In May 2023, the band Elder is set to play a sold-out show in the Constellation Room in Santa Ana, CA. There’s a tangible energy flowing through the venue: something incredible is about to happen. The music of Elder is an experience that transcends boundaries and genres. Since 2006, the band has released six full length albums that defy a single categorization and emanate an elite level of musicianship.
Georg Edert has been the drummer for Elder since 2019. He’s a tall and unpretentious gentleman who is easy to speak with. At the show, he is generous with his time in meeting with me and we connected over whiskey, life, and music. His approachability and engagement are refreshing. When he’s not making music, he’s content hiking in remote places. In addition, he’s a well-experienced whiskey enthusiast… more on this later.
Rounding out the line up of the band, Elder is Nick DiSalvo (vocals, guitar), Jack Donovan (bass), and Michael Risberg (bass). Formed in Massachusetts and now based in Berlin, Germany, the band is enjoying their belle epoque. Beginning with Lore in 2015, the band began to work with elements of prog rock melded into their trademark heavy riffs. Following that, Reflections of a Floating World (2017), The Gold & Silver Sessions (2019), and Omens (2020) have all been an evolution of their sound in this direction.
During the pandemic, the band collaborated with Kadavar to release Eldovar – A Story of Light & Darkness (2021). Both bands saw tours cancelled in this time frame, and found their collaboration flourishing as they both resided in Berlin, Germany. The juxtaposition of the prog evolution of Elder and the blues infused Stoner Rock of Kadavar, make something unique and fascinating.
In 2022, they released Innate Passage. The album is a 54-minute journey across five tracks and is a distinct triumph on the music landscape. Elder creates a living and breathing soundscape that is both cinematic and engaging in the theater of the mind. Against a foundation of heavy riffs, they have expertly blended in elements that inject an ethereal quality to it. The music is lush and complex.
Back in the Constellation Room, Elder takes the stage. The backbone of the band (bass and drums) sits center stage with the guitars on opposing sides. The opening song, “Catastasis”, begins to form with a synth heavy opening. A shimmering guitar enters the mix, and then the band fully springs to life with a deliciously weighty riff and then Georg on drums rounds out the introduction. His drumming is tight, precise, and serves as the heartbeat of the evening. It’s a joy to watch him work and to experience the band. The 90-minute set spans 7 songs and the crowd are entranced the entire time. All in, it was a memorable evening.
In this interview, our conversation explores his whiskey experiences and some of the roots of music journey. It is an incredible honor to present this profile. Read on and enjoy!
What is your first memory of whiskey?
I was a teenager just starting to go to bars and ordered a Johnny Walker Red Label. I was curious what it was like, and I hated it! However, several years later, when I was in my twenties, I was at a dinner party and was introduced to Glenmorangie. That did it for me. It was eye opening in that something I didn’t have a great experience with could actually taste nice.
In this moment that whiskey captured your attention, did you immediately dive in or was it a slow burn?
It was a slow burn, because in your early twenties, nobody has the money to buy nice whiskey. When I would meet friends and they would share a bottle and that’s how I built up experience. Over the years, I have gotten into different stuff. The first direction I went in was heavily peated whisky like Laphroaig. A good friend of mine was into it, so we drank that. When I went back to bottles I thought were boring, I found them to be more balanced. I like those best now.
What flavors do you tend to like in your whiskey?
I like Cragganmore and Highland Park’s standard bottlings, they are really nice and can be enjoyed alone or with food. I’ve also had bottles of Talisker and Laphroaig, but wanted to get back into things that were less aggressive.
Right now, I do have a couple of usual bottles that I’m enjoying. The first is a Glendullan Signatory Vintage. It doesn’t have any smoke on the profile, but it does have a nice hint of oak or leather. Also, it is super light with hints of pears and fruit, not sweet but more in the realm of a liqueur. It may sound like a weird combination, but I enjoy it very much.
The other is an Inchgower 14-year-old from Loch Fyne. It tastes just like salted caramel and chocolate. It’s amazing.
Have you explored Bourbon?
Where I live (Germany) there are not many bourbons, which is why I’m into single malt. We also get a few Irish whiskeys here that I’ve tried. You can get bourbon, but I don’t know where they are on the landscape. For example, I like Bulleit Rye, Makers Mark, and Knob Creek and see them in bars around here. However, I can’t say that I’ve tried enough to make a statement on what a good bourbon is.
Can you share a story related to whiskey from your experience?
I have a close friend who is a guitar player and is also into whiskey. During the pandemic we used to have a video conference every weekend. We would get together with bottles of whiskey or miniature bottles and do a virtual tasting together. When we presented each bottle, we would discuss where it came from and what we knew about it, and try to figure out if the other person would like it from the flavors we described. Even though we couldn’t see each other in person, we were still able to get together and compare notes.
