SXSW Music Coverage: Cheers Elephant Philadelphia Indie Band Talks Beginnings and Being on the Road
Cheers Elephant is a group of four members who started out in Philadelphia. Bandmates Derek Krzywicki, Travelin' Mat, Jordan del Rosario, and Robert Kingsly were friends since kindergarten and remained friends throughout their school years. Recently, the band relocated to Southern California and they continue to write new music and tour together.
This is your third year here, right? What do you like most about coming to SXSW?
This is by far our busiest. We have 12 shows. The weather, the music, the Torchy's Tacos, the atmosphere.
Where are you originally from?
Originally from Philadelphia. But we just relocated to Southern California.
How did you guys get started?
We have known each other since kindergarten, (King, Mat, Derek) Pickering Valley Elementary. Jordan is Matt's cousin so they've known each other their entire lives. So we go way, way, way, way back. We've been a band officially since about 2007.
How did you come up with your name?
The first elephant they brought over to America, they ran out of water for the trip and all they had left were big wooden barrels of ale so that's what they gave the elephant to survive for the remainder of the trip. When he came to America, he wouldn't drink water anymore, only beer. So they turned him into a Coney Island sideshow attraction. So you pay a nickel, hand the elephant a beer, pops it open puts it down and Cheers Elephant. True story.
I heard you getting ready to record a new album.
We're getting ready. We've recorded a few tracks. We still have a lot to work on in the studio but now that we're all in Southern California. We're just starting to push hard, practicing and enjoying the weather of Southern California.
How do you guys go about writing your own music?
Derek: I like sitting down and playing by myself and hitting the record button and seeing what comes. If I like what I'm doing, I'll add bits to it and I'll send it out to the rest of these guys and say, "Hey, listen to this." And the next time we have practice, we'll start working on it. But that seems to be what's been happening the past few years. We're playing some of the songs here (trying them out).
Have you ever had any mishaps on the road?
We had a van break down once. Hunk a junk. The transmission went. I think we rolled to the dealership. It just made it. We cancelled the show. We were in upstate New York in the Ithaca area. Wiring money from our parents to fix the van. But, there was a silver lining in the sense that in that time, our manager helped scramble around the local area and got us a show or two. We played at a really cool café for free and people tipped us. We made more money there than we probably would have at the show we missed.
I read somewhere that you camp whenever you travel.
Always. Well, in the wintertime it's hard. Sometimes the campgrounds aren't open in the winter. Even if it's cold you can get cabins at a KOA and they're cheaper than a hotel room and they hold all of us. It's more enjoyable.
What do you want to tell people about your upcoming shows?
We will be playing on the west coast a lot more than we used to. We will be going back to New York next year doing a national tour as well with the release of new recordings so keep an eye out for new recordings and music videos next year.
Check out Cheers Elephant's website here: www.cheerselephant.com. And check out their video for their song "Leaves"
PHOTO CREDIT: Kathy Strain