Peter Elkas
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Peter Elkas

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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With roots rock icon Charlie Sexton producting, Peter Elkas and friends step up on Wall of Fire, a wonderful batch of soulful rock'n'roll. Though Elkas is proud of his focus, the former Local Rabbit is an eclectic songwriter who tastefully tends to a range of interest and guitar driven sounds. Grounded in classic soul and R&B, Elkas still blurs genres, seamlessly moving from sweet folk to soft pop to romantic rock with an earnest sincerity, crafting a timeless sound all of his own. That said, Wall of Fire is very much a collaborative effort; Elkas finally has a steady band (jokingly named the "Elkaholics") and that camaraderie has led to fully realised songs and a cohesive album. Despite some heavy, heartbreak-oriented subject matter, rockers like "Fall Apart Again" and beautifully arranged pop songs like "Sweet Nancy" and "Something Beaming" possess an infectious spirit, and the players' pride is palpable. The lovely title track conjures the Band (with George Harrison sitting in on a solo) for its sweeping, impassioned performance, while live staple "Darling See" finds Elkas flirting with playful machismo. Every song shines like a gem and Wall of Fire is more proof that Peter Elkas is one of the most talented popsmiths in the world. (Maple, www.maplemusic.com) - Exclaim! Magazine By, Vish Khanna


Wall of Fire is that uncoolest of things, an old-fashioned rock album, which is maybe why it's so refreshing. Canada is one of the world's musical hot spots thanks to a motely crew of low-fi alt-rockers - a broken social scene of arcade rockers -but former Montrealer Peter Elkas, now based in Toronto, happily ignores musical trends and instead delivers a wonderful collection of soulful, bluesy, rocky tunes steeped in that most unhip of rock decades, the '70s.

It just might be the most accomplished Canadian rock record since Pointe Claire's favourite rock'n'roll son Sam Roberts's debut disc a few years back. Like Roberts, Elkas - who used to front the much-loved Montreal underground band Local Rabbits - takes the best of the past and gives it a conempo feel that ensures Wall of Fire, his second album, is anything but a nostalgic exercise. He can put on the sexy soul voice a la Marvin Gaye or Sam Cooke, but he can also whip off roots-rock instant-classics that wouldn't sound out of place on The Band's Music from Big Pink. Take the title track, the stand-out song here. It has echoes of The Weight, but what really makes it is Elkas's guitar solo, an astonishing little slice of evocative melodic fret-work.

Clearly some credit has to go to Texas guitar hero Charlie Sexton, who produced, but Sexton's knob-twirling wouldn't mean anything without Elkas's musical chops and heartfelt songwriting. - Movie Entertainment Magazine by, Brendan Kelly


When former Local Rabbits' frontman Peter Elkas was convinced by Don Kerr of The Rheostatics to move from Montreal to Toronto after the Rabbits' demise, who would've thought he'd stay? On his 10-track, sophomore release, Elkas, who has supported artists like Jet, Sloan and Sam Roberts, is soft around the edges, simple and honest, tapping into '70s soul and a hint of '80s balladry. Inspired by legends like Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye, the singer/guitarist's appreciation of such artists is eveident on the rhythmic "Fall Apart Again" and "My Well Runs Deeper." Produced by Charlie Sexton, the album finds Elkas honest and unabashed about his romances. Elkas surprises and inspires, sounding less like he's making fires and more like he's dousing flames. - Inside Entertainment Magazine - by Anastasia Silva


Even if you didn’t know that singer/
Songwriter Ron Sexsmith counts him-
self as a fan of Peter Elkas, it would be
hard to make it to the end of this sol-
idly enjoyable solo effort by Elkas
without thinking that there are times
when he sounds an awful lot like Sex-
smith. The similarity in the singers’
phrasing and cadences are the most
evident on low-key offerings such as
“Gone, It’s Gone” and “Still A Flame.”
This is not meant to slight Elkas’ tal-
ent or suggest that Party of One un-
duly bears the weight of influence. El-
kas, guitarist for the Montreal band
Local Rabbits, displays a rocker’s
fondness for crunchy riffs on “In My
Den” and the title track, before turn-
ing bluesy on “Turn Out The Lights”
and lacing “Everybody Works” with
jazzy piano. You can catch Elkas Sat-
urday at the Rivoli.

