by E. A. Poorman
There’s a great, cavernous sound coming from down south. It’s based in Atlanta, GA, but bellows to the far reaches of the universe. Simple, acoustic songs that swell into mammoth psychedelic swirls that will consume you if you open your minds and hearts to the concept. Spirits and the Melchizedek Children are the source of this spiritual and musical wave. Jason Elliot began this journey on his own, writing songs alone on his acoustic. Soon enough though, he’d found fellow travelers and like-minded musicians to help him spread his lullabies to eternity.
Our local psych friends and freaks Heaven’s Gateway Drugs have invited Spirits and the Melchizedek Children to the Fort to play a show with them at the Brass Rail on October 6th. Spirits’ Jason Elliot was kind enough to answer a few questions from yours truly.
EAP: Tell me a little about the band. How did Spirits and the Melchizedek Children come about? Do you have a particular interest in the Book of Genesis?
Jason Elliot: “(laughs)I guess you can say that we had an interest in the Book Of Genesis, being a subjective take on the creation of life, but I feel like it goes beyond that. Spirits started as a solo project. Back then I would take extensive amounts of heavy psychedelics in my search for some kind of secret doorway into living life to its fullest. I was eager to find something to shine away all the lonely darkness that I had created for myself. That “secret doorway” was never found, but I developed some life saving tools to help me cope. Melchizedek was something or someone that I had always heard about, and the more I looked into the word, I found that it was quite endless. Melchizedek is talked about in all sorts of beliefs, religions, the occult, and books. It’s always referred to as a “Holder of Keys, Keys to the Kingdom” whatever kingdom that might be? Who knows. It’s similar to the idea of Alchemy. There’s no magic stone or secret formula that will change coal into gold or silver. It’s you! You are that piece-of-shit coal that needs to be turned into gold or silver. You hold the keys to whatever you desire. You just have to find a way to use them properly. Or, I can give you the shorter answer… The word Melchizedek is mysterious. I wanted that enigmatic element to connect with the post-cryptic-quasi-cultist-mystique music we make.”
EAP: Spirits’ sound is very distinct. It’s dark and cavernous, like if My Morning Jacket’s ‘It Still Moves’ was recorded by The Sisters of Mercy. What informs the sound of Spirits and the Melchizedek Children? Religion? Spirituality? Life?
Jason Elliot: “Nice Comparison! We want to move the listener, to sooth the listener — we want to scare the listener. Life and it’s beautiful tragedies can be used as fuel for the fire. What is seen and not seen in our surroundings is our primary source of inspiration.”
EAP: Musically where are you drawing inspiration from?
Jason Elliot: “Music that invites the listener to imagine, think and wander has always been a personal influence of mine. Anywhere from Tchaikovsky to Peter Green and God Speed you! Black Emperor to The Beatles.”
EAP: Spirits and the Melchizedek Children hail from Atlanta(Hail, Atlanta!) What’s the music scene like there? I can only imagine it’s quite diverse.
Jason Elliot: “It’s wonderful. There’s a bit of everything here. The city is large and so is the scene, but everyone manages to support and keep in touch with each other. It’s a diamond in the rough that the country should really take notice of.”
EAP: On October 6th you guys will be landing in the Fort for a show at the Brass Rail with Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. How did this show come about?
Jason Elliot: “We played with HGD last spring in Muncie, IN at BE HERE NOW. We all got along and have a similar taste in music, art and life in general. They helped us get a last minute show at O’s that same tour as we were passing through Fort Wayne. We ended up meeting Morrison Agen who owns Neat Neat Neat Records, and when we wanted to play Ft Wayne again I just made one call to Morrison and the show was booked with Heavens Gateway Drugs. We’re really looking forward to playing with them again. We love when we make new friends and things just work out when the next time you are passing though a town to play.”
EAP: Let’s talk a little about your excellent new long player, So Happy, It’s Sad. Where was the album recorded? Was it self-produced?
Jason Elliot: “We recorded So Happy, It’s Sad with Ben Price at Studilaroche in Decatur, GA. We had our songs written and ready to track, but once we got in the studio we quickly found that Ben was a lot more than just some engineer that sets up mics and hits record. The whole band had the mindset of wanting to make it a very spacious record, really capturing the overall theme of the record through depth and dynamics. Ben is now a vital part in what we do now for sure.”
EAP: Speaking of writing songs, what’s the writing process like in Spirits and the Melchizedek Children?
Jason Elliot: “Having a good communication through patience and our individual instruments is a very important part of our songwriting. Ryan, Bryan and Joe get it! I’ll always write the skeleton of the song, imagining what it needs and wants, then bring it to them to create the body with flesh and blood. It’s really quite magical every time we finish a song. Things evolve into greater things, but for the most part we communicate through feeling and a keen sense in how we feel a song should move.”
EAP: What’s the current top 5 road trip albums in the Spirits’ van?
Jason Elliot: “So many, but the top 5 as of late would have to be Dawn of Midi Dysnomia, Sunns Images du Fatur, Do Make Say Think, any album. We’ve done it once, but any more would be suicidal, but R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet series” (for those 4 hour DC traffic jams), Autolux Transit Transit, and Eric Satie. Really anything for those desert drives that are long and silent.”
Mark your calendars for October 6th. You need to be at the Brass Rail to see Spirits and the Melchizedek Children. They’ll be there with our pals Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. HGD will be playing songs from their new album so you’ll want to hear that. But really, Spirits’ are a band to see. Check their album out at http://satmc.bandcamp.com/album/so-happy-its-sad . Keep up with band at https://www.facebook.com/Spirits.and.the.Melchizedek.Children and at http://www.spiritsatl.com/.