Psychedelic desert rock.
In November 2015, four friends came together to bring a new sound to the local Laramie music scene by forming the band Elk Tongue.
Keaton Elsasser (guitar/vocals), Seth Leininger (guitar), Shawn Hess (bass guitar) and Dylan Stowers (drums) all come from different musical backgrounds that lead to the sound that Elk Tongue possesses, which they have called “psychedelic desert rock.”
As a collective, Elk Tongue believes that this is what sets them apart from every other band in the Laramie music scene.
“We play music like nobody else plays music,” Leininger said. “We don’t really have a genre and most people in this town play, like, a genre.”
Elsasser said, “I think it happened very naturally. Nobody was like, ‘this is what we should sound like.’ Nothing was planned.”
The unique sound that Elk Tongue has been able to hone in on is a big part of who they are, but the amount of friendship shared between the members also sets them apart from other bands.
“I would say that out of every band I’ve seen in Laramie, we enjoy and love each other in a way that no other band does,” Elsasser said. “We truly, truly look at each other and say, ‘these are my homies.'”
Stowers added, “And I’ve been in bands before and these guys are drama-free.”
“It’s all very natural.”
Before there was Elk Tongue, 3/4 of the band were playing music together in another group called Harriman Exit. Although Harriman Exit came to an end, Elsasser said that the guys were not ready to stop creating.
“Literally, it had happened because we wanted to make music, all of our outlets had been exhausted, so Elk Tongue came together,” Elsasser said. “It was more out of a need to create and there was no way we are ready to not create yet. We just wanted to make music.”
Bringing four people together to make music may lead to some creative differences, but for Elk Tongue, it does not seem to stop from all expressing themselves individually.
Stowers said one of the best parts of being a part of Elk Tongue would be the amount of creative freedom.
“It is very rare that they ask me to do something specific, which is nice,” Stowers said. “It’s all very natural.”
Hess said, “In any part of any given song we are all doing what we want to be doing.”
The past, the present, the future.
According to the Elk Tongue website, the members use experiences from the past and what is to come in the future as influential pieces when making music.
The members of Elk Tongue have all had their own pasts with music, with Harriman Exit being one common denominator between Elsasser, Hess and Leininger. Regardless of the common denominator, all of their experiences with music in the past shaped what Elk Tongue is now, even if the beginning may have been nerve-wracking.
“The dudes have compared our first show to going on a date and being nervous, yet we knew there was going to be a second date,” Elsasser said.
The first show by Elk Tongue was just a kick-off to what would become multiple shows around Laramie, going on tour, recording an album, releasing a music video and being asked to play Wyoming’s own WHAT Fest.
Through all of the successes and accomplishments made, there has been an equal amount of struggles for the band.
“I would say all around one of our biggest struggles is working with very talented musicians and putting in the time as a band,” Elsasser said. “I suppose being in the area we’re playing in [is also a struggle].”
Leininger said, “I would just say honestly getting together and just trying harder to work on the music. I think we could always work harder, we have a tendency of being lazy at times.”
All of the members of Elk Tongue have lives outside of the band, including jobs and have found that it is actually not hard to balance all aspects of their lives, Elk Tongue included.
“We enjoy it, and I don’t think it’s ever looked at like work,” Elsasser said.
As far as the future goes for Elk Tongue, Elsasser said they have no idea what is to come, although they are all hopeful that in a few years they will be touring Europe.
Elk Tongue does, however, have another tour planned, a second album that is set to come out in the near future and a radio show coming up in Fort Collins, Colorado.
“We are trying as hard as ever to do what we can to just basically keep making music,” Elsasser said.