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Glass Elevator: Take a Ride

I must admit when Wylie VanWenger from the Olympia band Glass Elevator agreed to do an interview for our readers I was a little awestruck.

Let me put it in rock and roll perspective. It all started the night of Fall Arts Walk, Mike and I were out with our families feeding LIO readers live updates of the event. I was on Capital and 4th when I heard the charging groove of a bass, then a snare kick, followed by this…voice.  From the corner looking east I could see a crowd gathered in front of Capital City Guitars. Seconds later I had a front row seat and just in time to hear the group finish what sounded like a great song.

Olympia WA rock band Glass Elevator

Listen to “946-B” (Memo From Management)

I play “946-B” (Memo from Management) and cant keep still. Its just one of the songs off the epically dreamy Psychic Battleship , the latest release from Olympia Band Glass Elevator. After some cyber searching I found Glass Elevator on their Myspace Page and started listening, and after I heard “Fresh Air” for the fourth time, I became a fan of indy-rock music  again. Its been a long time since a local band has really gotten me excited about the possibility of something really special coming out of the Great Pacific North West (Thanks guys). So I got together with Wylie, Mars Carlson, Jabe Jabberwock and Paul Vandall also known as Glass Elevator, sat down and shared some coffee, laughs and conversation:

: “Glass Elevator is?”

Jabe: “The interesting thing about this project is that it doesn’t really have a centralized leadership. So, everything – including down to the song writing, is something that, once it’s finished, it’s something that happened with all four of us together. We’re all contributing members.”

LIO: “How did GE come to be?”

Paul: “I started out as fan. I was in another band at the time and that’s when Wylie called me a said GE needed a drummer. So I had to say bye to those guys, which worked out because my brother is a drummer as well and he wasn’t working on a project at the time. He was able to jump right in, and they’re a better band because of it so it all worked out for everyone.”

Mars: “Yeah I was a fan too. I heard these guys needed a bass player and I was available so it worked out.”

Wylie: “I was in a band called Sunlake, we moved to Portland, things didn’t go well so I came back to Olympia where I knew I could find musicians and get a band going. Had this huge grand design, like this big ten piece band – I wrote everything down in notebooks, instruments, who would play them – stuff like that. Of course it didn’t work. I was doing a solo show at The Voyeur and Jabe saw it, after the show he told me he’d wanted to start a project with me. That’s the short version.”

The interesting thing about this project is that it doesn’t really have a centralized leadership. So, everything – including down to the song writing, is something that, once it’s finished, it’s something that happened with all four of us together. We’re all contributing members.
: “Where does the name come from?”

Wylie (laughing): “Oddly enough it was an attempt not to make any pop-culture references, but we missed that one – yeah. We had been doing music for six months and didn’t have a name. A show came up and we were like hey we need a name. Ian, our synth player at the time came up with “The Elevators”.

[Jabe makes eye contact with Wylie]

Wylie: “What, am I wrong?”

Jabe: “Yeah.”

Wylie: “Well go ‘head take it away.”

[We all laugh.]

Jabe: “What happened was I brought forth “Elevator”, and for some reason that wasn’t good enough. So we all thought it should be something “Elevator”. We sat down and started tossing out words and Ian said, “What about Glass Elevator?”, and everybody agreed to go with it.”

Listen to Fresh Air

LIO: “It’s obvious you’ve got great song writing ability, take for example a song like “Fresh Air”. Where does that come from, what’s the collective muse?”

Wylie: “That’s one of mine, sometimes they just pop in, other times it takes years for me to feel its ready. Fresh Air was one of those that just popped in. But we all share song writing. The only rule of the band, which has served us very well, is whoever comes up with the original song idea has both the privilege and responsibility to make the decisions to make the song work.

Paul: “We have free reign to try what we think sounds best and if it fits and we all like it we allow the song to grow. It’s kind of like watching a movie that was inspired by a book, you’re never going to get everything from the book in the movie but you can still enjoy it. This band is like that, it allows everyone to add their interpretation of the writer’s idea and add their touch to it. At the same time, if the person who wrote the song has an specific idea in mind we go with that.”

LIO: “What are your musical backgrounds?”

Paul: “My Dad is a guitar player singer/songwriter, he’s local and still performing all the time his name is Dave Randel, and he wanted a drummer as a son. My uncle played drums too, it kind of runs in the family.”

Mars: “I started playing piano when I was five. And I played until I was 18 or 19 and decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. All my friends had guitars so I bought a bass. I told myself, “I can do that” and so I taught myself to play bass.”


Together the talents of Glass Elevator are so wonderfully blended together, you’d think they were 60’s era reincarnates here to claim their rightful place in your speakers. Psychic Battleship delivers. Its a must have for any music fan – ignore genre. This is music our city can get excited about!

I want to thank Mars, Paul, Wylie and Jabe of Glass Elevator for allowing me to be a fan and friend on this – I’m really looking forward to seeing the band live and sharing that experience with the LIO readers. You can find Glass Elevator’s new CD at Rainy Day Records or Phantom City Records in Olympia, and Music Millennium in Portland.



About the Author

Robert HumesRobert is the music and style writer for Living In Olympia. Follow Robert on Twitter: @BobbyHumesView all posts by Robert Humes →

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