touring cycle that was interrupted only to record Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll. For the new album, the band brought back producer Brent Milligan (who also did The Big Surprise) and added Engineers Richard Todd (Sheryl Crow, Wilco) and David Bianco (Black Crowes, Tom Petty).
The first single released off Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll will be the upbeat rocker, "Speaking In Tongues," which begs the church to begin speaking in love. The song no doubt will attract both classic and contemporary rock'n'roll fans, as will the melodic pop gem, "Burn and Shine" - a song likely to establish The Elms on a number of different radio formats. "'Burn and Shine' is really about getting up and making it happen every day," says Owen. "Burning and shining for the sake of truth, not turning back, no regrets."
Many listeners and fans, however, are likely to attach themselves with the soulful and introspective ballad, "You Saved Me," which is Owen's personal memoir of thanks to God for saving his life (and the lives of those in the band) after a near fatal driving accident on an icy road in Memphis last February.
Fans and music industry insiders alike are amazed at the mature level of Owen's songwriting. Though only 24, he is capable of writing and singing through the eyes of someone who has lived through a remarkable life. "I think I am at my best when I am most vulnerable. Whenever I feel transparent and totally uninhibited. It makes for the best performance, and for the most resonant song."
With the release of Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll, The Elms are quickly gaining full acceptance in the contemporary mainstream music scene. They have recently signed with The William Morris Agency, and have been invited to tour with Jars Of Clay and rock icon, Peter Frampton. "I think our glory days may be 10 or 15 years from now," says Owen. "It should be about the lives of four guys who found truth and know that everyone is looking for it." For The Elms, with Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll, maybe once upon a time, is now -