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SXSW 2014 PREVIEW: CHEERS ELEPHANT

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The details surrounding the origin of how Cheers Elephant came up with its name may be shaky, but after three albums and nearly a decade in action, the rock band is still standing on solid ground, albeit on a different coast.

Following a late November 2013 show at Philadelphia’s Theatre of the Living Arts, Cheers Elephant bid goodbye to the City of Brotherly Love and relocated to the Los Angeles area — and so far, according to singer/guitarist Jordan del Rosario, the quartet is doing just fine in its new environs.

Medleyville.us: Who in the band first heard the story about the beer-bottle-opening elephant at Coney Island that’s connected with your group’s name?
Jordan del Rosario: “The name had already come into being, and the band was already playing shows by the time we first heard the story. Somewhere along the way, someone alerted us to the story of the first elephant in America and its beer-drinking abilities. We just adopted it and made it our story. By now the Cheers Elephant name is almost 10 years old, believe it or not, so just remembering how we came up with the name is pretty tough.”

What were a few of the challenges and advantages you experienced as a new band in the Philadelphia music scene?
del Rosario: “We probably went though the same challenges as any other band coming up through a large city’s music scene. Philly’s scene is huge and diverse, so there is a lot of competition. We just played nonstop and made as many connections as possible, which turned into the best advantage anyone can have.”

Talk about the band’s decision to relocate from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Who in the band proposed the idea? Was everyone receptive from the start? And what aspects of the City of Brotherly Love will you miss the most?
del Rosario: “Once everyone had been living in the city of Philadelphia proper for a few years, a certain need for change started growing whether we knew it or not. Travelin’ Mat’s parents moved to Southern California, and a few tours later, the band had pretty much seen the entire country and started to decide where we wanted to live next. Not everyone was receptive. Colorado, Austin and San Francisco were in the mix early on, but after our manager Andrew Leib moved to L.A. and signed with Red Light Management, the wheels were put in motion.
“We will all miss our favorite stomping grounds and the clubs that treated us all so well throughout the years. [We’ll miss] Paesano’s sandwiches the most — [also] the Phillies, even though they stunk last year and probably this year, too.”

How has everyone in the band adapted to Los Angeles so far? And have you crossed paths with any celebrities on the street?
del Rosario: “Everyone is kind of displaced at the moment but loving it. Beaches, surfing and trying not to have jobs is keeping us busy. We spend every weekend visiting each other in everyone’s pocket of Southern California. Rehearsals in Beverly Hills are spoiling us, I think. We may have seen some celebrities but just not known it. Someone saw Grizzly Bear hiking in Hollywood.”

What’s the status of the new studio album? And how does it compare to the band’s three previous efforts?
del Rosario: “The new album is slowly and surely coming to fruition. There are some songs that are reminiscent of Like Wind Blows Fire, and then there are some that are completely new and fresh. There definitely aren’t any titles or release dates yet, as we are still writing material, but the songs ‘Airliner’ and ‘Summer Surf’ have been written and played live since last year. We will be debuting and testing two more new ones at this year’s South by Southwest.”

Finish this sentence: At this year’s SXSW, I will …
del Rosario: “ … be too busy to party and see all the bands I want to see.”

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

Cheers Elephant — SXSW 2014 official showcases (schedule subject to change):
* 1 a.m. March 13: Soho Lounge, 217 E. 6th St.
* 5:30 p.m. March 14: Flatstock 43, Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St.

Other Cheers Elephant performances in Austin, Texas:
* 3:30 p.m. March 12: Thirsty Nickel, 325 E. 6th St. (RedGorilla Music Festival)
* Noon March 14: The Side Bar, 602 E. 7th St.
* 3 p.m. March 14: The Aquarium, 403 E. 6th St.
* 9 p.m. March 14: Greenhouse, 1102 E. Cesar Chavez St.
* 3 p.m. March 15: Old School, 401 E. 6th St.
* 8 p.m. March 15: Kebabalicious, 1311 E. 7th St.
* 10 p.m. March 15: Peckerhead’s, 403 E. 6th St.