Element101 is a five-piece melodic punk band from New Jersey on Tooth and Nail records. They have recently released a brand new full-length album, "Stereo Girl," and are planning an extensive summer tour to support it. Danny Papa, guitarist for Element101 answered some questions for me recently at a show in Philadelphia with Ivan and the Reds and Goodnight Lena. Element101 will be appearing on the Decapolis stage at Cornerstone this summer. Be there! Also be sure to check out the 16 pictures at the end of this interview from Element101 shows in Philadelphia PA and Millersville PA.
Nate: How has the response been with your new album? Were you happy with the way it came out? Is there anything you wish you could change?
Danny: I think for the most part, the response has been really good. We've heard a lot of positive feedback, and everyone that hears it, seems to like it. That's a good thing. It's a really big difference then our first CD. I think we're really happy with the way it came out. I'm not really sure there's too much we would really change. Looking back on it, we might take one song off it. But I think the songs ok, because it's different. For the most part we would keep everything. With any album you could go back and change things and fix some stuff.
Nate: What was it like rubbing elbows with the guys from the Descendents and All when you were recording? What do you think the best thing that came out of the session was? What lessons did you learn from your time with them?
Danny: To be honest, I'm a huge fan of the Descendents and All. They're probably the only punk band that everyone in the band can agree on. They are extremely influential in every part of our band. Maybe not vocally, but in the music we write I think you can hear a lot their influence in the guitar work, the bass, and some of the drum stuff. So to me it was one of the best experiences of my life, just because I love those guys. And out of everyone we've ever met doing this band they are probably the two nicest people in the entire world. They're absolutely amazing. Bill lent us his Ford Explorer for two weeks to drive back and forth from the hotel, because it was on the other side of town, we went out to dinner with Stephen and his wife, and we were able to talk to them about so many different things. It was awesome. I'm so thankful that Tooth and Nail gave us that opportunity to go there because it was amazing.
Nate: What do you think is the best part of your live set? Why should someone come to see you on the Decapolis stage at Cornerstone?
Danny: Aw gee. I think we're the type of band that just likes to have fun on the stage. I think people like to watch a band having fun. We try to put a lot of energy behind all our songs. We try to perform the best we can. Sal and I like to have a lot of fun together.
Nate: What was it like playing some shows with New Found Glory? What happened at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC?
Danny: The Saturday show that we played with them in Asbury Park was awesome. There were over 4,000 kids there and it was just insane. A lot of awesome bands played like Midtown, Catch 22, Glassjaw, The Movie Life, Hot Rod Circuit, and Cooter who's now called Auto Pilot Off. All the bands were super nice. I think the kids really liked us too. We sold a lot of CDs and stuff. The Bowery Ballroom show was a lot of fun too. It was kind of bad because we were the opening band and a lot of the kids couldn't get in to see us. Probably like half the crowd saw us, but it was an amazing experience. Those guys [NFG] are incredible people. They're all about helping other bands out.
Nate: How much time have you guys (and girls) spent on the road in the last few years and how much time to you plan on spending on the road next year?
Danny: Well in 2000, we spent probably 4.5 months on the road. Two weeks on top of that were in the studio. So probably all together, doing the band away from home for about 5 months. But outside of those 5 months we played every weekend. In 1999 we weren't signed yet so we did what we could. This year we're going to probably spend 6 months on the road. We haven't toured yet this year, 2001, but we leave May 18th and come home July 16th. Then we take a two-week break and go out all of August. We take a little break in September and go out October, November and some of December.
Nate: What band are you really interested in right now, that you don't think is getting their fair share of the spotlight?
Danny: I have a really weird taste in music, so I feel like there's a lot of bands. I feel like All/Descendents, especially All doesn't get their fair share. They are incredible musicians, and they write great songs. I guess a band that I'm really into right now is Ultimate Fakebook. I don't think they get any recognition at all. I think they write really good songs, they're real catchy, and I don't ever hear anyone talking about them. I know they're on tour with MxPx, which is great for them, it should probably help them out a lot, but I don't think they get what they deserve.
Nate: Is it true that Crissie plays the harp? And if so, is that something you would like to incorporate into your live show? Is punk rock harp playing the future for element101?
Danny: Yeah, Crissie does play harp and she's incredible. She's amazing. She's been playing since she was seven years old. She plays all these crazy classical songs. But we'll probably never incorporate it into the band. The harp is the type of instrument that just stands alone, and drums don't really fit in. If we could, we would.
Nate: What was behind the altering of your name from Element to Element101?
Danny: When we went to sign to Tooth and Nail they looked into it, and they saw that someone owned the name Element. So I contacted the guy and they were an acoustic cover band from Lancaster, PA. They had broken up already, but they owned the name till 2003. They wanted to sell it to us for like $40,000, which is ridiculous. So Tooth and Nail said we had one week to alter our name. We felt the name Element should really stand-alone. No other words would really fit with it. But we didn't know what to do, so we started thinking, English 101, History 101, what the heck, Element 101.
