Toronto-based trio Elliott Brood describe themselves as death country.
“It’s a visual term I think,” guitarist and vocalist Casey Laforet said. “The idea being kind of a Clint Eastwood movie with that dark imagery, with rickety trees, birds and all that.
“It’s a funny thing because we never thought much of the term, but it essentially became our brand,” Laforet said.
Their latest album Days Into Years was released last month, marking a break from their signature sound.
“We took a long time with this album, so we had time to play around with pianos, electric guitars, mandolins and other things that we wanted to try,” he said. “We weren’t limited at all which was incredible.”
Days Into Years is the band’s third full-length album, a follow-up to 2008’s Mountain Meadows.
Laforet said there was an initial worry that fans would be disappointed with the new musical direction. The band abandons their typically amped-up energy for a more solemn sound.
“We’ve taken some steps, we’ve learned to play better and so there’s a lot more instrumentation on this one,” Laforet said. “It wasn’t a conscious thing, but it’s what we needed to do in order to treat the songs and subject matter properly.”
Laforet and Mark Sasso, old high school friends from Windsor, started Elliott Brood as a duo in 2002 when the two reconnected in Toronto. While recording their 2004 debut EP Tin Type, the duo met producer Stephen Pitkin – who joined as the band’s drummer in 2005.
“Each one of us has a pretty loud voice when it comes to our ideas, but for the most part we have the same vision,” Laforet said.
“The common thread between the three of us is likely Neil Young and Bob Dylan, who we see as the great storytellers.”
The band found inspiration for Days Into Years during their first European tour in 2007.
“We took the back roads through France to avoid highway tolls and ended up along the beaches and cemeteries of the First and Second World War,” he said. “Seeing those places really affected us.” Although the sights of battlefields and cemeteries sparked the new album, Laforet said that Elliott Brood doesn’t try to tell war stories.
“Days Into Years isn’t literally about war, but it aims to get you in the mood of what it must have been like to experience it.”
Elliott Brood plays The Grad Club tomorrow night. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 10 p.m.