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Mild Stallions

16 October 2013 | 5:15 am | Mitch Knox

"Really, you’ve chosen to do this thing – this lifestyle, full-time hobby, whatever you want to call it – and you’re spending so much time with these people."

After his band's stint on-tour with fellow Brisbane-dwellers Hungry Kids Of Hungary, Patrick Elliott is doing the best he can to slide back into normalcy. And it's no wonder, really – with their esteemed sophomore full-length Are You Life mere weeks old, and a tour in support of it looming on the horizon, any degree of the mundane or routine is probably a beneficial thing.

“This afternoon I've tried to be a good human,” he announces, “and I've actually done my twenty minutes of exercise, which is easier than it sounds when you've been living the tour lifestyle for the past month or so, so I've sweated some of it out.”

Keen observers of the band's movements on social media would already be familiar with the vocalist-guitarist's attempts at physicality, alongside his dubious dietary choices (no judgment) and other assorted everyday musings. But it's only through discussing his physical shortcomings that Elliott inadvertently alludes to a more useful skill he's picked up in his time.

“I was never a gifted athlete, I suppose you'd say,” he admits. “It's not that I haven't got an appreciation for it, but it never came naturally… I was always quite good at debating, [though], but that's mostly because I've had to learn to talk my way out of situations due to my lack of athleticism.”

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Okay, so, it's not exactly usual to connect debate skills with life in a rock band, but it's served Elliott in good stead.

“Look, you have to be negotiating a lot of the time with people when you're in a band, both internally and externally,” he explains. “Internally, for me, you're always fighting about track listing or what a particular song should sound like, or how you're gonna afford to do this or that – so I have a particular style, I suppose, in that I'm very conflict-averse. I don't like conflict, but I'm sort of silent but thinking the whole time in my head what I'm going to rebut with straight away. Unfortunately, I'm up against some stiff competition in the form of [fellow members] Mel Tickle and Miro Mackie; they're both intellectuals in their own right and present very convincing arguments, to say the least.”

He's not exaggerating – Little Scout (who are rounded out by currently absent keyboardist Kirsty Tickle and touring members Charles Sale on guitar and Michael Pringle on bass) are, by all measures, a band with cerebral and musical clout, with Tickle and Elliott both having been finalists for this year's Grant McLennan Memorial Fellowship. But, despite the close quarters and strong, intelligent opinions, Elliott says, there's no room for unchecked aggression.

“You can't afford to do something like a band and have rifts,” he says. “Really, you've chosen to do this thing – this lifestyle, full-time hobby, whatever you want to call it – and you're spending so much time with these people. Luckily, we were all friends to start with, but you do have to portray or demonstrate a certain level of diplomacy, because otherwise things go south pretty quickly.”

It's a sensible view to take, and one that came in handy during the production of Are You Life. “It's never easy, but it was a really fun process,” Elliott says of creating the album. “We recorded it ourselves and stuff, so we had the freedom to do what we wanted and the time, for the most part, to do what we wanted, so it was just fun to explore all that.

“Recording your first album's quite daunting, in terms of putting something together on that scale,” he continues, “so we felt like we knew how to do things a bit better the second time around, but also, I guess, over the period of time, our live show was really developing as well, and we had some ideas about what we wanted to be presenting on-stage. I think that influenced the final product a little bit. I think it was… well, I'm never very good with adjectives, but… we were going for a more aggressive sound, I suppose; something that was a bit more in-your-face, and a lot more focus on the pop element of things, as well.”

Of course, not everyone will love the 'new' Little Scout. But, true to his demonstrably philosophical form, Elliott thinks that's a good thing, too.

“It's difficult to keep everyone happy in life. You learn that pretty quickly in life generally, but especially being in a band. At the end of the day, someone's not going to like what you're doing. And, in some ways, thank God for that, because it would be very boring otherwise.”