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Old 03-08-2003, 10:48 PM   #1
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Tribute Band : Toronto's Elevation Interview

By Maya Akin


Toting themselves as, “not quite better than the real thing” Elevation is a Toronto-based U2 cover band made up of members Shawn Brady (as Bono), Kevin Strom (as The Edge), John Johnstone (as Larry Mullen Jr.), Mick Barnard (as Adam Clayton) and Interference’s Jessica Cunningham as Elevation’s very own belly dancer.

This piece is based on an interview conducted by BP Fallon, all of the questions and U2’s answers are from BP’s original interview, the entirety of which can be viewed at

BP: What turned you on to rock'n'roll?
LARRY: T Rex and Slade and when I saw those guys playing and saw drummers I said I wanna be able to do that.
JOHN: I never went through the phase of disliking girls, so I'd have to say that when I saw all the girls screaming for the Bay City Rollers, I knew I had to be a rock n roller. My question is: Where are the screaming girls?

ADAM: Yeah, it was seeing Stiff Little Fingers in The Laurence Hotel in about '78 when I was about 18. I loved the energy, the excitement and the noise.
MICK: Hearing Peter Gabriel singing "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight.” Also, Steve Hackett's incendiary guitar solo in that same song. Did you know he was doing all that tapping stuff on the neck years before Eddie Van Halen? It still has an effect on me thirty years later.

EDGE: My first guitar, my first records from David Bowie records to Taste records. The Beatles obviously were huge.
KEVIN: Well it's either my brothers playing the stereo at ear piercing volumes, cranking out Rush and Kiss every morning before and after school, or it's hearing them jam the Smoke on the Water riff in the basement a million times!!

BONO: There was a few incidents - seeing Elvis, seeing Tom Jones - yeah! - and realising I fancied Marc Bolan and he wasn't a girl and I thought this rock'n'roll was quite a potion if it can do that to me 'cos I'm very heterosexual.
BRADY: Seeing The Cult when I was 12 years old in a small arena. I'll never forget the rush I got from that show (which looking back, could have been from the "funny smelling smoke" that filled the arena). Afterwards I practiced my guitar 4 hours per day instead of the usual 4 hours per week. I would play along to "Sonic Temple" and try stage moves by jumping off my bed. My parents thought I was nuts. That show was LOUD. My ears are still ringing.

BP: What was the first record you actually bought?
LARRY: The re-released version of 'Space Oddity' by David Bowie.
JOHN: I bought the single for Ebony and Ivory. (Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney) I told my friends it was a birthday gift for my sister.

BONO: John Lennon's 'Happy Christmas (War Is Over)'.
BRADY: Bryan Adams’ "Reckless." There are some great tunes on that record that have passed the test of time. I really believe "Run To You" and “Summer of 69" are definitive moments in Canadian rock history.

ADAM: I was given a lot of Beatles records and then probably the first record that I could afford to buy, which is when I was about twelve, was 'Jesus Christ Superstar.’
MICK: "Selling England By The Pound," secondhand, for the princely sum of one UK pound. Arguably Genesis' finest album. However, I would like to apologise to your readers for almost everything they recorded after Gabriel left and Phil Collins started singing.

EDGE: 'Mama We're All Crazee Now' by Slade.
KEVIN: I'm not totally sure but I believe it was the 45 single of "Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits. This song has the catchiest chorus and one of the best solos ever!

BP: What was the first concert you were ever at?
BONO: There was a cabaret band that played our primary school, the Ink Bottle in Glasnevin. I was 8, and I never quite got over the sound of the drums. When we made our first album I would have dreams about the bass drum. Drums got me into rock'n'roll. I mean, it was Larry who put together U2, he was the only one who could play and it was enough just to listen to his drums.
BRADY: Tom Cochrane and Red Rider with opening act Glass Tiger at the Sudbury Arena in 1986. I was 10 years old but I still remember the vibe of that show. I went to see Glass Tiger but I was much more impressed with Tom Cochrane's showmanship and ability to connect with a crowd. His experience really showed.

