Interview with Elephant Mountain’s Joe Altier

Joe Altier is the former front man of the Syracuse based hard rock band Brand New Sin. Joe has a new group called Elephant Mountain which features former Brand new Sin guitar player Brian “Slider” Azzoto. The group has just released their first CD and Joe took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with Media Mikes about the release.

Adam Lawton: What led to your decision of leaving Brand New Sin?
Joe Altier: There were a lot of reasons for me leaving Brand New Sin but without a long winded answer I was unhappy not just with my position in the band, but with myself in life. A lot had happened in 2007 leading up to my departure good, bad and, ugly. Basically I hit a turning point where I was re evaluating my life. I decided the best thing was to leave the band and let them move forward. I needed to fall in love again with myself and with music.

AL: What was it like writing songs again with Brian “Slider” Azzoto?
JA: Writing with Slider again was surreal. He was my compadre in Brand New Sin and when we kicked him out, I felt I lost a little bit of myself. He and I didn’t talk for a few years but after reconnecting and becoming friends again, I knew that we would eventually work together again. Next thing I know we start jamming again and we picked up right where we left off. We have a great bond not only as friends but as songwriters as well.

AL: Was there any reason you guys decided to release the Elephant Mountain album independently?
JA: We decided to do it on our own because honestly there are no record labels anymore. It was nice to write at our own pace and with no outside influences or deadlines. Also who is going to sign a bunch of guys pushing 40! (Laughs) We had the means to record and release it ourselves so we did! We won’t ever do any extensive touring with Elephant Mountain but we just want to make good music and have fun.

AL: Do you have a favorite track off the new album?
JA: My favorite track off the Elephant Mountain album is “Pray”. That song was written about my late father and the traumatic events of the day he passed. That song is the most soulful, personal song I have ever written.

AL: Can you tell us about your other two projects Just Joe and Aylyst?
JA: Aylyst which is my cover band that plays mostly classic rock and heavy metal tunes. That project really kept my chops up while I was waiting for Elephant Mountain. As of right now it is on hiatus as I have been busy with Elephant Mountain and Just Joe. Just Joe is what keeps me the busiest these days. I am playing 4-5 days a week with a song catalog of close to 2000 songs which range from Frank Sinatra to Metallica! Just Joe also is an outlet for my “lighter side”, “country side”, “soulful side” and so on. I have released an EP and a full length in the past year and am working on another EP and album as we speak!

AL: 2000 songs is a lot of songs.
JA: I am busting with songs! Some of them were written over the past 10 years and were never used in Brand New Sin or they were something I just kept to myself. I live, breathe and eat music!

AL: Other upcoming projects or plans?
JA: Well I play to release a Just Joe EP at Christmas time and a full length album by summer of 2012. Elephant Mountain is knee deep in writing a new album and we have about 5 songs written far. We probably will finish writing and recording that over the winter and release that in 2012 as well!

To find out more about Joe Altier and to hear some of his music click on the links below. Also be sure to read our review of Elephant Mountain’s debut release, here: