THREATS AND PROMISES: singer/songwriter Brian Ellefson

By Ron Swarner on August 16, 2010


Are you ready to rock ... yourself into a blissful coma? What Brian Ellefson lacks in rattle-yr-beercoaster grit, he more than makes up for with mellow "adult alternative" chill music - think Jack Johnson (both were born in the Hawaii Islands). Any of Ellefson's 11 tracks of his new Panoramic View (especially the catchy "Girl" and "Right Time") could be slipped by 103.7 "The Mountain" as "the next big thing" and no one would be the unhappy wiser. It's a worthy spin to say the least.

"I started writing a few of the songs about a year ago, but had a hard time finishing things with a day job," explains Ellefson, who now makes his home in Seattle but visits his folks in Tacoma regularly. "So earlier this year I just really made up my mind to set a hard deadline, bunker up, and finish it.  I ended up writing and recording about five songs in a five-week period, which was really fast for me.  The last song I did was "Your Way" and it was done the night before I went into the studio to mix down (in Portland).  Up to this point, I'd been playing and recording guitar for other people, so this is my first go around writing and recording my own music."

Ellefson claims he had 30 songs for the CD in his head, but a third of them disappeared when he fell back asleep or The Office came on.

WEEKLY VOLCANO:  What Tacoma neighborhood do your parent live in?

BRIAN ELLEFSON: They've lived in the Southend a long time - a funky house with a turret rock entry and a German ghost lady living in the attic.  I played her a song once and she liked it.

VOLCANO:  When visiting your parents in Tacoma, where is your favorite spot to hang out?

ELLEFSON: The Antique Sandwich Shop and The Ruston Inn.  I also love what's been going around the Thea Foss Waterway and following the water line up to Ruston.  Oh, and hello, cupcake once in a while.

VOLCANO: How would you describe your music?

ELLEFSON: I'd say it's extremely catchy, immediately likable, you know, like the Beatles. All joking aside, I think it's pretty mellow, chill music, with a bit of emotion in there.  The Jack Johnson comparison has come up a few times, and that's fine, but I guess that's just a byproduct of my laid back personality coming through the music.  I'd love to record an album that takes the chill attitude and swerves it a bit toward The Police.  Maybe that's my goal the next time around.

VOLCANO: Why should anyone buy your CD?

ELLEFSON: It's been proven that people find spiritual enlightenment through those 13 magical tracks. Not really.  I just made that up.  There are only 11. For spiritual enlightenment, check with a church or something first ... then maybe give the music a listen after that's covered. After all, I do sing about love and hope once in a while, which can't be too bad. 

VOLCANO: Do you think your CD will help people?

ELLEFSON: If "help" means they can listen and relate, then I think so.  One of my goals during the process was to try to emote songs when I could - rather than write them - which wasn't easy.  I think the best stuff in anyone comes out when you're trying to feel it - not write it.  I feel like it's a lot easier to relate that way. 

VOLCANO: Is this CD your ticket to heaven?

ELLEFSON: I hope not. I hope my ticket is a lot harder to earn.  Not that I don't like a gimme once in a while, but let's make things interesting. And I plan on recording another album next year ... so where would that put me?

VOLCANO: Probably in my CD player again.

For another view of Brian Ellefson, check out his website here. You may purchase Panoramic View on iTunes or Amazon.