Ask any band: One of the hardest things for musicians to do is classify themselves under any one genre. The challenge proves especially true for Elliott Brood, the Toronto-based band that's not quite country, folk or bluegrass but a mix of each and more. In fact, the band has unofficially created its own genre called "death country" to more accurately define its sound.
"We came up with it a couple of albums ago because we were getting pegged as bluegrass or country but we didn't really fit into that necessarily," said Casey Laforet, vocalist, guitarist, bassist and mandolin player for the band. "So Mark, the lead singer, came up with the idea of death country mostly because of the imagery that we write about, which can be dark and convey the feelings of when something bad is going to happen."
Laforet said Elliott Brood has been called everything from "blackgrass" to "urban hillbilly," so coming up with an original name just made sense to the band.
"It's kind of cool because it makes you stand out, I guess, but I don't know how much it really means," he said. "I wouldn't say that we're blazing a trail or anything like that. Essentially we're just making music that we want to hear and we're happy that other people want to hear it as well.
"There's no real plan necessarily as to how we write songs and what we use - we have electric guitars in there now and pianos, but basically it's what we want to do."
Recently, Laforet was surprised to find another band that also had a similar issue and took to creating a genre to suit their own needs.
"We actually played with a band at the Vancouver Folk Festival who plays what they call 'horror country,' which is really close to death country," said Laforet. "They're called the Graveyard Train and they're really good. They're from Australia."
Labels aside, Laforet said what's most important for the band members is they get to play the music they're into. If people appreciate it along the way that's an added bonus. However, if three Juno nominations and being shortlisted for the 2009 Polaris are any indication, people seem to more than just appreciate the band - they downright love them.
"We've lost everything that we've ever been nominated for, so that's kind of where we are. We're the losers, second place all of the time, but that's okay with us. We like being the underdogs, so we're fine with that," said Laforet with a laugh. "It's nice (being nominated) - it's not why we do it or anything, but it's nice to be recognized by people who think that what you do is something special."
And while awards may be one thing, fans are something else entirely. Laforet said Elliott Brood fans are some of the most devoted out there.
"On Twitter and Facebook people seem to proud of our band, they're excited to explain us to other people and introduce us to their friends," said Laforet. "Even overseas people will hear we're from Canada and come out to see us just because of that. In fact, last year this girl from England sent us these cut-outs which you can download from the website and cut out and make them. They're pretty wild and when somebody does something like that you don't know how to respond. It's pretty awesome."
For now though, Laforet is concentrating on the current tour as well as the release of the band's new album, Days into Years, which is due out Sept. 27.
"It's probably (the) thickest sounding; there's a lot on it," said Laforet of the new album. "It's probably our loudest album. I think it does represent what we do live more than our previous records. It's a more aggressive sound than what we've used in the past, but I hope everyone else would like it. We're really happy it's done, it's coming out and we can play some of these songs on our tours."
Elliott Brood plays Whistler at the Garibaldi Lift Company next Thursday (Aug. 4). Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the bar or online at www.ticketweb.ca. Doors open at 9:30 p.m.