Discovering “Animalia” – Interview with Elk Run & Riot

Elk Run & Riot - Animalia

With their third full-length album, Alberta-based band Elk Run & Riot continue to explore their environment and the lives of those around them with their addictive blend of folk and rock.  “Animalia” is an excellent collection of uptempo tunes that are deeply rooted in an earthy reality.

Founded in 2013, the group is based in Bow Valley, Alberta, and their songs reflect that atmosphere (both interior and external).  Songs like “Industry Night,” about the tourist industry in Banff, and “Something to Prove” (my favorite, I think, and coming to me at exactly the right time in my life, as good songs so often do) should echo deeply with listeners’ own experiences.

Another highlight of the album for me is “Anyway,” a standout track that seamlessly merges folk sounds with a tinge of retro pop while evoking a sense of rootlessness and aimlessness that many of us experience at least once in our lives.  If I possessed M’s facility with 90s alt rock, I might be able to come up with a suitable specific comparison between “Thick and Thieves” and music from that genre; suffice it to say that the song definitely reminds me of some of the music from that era.  The album closes with the anthemic “Devils Heart,” a great song that I would dearly love to hear live – be sure to check out the list of upcoming dates below (and on the band’s site) for what look like some great opportunities.

If you enjoy folk rock, this album will be a terrific addition to your collection – one that you can crank up in your car and (hopefully) entice people to ask, “What band is that?  They sound really great…”

We’re so pleased that Andrew Cotter (vocals/guitar/bass) took some time to answer a few questions about the album.

You find a lot of inspiration for your songwriting where you live (Bow Valley, AB) – what is it about your home region, specifically, that inspires you?

We have always written about ourselves and our environment. The Bow Valley provides us with situational writing about your own experiences or the people surrounding you. We might find ourselves at different points in our lives but we are all in it together. It always feels good to write about yourself to get it off your chest if it has been bothering you, but sometimes it takes a situation outside of yourself to inspire a song. Or if you are feeling a certain way and you relate to a friend who is going through the same thing. Three albums later here we are!

It’s also great to be able to get out of cellphone range whenever you want to focus on life for a bit and find some deeper thoughts.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Something to Prove” – is there a specific incident or experience that inspired it?

This is a story of having to leave something concrete with no notice. Your whole security blanket being taken off you abruptly and left there attempting to figure it out. No matter how hard you try to bring yourself out it feels like your still struggling and being judged. This can burden your shoulders forever. For us all that was needed was to write a song about it.

“Industry Night” is another terrific song… the idea of a life that’s lived but never feels like it goes anywhere is definitely not unique to your part of the world, but is unfortunately pretty common, I think? Do you view songwriting as storytelling – or, asked differently, how do you see the intersection between the two?

Songwriting and Storytelling are like brothers and sisters. They are in the same family but unique. They need each other from time to time but can stand independently. For us we lean on storytelling as songwriters so our music is relatable. In the case of Industry Night we have seen many late nights as performers. We felt like this song was a nod to everyone who works in the service industry, especially those in the Bow Valley.

You’ve been playing together since 2013; how would you say your sound has evolved over time?

The band started with great individual talents. We have worked tirelessly over the years to be better as a group constantly refining the songwriting and never being content. We compliment each other’s weaknesses and nurture each other’s strengths.

Our number one priority has always been to write/play meaningful songs….and upgrade the gear whenever possible and not possible.

You have a lot of tour dates this spring in BC and AB – do you have any plans to tour in other parts of Canada this year?

We spent the entire winter/Spring on our album release tour, and as people may or may not know winter conditions in the Rocky Mountains can be variable at best. We are really excited to be keeping things close to home this summer.

~ L

Visit Elk Run & Riot’s website.

Listen to “Animalia” on Spotify.

Upcoming Tour Dates:

June 30 – Banff Center Shaw Amphitheater (opening for Deep Dark Woods & Barney Bentall)
July 1 – Headlining Canada Day Celebrations in Banff AB
August 4 – Canmore Folk Festival
August 11 – Wapiti Music Festival – Fernie BC
August 18 – Invermere Folk Festival Invermere BC


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