By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Praise the Loud
Ellerman Have Faith Their Prog-Rock Will Cross Over
Ryan Rainbolt of heavy, proggy, Christian-but not-"Christian rock" band Ellerman keeps his word.
How long have Ellerman been around?
We formed in 2002. We've released two albums. Our last album, Welcome the Coward, we got distribution and got it in Hot Topic, Best Buy, iTunes. We took it in that direction for more exposure.
Has your sound changed over your six years together?
Yeah. We recorded that first album five or six months after establishing the band. It got a little more prog-rock- and math-rock-influenced. We've been compared to Tool and Rush and AFI. We came out of the hardcore and post-hardcore sound, and we kept evolving from that. It's been a fusion of what we like. It would be impossible not to create a sound based on influences you grew up listening to.
On your MySpace page, each member of the band listed his top 20 favorite albums. Between that and the prog influence, is it fair to call you music nerds?
You could say that. We're all super-fans of music and have all kinds of different influences. On those lists, we have some favorites that match up among us all. Our guitar player and bass player are from Georgia, so they have a little different feel in what they grew up listening to than I do, for instance. But it all comes together, and we're all into the more challenging aspects of music.
Even though playing hard rock or heavy rock fits in well in Orange County, the area's not known as a prog-rock epicenter. How do you find Orange County as a home for your band?
It works well just due to the fact that we cross different genres. Growing up in Huntington Beach . . . my vocal sound, I take from the hardcore and punk scenes and mix it with the modern rock sound. We can get on a lot of bills. But we don't confuse the audience and give them too much to digest. And we put on an energetic live show, so that helps a lot.
I'm assuming you don't choreograph your shows, but is that something you plan at all?
Not necessarily. We go out, and it's pretty natural. The energy comes from the music and the crowd's response. If the energy's there, we cut loose. Otherwise, we can jam with the best of them.
You said you got your last record into Best Buy and Hot Topic. Was it self-released, or did you have a label behind it?
We cut the album and skipped going through a label, and we got straight distribution through our own imprint. We got it funded through hard work, and through more hard work, we got it distributed on its own. Through distribution, we got it in brick-and-mortar stores, mom-and-pop shops, Best Buy, Hot Topic and the digital sites. Any avenue we thought would help, we pursued. We looked at what a label offers bands—that a label fronts you money that you eventually have to pay back, that a label's going to promote your album and get you distribution—and we just thought it would be a better avenue to cut that middle man out on that record. So we tried it.
Have you come across other bands that have tried that same approach?
Not really. Most bands are still looking for that record deal. We just thought we'd try a new avenue. The opportunity was there. It might not work for other bands. It just seemed like the best situation at the time, and it's worked out quite well.
Your MySpace page lists your band's genre categories as metal/progressive/Christian. Are you a Christian band?
We're a progressive hard-rock/metal act that happens to have Christian guys in the band. We feel fortunate for what's happened for us, and we don't want to discount our beliefs. If you went into it with Christian thoughts and you read the lyrics to the songs, it might touch you that way. You're not going to hear absolute Christian overtones, but subjective thinking can get you there. There's a positive message. It's meant to be thought-provoking.
I almost forgot to ask what your band name means.
It came from an English teacher at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach who inspired me. He was an outstanding guy. I basically promised, "The next band I'm in I'm going to name after you because you inspired me." I stayed true to my word.