How The Elovaters levels up the reggae scene

How The Elovaters levels up the reggae scene
Photo cred: Alicia Hauff

Boston’s The Elovaters is a band that has been driven to conquer the music industry for over nine years now. Even during COVID, the listeners and fans grew exponentially — bringing the band to another level and readying them to get back to national touring. This band turns heads with their continuous flow of bangers and the best collaborations in the reggae music scene. Plus, I am so in love with their music!

It’s like stepping into the ocean; it just cleanses you. 

They’re on fire as they build momentum with collaborations on their latest album, Castles, including guest appearances from Olympic snowboarder Luke Mitrani, hip hop heavyweight Brother Ali, reggae rock icons Stick Figure and funk master G. Love & Special Sauce. They have shared the stage with Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, and Ziggy Marley, among so many others and their songs are ALL hits. Every single album has such a unique, eclectic sound that pulls you in so addictively. No need to skip any songs, as you will need to absolutely absorb all of them. Go ahead, take it all in.

Some of the biggest fests in the scene have hosted The Elovaters to date, like Reggae Rise Up Florida and Utah, Cali Vibes, Levitate. And, every album just cuts through what you think music is, but when you listen to The Elevators, it’s a whole different exciting experience. Their vision of music touches other spectrums — from hip hop to reggae rock — that’s so damn smooth. Topping it all with their Boston grit, it’s tough! All the songs are beautifully written and produced, such as “Help Me Through” off the album Cornerstone, “Shaking Off the Wolves” off of Defy Gravity and “Gardenia” off their latest album, Castles, delving deep into the darkest experiences and summing up life’s sweetest moments. Every song is so rich with soul. The band conveys their true love for music, which you can feel in their songs!

Because of this, I took some time to meet up Elovaters vocalist Jackson Wetherbee and drummer Nick Asta. We discussed tours, songwriting and future plans:

You guys are all from Boston, right?

  • JW: We are from south of Boston. Our bass player is from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but he moved up here, so he lives here, as well.

Are you guys on tour right now?

  • JW: We just ended our four-month tour. We were on three different national tours and then we came back and did a home show. Now, we have off before we hit our fall tour with The Movement.

You guys are hitting the big tours — how’s it feeling? You’re getting huge!

  • JW: It’s what Nick and I always wanted for ourselves. Nick and I founded the band in 2013. I remember talking to him at the bar one night where he was playing with his old band. We said ‘let’s form a side project’. This is exactly what we wanted, and we worked hard to get here. We wanted to be playing with our favorite bands in the genre and doing arena tours and to hit the biggest shows we can and play in Red Rocks. Here we are… playing the busiest summer we’ve ever had. It feels great to have achieved all of that!

Who’s the mastermind of the songwriting? It’s pretty genius.

  • JW: We collaborate in a few different ways. I do a lot of the songwriting, myself. I’ve been traveling down to Nashville and writing with some people. We also get creative when we get together and write songs as a full unit. In the album Castles, a bunch of the songs came from simple guitar riffs that Johnny [Alves] was playing or an idea that Nick brought and mixed in with a bunch of songs during COVID. Like the song “Margaritas”: I walked in to make some margaritas one night at the studio and Johnny was playing a guitar riff and I started singing “Mix up Margaritas”. We knew it was kind of feverish and we started working on it that night!
  • The song “Criminal” started in the same way: Nick had brought our song “Shots Fired”; a section of that we built upon while we were all in the studio. We stayed at Stick Figure’s studio, previously owned by Green Day. It’s beautiful being out there in a legendary spot… we would start writing [a section] and, a day later, we would have the whole song completed.
  • NA: It was cool creating Castles and all bunking together for three weeks. We had never had that type of experience before, where we were all locked in the studio together. It helped with the creative process. We were all focused on the music together.

What will your next chapter look like?

  • JW: I’ve been doing something I’ve never done before… I’ve been writing with other songwriters. More specifically, a guy named Nick Bailey down in Nashville. We recorded part of the single we just dropped, “Gimme Love”.
  • NA: We have done five songs. Danny Kalb, who produced our albums Defy Gravity and Double Vision, recorded these five songs and I think he’s doing the rest of the album, as well. This album coming up has a unique sound that we love. He’s a great producer!