ADAM: Rory Gallagher in The Carlton. I was into the 'Tattoo' album, I liked that and 'Irish Tour 1974'. I went to a gig in 1974, I was fourteen.
MICK: The Stranglers in 1978 on the Rattus tour in Hamburg, Germany. They were brilliant. It may still be the loudest gig I have ever seen, including the utterly deafening Motorhead the following year.

LARRY: A blues concert in Trinity College.
JOHN: A Canadian band called Triumph. New Years Eve, in the 1980's.

EDGE: Horslips in Skerries in '75 or '76. Then I saw Thin Lizzy in Dalymount Park, The Jam and The Clash in theatres around town, it was a great time for concerts really. Stiff Little Fingers, just great artists, Elvis Costello, The Ramones...
KEVIN: Kiss at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in 1980 or 81 - I can't remember I was only 6 or 7. Those guys were so cool with their makeup and pyro. I remember dressing up for Halloween as Peter Chris, although I used to play my plastic guitar with "ACE" written in black marker across the front.

BP: If there was an extra six hours per day, what would you do with it?
LARRY: Sleep.
JOHN: Learn to play guitar at a high level.

EDGE: Sleep.
KEVIN: Too many things to list! There are so many things that I neglect due to work every day plus music on the weekends and some weeknights.

BONO: Charge interest.
BRADY: I love to nap, so that would take up 2 hours. With the remaining four hours I would do some song writing of my own, possibly some extra running, help out with a good cause and visit with friends and family...can I please have more than 6 hours?

ADAM: I'd get everything done that I never get done normally, like checkin' in with people, gettin' my life together. I'd actually get my life together - I wouldn't need music!
MICK: I'd just sit on my... OK, I'd spend it with my children.

BP: What's the best thing about you?
BONO: My nose.
BRADY: I am very determined and dedicated and when I put my mind to something I accomplish it. Oh, and my cheekbones - I should specify - the one's on my face.

ADAM: The way I might look at you.
MICK: I can't hold a grudge for long (is that a strength or a weakness?)

LARRY: My dog.
JOHN: When I like someone, I'm very loyal.

EDGE: I don't snore.
KEVIN: I'm a good-hearted person. I treat people with the respect which, I feel I should be given in return.

BP: And what's the worst thing about you?
BONO: My nose.
BRADY: I love eating chicken. Anytime - breakfast, dinner, lunch, 3:30am....whenever. It is my Achilles heel. If there is a Swiss Chalet or KFC within smelling distance I will likely be found minutes later scarfing down a piece of chicken. Don't interrupt me while I am eating chicken because bad things may happen to you. It is a good thing I run competitively to keep my weight down because otherwise I may have ended up in a Meatloaf tribute.

LARRY: I'm black and white.
JOHN: If I don't like someone, I can't hide it.

EDGE: I'm so single-minded on some things that I find it hard to keep other things together. When I'm really concentrating on an album or tour or something, a lot of other things in my life get shelved.
KEVIN: I'm stubborn, can't say ‘no’ and I give people way too many chances and get burned.

ADAM: I'm very bad in the mornings, grumpy. I don't say very much.
MICK: Given the choice, I'd just sit on my arse and look out of the window. Obviously this is a great ability to bring to a marriage involving small children.

BP: If you were an animal, which animal would you be?
ADAM: A giraffe. Why? 'Cos then you'd meet other giraffes.
MICK: A cat, obviously. My cats live lives of pampered luxury. They just sit on their arses all day and look out of the window.

EDGE: One of the big cats, so I could just s-t-r-e-t-c-h out in the sun, a panther or a cheetah.
KEVIN: Without question a dog. If you were a dog in my house growing up you were treated better than the kids. Ok so maybe that is an exaggeration but not by much!

LARRY: Aaah! A fly. Because Bono wrote about a fly and what's good enough for Bono is good enough for me.
JOHN: I agree with Mick. A cat. What a life!

