Los Angeles-based rock band Cab Ellis consist of Connor Abeles (Vocals/Keys), Matt Richards (Sax/Clarinet/Flute), Nick Petrou (Bass), Luke Woodle (Drums) and Jonny Sim (Guitar). The sound combines the power and spirit of rock & roll with the lyricism of hip-hop and contains elements of jazz and gospel music.
Since their inception, Cab Ellis has performed at venues such as The Troubadour, The Lodge Room and Whisky A Go-Go. They were selected to be a part of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest On The Road in 2019 and have opened for fellow hip-hop artist, Watsky.
See our exclusive interview with them below:
Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?
LUKE: For me, it was the radio and the music my parents played. When you’re a kid you connect to music in a different way that’s completely by gut-feeling. The first time I heard Led Zeppelin it rocked my world. If that wasn’t enough, watching my dad play all the drum fills to each song was the catalyst into my appreciation for music. I also had older cousins that all played in jazz bands, so by the time I was ready to play the drums I was being given albums that were 25 – 50 years older than me. I was probably the only 7th grader that had the same taste in music as my friend’s grandparents.
Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?
NICK: With Nighttime OCD Connor came in with the songs written and the story for the album clearly mapped. He had a loose idea what he would play on piano but everything else was left purposefully open for us to create and arrange the songs as a band. The goal was to make an album greater than the sum of its parts and in order to do that we spent many late nights in a rehearsal studio learning about each other’s playing styles and tactfully weaving our energy into each song. Those nights always ended in pure joy. I’d say the only specific steps are that we arrange together and that every beat is up for discussion.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
CONNOR: I think just newness in general. Being in a new environment, meeting a new person, or having your routine rattled in some way. For all of us, we’re going through changes all the time, good and bad. You have to live through all of that on your own, but with a band, you get to play through it too, through all the unfamiliarity and try to hash it out that way. I think we’re all our best when there’s a need behind what we’re doing. I’m proud to be in a band with people who’ve always got something to say. We all draw inspiration from each other. It feels okay to let our hearts bleed freely whenever we play.
As a musician, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the art and the business. Is there anything about the music scene that you would personally change?
MATT: Not really. The business side of music has always been scrambling, trying to make more money from art. That’s led to innovation- Coachella, Newport Jazz Festival, and other musical events/celebrations. I feel like there’s a lot of young people today, musicians or not, that value music and the connection it can create, live or recorded. Music isn’t going away any time soon and we’re just trying to be a part of it- we kind of have to (haha).
Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
LUKE: Love ’em both for different reasons. In the studio, you get to craft the recording exactly the way you want it and each little detail is scrutinized and worked on. When we recorded Nighttime OCD there was no stone left unturned and we were able to solely focus on the performances of the songs. When you perform live you have to completely let go and just play. You have to give yourself up to the music and trust that the work you’ve put in will pay off and let the music tell you what to do. We’ve never played the same show twice and it’s that unique exchange of energy between the band and audience that keeps us addicted to playing live.
What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?
NICK: I remember our gig with Watsky in San Luis Obispo, California. We were the first of three openers. “Nobody” was our first song and it starts with Connor wailing at the top of his lungs accompanied by just a piano and when he started I saw people laughing and preparing to fold their arms for the next 30 minutes. All of that changed after the band came in. We rocked hard and fearlessly and ultimately had the audience dancing, cheering, and wishing our set was longer. That was my first gig with the band and I was stoked.
What’s on your current playlist?
CONNOR: Chicago, New Radicals, G. Love and Special Sauce, and always The Velvet Underground.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?
CONNOR: Music videos and merch. Little further off, we’ve got two more albums in the works and a movie.
Famous last words?
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