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WE COULD BE SITTING AT HOME NOT PLAYING MUSIC OR WE GO OUT, WE PAY FOR A MEAL, WE MAKE SOME NEW FRIENDS
The Elliotts Melbourne, Australia
The Elliotts make indie pop music that’s sure to put a smile on your face as big as the smile they have on theirs. Catch them on tour or busking in the streets of Melbourne.
Jimmy- When we decided to come to the USA, the first thing I thought was “…fuck” we’ve gotta get visas, we’ve gotta do all this shit. And we ended up just getting ESTA Visas, which cost nothing. Which was about $8,000 for each person for a B1 Visa. Eight grand each, it’s insane for the return that we were going to get financially. It doesn’t make any sense.
Exiting the country is going to be fine, they don’t want to know ya once ya leave. “Get out, that’s cool.” Getting in was fine though, they didn’t even ask me a question. “Passport please, put your thumb there, get out of here.” But I had a friend who got deported, I met her years ago. She wasn’t even playing. She was just going to SXSW. She had been here [in the states] three times within 11 months or something so there was suspicion that she was working. So that freaked me out because that was the day before we left.
So it’s really stressful for no reason because we’re not, the way I see it is some gigs we don’t get paid some gigs we do but we just feed it back into the economy anyway, on fuel and food. So it’s pretty crazy.
Robbie- We support a lot of local brewhouses. We’re in the wrong industry if we wanted to make money. If we wanted that we’d probably become Wall Street bankers or something like that. Within the banking or the financial sector or something. But we chose an occupation which is one of love and creativity. The other great thing about it is it’s quite a social career ‘cause you do need to meet people and you do need to like people in order to succeed. Going to a new place and traveling, we’ve always loved doing that. Even before we started the band Jimmy and I both would travel around different countries in the world. And quite often when we are traveling through we didn’t have a guitar and it didn’t feel quite right so now, even though we are traveling close to the line, the poverty line in some ways, we have to leave a gig and drive straight through to the next one because we literally can’t afford a hotel and don’t have anywhere to stay. But to us that’s not a problem. We just did a gig and we’re charging ahead and we’re enjoying our life. I’d much rather have no place to sleep and drive to another venue in another town that night than waste money or time in a place that doesn’t get us as much.
Jimmy- We busk as well, that’s part of our attitude because we bring our music to the street. In Melbourne busking is a big part of the music culture there. The city, around every corner there’s a very talented busker. And we’re very fortunate because we’re one of the few bands or groups that gets to play on Bourke St. which is the crown jewel of busking which is right in the heart of the city of Melbourne. Through doing that we’ve been able to meet new fans and also get paid which is amazing, ya know. On a bad day we get enough money for transporting and maybe a meal. On a good day you can make a few hundred dollars. That’s the attitude we’ve had, it’s like, ya know, we could be sitting at home not playing music or we go out, we pay for a meal, we make some new friends. We’d much rather be out on the street playing than sitting at home watching TV or something. It depends on our lives back home but generally, on average, [we busk] 3-4 times a week. But then we also have gigs on the weekend.
Robbie- The thing with us is that we live our life and we busk and we’re in this Melbourne routine because we’re traveling a lot now, we’re kind of living for that time now, however many months it is that we’re going to be away. It’s going to be tough but it’s exciting as well. It’s like “where will we be, how will this gig go.” It’s amazing when the gigs that you think won’t be so good, that people get you and they appreciate you. You’re far from your house, far from your home, even today we played in Lawrence. Never been to Lawrence before. Super small place, no guarantee. We roll in there and there’s usually a rider or something in Australia, but we don’t get a rider or anything. But we got out of there and everybody loved it and we ended up nearly taking 100 bucks away which is amazing. Hell yeah! When we walked in there I had thought we might make 5 bucks. It sounds petty but it really does make a difference. We paid for food and a couple tanks of gas to get us on our way.
Jimmy- This is our first taste of America but the reception here has been amazing. Americans are very encouraging when you say you have an art form or you are a creative person. In Australia they’re kinda like “ah…what’s your real job mate? How’s that going, ya making any money off of that?” Whereas in America “You guys are doing it, you’re coming across the other side of the world. You must be successful, you must be so happy.” Sure, it depends on what you measure happiness in or whatever but yeah, we are happy. But even for us, I think that if things were to get better or become more popular I don’t think it would change how we’re rolling. We still really like making friends and staying at their places.