INTERVIEW: Elbow Room Talk Being A Local Band

Photo credit: Alexa Eyler

Elbow Room is a pop-punk band from Cleveland OH, with a newly released EP and a strong work ethic we talked to lead vocalist and guitarist, Spencer Fetcko and drummer, Scott Drazdik and in a feature in Cleveland State University's The Vindicator Magazine (Pg. 10-11,) here's the full interview from that piece.

You’ve released one EP, Skyrocket, and a new one, Constant Mistake on it's way. With only releasing the two about a year apart. With being unsigned, does it make it difficult to produce music close together?

Spencer: Skyrocket was released in January of 2017. We did some light traveling when we could and played a bunch of cool shows. Over time, we've endured several lineup changes, and I'm so happy to say that it feels like everything has been part of the process of things falling into place for us. I have been here since the very first days of Elbow Room, when the band was started by a good friend and I. Ben and Stephan were just playing live with us, and sometime over the first 6 months as a band they were both established as permanent members. 

Fast forward a little bit, and Scott started filling in on drums in November of 2017. Sometime after that, I approached him about joining the band permanently and writing a new record with us. It seemed like he was in from the beginning, so it was an easy yes. Our November 10th Show at Mahall's with All Get Out and Homesafe is actually his 1-year anniversary of playing shows with us. Scott has been instrumental to this band's success since the day he started playing shows with us, and he carries on a role that this band couldn't do without.

So, to answer your question: no, it wasn't difficult. We put an inexplicably large amount of time into these songs, and it was a lot of hard work, and trying new things, but we pushed ourselves to new levels as songwriters and the whole writing process of Constant Mistake felt natural with these guys.

Constant Mistake's single, "Sinking" already show’s quite a bit of growth from Skyrocket, you seem to explore with different elements and transitions. What sparks your inspiration in making your tracks more diverse?

Spencer: Sinking and the entire Constant Mistake EP were written by a different set of people than Skyrocket. We all have worked on a record or two before, so it worked out well. It felt like all of our former records and projects served as some sort of weird cosmic warm-up for the Constant Mistake writing process. That sounds strange to say, but everything with this EP came so naturally. We were really blessed with a smooth writing process.

I think that making the tracks more diverse was a big focus for us in the studio. We felt like these songs had the potential so we pushed them as hard as we could to make them as unique as possible.

We wanted to sit down and write something that we really enjoy, vs. just trying to write something that we think other people might like. While we are all huge alternative music fans, we also all have very different favorite genres, bands, and artists, so that brought a unique blend of songwriting to the studio as well. It really helped bring us some fresh perspectives on our writing and helped us to guide each other into getting all of the separate parts to gel cohesively and deliver the feeling that we needed them to deliver. I was also relentless with the guys when it came to changing parts.

Every time we had a new musical part written, I would listen to the new demo so many times, and show up to our next writing session with, easily, 10 different ways we could change the new parts we just wrote. I don't know how I didn't drive the entire group crazy, but they knew that it was all in the pursuit of making these songs the best they could be and I think it paid off in the long run.

Scott: The EP was produced by Spencer and I, and mixed by Seth Henderson, who is most well-known for his work on Knuckle Puck, Real Friends, and Sleep On It records, as well as so many other great bands. Seth really helped finish bringing these songs to life, and he fit us into a tight schedule so we are forever grateful to have had his input on the songs. I also want to give the credit that is due to John Naclerio for mastering these songs and putting the last touch on these.

He is most well-known for work with My Chemical Romance, Senses Fail, and Brand New, so we were also very grateful to have his input on our creative process. Being in a band is difficult for many different reasons. It is hard to fit it into a daily schedule with work and school finding dedicated members who gel together can take years, and it is just tough financially. Also people can just give you a hard time and act like it doesn't matter in life when it does a lot to us. The average person doesn't realize sacrifice it takes to give this music thing 100%. This adversity that all 3 of us have faced from these things has really brought us together and inspired us to do it right this time. It pushed us to make this the best release that any of us have ever been a part of.  

You just recently played a show with The Spill Canvas and Punchline, how has playing different shows grown your fan base?

Scott: That was a fun show! It was awesome playing to a little bit older of a crowd. All in all alternative rock listeners are pretty open minded so our style translated well with the other bands. We might have been the heaviest/only punk style on the bill that night but I saw people digging it and jumping around so that's what matters to us!

Spencer: The Spill Canvas has been around for a really long time, and I never really got into them, but I remember a one-off show we played with the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. It was like, “woah, this band was on the radio when I was 8 years old.” I'm the baby of the band, if you can't tell. Shows like The Spill Canvas and the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are always cool because we get to see a band that has been touring for 10-20 years and really see the process come full circle. I'm sure bands like that love seeing all the young people in the bands opening for them because they probably love to see young people still interested in doing with their lives what they have been doing with their lives for so long. Like Scott said, alternative rock listeners are usually open-minded, so even if our sound doesn't entirely gel with a band we are playing with, we still usually can get people to dig it if we play a good

You’ve done some light touring, what difficulties have you faced while on the road?

What is your favorite Cleveland venue to play at?

Scott: We have been very blessed on the road. Everything has went smoothly and all of our weekend runs/short tours have been a success. The only tough part is fitting it in with our schedules. Spencer is one of the busiest people I have met but with that he gives so much dedication and priority to the band it is amazing. I can tell he really wants to get out there and do it and that is part of the reason I wanted to work with him in the first place. Ben and Stephan are still finishing school and I am graduated with a job so it takes a lot of planning and coordination to make shows happen, especially out of town ones.

Spencer: We have been so lucky to run into minimal issues on the road and meet and travel with a handful of really sick bands. I do want to recall one time when we were on the road in Pennsylvania and the PA system literally blew up while we were playing, you could smell it. Microphones were out the whole set, and the power issues were causing guitar amps to turn off and on while we were playing. It was a nightmare, sometimes that stuff just happens. The next night of that run was a show in Columbus, OH, and that show went so well that I lost a small chunk of the wood of headstock of my guitar from having a little too much fun while we were playing, so it all made up for itself. RIP to the re-sale value of my Jazzmaster, though, but I'll never sell that thing.

What is something you hope listeners take away from your music?

Scott: Most of our shows this year have been at Mahall's and The Foundry in Lakewood. I would say it's a tie for which is our favorite. The sound guy Leo, at The Foundry, has known us for a while so we have really enjoyed working with him and perfecting our sound. He always gives us lot of feedback and helps us grow as musicians. Mahall's is always a blast just because of the atmosphere. Our friends Pat and Nate who run sound there kill it every time as well and we always get excited to play there again and again.