Spotlight on … Sam Hart (Elephant Tree).

*When did you really get involved into music in general and into metal specific? Who was responsable for your interest in (metal) music?

I’ve always been around music with the family on my mum’s side being the musicians and my dad’s side being more of the audience. Playing in band’s didn’t come until I was in Secondary School though and even then I was one of 4 guitarists (everyone refused to play bass), but that took a side step for a few years with Uni until I moved to London and started Elephant Tree with Jack. As for getting into ‘metal’ music, my dad had a lot of rock in his collection such as Pink Floyd, Dire Straits and Roxy Music but it was actually my uncle who gave me my first Black Sabbath CD as a kid. It was actually a home-made collection that thinking back on it now looked suspiciously like a Limewire download.

*Which artists or bands did influence you the most?

I used to idolise guitarists as a kid, even to the point of getting an Ephone copy that looked like Slash’s and setting up a Marshall half stack in my room. After a while though I started to listen to other bands and really got into Tool. Danny Carey just blew me away from the first time hearing him play on Lateralus and that’s when I booked my first ‘real’ drum lesson. After moving to London and visiting DesertFest for the first time I just became a sponge for all kinds of music. I seem to have been riding a wave of psych music for the last few years though, really digging bands such as Dead Meadow, King Gizzard, Kikagku Moyo and Psychedelic Porn Crumpets.

*Which instrument do you play and how and when did you learn to play? Did you had lessons in school or private lessons? If so, was that because your parents expected that from you? Or did you learn to play the instruments by yourself? Do yo still follow some lessons?

I play the drums in Elephant Tree, which is also the only band I have ever played drums in. I had one lesson a very long time ago at the beginning of secondary school, then a string of about 5 or 6 lessons with a teacher in my first year of university. After that there was about a two year break before myself and Jack started Elephant Tree. We both played guitar mainly so decided the fairest option was to not have a guitarist. Originally Jack was on bass and I started teaching myself drums again. When I started I could barely hold down a 4/4 beat, but after watching a lot of gigs and pestering some drummers such as Julia from Throne and Tom from Stubb I managed to get just about good enough to record Theia. Recently I’ve been watching a lot of Benny Grebb videos and still chatting to drummers but the best way is to just play with other people.

*Do you follow other or are you intrested in other styles of music beside metal? If so, what is the music you prefer to listen to?

We all enjoy a lot of different genres of music. John, Pete and Riley all have a keen interest in the more electronic side of things and Jack brings us a lot of old folk music he’s found. Usually sessions end up with us sticking whatever we have found recently on and just chatting. Ocassionaly each of us will ask what the track playing is and stick it in our playlists. It’s best not to try pin yourself to one genre otherwise I find it gets boring quickly.

*Is music a full time job for you now or do you have a job beside music? If so, what kind of job are you doing? If you would be really succesful with music, would you quit your other job?

It is almost a full time job time wise but I have another job for a development company, so spend my 9-5 throughout the week dealing with ruby code before coming home to catch up on the band work. If the music becomes successful enough to make a living off of it I would consider moving into it full time but at the moment that’s not possible and I’m enjoying it regardless of the pay. It’s still very much a glorified hobby!

*If you could start a band with other musicians on other instruments, which artist would you pick for wich instrument and why? (Something Like an “All Stars Band”.) Would you still go for a progressive / doom / stoner band? Or would you do something completely different?

We have been asked this question before so I’m going to stick with the answers from last time with the exception of the singer. So on drums you would have Dany Carey, guitar would be Hendix, the bass would be the entirety of The Prodigy and then I think I would leave the singer out. I’m a sucker for a long crazy tracks, so I’m going to add in the twist that it all has to be some new kind of improvised electronic blues / jazz jam band.

*If you had been banned to an uninhabited island and you may pick 5 albums to listen to, wich albums would you choose and why?

I’m going to cheat a little bit here and use Spotify to see what’s been on my heavy rotation. My favourite albums constantly change so if I was stranded in the near future i’d be bringing along;

Joy as an Act of Resistance – IDLES

The Clap – The Chats

The Fox – Ruff Majik

Pig Man Lives: Volume 1 – Ty Segall

House in the Tall Grass – Kikagaku Moyo

*Every new album of a band or an artist is the best one, that’s what they always say. So here is a chance to promote the album. Why should a music lover buy your album? What are the standout tracks for you on this new album and why?

For me this is one of our more accessible albums. We really put a lot of thought into writing something lyrically that people might be able to identify with in some way, as well as interpret in different ways and hopefully make them think about what they’re hearing. Riley also really helped push us towards some more coherent songwriting and adding a lot more layers and overall flourish to the tracks that really helps them shine. Tracks like ‘Bird’ and ‘Sails’ are the big anthemic ones off the album but we really tried to explore a bit more with tracks like the folkier ‘The Fall Chorus’ and then more almost industrial sounding ‘Broken Nails’. I at least hope that everyone is going to find their little piece to hook onto.

See “CD-Review” for a review (written in Dutch) for the new Elephant Tree album ‘Habits’ (Holy Road Records) –

*I suppose you will promote this album through live concerts (when of course everyting is getting back to “normal” after the Covid 19 disaster). If so, would you prefer small clubs or big festivals? And is there a chance we can see ELEPHANT TREE in Belgium?

I think this time we’d all like to hit some of the festivals again. Especially after the long gap between live music shows it’d be awesome to get out in front of a big crowd and unleash the new stuff. We would love to come back to Belgium soon, please prepare the beer and fries!