For the L.A.-based duo, rebuying their gear after a theft was only the first step.
Days before El Ten Eleven hit the road for their spring tour, the Los Angeles duo's entire instrument collection was stolen from a car. A notice was soon posted on the band's website, with large, capitalized letters declaring an urgent message to fans. Listed underneath were all of the gear that had been lifted, amid pleas for any help finding it.
While most bands could probably manage to buy new guitars, basses, drums and other standard instruments, El Ten Eleven faced a more difficult challenge. The duo's instruments are anything but "standard." Among the missing was Kristian Dunn's double-neck guitar and bass, in addition to numerous effects pedals that are hard to find.
Despite such misfortune, El Ten Eleven is still opening for Bonobo at Tipitina's Saturday, and drummer Tim Fogarty says fans are to thank for that. The band was able to buy enough new equipment after they moved up the release of a remix edition of their 2012 record Transitions. Fans were able to pick their own price but were generous enough for the band to go on tour as planned, Fogarty said. While they weren't able to replace some of their rarer instruments, enough was available at music stores so the band could continue putting on challenging, high-energy live shows.
Major adjustments were necessary for things to go as planned, including three days of programming for Fogarty since he lost what he had built up over years of performances. Some of the effects pedals stolen from the duo pre-dated compatibility with computers, so Fogarty lost program settings that weren't backed up on a hard drive.
These not-so-typical instruments and methods are integral to El Ten Eleven's sprawling and complex work. WIth two band members, their instrumentals can only be pulled off using loops. "What people don't realize or know about our music is that we're just a duo," said Tim Fogarty, who handles El Ten Eleven's percussion and electronics live and in the studio.
But Fogarty and Dunn are used to working together during intense situations, and the determination they showed to prepare for this tour is reflected in their live shows. Fogarty doesn't use laptops live, as his beats and synth lines go into the same looping feed as Dunn, who simultaneously is layering guitar and bass lines. "I have to really, really, really listen." Fogarty explains. "Once you start layering stuff, it gets more and more buried."
Fogarty is quick to note that El Ten Eleven is not an "experimental band," as many are wont to label them because of their looping techniques. Seeing a friend's live performance videos of multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion during El Ten Eleven's early days, Fogarty says he was amazed at the way Brion would loop everything he was playing, including piano and percussion. From that point, El Ten Eleven started to use looping as a practical way to make their dense music with only two members. The group's work isn't what first comes to mind when the word "looping" is mentioned. It's not drone or ambient. El Ten Eleven makes rock music with pop-leaning guitar melodies and tinges of electronic dance, especially on their latest record.
Fogarty says they are thankful to fans who made it possible for El Ten Eleven to keep moving forward. Police investigations are still ongoing for the stolen gear, though some instruments were able to be tracked down on eBay after trading hands at pawn shops. Despite this ever-present challenge, Fogarty hopes new music will be out by the end of the year, after the duo finds some free time when touring ends this summer. "We've had train wrecks before," Fogarty says of the group's live shows when their loops get a bit off track, though he just as well could've been describing the bands adversity over the past two months. But like their numerous shows and records, El Ten Eleven found a way to keep the loop going.