Um, Oh Yeah

Say Hi is growing up, branching out

  • Mar. 23, 2011 6:00 p.m.

Say Hi is growing up, branching out

Eric Elbogen always seems to be ahead of the curve. For example, the sole member of Seattle-via-Brooklyn band Say Hi was writing songs about vampires way before True Blood and Twilight exploded onto the pop-culture scene.

“People won’t get their timelines straight and they’ll talk to me like I’m just jumping on the bandwagon because everybody else is making art about vampires, but I like to think that I started it all,” Elbogen says of Impeccable Blahs, a 2006 album released under the Say Hi To Your Mom moniker (the band name was shortened to Say Hi in 2008).

Arguably, Elbogen has also been on the cutting edge of synth-pop music. Since 2002’s Discosadness, he’s been crafting tunes full of nerdy references and catchy synth lines. But in an age where it seems every band is armed with a keyboard player, Elbogen has turned away from the synthesizer on his new album, Um, Uh Oh, in favour of a more rock and blues-based sound.

“That was a conscious decision. Not so much a ‘I don’t want to make another synthesizer record’ as much as the music that I’m listening to right now isn’t synthesizer-based,” he says, citing classic rockers like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen as artists he’s been jamming on these days.

While Say Hi’s music has often had a bit of an emo tinge to it, Um, Uh Oh is a decidedly more dark — and adult — record than Elbogen’s other six albums; instead of lamenting about having to break up with girls because they beat his video-game high scores, he’s singing about reassuring his partner about the future. Elbogen chalks it all up to getting older.

“One tends to do a lot of soul searching and reflecting on the fact that youth has either started to slip away or has completely slipped away,” he says. “That can be a dark time. So I think that sort of thing made it onto the record.”

Given that a Say Hi recording is a one-man show — Elbogen says it took him eight months to write, record, produce and arrange the album on his own — taking the material on tour can be tough.

“I/we are consistently trying to figure out ways to reproduce the songs on the record as a three piece or a four piece, which can be challenging sometimes because there aren’t enough limbs and/or vocal chords to make that happen,” he says.  “In the case of this tour, there are three of us and two of us are doing stuff with our feet as well as our hands to compensate.”

Hands and feet? Elbogen elaborates. “I’m playing drum kit for most of the set, but then there are five songs during the set where I am playing guitar [with my hands] and drums with my feet,” he says. “Then Luke, the keyboard player/guitar player, is playing tambourine with his feet on some songs.”

Sounds like a live Say Hi show is an interesting endeavour. “Interesting is an appropriate word, yes,” says Elbogen. M

Say Hi(with Blair and Yellow Ostrich)9pm Tuesday, March 29Lucky Bar, 517 YatesTickets $14atomiqueproductions.com

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