I, Top Shelf Reggae journalist Jay Cohen, recently had the pleasure of sitting down with all of the Boston-based band members of The Elovaters. I sat, sipping my tea, realizing the distance in which things have come in the past years. A huge grin attacked my face as I pressed 'Flight Confirmation'. I had just booked my flight home to Boston for the 4th of July and Levitate Music & Arts Festival. On different occasions, I have 'linked' up with Nick Asta (the band's drummer), Jackson Wetherbee (lead vocals and guitar funk) and Matt Link (bass) before the interviews began. I can't forget to mention Johnny cooking bacon during his interview at 4am. Actually, my friendship with these three began back over the summer of 2017 at a music festival up in northern Florida. Let's just say, after hearing and seeing them live, I was in love. That instantaneous music-induced love that makes your hands sweat and hips sway…
I can't forget to mention Johnny cooking bacon during his interview at 4am.
As the interview started over the phone, I can hear newest band member and number-one draft pick for 2018, Matt Link. Formally of Treehouse, not only does this tree-dwelling warrior have raw and intensely addictive talent, his tube socks are LOVED by all. I also can hear the comic stylings of Johnny Alves, guitarist and overall savage. It's January and the guys have ventured down from the comforts of a freezing New England winter to record their upcoming album with the musical genius Danny Kalb at White Star Sound Studios in Louisa, VA. Here's what they had to say:
I always see you reppin' Rootfire…
Jackson: Haha! I LOVE everything about RF.
Took the words out of my mouth. With that being said, what do you think about The Movement, my favorites?
Jackson: I think The Movement's last album Golden is unreal. One of my favorite albums to have come out lately. All those dudes are an awesome hang.
Can we expect collabs on the album? And, if you could work with anyone, who would it be?
Nick: There are some really amazing collaborations and features on this [upcoming] album! Some huge names are singing on it, but I can't reveal that secret yet.
Alright, alright. Since the unnamed album will be released late summer/fall 2018, hype is the sound and just how different it will be from your last album, The Cornerstone?
Nick: Good question. The sound on this new album is way more polished! We matured so much as songwriters – our songs are tighter and way more solid. The production from Danny [Kalb] is topnotch and we poured a lot of time and heart into our songwriting. On our first album, we were so young as a unit; we wrote those songs on the fly in a garage in our spare time. Some of the best albums are raw and real like that, but we have matured. This time, we looked at some of our favorite bands like The Movement, Giant Panda, Stick Figure, The Black Seeds and realized that we need to match that level of professionalism to put out an album that we can look back at in 10 years and be 100% proud of.
To be successful at anything in this life, you have to be persistent and keep your head held high or elevated. Defying the odds and hailing from a spot largely considered NOT to be a 'Reggae Mecca', Boston's South Shore-based The Elovaters have bashed that stereotype.
Can you sum up the early years for me?
Nick: We started as band on the South Shore of MA – there is a crazy good music scene there! Me, Jackson and Johnny were playing in other bands and at one local show, I approached Jackson and asked if he wanted to make a reggae project on the side for fun… it was our side piece until we realized how much we loved the music we were making. When Johnny Alves joined on guitar, we quit our other bands and went full-time.
Haha, pretty perfect!
Nick: We released our first album and it was #9 on the reggae billboard charts in it's first week. That blew our minds.
I have always been impressed by Jackson's vocal reach and lyrics so I had to hit on a few questions…
Jackson: I got a vocal performance scholarship to college right from high school. Before my first year of college was over, I came close to getting signed to Universal, but the deal fell through. From there, I've been a full-time musician, playing five to seven gigs a week until 2014 when Asta and I had the idea to start this project. I think it was our immediate focus the first couple times we all got together to jam. Writing came so fluidly to us.
After touring with Easy Star All-Stars and the country for a solid year, actually longer, the rest is history. The guys haven't stopped and the masses haven't stopped heading out to catch them live. Lets not forget percussionist, Derrick Cabral who has been with the band since day one and someone I personally loved watching smash Bangbox drums. Another addition to the family is Greg Nectow, keyboardist from Plymouth, Massachusetts who has completed the lineup. As I asked about the new album, I'm reminded of the huge things that haven't been announced yet. Do I smell a label merge!!? If it's what I think it is, I am so excited for the guys. And, I can't forget the day-in and day-out real heroes: new tour manager Alex Crowley, as well as their new merchandise manager, Eddie Castillo – a Marshfield, MA native. Their NEW merch is about to be drop so prepare yourself!!
Any last words for the fans and fam?
Nick: I just want to thank everyone around the country who has shown us love, helped us out on tour or who contributes to music in any way. For this band, music is our life: we are immersed in music every single day and appreciate everyone out there who loves music as much as we do.
Last, the song “Don't Wanna Love You” is obviously about me…
Jackson: How'd you know!? So, it's about being in a relationship where you aren't being treated fairly. And, when that is happening, you don't want to love the person you're with. Kind of about standing your ground and knowing when enough is enough.
On that note, here's to standing strong and watching my friends' dreams come true!