The Elms: Down Home Indiana Rock

It’s not often that a bunch of Hoosiers are able to take the national stage by storm while still using the canvas of small town United States as their muse. Sure, music acts like Flynnville Train and John McLaughlin continue to use a little of their Indiana background in their songwriting and have garnered a good deal of press and success through their careers, but rock groups from Indiana don’t normally continue to draw inspiration from the state after they’ve hit the big time.

Seymour, Indiana based band The Elms, however, has always had firm roots in the Crossroads of America. Seymour is about an hour south of Indianapolis, a short distance from Bloomington. Bloomington is a musical powerhouse that’s the home of Indiana University, the largest college in Indiana and a liberal arts school that happens to excel at cranking out excellent musicians, artists, and writers. Seymour, however, isn’t known for much of anything, yet The Elms continue to rack up achievements in the Indianapolis music scene and on the national stage.

Video of Indianapolis area band The Elms performing acoustically on television


The band has received attention from Indianapolis media sources, as well as attracting accolades from national music media. The Indianapolis Star has said that The Elms’ music is “spine tingling”, while NUVO Newsweekly says that the band balances “just the right amount of righteousness with anthemic energy.” In 2009, the latest Elms single, “Back to Indiana”, premiered during the national television broadcast of the Indianapolis 500.

Four members make up The Elms: Owen Thomas on lead vocals and guitar, Christopher D. Thomas on drums, Thomas Daugherty on lead guitar, and Nathan W. Bennett on bass guitar. All members share backup vocal duties with Thomas. Each member of The Elms contributes their own special style to the band, and the musical chemistry they have together is incredible. The Elms have been close friends since their time in elementary school, and the music they make is evidence of that bond.

A video of Indianapolis area band The Elms playing “Speaking in Tongues” live


The Elms play fairly straightforward rock and roll. On the band’s MySpace page, lead singer Owen Thomas says The Elms’ music is “sparse, dense, and a bit gruff…We like how it feels when a verse takes you to a big chorus.” Instead of relying on fancy production or ambient effects, The Elms let their instruments and lyrics carry the load. As previously mentioned, The Elms use their experiences and history in Indiana to their advantage, basing many of their songs around Midwestern struggles, growing up in a rural community, and small town needs, wants, and values.

Video of Indianapolis area band The Elms performing “The Shake” live in Ohio in 2008


Over the years, The Elms have released four records: Big Surprise, Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll, The Chess Hotel, and The Great American Midrange. In addition, the band has released a live DVD, Burn the Fields, and an eponymous EP. The Great American Midrange, the band’s fourth LP, was released in September of 2009 to great commercial success. The band is constantly in touch with their fans; during the recording process of The Great American Midrange, The Elms posted a live video feed on their website and on their MySpace page so fans could watch the recording of the album. It was an unprecedented move that has further solidified their fanbase.

The Elms are a nationally touring rock band that has played all over the United States. They have a great track record of energetic, emotional live performances that lift audiences’ spirits to new heights. The band has played over 800 shows to over a million fans in their almost ten year career. The Elms have even set records at Indianapolis bars and Indianapolis music venues; in 2007, The Elms sold over 500 tickets to a show at Spin Nightclub, the most the club has ever sold. Since they are so proud of their Indiana heritage, The Elms play at tons of venues in cities around Indiana, including Terre Haute (home of the Indiana State University), Fort Wayne, Carmel, and Linton.

Music video for “Bring Me Your Tea” by The Elms, an Indianapolis area band


In Indianapolis, the band has played at the Music Mill, Spin Nightclub, Butler University, The Vogue, the Midwest Music Summit (an Indianapolis festival that takes place every year and has also featured Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, Murder by Death, and Mudkids), Rathskeller Restaurant, and Rib America. In 2009, The Elms played at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the Indiana State Fair, as well as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

For more information on The Elms, including upcoming tour dates, song samples, pictures, and video, please visit the band’s homepage.

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