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Change of sound: Local rockers Elephant Gun Riot experiements with acoustic, electrified sounds

March 30, 2017 GMT

The basement of guitarist Sean Ciolli’s Spokane Valley home is a big step up from where local hard rock band Elephant Gun Riot used to practice: a 10-by-20-foot storage unit.

Six months out of the year, the unit was a great space, outfitted with a couch and a fridge, plus it was easy for the band to load equipment in and out for shows.

The other six months, however, the unit was either freezing cold or stiflingly hot.

Eventually, dealing with the extremes of the weather got to be too much for Ciolli and he made the executive decision to move practice to his house.

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Surrounded by posters (“Fight Club,” “Pulp Fiction,” Jim Marshall’s shot of Johnny Cash giving the finger during a San Quentin State Prison performance), and under the watchful eye of a cardboard cutout of a stormtrooper, the begins a recent practice with a cover of Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” before performing an original called “Starlight,” off the band’s self-titled debut album, which was released in July.

The band – singer Caitlin Rose, guitarists Ciolli and Zach Wirchak, bassist Patrick Rooks and drummer Mike Lowe – is rehearsing for a loud show, but its latest endeavor involved taking its music in the opposite direction.

Elephant Gun Riot’s “The Acoustic EP,” released in January, was the result of both band and fan interest.

“We did what people were bugging us to do,” Wirchak said. “They love our acoustic sets so we figured instead of waiting every two or three months to watch us do an acoustic set, here are some of our favorite songs that people tend to like.”

Shows – both accoustic and amplified – are well-received by fans and have their perks for the band, though EGR does appreciate the more intimate connection with the audience acoustic shows provide.

“I’m always aware that at acoustic shows they’re able to hear Caitlin better, they can understand the lyrics, they can pick out the elements of the guitar that otherwise they might not be able to hear,” Rooks said. “It’s a much more clear interaction.”

With an idea of which songs they wanted to record acoustically, the band set to work, recording and self-producing the five-song EP in just three-and-a-half weeks.

The band enjoyed the opportunity to experiment with its songs, tweaking parts here and there to make different elements stand out and completely rewriting others, mainly the percussion, to make them work acoustically.

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Working on the EP also taught the band about its preferred pace when it comes to recording.

“When we were doing the full-length album, that was the complete opposite,” Lowe said. “It was almost exactly a calendar year from when I first started tracking drums to when we released it. We learned a lesson from that that it took longer than we wanted it to, so we’re trying to move it along quicker now.”

In fact, the band has already begun working on its next project, which it hopes to release later this year.

Working with PR companies and radio promoters, as well as touring outside of the Pacific Northwest, is also on the to-do list as Elephant Gun Riot looks to take the next step in its career.

Rather than feel intimidated, the band knows its flexible nature and DIY drive will carry them through no matter what happens.

“At this point, we’re so comfortable with who we are and what we’re doing that we just say ‘Hey, let’s do this now,’ ” Wirchak said. “If it works out, great. If it doesn’t, alright. Next thing.”

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