“I think Hemingway and maybe Bukowski are the only writers who I’ve read all of their books,” says keyboard crooner Sean Davenport, whose new Hills Like Elephants (the name is a Hemingway reference) project is preparing to release their debut album while Gun Runner goes on a “long-term break-up” — an expression consistent with the heart-on-sleeve mood of Davenport’s pending Endless Charade, a concept album “about certain girl situations.”
“A girl kind of messed me up. I was dealing with that for a while and the music became therapeutic,” says Davenport. “Lyrically, I felt like I made breakthroughs because I was having such a rough time and things were just coming out. A lot of honesty.”
Davenport’s forthcoming “Motown album with drum machines” includes live drums by Matt Lynott of the White Buffalo and engineering by Gun Runner’s go-to engineer, Christopher Hoffee at Chaos Recorders in Escondido.
“The idea was to make a keyboard album where the guitar is textural rather than the main drive of the song,” Davenport says. “I didn’t want to do a Sea Change or Bon Iver thing, where the music matches the mood, which is sad. I wanted to keep it dancier. So the album is, like, a remix of the songs I started with. None of them sound like how they started.”
With Hoffee’s help and taking cues from the likes of Twin Shadow, Peter Wolf Crier, and Destroyer, Hills Like Elephants has been doing the “beat-oriented lo-fi dance thing” since October, echoing equally of Dinosaur Jr., LCD Soundsystem, and Sam Cooke. The live lineup includes Andrew Armerding (River City) emulating synths with guitar and effects, former Gun Runner trapsman Carlos Ortiz, and guitar/bassist Danny Gallo.
“The album’s called The Endless Charade, and from one end of the album to the other it shows you that as bad as it gets, it’s going to be okay, and you learn along the way. The games never stop — you have to learn how to play. It’s not spiteful; it’s more just if you can relate.”
The Endless Charade features art by Jon Kruger (River City) and is set to be released late February followed by a nationwide tour in May.