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Making their Mark

event EliquateEliquate dusts off, releases ‘A Chalkboard’s War Against Erasers’

The road to success is littered with obstacles that many artists never overcome. But where others stop and think, Eliquate charges ahead; bumps, scrapes, and the once looming threat of homelessness be damned. “To put it in perspective for you,” says Elliot Wright, lead vocalist/MC, “on our first tour, we left right after getting evicted out of our house … the first, second, and third tour were like that. We came back and were totally, like, shit homeless.”

Lately though, with a national tour under its belt and a new album ready to drop within days, the Santa Cruz based hip-hop outfit seems to be well on its way to success. “We were able to raise $8,000 for our national tour,” bassist Cosmo Stevens says of the online donations from fans. “We most definitely would not have made it without Kickstarter. We went into it knowing that we weren’t gonna get back from the tour being huge rock stars, but at the same time we knew that we needed to go out there and prove that we could. We needed to go out there and plant seeds in all of these places.”

Self-described as “Ratatat meets Atmosphere” or “Red Hot Chili Peppers meets The Roots,” the band—which also features Jamie Schnetzler (guitar/backup vocals), Daniel Wells (drums/backup vocals) and Tanner Christansen (keyboard/samples/monomer)—wins over crowds with its pristine beats and rapid-fire lyrics, melding the energy of a live rock band with the spontaneity of a freestyling MC.

Eliquate’s latest album, A Chalkboard’s War Against Erasers, is a new kind of project for the group, according to Stevens. “This album has been like the culmination of all of our work for the last four years—the most real recording experience we’ve had,” he says, referring to Prairie Sun Recording Studio, where Paul McCartney, Tom Waits, Wu-Tang Clan, and now Eliquate, have all recorded. “When you’re recording at home on your own setup and you jump from that to a multi-million dollar recording studio, you know, the boundaries definitely expand. This place was just unreal.”

“I think this album is just that, it’s an album,” Wright chimes in. “When we recorded it, we kind of made all the songs with the same idea and all followed the same motif or the same theme. And we were a little bit more conscious about how we were gonna execute that. The EP (Who The F*ck is Eliquate?) was just kind of party music. This album still maintains the energy of the EP, but at the same time, it’s more cohesive—down to the name, A Chalkboard’s War Against Erasers.

“It’s sort of an acceptance of mediocrity, but a refusal to not wanna try harder, or try just to make yourself proud,” Wright goes on. “Because, chalk is never gonna win against an eraser, but that’s not the point. It’s the fact that it did exist at one point. Regardless of if the album goes anywhere, if we even get remembered in 20 years, the fact is that this album is an attempt to show that we existed, to encourage other people to attempt to show that they existed as well.”

That unwavering perseverance was exemplified during the inaugural Santa Cruz Music Festival in July, when Stevens fractured his wrist the night before Eliquate was scheduled to take the stage. Rather than let it slow him down, the dedicated bassist ripped off his cast just before the show, played his heart out, and even did a stage dive.

“The beautiful thing about Cosmo’s cast story is that it really reflects how Eliquate has made shit work,” says Wright, “because though we do things the hard way, we still rip our cast off and jump into the crowd no matter what.” 


Eliquate performs at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23 at The Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $7/adv, $11/door. For more information, call 423-1338.

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