BONO: A wildebeest. You'd have to have a sense of humor with a name like that.
BRADY: A lion - king of the jungle baby! Pardon the pun but cats are pussies (did you hear that Mick and John?)

BP: What is the most vulgar thing you own?
LARRY: Julian Cope's Peggy Suicide and Jehova Kill.
JOHN: Fart Spray. I think my wife hid it on me though.

EDGE: A Mexican sequined whiskey bottle.
KEVIN: I don't own anything vulgar, I'm a good boy!

BONO: A 1973 canary yellow Ford Cortina with fake leopard skin interior complete with nodding dog and furry dice and me driving it, having to explain to people that I won it in a poker game.
BRADY: I don't own anything vulgar - unless "Poison" CDs count? I have a weakness for glam rock from time to time.

ADAM: A 1993 yellow suit.
MICK: Everything I own reflects good taste, though Brady did leave a pair of his underpants at my house once. Does that count?

BP: What's your favorite method of transportation?
ADAM: Escalator.
MICK: I've always liked the idea of having a glider. But you have to get them up in the air first, don't you? So I'm nominating a red London bus.

EDGE: Train or fast car.
KEVIN: A plane. I love flying, besides there's no traffic! Nothing beats the feel of the plane on the runway picking up speed and then the feel of falling back as the nose goes up and you sail into the sky.

LARRY: Moto-Sickle.
JOHN: I love driving, but there can be absolutely no traffic, and a great stereo helps also.

BONO: An angel's back. No, make that blindfolded.
BRADY: Running. There is nothing more satisfying than reaching a level a fitness that allows for coming back from a long 30 kilometre run, cruising through various terrains and weather systems, barely out of breath. Those who run competitively would understand this. Those who don't will think I am mad.

BP: Have you ever slept in the open?
ADAM: Yeah, quite often actually. Well, I once slept on a roundabout in London in Camden, no sorry not as glamorous as Camden, it was Catford. I'd been to see Thin Lizzy play the Wembley Arena in their 'Live and Dangerous tour' so it would have been about '76. This time I'd been in the West End in a few clubs and didn't have any money to get home so I started walking. And I just walked as far as I could go before I fell asleep and I chose a roundabout and woke up at rush hour. It was a bit disorienting because I couldn't find my glasses so all I knew was I was on this patch of green and there were cars driving round me, so it was a bit of a strange way to wake up.
MICK: Yes, at various rock festivals, etc. while under the influence... it was fun at the time but I'd rather not these days.

EDGE: When I was a kid camping I'd occasionally sleep outside the tent but not since I was about fifteen or sixteen.
KEVIN: Not that I know of... just kidding... no I haven't.

LARRY: A couple of times I went to some bike weekends and pitched an old tent and when I was younger I used to go camping with my girlfriend. I was at a bike weekend last summer in Waterford, the Freewheelers Festival. A weekend of debauchery basically. Anyone can go down, you don't have to have a bike and it's just looking at bikes and hanging out and just basically having a blast for a weekend.
JOHN: When I was a teenager, I waited in line for tickets to see a hair band. You'll have to torture me to tell you what band it was!

BONO: Yes. More than a few times. When I was sixteen, myself and the Village which was Gavin, Guggi, all those, it was like a street gang, I talked them all into going over to this old seaside town in Wales to try and meet my summer love from the year before whose name was Mandy. The only problem was it was November so when we got over to this place Criccieth in North Wales, absolutely beautiful seaside town, great place to fall in love, we pitched the tent on the seaside on the strand. They had record gale force winds that year and the tent was taken away in a tornado and thrown about a mile down the beach and I remember curling up in a puddle and trying to get the puddle warm! It was then I discovered the great invention that a women's toilet is when they have those air heaters, to dry your hands vibe. We slept in a lady's toilet, taking turns keeping on the dryer to keep warm.
BRADY: On a few occasions, the most memorable occurred in 1998, when I traveled around Europe with two good friends. While in Scotland, we arrived in Edinburgh much later than planned and much to our chagrin all of the hostels were booked. We took a long walk and ended up climbing "Arthur's Seat" behind Holyrood Palace and slept under the stars overlooking Edinburgh and froze our asses off. Life was good.

