(from left) Jason Soda, Russ Pollard and Joel Graves
Originally published in Guitar World, October 2010
The roots rockers get an assist from Neil Young on their latest release, On Approach.
Throw on a copy of On Approach, the sophomore release from L.A.-based five-piece Everest, and the first sounds you’ll hear are the insistent hum of a powered-up tube amp and the clicking together of drumsticks. This is no accident: The album’s songs are dripping in warm, analog tones, and the performances are shot through with an easiness that makes it feel as if you’re listening in on a group of musicians convening for a late-night jam session. Not surprisingly, the band members are all avowed tone junkies who take a seriously classic approach to recording. “We’re all vintage gear guys,” says guitarist Jason Soda, “and we prefer to record to tape and play everything live as much as possible.”
The result is an album that conjures up the type of rootsy, organic vibe mined by classic rock greats like Neil Young, the Byrds, the Band and Tom Petty. From the bluesy bar room groove of “House of 9’s” to the gentle country-rock lilt of “The Rush” to the ominous fuzz-soaked crawl of “I’ve Had This Feeling Before,” On Approach comes across as the work of a group of experienced players steeped in rock history and armed with much musical know-how.
Which is very much the case, despite the fact that Everest have been together only since 2007. Individually, the members are all veterans of various other acts—the band’s frontman, singer, songwriter and guitarist Russ Pollard, has played with lo-fi indie heavyweights Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, among others—as well as skilled producers and engineers. That said, the highs they’ve experienced together over the past few years have already eclipsed any past successes. In their short time as a band, Everest have toured with Wilco, My Morning Jacket and, most significantly, Neil Young, who also signed them to his label, Vapor
Records, prior to the release of their debut effort, 2008’s Ghost Notes.
When it came time to record On Approach, Young was a guiding light. Says co-guitarist Joel Graves, “He would listen to the rough mixes while driving around his ranch, and then tell us what he thought we were doing right.” He laughs. “And often what he thought we were doing wrong.”