Coming out of a 2 year hiatus with his group Mr. Elevator, Tomas Dolas is still delivering those sun-soaked psychedelic sounds from the 60's with a modern day touch.
On January 16th, they made their homecoming return at The Echo in support of their new album, Goodbye, Blue Sky. The new record further proves their excellence in the Los Angeles music scene. Synthed-out bliss for a new age. The show, which was opened by LA Takedown and Automatic, was a mighty comeback to the stage. A packed house with just about every local musician in the LA psych scene, including fellow band-mate John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees. Safe to say many people were anticipating the return of Mr. Elevator.
As mentioned before, it had been a little over 2 years since Tomas went on stage with the group; however, he's been in the studio and on the road with Oh Sees in the meantime. After the show at the Echo, Mr. Elevator embarked on a 6-date tour, hitting cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Portland to name a few.
In late 2020, Tomas has a tour lined up with Mr. Elevator supporting Oh Sees. He'll be pulling double duty for that one, hitting up just about every major city across the country. Fingers crossed everything goes back to normal by then.
I had the chance to chat with Tomas before his set at The Echo back in January.
Here's what he had to say:
Q: When was the last time you all played a show?
A: It’s been at least two years ago, I think it was when we played the 2017 Desert Daze.
Q: So why’d you take such a long hiatus?
A: A lot of things. I had a kid I have a sweet little boy named Noah and he already loves music, like he’s following in my footsteps. I’ve just been so busy, touring a lot. I run a studio too, so I was recording a lot of albums. I wanted to work on another record before playing again. I was turning down shows so I could be focusing on the record instead. I had so much going on, so if I don’t put my foot down with one thing, you know, then I’m never going to finish anything. Now the record’s done and here we are.
Q: So what was the reason behind losing the “and the Brain Hotel” from your band’s name?
A: It was a couple things. There’s a different lineup now and also there’s a lot of people where the name was just too many words for them to remember. With the lineup changing, it just seemed like the appropriate time to do it all then.
Q: So how did that original lineup come to be?
A: Originally, it was a jam band with a friend of mine Justin Martinez. We were just playing keyboard and drums just for fun in 2011. Then he had a friend and was like, we should get a bass player and that was Wyatt Blair. We were a three piece called Tropical Fish and we’d just play house parties and random shows. Straight jamming, no songs. We didn’t really start recording music and play real shows until like 2012. That was the year where we were just like, let’s make this a band.
Q: What's it been like working with Oh Sees?
A: Great man, it’s really really cool.
Q: How was the experience of playing with them at Tropicalia Festival last year, you were there with them right, how was that?
A: Yeah, man that was really fun. That was the one with the rotating stage, that was my favorite part. We had a really short amount of time to play, so John (Dwyer) was just like let’s jam out there. Q: Are there any festival shows that you’ve never been able to play but hope to someday?
A: I don’t know man. I’m so out of the loop. I’m not really a huge fan of festivals. Usually at festivals, you’ve got to set up really quick, play really quick, and set down really quick and then there’s tons of people.
Q: On that same note, are there any bands you’ve always wanted to tour with but haven't had the chance to yet?
A: Well people are touring with Stereolab now that they’re playing again. That’d be great to tour with them.
Q: Going back a few years ago, you guys played at the Santa Monica pier with Eric Burdon, how was that experience?
A: That was really funny. I actually met him backstage right after we played and I was just like genuinely showing my appreciation. “Like hey, it was a pleasure to open for you, ya know it’s a pleasure to meet you. You’re a big inspiration of course.” My wife was there next to me and soon as she walked up to where I was telling Eric this, the tension in the room just went (woop). He was like “it’s nice to meet you” and my wife’s French so she was like “oh nice to meet you” and he was like “oh, your accent I know where your from”, so he like kissed her hand. I just didn’t exist anymore. I’m like whatever man. He was drinking a really nice bottle of wine and had a scarf on, you know he’s a great man. The Animals are definitely one of our inspirations. He has this one song called “ A Girl Named Sandoz” where it’s like my favorite bass tone I’ve ever heard.
Q: What are your views on touring, any stories that stand out?
A: The first thing that comes to my head is the last tour that we went on. We were doing this really brutal tour in the MidWest where we were doing a lot of terrible routing. The booker we had was just like almost sadistically having us go on this trip. The way the van was set up was really cozy with all these blankets and pillows. When my wife and I went out to take a piss at a rest stop, everyone got out and then when we went back to the van, the car was gone. We’d left all of our phones and gear, so we were there for probably like three to four hours before they realized that we weren’t in the back. I guess they didn't even know we went out, so that was pretty funny.