Nate: In the A-Team, was Murdock really crazy, or did he act that way to annoy B.A. and fool the VA hospital?
Danny: The A-Team used to be one of my favorite shows. I think he was just crazy…I really do.
Nate: Crazy on a functional level?
Danny: Ah sort of.
Nate: Any comments on the recent death of Joey Ramone?
Danny: I was really sad when I heard that. I'm a Ramones fan. I grew up listening to the Ramones. I think it's really sad, I wonder if anyone was able to talk to him about eternity before he died. I think in a way it could be good because it will cause those around him to start thinking about eternity. We drove by CBGB's two days after his death, and there were all these murals and stuff written in mourning.
Nate: What's with this rumor of Crissie appearing in TEEN magazine?
Danny: TEEN magazine is going to do a little write-up on us. There's going to be a photo and then an 80-word review either of the album or us as a band. I think it comes out in the June issue.
Nate: Are you able to do the band full time or is school and work in the picture?
Danny: I'm graduating college in two weeks, and school will be out of the picture for the band for the rest of our career probably. Chris and Sal, go to night school taking recording classes. That's something they'd like to do someday. Crissie, I think, is done with school for awhile and so is Nick. As far as work, we all have jobs that we can leave and come back to. After we get home from this two-month summer tour we'll see where are finances are at. We're hoping to do it as a full-time thing, and be able to make it a career maybe for a few years.
Nate: Word association…a glam-rocker's diary.
Danny: I automatically think of Luke (Harlow) and I see him in my mind. That's the first thing. But I guess the first thing I was thinking about was when we had our first actual 3-song demo, and he reviewed it, and we were all happy we got press.
Nate: Is there anything in the past of Element101 that you wish you could change?
Danny: Probably never put out those two demos and "Kid's These Days," but that's who we were at the time. I really don't know because I think that everything good and bad has been a learning experience. I don't think there's anything I would change because I've learned from every aspect.
Nate: Is there a chance that your demo "Peanut Butter and Jelly" will be re-released?
Danny: No. People have been asking about "Kid's These Days," the CD, and we have maybe like 20 left in our basement, that we're never letting anyone know about. Kid's keep emailing and they want it.
Nate: What is the age distribution in the band?
Danny: I'm 23, I'm the oldest. Crissie and Chris are 21. Sal just turned 20, and Nick is 20.
Nate: If Element101 were a movie from the 80's, which one would they be?
Danny: I love 80's movies. I'd like to say we would be the Goonies, but I don't really know. I'd say it's a toss-up between the Goonies and the Breakfast Club. In a way I could see each one of us being a Goonie. Actually I can't see Crissie being any of those girls, so she'd just be Cyndi Lauper.
Nate: What was the worst thing that ever happened to you on tour? What was the best?
Danny: I don't know where to start. Ok, we had a bunch of cancellations so we had five days straight off in California. A few random shows got us to Seattle. We had five days off in Seattle. From Seattle back to Jersey, we had shows canceled and we had to book some on the way. We opened our cash box in Seattle and we had $200 to get us to Jersey. We had a show in Idaho; we played the show and had two days off to get to our next show, which was in North Dakota. We drove about 15 hours and stopped at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Nick and the drummer of Hangnail drank geyser water. The whole night we are driving through Wyoming, which felt like we were driving for weeks, both of them were sticking there heads out the window vomiting, deathly sick from the geyser water. So at 6am in the morning we pulled into like Sioux Falls, or one of these weird cities out there, and went to the hospital. In that same town they had the Harley Davidson biker convention. So there's bikers everywhere and here comes Element101 and Hangnail. We spent the whole day in the hospital. Then we drove like another two days to North Dakota and when we got there, our guitarist Chris got sick, and he's vomiting everywhere all through the night. We got to Minnesota, and had to miss our show which was probably was going to be one of the best shows on tour with Ace Troubleshooter in their hometown. We had to miss that show cause Chris was in the hospital. So that was probably one of the worst parts of tour, being sick, driving days on end for non-stop and having no money. The best thing on tour was during our Stairwell tour that we did; we played a show in St. Louis at this club called The Galaxy. We played there over the summer with Juliana Theory, Further Seems Forever, Hangnail and there were like 70 kids there. When we went back this time, there were about 175 kids. It was really cool because kids came out to see us in St. Louis when we were so far from home.
Nate: Anything you'd like to add or any closing comments?
Danny: As a band we're super appreciative of Decapolis giving us an opportunity to play on the Decapolis stage this year at Cornerstone. We're really thankful for Decapolis and the kid's who support us.
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