Behind the Scenes of Elsewhere
// photo courtesy of Elsewhere.
Michael Aroian and Kevin Swaluk have a musical bond that goes back decades. Together with Adam Soucy — their “X factor” and drummer — they are Elsewhere, a progressive rock band that’s been making waves throughout the Boston music scene.
The band has its roots in the 90s, when Michael and Kevin met at Hamilton College. Citing Rush, Led Zeppelin, and The Police as influences, many of their songs harken back to the rock hits of that era.
Michael was inspired to name the band Elsewhere while driving home from his alma mater. “I was driving back [from college] in May of my freshman year. And I stopped at a rest stop in western Massachusetts not feeling great about myself and I went to the rest up and whatever got a snack or something came out and I saw a sign that said, please walk dogs elsewhere. And I just fixated on the word elsewhere. And I also felt bad for the dogs.” He also notes that the word elsewhere encapsulates how the music can take the listener to another place. Indeed, the progressive rock ballads of Elsewhere feel like a form of musical escapism.
True to their 90s rock origins, Elsewhere rose to prominence when a cover of “Don’t You Believe Me Baby” by The Police went viral. After The Boston Herald released an interview with the band, they gained popularity within many Police fan circles. Yet their songwriting has evolved through multiple incarnations since the 90s. Kevin describes this journey, “from early stuff to now it's been... more concise, and I think we're trying to keep it so we can play as many songs as possible up on stage while keeping that static [mode] of exploration and in storytelling.” This refined alt-rock feel is evident on many of their songs, like “Multi-Man,” a recently released track that blends 90s synthesizers with an upbeat drum beat and punk vocal echoes.
But one major challenge for the band has been standing out in the era of streaming. Michael explains, “I think that back then in the 70s and 80s, those types of bands… it was easier for them to elevate to the masses than say, maybe, what's happening now. Because there's so much other stuff out there, and it's almost like a quandary of infinite choice for the listener.” Another hardship that Elsewhere endures is the reality of not being able to perform live due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It's kind of a rock and roll genocide right now, what's going on,” Michael lamented, “You know, when you hear about clubs closing artists, not being able to perform, it just being harder to do stuff.”
Yet Adam is looking forward to a post-pandemic boom for the band. “People are definitely sick of being inside, and even though it seems like the City of Boston itself is at odds with its arts community sometimes... I do think that we will see some kind of a resurgence when once people can actually, you know, go out and do things,” he said, “I'm really optimistic about that, at least.”
Elsewhere released their latest EP Multi-Man in 2018. More recently, they released a single “The Pledge,” aimed to raise money to fight Alzheimer’s disease, a song based on Michael’s experience supporting his mother who has the disease and the difficulty of seeing family be affected by the disease.
Through the pandemic, the band has been able to focus on releasing new music. They’ve turned to technology to help them collaborate, recording voice memos of ideas and sharing tracks via Google Drive. Their recent recording sessions have involved the band members wearing masks in the studio, but “it still feels separate sometimes,” Adam explains. Despite the pandemic, the band’s tight-knit bond and solid instrumental skills ensures that they’ll keep rocking and releasing new hits for the years to come.
// Robert Greene ‘24 is a guest writer for Record Hospital.