Elephant Stone

An interview with Elephant Stone frontman Rishi Dhir
by Mike Huberty
October 2013

In THE HIGH DIALS, Canadian bassist and sitarist, Rishi Dhir, created a modern version of 60s British Invasion music. Now fronting a new band, ELEPHANT STONE, Dhir is bringing an exciting Indian sensibility to the music, combining traditional instrumentation like the sitar, tabla, and dilruba.  It’s perfect for fans of alt-pop like BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE and they’ve just released a new EP called “Acid Killed My Rock’N’Roll” available for free download on Noisetrade. ELEPHANT STONE is performing at The Frequency in Madison on Thursday, November 7th, with fellow Maple Leaf indie rockers, THE BESNARD LAKES. We took a few minutes to talk to Rishi about the band’s latest EP and upcoming Madison show.

Maximum Ink: So, as a band that brings both Indian and Western influence into their music, who are some of your favorites from both North America and India?
Rishi Dhir:
North American, Elliott Smith. Indian, Kalyanji-AnandJi (a composer duo that scored lots of Indian action movies in the 1970s.)

MI: What was the thing that struck you the most about traditional Indian music and finding ways to integrate it?
The focus on melody. The absence of harmony in classical Hindustani music means that it is solely based on melody and rhythm… that explains my obsession with melody and pop music… not too far from rock’n'roll.

MI: What would you recommend as the song to listen to for people who are listening to you for the first time?
“A Silent Moment”.

MI: What was the inspiration behind the track?
Can’t remember what really inspired me to write the song… all I know is that I got goosebumps when it came together (that’s usually my criteria for writing a song). Also, this song features Pt. Vinay Bhide on a vocals…. a true artist… but also kind of grumpy.

MI: So, where did the name Elephant Stone comes from?
It’s a hybrid of my sandstone statue of Ganesha (God of new beginnings and prosperity) and the Stone Roses’ debut.

MI: “Acid Killed My Rock’N’Roll” is such a great, title. What inspired it?
Ha! I’ve been waiting for someone to finally ask! While on tour w/ The Black Angels in Europe in September, Christian (Angels’ guitarist) commented how true rock-n-roll died in the mid/late 60s and that everything after that was just “rock” music; the “roll” aspect was gone. So, the question was “what killed rock’n'roll”. My response was “acid killed rock’n'roll”. Everyone seemed to dig that line and, much to the chagrin of Alex (Angels singer), I proclaimed I would write a song with that title before the Angels could…. anyhow, nothing came to mind so I just used it for the Noisetrade sampler. In your face, Big Al!

MI: As a band that integrates cultures and music, what do you think the biggest challenge is to get your message across?
I’m not even sure if I have a message, but then I guess the songs are my message. I only write what I know, and what I know is “love”.

MI: What’s up next for ELEPHANT STONE?
After this tour w/ The Besnards, we’ll be hunkering down and recording our follow up at our own studio in Montreal. Very excited!

MI: Anything important we might have missed?
Russell Brand recently proclaimed there’s going to be a revolution and that people shouldn’t vote, as it doesn’t make a difference. I’m all for revolution, but I do not feel it should be “an all or nothing” attitude. Politics and politicians suck, but we still have a voice… let’s make sure it’s heard. But I digress.

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Elephant Stone
CD: Acid Killed My Rock'N'Roll Record Label: Indiecater Records