Formed in Philadelphia in 2007 Cheers Elephant quickly established itself as a band with an ear open to the past. As guitarist and vocalist Jordan del Rosario recalls, he and his three bandmates found common ground in music made before any of them were born, including The Beatles.
“We really liked that British sound" he says. "But even more so than The Beatles, The Kinks and the Rolling Stones. The psychedelic era of all those bands really sparked the way.”
The band’s first two albums recalled that era quite closely, while the band’s most recent effort, 2012’s Like Wind Blows Fire, saw the group blending elements of the psychedelic era with more contemporary sounds. Del Rosario says some of that came down to producers Justin Chapman and Lenny Skolnick who guided the band through the sessions for that album.
“We were in a really, really nice studio with really, really nice producers who had a good ear and really pointed us in a direction that we really enjoyed going,” he says.
Working with outside hands became a matter of the group setting their egos aside, the frontman says.
“You think that you may have a set way in which a song goes or how it’s arranged or anything and then these guys will come in here and chop it up and take parts out or add parts in just to try to make the song better, or more successful,” he says.
Cheers Elephant has since returned to the studio to work on a fourth album, once more with Chapman and Skolnick. The group has been living in Los Angeles since earlier this year with occasional breaks for touring. del Rosario says that constant touring has become necessary to keep the band afloat. And just as the quartet discussed records they liked early on, they also studied other bands when honing their own stage show. In particular, fellow Philadelphians Dr. Dog.
“We were going to see them play right as we were starting the band and their live stage presence and energy and song craft really helped us out," he says. "Along with, like, The Spinto Band. Just bands you go out and see every night in your own music scene. You just feed off of them and see who’s doing it the right way, see who’s entertaining people the most and take a little bit from that.”
As record sales have consistently declined over the last decade, there are those who wonder why bands release new music at all given that the returns are slender at best.
“A lot of people just do it for themselves," he says. "It’s an art and if you don’t put it out there in some shape or form it just really doesn’t exist.”
Cheers Elephant performs at Rock Island Live on Monday, July 14.