Our tour manager was a really good friend of Elliott’s

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©David Torres

“Our tour manager was a really good friend of Elliott’s and she brought him around to a few shows of ours when we were out in the Pacific Northwest and there was Elliott on the side of the stage grooving to our music, moving, bopping, pretty much dancing unabashedly throughout our set. The first of these shows he came to and danced on the side, he introduced himself to me and said he was a huge fan of our band and my drumming. He said on more than one occasion that I was one of his two favorite drummers, the other being Steven Drozd. Man, that was something else to hear from someone I admired so much. And he would follow that up with one of the reasons he loved our band was because it always made him wanna dance. It was both really touching and just funny coming from someone like Elliott. His honesty and brashness was something else.”

Russell Simins

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The best moments I’ve shared with Elliott

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“The best moments I’ve shared with Elliott are seeing him smile when we were playing music together. When he knows it’s kicking in, and I’m behind the kit, and he’s playing bass or guitar, or we’re writing a song in the studio and he’s into the drums I’m playing, or he’s into the music, and he just looked at me and smiled. He wasn’t always in the best of ways, but when we’d lock eyes, he was feeling it and loving it.”

Russell Simins

He seemed to be doing really well lately

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He seemed to be doing really well lately. That’s why it’s really sad. We all had a hope that he was in a good way, or at least heading towards that. What we lost is someone who was really admirable as a person and as a star. There’s so much bullshit around, so many unhumble people who are all about the glitz and the glam and the bullshit. What we lost is a very, very, very, very truthful, truthful, honest star. I think both as a person and as a musician, as an artist. It’s really sad because he was just brutally, brutally honest. And very smart. And if you put the two together, it’s undeniably appealing.”

Russell Simins

For a while there, Elliott was just kind of, hanging out

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©Renaud Monfourny

“For a while there, Elliott was just kind of, hanging out. He seemed to always just magically be around. And it just happened to be at a time we needed some melodic backing vocals, so Elliott came by one day to record his parts, and did a few songs with us, and one that we recorded was a version of The Beatles “Yer Blues,” with Elliott singing and playing bass, which, if you’re familiar with that song — is a pretty heavy song. Shortly after that, Elliott passed away, so now we have this tape that we’ll never release because the song took on this whole new weird light, but it’s this great version from this deeply troubled, but remarkable musician.

So, he’s on a lot of stuff from the New York City sessions, and then we went to LA and spent three days in his studio, which had an incredible collection of gear. He invited us to just come jam, and work with him, and he was sorta…courting us, and he was like “I want to make a record with you guys, and I want you to be my band” and we were up for that, so we would arrive at the studio and we would just kinda sit around outside the studio and wait for him for long periods of time, so it wasn’t a very productive trip…but he was a sweet guy and just an incredible musician, but just dealing with a lot of problems.

But it’s funny because just last night Russell Simins and I were talking about this, and after the tragedy of Elliott killing himself, there were a few books that came out, and one of them attacks us saying that we were a bad influence for him, saying “how could they have alcohol in the dressing room when Elliott was there!” And I thought that was just incredibly unfair, since the author knew nothing about the relationship between Elliott Smith and the Blues Explosion.

So, we’ve been painted as devils for corrupting R.L. Burnside, as well as for fucking things up for Elliott Smith.”

Jon Spencer