This is the good thing about whiskey: being able to talk endlessly about the different flavors you find.
You’ve been the drummer for the band Elder for four years now. The music of the band is truly amazing, and each album presents something new. For you personally, what bands or artists influenced you?
So many different things. My mother works in a public library in my hometown, and she is in charge of buying new music. So, when I was young, I always heard the new stuff in the mainstream and that was a good start. One of my earliest memories was my dad driving me to drum lessons and listening to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin in the car.
When I was older, I went through their record collection and discovered a lot of new influences. For example, Alan Parsons Project and things like that. Following that, when I started playing in bands, I found bands like Motorpsycho. They are a big influence on all of us in Elder.
There is also Colour Haze, which is a German psyche rock band. Their shows are three hours long and they play twenty-minute jams. A friend told me about them, and we went to go see them. I asked who the support bands were, and the answer was that there weren’t any… they played the entire three-hour slot. They are an incredible band, and I was lucky enough to play at a festival that they were also at. I was able to hang out with them afterwards.
In fact, when I did my first European tour with Elder, we played a festival called Karamba! The drummer for Colour Haze was on the side stage watching us. We shook hands afterwards. That was one of the moments where I felt like I was in the mix as a drummer. Over the years, we have crossed paths at various shows. Also, we recorded Innate Passage (the newest Elder record) in Hamburg, we were in the same studio and used the same engineer just months apart. We caught up at a show in Munich and he listened to our stuff and told me how good the drums sounded.
I’m such a big fan and I have all their records.
Omens and Innate Passage are both powerhouse records that have cemented the reputation of the band as prog-rock icons. At the same time, it’s clear that the band took a different approach with them. Arguably, Innate Passage is a modern masterpiece. Thinking of your role as a drummer, can you tell us about your journey?
Regarding those two records having a different approach, that was by design.
For my journey, it was a gradual process. My parents signed me up for drum lessons and I thought I wouldn’t have to learn sheet music, but then I did. Then, I started playing in bands and the crowds got larger. People would see me play and invite me to join them… I’ve probably been in 20 bands up to this point. Then, with one band you can get lucky and tour internationally. It’s also important to come together as good friends.
The moment that put me on the trajectory to become a professional musician was in 2010, when I was about 19 years old. It was a Clutch show where we were playing support and I had arrived early, so I was practicing rudiments outside. A bus pulls up and Jean-Paul Gastler (drummer for Clutch) gets out and starts asking me about what I’m practicing. So, I showed him the book and he had used the same one. After their sound check, he came back and did some of the rudiments with me. We stayed in touch, became friends, and it was good to have a proper professional to help answer questions. He taught me a lot about work ethic and professionalism.
What are the plans for Elder for the rest of 2023?
We are going to be touring in support of Innate Passage, including a run in the US during May. There are also a couple of dates in Mexico just before that. During August, we will be in Europe playing festivals. For the rest of the year, we don’t have firm plans but will be making announcements soon.
There are some plans to record new music, but nothing has been written so far. Right now, right now we are focused on translating the tracks from Innate Passage into a live setting.
It’s our tradition at the Whiskey Network to ask our guests the same final 5 questions, also known as the Mashbill: Whiskey Network Wants to Know Your Recipe
Question 1: What was the last whiskey, bourbon, or scotch in your glass?
That would be Jameson, I had a couple of shots in a small bar. We recently wrapped a small tour, and I enjoyed an evening off with some friends in my hometown.
Question 2: Do you prefer to drink your whiskey from a specific type of glass?
No, not really. I’m a proper savage. I don’t really care.
Question 3: Do you have a Unicorn bottle?
Yes, that would be the Bowmore Black 50-year-old. Tasting whiskey that old has to be pretty cool!
Question 4: I’m looking for a gift for a friend. My budget is around $50 to $75. What would you recommend I buy?
I would say Cragganmore or Glenmorangie. If the person is into wine, maybe the Balvenie Double Wood. If there is any money left, then make sure to buy them some cigars.
Question 5: What is your favorite toast?
I personally do not have one, but I have a three-year-old neighbor who loves to toast cups when we are together. He says “din” and that’s his way of imitating the sound of the glasses clinking. Sometimes I just use that.
Georg, on behalf of Whiskey Network Magazine, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to hearing more about the amazing music of Elder and more highlights of your whiskey journey coming soon!
We are proud to welcome Georg Edert to the Whiskey Network Family. His whiskey journey has allowed him to experience a wide profile of varieties and he’s open to further exploration. As a whiskey enthusiast, he is still growing and changing. On the music front, his work with Elder stands out and completes their amazing sound. The band is a creative force that stands in a category all their own. Whiskey Network Magazine will keep our audience informed of further releases and other interesting items regarding the band.
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