The Elms were all born in Seymour, IN, the city that birthed John Mellencamp. Close friends from childhood, the Elms personify small-town Midwestern United States. Owen Thomas, the band’s lead singer, speaks of playing cards at local hangouts and sitting on front porches, and their unique sound reflects that paradigm. Thomas is also the Elms’ lyricist and main songwriter, and he plays with his younger brother Christopher on drums, his childhood friend Thom Daugherty on guitar, and another longtime friend, Nathan Bennett, on bass.
The Elms use robust rock and roll; the music is sonically rooted in the band’s admiration for the work of ’60s and ’70s titans such as The Kinks and The Who. The Elms never succumb to classic-rock replicas, though. They get in your face bringing their cause. Yet the band’s longing is intense for a connected sense of what feels like logic. The scrappiest confidence surges through them, the same kind of blunt yet nuanced authority that animates The Chess Hotel, The Elms’ debut LP. The Elms are fiercely devoted friends--twenty-something’s with a deep commitment to one another.
For Thomas, the band’s hometown is absolutely crucial to The Chess Hotel. Inescapably, the songs concern Seymour, and everything from observing the outcome of the lives of those closest to the band, to high school summers spent swimming in Indiana rivers. That kind of feeling in the end drives The Elms’ fiery rock and roll arguments on The Chess Hotel.
The Elms come to Farm Aid having just finished their inaugural tour of Europe in August. Their brand-new five-track maxi-single, This is How The World Will End, was released on September 16. The Elms are definitely going places in their musical careers, and they will do it together.
Sign up for our monthly newsletter to stay informed about Farm Aid's activities, the annual concert, and current food and farm issues.