Catch up with Phoenix-based alternative rock band El West's Bryant Powell and watch the video for single "Olivine" off the band's forthcoming self-titled EP, to be released December 16th.
What brought you together and made you decide to start El West?
Bryant: Actually, it was a bit of serendipity really. Me and Thomas Brenneman basically came together - I was looking for a lead guitarist because I wanted to start something pretty special last year - so I think he just came into a store that I was working at and I was like, 'hey, dude, I know you play lead guitar,' and he was like, 'well, you know what, I'm actually looking for something,' and away we go. Marty, our drummer, Thomas knew him from a different project that he did and, actually, my twin brother, Ricky, plays bass, so it all worked out.
Which musicians would you say that you've been influenced by?
I'm definitely influenced by Freddie Mercury and I really love Muse; I just love music that's big. And that's what we're trying to accomplish with our sound, just big music. Bands like that. I know they really, really like White Rabbits and bands like that. Polyenso. Radiohead, definitely - especially Marty, he loves Radiohead; I love Radiohead too, but he's like a Radiohead-aholic, basically [laughs], he's got everything.
Where does your name, El West, come from?
We're in the Southwest of the United States right now, so I was like, 'oh, well, how about The West?' and then I was like, 'no, let's just do El,' because, you know, there's a lot of Latin influence and stuff like that in the Southwest and I was always fascinated with Spain and that's basically where it came from. El West just kind of rolled off the tongue and I just thought it would be a little different to incorporate that. It didn't really come from anywhere, we just blurted it out one day and I was like, 'hey, that's really awesome!' [laughs].
Which words would you use to describe your sound?
I would say operatic. Big. That's what our goal really is, to just create something a little different. Our shows are really loud but you can still dance to them and stuff like that. We want to give the biggest sound and the best performance possible. We don't use backing tracking or anything like that, but we definitely try to just incorporate really great melody and awesome rhythms. Just, big.
What were your inspirations behind your single "Olivine"?
I'm married, I got married about a year ago, and we had our honeymoon - actually, there's this thing called Honeyfund so, what you do is, we always wanted to go to Greece, so we basically just crowdsourced our honeymoon [laughs], so it was great and I was like, 'right on man!' - so we went to Greece and we went to Mykonos and that's basically where I got the inspiration. I wrote that song on Mykonos island and the rest is history. It repeats the 'same four walls in the city' and it's about getting away and escapism. I love it.
Could you tell us more about your forthcoming self-titled EP?
It's out December 16th. We're actually, probably, going to drop another single off of it I would say, probably, in two weeks - we'll see - if you're lucky. But it's complex. The album art is basically the sun just touching the horizon, because with El West, we're kind of just beginning. It's a beginning. It's eclectic. It starts off with a banger and it swells a little bit, "Olivine" is the third song, and then it ends with a party. It definitely has its swell and it's a pretty good representation of what we're trying to accomplish, honestly. Then, we're going to go ahead and have the next EP ready to roll in early next year too, so that's pretty exciting. We don't even have a name for that one, but we'll see... It'll be like self-titled 2 or something [laughs].
If you had to pick one song off this EP to call your favorite, which would it be?
Wellll, I don't want to get in trouble with my wife, so "Olivine" is my favorite because I wrote it about her [laughs]. But, yeah, I really love "Olivine". I really love "Thin Air". Lyrically, I really like the song "Santiago", that song really just speaks to me. My little brother, Will, really likes "Half To Death" actually, the first track off of it. I mean, I just love it all, honestly. But, probably, "Olivine" is one of my favorites because it's not a complex chord progression, but it has a really big swell at the end and I love that. It's a really good representation of what we're trying to go for.
In one sentence, how would you sum up that El West EP?
I think it's an EP that everyone should look out for and I think El West is a band that everyone should look out for because we work hard with everything we do and we're trying to make music that's different but that everyone would probably really, really, really love... So look out! [Laughs] Watch out!
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
Oh geez, that's a hard question. Well, everything is subjective. We write our music just like our logo, it's the wing with the arrow: we're all damaged like that, but we go through, we're steadfast, we're strong. I think just energy, energy is the best word. To give people energy, to get people motivated. We just want to give people different energy and we just want to touch everyone; we just want to love everyone because we're full of it; and we just want to give people strength.
Is there anything you want to add?
Yes, 100%. I want to definitely add, Jack Chapman did our music video and he is an absolute amazing person; Jack Chapman III from Red Knight Media. And Cory Spotts is basically the fifth member of El West and he is the producer of all of our music and he's just an incredible guy to work with. He has vision and we can't wait for our new EP to come out very soon. We can't wait for you guys to hear more and more and more and we can't wait to hear from you again!