What was the gateway for your love of music?

  • NA: I’ve been obsessed with music since I was five years old. I remember my dad bought me a tape cassette player. I had Stone Temple Pilots and Spin Doctors for my first tapes. I would sit in my room for hours dissecting the music, just loving it. I started playing the drums because my neighbor was playing the guitar and we put on Dookie from Green Day, and I was banging on the drum set.
  • JW: My dad gave me a boombox player and I loved listening to Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”.  I also loved the Blues Traveler and Dookie from Green Day. I went through a couple different instruments… drums, then bass, but I’ve always been singing since I was three years old. In high school, I realized I wanted to start writing my own songs and taught myself online, learning covers and stuff.

How did Boston help cultivate your music?

  • JW: Boston is a very musical town, with Berklee College of Music here. Our towns are very beach-oriented.
  • NA: We had a punk band in middle school and there was always Battle of the Bands. They had local shows all the time. The music scene in the area was awesome.
  • JW: There’s something in the air here… people always listening to music and playing music. I was always the kid bringing my guitar to school.

The song “Gardenia” is so smooth, can you tell me how it came to life?

  • JW: I made a beat at home that’s pretty much like the beat in the song. I got into the studio and Stick Figure was there. I played him a demo beat and he was like, ‘I would be willing to hop on this song if you guys want to record it.’ So, that was a no brainer and we started recording and adding to it, making it better and tweaking some of the lyrics.

What was going on in your minds when COVID hit? 

  • NA: When COVID started hitting and it was all over the news, we were on tour with Pepper in California. When we just finished the tour, everything was closed. We were bummed — eight shows canceled, Reggae Rise Up in Florida was also canceled… We just drove the bus straight back home. Who would have thought we would have a year off? Luckily, we had just recorded Double Vision. We were lucky enough to have brand new music. It kind of helped us over that whole entire time. Near the end of COVID is when we went into the studio to record Castles
  • JW: It really felt like the rug was ripped from under our feet. We had such good momentum and, to think about it, we never even got to tour our Double Vision album… never got to tour Castles until this summer. On the tour this go around, no one had ever heard the songs on Castles live!

That’s effing crazy! What’s your fave to play? 

  • NA: I like playing “Moon” a lot off Castles. We worked it into another, “Down The Road”. They are not the ‘hits off the album’, but as a musician, I really love them.

How did “Down The Road” come about?

  • JW: Its free-flow thought, my own personal meaning, but I feel like everyone can get their own personal feeling from it. We called it “Down The Road” because our keyboard player had opened a recording setup on the bus and we were driving down the road. They built that whole song without the lyrics. It was super late — 2 or 2:30am. Then, I recorded a chill version of it and we kept it as it was. It was one of those magical moments. 
  • NA: When I listen to those lyrics, it means so much to me. The verses are about the struggle that we’ve gone through… all the hard work that we’ve put in all these years. I feel like “Down The Road” is a metaphor for all that we have been through. Literally, we have been down the road for years now on tour. It signifies our brotherhood and our commitment to this band and making the music.

How is the music life? I know it gets tough…

  • NA: Yeah, it’s an absolute dream [that] we travel the country and play music for a living. It is a huge sacrifice in our relationships being away that long, but it’s all worth it in the end. 
  • JW: Nick and I have been writing and being in original bands for so long that it’s kind of like the girlfriend who never left you. It’s always been there for your most exciting moments, your drunken moments — when you’re pissed or crying. There’s no way we are ever going to give up music. 
  • NA: The Elovaters is the longest relationship I’ve ever been in! (laughs) 

That’s badass!

  • NA: Music is so fulfilling and the messages we get from fans are heartfelt when they tell us how the music helped to save them in any sort of way. It’s so fulfilling — it really makes it all worth it. Helping people we don’t even know across the country.. it makes any petty little problems fade away.

As I come to the end of this piece, I have to say, this was the best interview I have ever done or have experienced thus far in my career. These boys have so much soul and were more inspiring than I could ever imagine. I know this band will continue to succeed, for they have what it takes — the whole package. 

The Elovaters – “Down The Road”

Photography by Alicia Hauff

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