-Vit Wagner
- Toronto Star


Party Of One
(MapleMusic Recordings)
Sometimes a little familiarity can be a dangerous thing, when it comes to criticism. Toronto-based singer-songwriter Peter Elkas first made a name for himself as a member of Montreal’s Local Rabbits, an outfit that traded in a brand of swiftly and irreverently delivered guitar pop. There was precious little about their sound that would hint at the depths to be found on Elkas’ superlative solo debut.
Elkas is a crooner at heart, and his honey-dipped voice is a singularly supple instrument (think Ron Sexsmith, if he really indulged his Bing Crosby inclination). Much credit for the power of Party Of One belongs to producer Don Kerr, who triangulates the sound between Nashville, Muscle Shoals and Abbey Road.
But truth be told, the story here is the songs. Elkas is one of those writers who makes you realize how so many of his contemporaries lack ambition. In “Gone, It’s Gone,” Elkas adopts the voice of a call-center worker gazing longingly out the window, wishing he could push himself away from his desk and enjoy the day and it triggers not a knee-jerk anti-work polemic, but a wise and empathetic meditation on what’s really at stake in a career. The working life turns out to be such a rich vein, Elkas has another go at the subject on “Everybody Works,” with equal rewards.
“Turn Out The Lights” is sultry in an Al Green way, yet the velvet setting conceals not carnal bliss but relationship strife. And for all the falsetto élan in “I See Fine,” the lyrics (“Folding clothes in my family room/Stewing in anxiety/Watching reality TV/Waiting on certain doom”) lucidly convey the cancer of jealousy. Repeatedly, you can see where a lesser writer would take these songs, but Elkas evades clichés and strives for originality and insight.
- Paul Cantin
- No Depression


Discography

2007: Wall of Fire (MapleMusic Recordings)
2004: Party of One (MapleMusic Recordings)
2003: Party of One EP (Independent)

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Bio

“He has a wonderfully soulful voice and a great sense of melody that makes me want to write and sing better and try harder.” That’s Ron Sexsmith’s endorsement of Peter Elkas in advance of the Toronto musician’s sophomore album, Wall of Fire, produced by Charlie Sexton.

Peter describes the record as “soulful and smooth, but with a rough edge” and says listeners can hear his love affair with the 1970s sound on the tracks. Bill Withers, Bruce Springsteen, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye were his musical heroes during the writing process for Wall of Fire. Their influence served him well.

“It is inspiring music for songwriters, romantics and fans of honest soul,” says Joel Plaskett, fellow Canadian songwriter and musician. “Aspiring soul men must take note: Wall of Fire causes jealousy and then inspiration,” he continues. The first time Peter heard the final master of the album, he was actually driving to Ottawa to play a show with Plaskett. “I’ve never been so excited,” he remembers. Using the last few minutes on his pay-as-you-go phone, he called Charlie Sexton, who helped mold the record. “I told him it sounded killer.”

Peter’s Wall of Fire odyssey began as he was promoting his first solo album – Party of One – in 2004. Before going it alone, he’d spent 12 years with the Montreal band Local Rabbits. He started making music with them in high school, but after three albums it was time for the group to part ways. Peter’s path took him to Party of One and gigs opening for Sexsmith, Plaskett, Feist, and k-os.

On tour Peter often found himself working solo on stage, thrilled to be getting his music out, but longing to be performing with the full band he’d assembled. “It’s one of the reasons I continue to play, the interaction with others. I’ll never grow out of that feeling of camaraderie. The fastest and best friendships I have are with other musicians,” he explains.

His band, jokingly referred to as “The Elkaholics,” is Doug Friesen on bass, Gavin Maguire on drums and Jeff Heisholt on keyboards. “I feel that strength-in-numbers thing is something I was missing on the last record,” says Peter. Having The Elkaholics on board was a new beginning, but there were others who joined Peter’s team and formed the foundation of Wall of Fire. In December of 2004, Peter met manager Larry Wanagas. Then the ball really started rolling. Wanagas encouraged Peter to record some demos as the first step in making a follow-up to Party of One. Armed with tracks written in a Toronto apartment while he was feeling “hopeful and revitalized,” Peter hit the studio to put together a four-song demo. Shortly after Wanagas mailed the demos out to potential producers, his phone rang. It was agent Jim Phelan on the line, calling on behalf of Charlie Sexton. Phelan thought Sexton and Peter would be a perfect match. Peter “started to get very excited about the possibilities,” when he heard the news.

Making an album with Sexton was an incredible opportunity. As a musician, Austin, Texas based Sexton has recorded with Ron Wood, Keith Richards and Bob Dylan. His producing credits include Lucinda Williams’ “Essence” and Edie Brickell’s “Volcano”. In the summer of 2006 Sexton pulled Peter and his band into a Toronto studio and pressed ‘record’. “I was really awkward and nervous. All I could do was start with our tightest song,” says Peter. “And to my relief, Charlie walked in and was like ‘You guys sound killer’.” That track was Wall of Fire.

“Choosing that song as the title track for the record made sense because it’s about transition, the transition from one relationship to the next,” Peter says. “And going from the last album to this one has been a real transition from being alone and self-managed, to getting the right people around me and the right friends who are as excited as I am about the project.”

As proof of their dedication, The Elkaholics and Sexton put in long hours with Peter in the studio perfecting each track.
The producer threw himself into the project. He had no desire to sit behind a glass wall in the studio, removed from the music. Instead, he joined the musicians, setting up his own makeshift drum kit and playing alongside the band. “I ran out of sounds and equipment and went to Canadian Tire and got a trash can,” remembers Sexton about the experience. Peter says by the end of the session, his kit was as big as Gavin’s.


Band Members