“Morleigh [Steinberg] stole my dream life, but I’m stealin’ it back!”
Jessica Cunningham -Elevation’s belly dancer- talks to Interference

INTERFERENCE: What got you into U2?
JESSICA: The first time I clapped eyes on U2, I was staying at my brother's apartment taking ballet summer school in July 1987. I was just starting to get into music at my brother's urging by watching MuchMusic morning noon and night. There were two bands that battled daily for the most attention, Bon Jovi and U2. My first view of U2 was the “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” video. At first I couldn't understand why MuchMusic was making such a fuss about this band, but something about that guitarist's sad eyes and that singer's passion intrigued me! Then I saw the “A Sort of Homecoming” video and then the “Streets” Video, and I was totally blown away. I had to see that band live. I still didn't know their names or any of the songs but it didn't matter. Tickets were sold out, but I went to a scalper, emptied out every last cent I had and sat in the back of the back of the stadium but it didn't matter. The feeling was indescribable. That experience transformed my life, and began an odyssey of U2 mania that has not subsided to this day!

INTERFERENCE: When did you join Elevation?
JESSICA: Well, the night of the band's very first show, Brady came up and introduced himself to me. Right then and there, I blurted [out], "I don't suppose you'd like to have a belly dancer in this band would you?" and to my amazement, he said that sounded like a great idea! "Oh great..." I thought, now I'm going to have to learn to belly dance! But I was very excited.

Up to that time I had done 15 years of ballet, and in my teens I had done Flamenco, Jazz and Modern, but never anything like belly dancing. So I rushed off to a Lebanese teacher, bought the most ZooTV-ish costume I could find, and took a crash course in belly dancing… to make a very long answer short, my first show with Elevation was on April 4, 2002, in a seedy bar in which I made my appearance via the kitchen!

INTERFERENCE: What era do you think Elevation pulls off the best?
JESSICA: Well, there is one more era they are doing this weekend for the first time, so it's hard to say for sure, but based on what I've seen so far, it's ZooTV/Zooropa. The attention to detail is just amazing!

INTERFERENCE: What's your favorite thing about being part of a U2 Tribute group?
Well this really is the ultimate chance to live out two of my favorite passions; dancing for a live audience and performing with U2! That and the fact that I have my cravings for live U2 satisfied on a regular basis!

INTERFERENCE: Any other comments you'd like to add?
I think it's so great that Interference, my "cyber home" is featuring this band. I am tremendously proud of them and it's a much deserved tribute to how far they have come in the past year. They welcomed me into their band and put their faith in my abilities without even auditioning me (they first saw me dance at rehearsal)! I am an extremely shy person but when I put on that costume, I feel like Clark Kent changing in the phone booth!

For information about upcoming gigs or to listen to recordings of Elevation live in concert visit

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Old 03-09-2003, 01:21 PM   #2
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Great interview ! Thanks Maya ! I’ve seen them twice now. Once last May and again last week. They are excellent !
- 30+ songs per concert. From different eras too. Last week I believe they played at least 2 songs from each album.
- extensive use of lights ! and different band costumes for each set ! For examples – the hyper strobe lights flicking on and off during the bullfight sequence in Until The End Of The World and Brady wore a wig with long hair during the JT set to simulate Bono’s look from that era. I appreciate the band’s attention to details throughout each song such as re-creating the hand held spotlight scene from the R&H version of Bullet The Blue Sky. Another example was the use of a vocal distortion effect on Zoo Station and Discotheque. It was excellent to see Brady continuing to capture the spirit and actions of Bono by entering into the audience a few times.
- they’re playing Sarnia on April 12. It’s a hour drive from Detroit and from Flint so I highly recommend those who live in that region to check them out.

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Old 03-13-2003, 12:23 PM   #3
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Where in Sarnia are they playing?
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