We can’t help but ask, what’s the story about the name?
PHIL: So, when we first started back in 2010, we were a System of a Down cover band. We called ourselves Bubbles Erotica, which is a lyric from their song “IEAIAIO” on Steal This Album. We only did about 3 or 4 shows as a cover band before we started writing our own songs. We changed our name to The Elephant in the Room when we started playing originals, but unfortunately that name was used by literally dozens of other bands. No one had Bubbles Erotica, so we decided to continue using it for our original songs as well. Our 2014 EP title “Elephants Never Forget” is homage to our old band name.
How did you start in music? How old? What instrument? Formal training?
PHIL: It was decided back in grade school that I was going to be the singer for my “band” at the time because I was too lazy to learn an instrument. I just kind of stuck with it since. I’ve had a few voice lessons, but nothing too crazy.
MIKE: I started when I was in 6th grade. Phil, our good friend Chris and I said at a very young age that we would start a band. I wanted to play drums but was “placed” at guitar instead because our friend wanted to play drums. To this day, he still plays drums, Phil still sings, and I still play guitar so it all worked out in the end. I took lessons at a local music shop for a couple years.
COLIN: My start in playing music was actually in concert band in school. I played the trumpet from 4th grade until the end of high school. Along the way I picked up guitar and the rest was history. I don’t really pick up the trumpet anymore.
BRAD: I’ve been playing the drums since I can remember. Before I got my first drum set, which was probably in first or second grade, I used to make my own drum sets out of popcorn tins and other miscellaneous household items. My first “hi-hat” was two paper plates glued together with a bunch of pop tabs on the inside.
What is one characteristic of each member of Bubbles Erotica that you can share with us?
PHIL: I call Colin the wildcard because whenever we are writing or rehearsing something, we’ll sometimes want to make an obvious or traditional choice. Colin always is the one that suggests trying something different, something not so obvious, and we’ve walked away with some cool songs and live shows because of it.
COLIN: Phil and Mike are so passionate about the art they make and are so creative. They are willing to jump in and do it, rather than just appreciate it from a distance. On top of the music we make in this band they are consistently making music in different genres and just constantly being creative. They also have their hand in visual media as well. I’m consistently impressed by the quality and quantity of their creative endeavors.
MIKE: Brad really has an incredible talent at composition, arrangement, and overall music theory. He challenges us to play with unique time signatures, utilize key changes, and sing different harmonies. He really has brought a whole new level to our song writing.
What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you as a band since you started up?
PHIL: For me, it was the response we got after we dropped our first music video for our song “Morton’s Groove”. We filmed it around our hometown of Morton Grove and a lot of people of all different ages and backgrounds contacted us to let us know they grew up in the area and our video brought back a lot of good memories.
MIKE: Getting played on Q101 was pretty gangster.
BRAD: Abbey Pub, October and December 2009. They were our first two shows as a band, back when we were covering System of a Down. The place was pretty wild those nights. I remember our first show, Phil climbed up on the balcony and did a stage dive from there. The second time we played at the Abbey, one of the first things the door guy said to us when we got there to load in our gear was, “You guys are Bubbles Erotica, right? Yea.. no jumping off the balcony this time.”
COLIN: For me the whole journey has been amazingly cool. We have had our ups and downs like anyone, but to look back at where we started playing cover songs in a basement to releasing this full length and the support we have seen from it has been really amazing.
Tell us about your songwriting process? How are you inspired to start a song like “Cicada Arcade” and how does that develop from writing to composition, recording, and completion?
PHIL: There’s typically two ways a song will come to life for us. Someone will either bring in an idea for a song and if we all like it, we’ll work on it, or we’ll spontaneously improvise and come up with an idea that way. Everyone contributes and helps with the construction of a song. “Cicada Arcade” was an idea that came to me in the middle of the night. I was trying to sleep when I heard the opening surf riff in my head. I picked up the guitar and quietly recorded the riff on my phone. The next day I fleshed out a rough demo of about half of the song’s structure on Garageband and brought it to the rehearsal space. From there, the rest of the guys took it and started taking it apart, changing things, and building it back up. They would send me recordings, keeping me updated on the song’s growth. Colin helped me create a clear concept for the song and helped write the lyrics. Cicada was definitely interesting and tough to record. It took a lot of producing on our part and fine-tuning during mixing, mostly because we all knew what we wanted it to sound like. It’s a very dynamic song between the verses and choruses, so creating the right tone and levels for each instrument for each section was super important. Mike Watts, who mixed the album, is a kind man.
Can you talk about some of the experiences that influenced the tracks on your debut album?
PHIL: The influences for the album are all over the place: everything from super serious experiences to more light-hearted things and everything in between. Our song “Ghost”, whose lyrics were co-written by Brad and I is about love and loss. We both channeled very different experiences in our life, the death of a loved one and losing a good friend, but there were a lot of similarities thematically. It’s a very serious and personal song for us. At the opposite side of the spectrum, you have something like “Humbaba” which is an abbreviated version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. It’s a very fun and quirky song. Dynamics. Were all about it.
If you could tour anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?
PHIL: I really want to play Japan. I would also love to tour South America and Central America.
MIKE: I would tour Europe. That would be amazing no doubt.
BRAD: Same with Mike, I would tour Europe.
COLIN: There isn’t really a specific place, but I would just love to get everywhere. There is so much to see and experience in this world and I would love if our music took us on the journey to see it all.
What is the craziest live show you’ve ever done?
PHIL: Interestingly enough, the craziest thing I’ve ever done was at our first ever show. I climbed up the side of the stage onto the balcony and jumped into the audience of the now defunct Abbey Pub. I’ve never had the guts to do it since.
BRAD: Same, Abbey Pub show.
MIKE: The next upcoming show. Be there.
Finally, just for fun, Batman or Superman? Explain.
COLIN: Batman. We need a real human being to be our hero right now.