By Tom Finch, Rock At Night Manchester
Elvana is the embodiment of a ‘joke that got out of hand’. What started as a bunch of friends from the North East of England assembling an Elvis fronted Nirvana tribute for a friend’s fancy dress party has snowballed 4 years later into a tribute act that has taken the UK by storm.
To cap off an amazing 2019, which including sell out shows at O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, Nottingham Rock City and Manchester Albert Hall, as well as main stage appearances at Download Festival and 3 triumphant Glastonbury shows, the band everyone is talking about are embarking on a headline tour of the UK starting in October stretching through to March 2020.
So the KING himself took time out of his day to answer a few questions for Rock At Night, enjoy!!!
RAN: So, an Elvis fronted Nirvana tribute. Saying those words would never seem to make sense. But after hearing you guys, I hope to hear it a lot more often. Where did the idea to become a unique tribute band come from?
(Answers from the King himself! Answer must be read with a bad Elvis impersonation in mind…)
Elvana: Hey Tom Finch! It’s a pleasure to speak to you! Do you ONLY Rock at Night, or can you Rock a little of the day time too?
Elvana continues to make very little sense to us too if I’m honest; but we’re starting to get to grips with our popularity over the last couple of years and we hope to hear a lot more of ourselves again too!
This thing pretty much started as a joke that snowballed into something we never imagined. We’ve been in ‘original’ bands for years, but had all but retired to concentrate on the rat race, day jobs and family life… Then a friend of ours asked us to perform some cover songs at their fancy dress party. We’d grown up covering Nirvana, so were quick to decide on that as the type of music we would play, but none of us look like Nirvana (there is four of us and three of us are bald guys!?) so we drunkenly decided that I (the King) would hire an Elvis jump suit, the rest of the band would wear 50’s backing band suits and we would perform as ‘Elvana.’ The rest, as they say… is boring.
RAN: I’ll be honest, I’d not heard about you guys until recently. A friend told me and sold me on your music. But I have heard that you are making a big name for yourselves here in the UK. How does that make you feel? And so you aspire to be big internationally too?
Elvana: Word of mouth certainly seems to have been the trick here. This has been mostly led by people coming to see the shows and dragging their friends back to the next one.
We continue to be truly stunned and delighted by the response the band is receiving in the UK. The crowds are amazing and they are 100% as important to the show as we are. The way in which they totally join into and play with the fantasy of the band is incredible. Something very British about the humour in a way. But it totally translates into other countries as we have already seen in Scandinavia, Germany the USA and Ireland. We would have never thought of the possibility of travelling all over this fine planet 5 years ago, but now the world has really started to open up for us.
RAN: Growing up in the 90s, I was a big Nirvana fan. But after the death of Kurt Cobain, I never thought I’d hear the music again. Thankfully you’ve brought the music back that I thought no band could ever replicate. How did the Elvis twist come about?
Elvana: You’ve hit the nail on the head there and that’s what I think the key is to the success of Elvana. I, just like you, was a massive fan in the 90s, but somehow the mourning of Kurt Cobain seems to have clouded the love of Nirvana for many of us. Elvana has accidentally found the cure for this. The first thing people do when they come to watch our show is laugh at my dad dancing Elvis routine, this takes away the weird edge of watching a standard Nirvana tribute. Then before you know it you are smiling your face off and have been drawn back into the music; you then realise how much you love the songs and actually and how good the rest of the band are. Before you know it, you’re enjoying Nirvana songs in a way you haven’t done since you were a kid!
RAN: If Kurt Cobain and Elvis were still alive now, how do you think they’d react to your music? And have you had any feedback from any of the surviving members of Nirvana?
I think Kurt would have loved it! All you have to do is glance back at the art, music, videos and style of Nirvana (and later Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl especially) to see that they enjoyed dressing up, they had a great sense of humour, they never wanted to fit in to any group or gang, they were happy to be different AND their songs were anthemic! Why shouldn’t the King sing them!?
Elvis covered a huge amount of talented artists over the years and I have no doubt that he would have gotten round to covering one or two Nirvana tracks if he were still alive (note – he is still alive, I saw him in the fruit and veg aisle in Asda.)
Believe it or not Kurt and Elvis’ voices can sound very similar from time to time.
We’ve had no feedback from the band yet, but the dream is to get Dave and Krist on stage with us some time. So if you know anyone who can get us in there…?
RAN: The internet is full of information, yet there isn’t much known about you guys apart from your music. Tell me, who are you guys and where do you all come from? Is this your first successful venture into the music business or do you have previous projects?
Surely the mystery is a lot more interesting than the reality!? We’re from Disgraceland, which is in the North East of Disgraceland Upon Tyne. We have had many adventures in music, but this is by far the most successful.
RAN: Do you think this is a stepping stone to make your own music?
I think we’re done with making our own music for now. There probably aren’t enough hours in the day at the minute!? We do miss the creativity and exploration of writing original music, but the beauty of a hybrid tribute act such as ours is that it allows you to be extremely creative anyway. Every day we are coming up with new ideas for mash-ups, costumes, performance, so it never gets boring.
RAN: Would you stick to the Elvis/Nirvana theme with new music if you did or would you have something else in mind?
We’ve got a few ideas for more hybrid tributes, but wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!!?
RAN: Elvis and Nirvana Mix up is a great idea. If you could create another band from different artists, which mix up would you have?
OK, I’ll say one. BLACK METAL LACE (Agadoo in a black metal style!?)
RAN: The fans obviously love you. You’ve got this UK tour to keep you busy and connected with fans, and as I’ve seen it, Twitter followers have exploded with excitement for your upcoming dates. How do you feel withe the reception you’ve received?
We continue to be blown (literally and figuratively) by the fans! We have people coming from all over the world to see us again and again and we thought this thing might have a short lifespan!? It would appear not. Honestly the way that the crowds have been buying into this whole thing, wearing costumes, crowd surfing and the chorus of voices is just epic!
RAN: Is there anything you’d like to say the fans?
Thank you very much.
RAN: Everyone needs some downtime, so what do you guys do when you aren’t performing? Do you have jobs beside the band or is Elvana what pays the bills?
We enjoy flower sniffin’, kitty pettin’ and baby kissin’. And we’re corporate rock whores, so we’ll do whatever it takes to pay the bills!!! (see the back of a Nirvana shirt for the above reference)
RAN: I’d like to thank you all for taking the time today to chat and I really hope the tour continues to do well
No! Thank you!
FULL LIST OF DATES ON THE LINK BELOW