Local Love: Ark Life - Home is where the road is

Local Love: Ark Life - Home is where the road is

MusicNovember 10, 2014

The road less traveled isn’t always paved with daffodils and honeysuckle. Sometimes it’s paved with cramped 32-hour car rides and motel rooms in the middle of Nowhere, Canada. But Jesse Elliott, lead singer and guitarist of local Denver band Ark Life, chose a life on the road as home, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Earning himself the title as a happy-go-lucky gallivanting artist, Elliot and Ark Life’s music are a combination of road-sung-blues gnarled with subtle Americana Folk undertones. Ark Life’s unique sound provided the band opportunities to tour with such renown artists as The Moondoggies, and The Head and the Heart. The band will act as main support for Chadwick Stokes Nov. 13 at the Fox Theatre in Boulder and Nov. 14 at the Bluebird Theater in Denver.

It’s important to note that Stokes and Ark Life share a lifelong desire to see the world and spread their story via non-profitable melodic folk. Stokes recently spent a year on freight trains in Europe and followed it up by playing shows in people’s living rooms all across North America. They both have dialed in on the fact it doesn’t take giant sacks of money to make happiness thrive in life.

Just think, would you rather enjoy dinner with the CEO of a smarmy corporation or sit next to an elite thinker who has traveled the world and been lost in a foreign country with nothing but a guitar and a pair of sneakers?

But the romantic road isn’t all singing montages and sticking your hands out the sun roof. Elliot knows a little something about life as a vagabond.

“For me, it’s easy, if I’m doing it by myself or with one other person that I love,” said Elliot. “Human beings are very particular creatures, and I think everyone has particular ideas. It’s impossible to make five people happy 24 hours a day. That’s been kind of the trick in learning how to live on the road, and we’ve just got to accept that we’re all just gonna be cranky for four hours sometimes. The hardest thing is making sure that everyone’s still inspired and having fun. We’ve done a pretty good job of it so far, but that’s something that’s part of the lifestyle.”

Hearing about the touring life brought back memories of family vacations to the Grand Canyon and having an unnecessary urge to pee at every single rest stop. Obviously, traveling with five other people is going to get messy, but Ark Life’s travels include two couples.

“We try not to emphasize that part too much,” he says. “We don’t want the couple aspect to be like a central part of who we are. We came together before all that materialized. We were friends before it turned into a couple date night.”

After recently embarking on a solo tour most local bands would shy away from, the band proved it’s of an entirely different caliber than most. And this isn’t simply its lack of a manager or booking agent to do all the hacking and hauling. It’s because this band loves the road, new people and sharing music.

“There’s only two things (that keep us going) the songs themselves and the people; both band mates and the people you get to meet along the way,” Elliot says. “The creative drive starts the initial spark, but you can do that in your bedroom all day and night. The added thing to us is sharing music with people, that’s a reason to leave the house.”

Due to this innate drive to share his songs with strangers, Elliott’s thumb has had a permanent tilt backward since birth, but his wanderlust didn’t start with Ark Life. Prior to the band, Elliott was a “successful” businessman to his parents’ standards and had a job jet-setting across Europe with Richard Florida, an American economics author.

“I was basically living in D.C., it was great, it was an amazing job we got to travel all over the U.S. and Europe,” he says. “The money was good, and we got to fly on an expensive jet and have outrageous dinners. After a few years of it, I just kinda thought that there was a part of me that was unhappy. I guess it kinda came down to, even if I did believe in the ideas and journeys I was writing about, I was always working for someone else’s dream. Which is when I turned to music; and until that day music had never seemed like a viable path to me, but I just went for it.”

And we’re eternally grateful he rounded up a gang of comparable gypsy-esq traveling partners. While he has the good looks and eyes of a well-traveled vagabond, the band as a whole paints a noteworthy picture. Each band member works on side projects that are equally as impressive. Drummer, Ben Desoto has had his hands in basically every big indie album to come out of Denver for the past decade, and Natalie Tate and Anna Morset are working on their own albums that are just as interesting and unique as their tour schedule. Elliot explains it best.

“We’re like a team of very very minor super heroes whose talent complements each other,” he says. “Emphasis on minor-maybe. It’s just like a basketball team or an average Triple A baseball team. Hell, we’re just a team.”

To contact the writer of this article, McClain Morris, email: Contact@TheRooster.com