An Elementary Primer on Grand & Noble
extremely condensed and censored for people of delicate sensibilities
so. let’s start with the beginning.
the very talented Jon Elling (pictured above right) and i met around two years ago. it’s funny to think how close we’ve become since then given that we’re both borderline misanthropes and initially bonded through commiseration over how difficult it was to find someone competent, capable and compositionally clever enough to write music with. then in a flash a real genius, we realized that Jon was a damn good singer / songwriter and i was… SOMETHING of a composer. Jon and i eventually nick named each other “The Talent” and “Natch” respectively. we’re cute like that.
so for a while we rocked out as a duo. we played a few two man shows at Gallery Cabaret, art gallery house parties and assorted bars. eventually a name besides “Jon and Scott” was needed, so after much soul searching and metacritical analysis of ampersands, phonemes and language itself we decided on Grand & Noble. even in those early days our material then was pretty sexy. we had a few Wilco /Leadbelly / Simpsons covers under our belt and written some of the best original songs the courts in the country prohibit us from playing live.
after a bit, we started to really gel as a songwriting pair. something akin to a certain famous songwriting British duo of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. we thought we had something good going and wanted to add a bassist. technically i played bass but it is somewhat difficult to handle while simultaneously playing piano. we jammed with a swell fellow named Mark Huntington but unfortunately it did not work out.
what DID work out was the acquisition of one Matthew Tanaka shortly afterwards. a very quiet man, the best Jon and I could figure out about Tanaka was that he was infinitely more talented than either of us and had mysterious, possibly criminal, connections to Hong Kong.
for the next few months we continued to write original material and go through through bassists like novelty twitter accounts. we were blessed to have briefly kept the company of both Chris Davies and Blake Panas during this period. both champion class musicians / human beings that were tore away from us by the great evils of rock band cohesion: moving and god. eventually we hooked up with the very talented Ben Janik. this was initially unnerving for me because, as we swapped stories and got to know one another, it became apparent that Ben and i had lived just around the corner from one another for the majority of our adult lives. i’ll spare you the details but i assure you some truly strange things happened in Kalamazoo, MI.
after recruiting Ben, there were many more awkward bumps in our path but it eventually led us to a studio. we recorded the first part of the album at the lost art school boys loft / tree house near that prison on Campbell and the second part at the much nicer and more accommodating “In Vault Laboratories” on the northside of Chicago. which, to myself, remains one of the coolest places on the planet. after that it was all photo shoots, mastering and champagne hot tubs.
anywho, this little story omits massive amounts of rooftop birthday parties, heavy drinking in over 15 of Chicago’s 50 community areas and the insufferable stench of our main practice room but it gives you an idea of how this little Grand & Noble thing came to be. i’ll make a point to share stories on my LSAT / bass anxiety, the mundane horrors of band logistics and why i’m not nearly as nice of a person when it comes to someone threatening to fuck my music up later.
JONATHAN ELLING: lead vocals, rhythm guitar
SCOTT KANE: piano, keys, bass, string arrangements, backing vocals
MATTHEW TANAKA: drums and backing vocals
BEN JANIK: lead guitar
based on a true events.