Andrew Elt Talks About 7 Miles To Pittsburgh, Sleeze Beez, And More!!

I sat down with singer Andrew Elt from 7 MILES TO PITTSBURGH. His is a name I’m sure many of you remember from the band SLEEZE BEEZ. We talked about the old days of that band as well as the current 7MTP album Revolution On Hold. In 2020 he still sounds amazing, and he was such a friendly, affable, and funny guy when we talked over Skype. Have a look:

Amps: I saw you with SLEEZE BEEZ on a Friday night back in 1990 at a club called Sundance in Long Island. It wasn’t that busy, but those of us who were there still pressed up against the stage in a frenzy. It was a great night!

Andrew: I remember playing in Long Island but I couldn’t remember the name of the club, so thanks! Sundance, huh?

Amps: Now, here we are with 7 MILES TO PITTSBURGH. All these years later your voice is still in top shape. what do you do to take care of it?

Andrew: (Laughs) shut up every now and then? I’m pretty amazed that I still have a voice. To be honest with you I haven’t really overdone it. I’ve been playing and singing a lot but it’s not day in and day out, rigorous touring, not enough sleep, too much drugs and alcohol, etc. I’ve managed to stay away from all that stuff that can ruin your voice. And I’ve always done vocal lessons and warm-ups. I’ve always tried to maintain a clean whistle, as it were. Back in the day with SLEEZE BEEZ I had no idea what I was doing technically with my voice. So I quickly got in touch with a coach who instructed me on what to do and not to do. I did that in ’91 I believe, and since then it’s been much smoother. Even with a cold I can still get through a show no problem.

Amps: Tell me the story behind the 7 MILES TO PITTSBURGH name.

Andrew: I’ve been working with an American blues guitarist named Walter Trout for 20 years as his tour manager. Early on we’d come over to the States and play some bars on a weeknight and bigger places on the weekends. One of these places was called Moondogs in Blawnox, PA, just outside of Pittsburgh. It was almost a love/hate relationship with that place.

The people who ran it were great. It held about 150 people, and every time we went there another light would be broken, another channel on the desk wouldn’t work. The roof leaked when it rained, too. A lot of stuff needed fixing.

And for some reason the place stuck in my mind and I wrote a song “Pittsburgh,” which is on the first 7MTP album. The lyric goes, “I Got 7 miles to Pittsburgh.” So we finish the album, we’ve got the cover, but still no band name. And then we figured we’d use a song title and wound up with 7 MILES TO PITTSBURGH.

Amps: How many shows a year are you doing with PHYSICAL GRAFFITI?

Andrew: Probably about 40 shows a year. I do roughly two shows a weekend. So my weekend is Monday through Thursday since I work most Friday and Saturday nights. Over here most of the bars and clubs only do weekend shows, unless you’re a national touring act.

Amps: That’s why Europe is so much better than the U.S. when it comes to rock and metal shows. And as far as festivals go, NO ONE does it like Europe, especially lineup-wise!

Andrew: Well, the U.S. has some positives when it comes to rock and roll. A combination of the two would really be the best of both worlds, I think. The festivals in Europe are CRAZY! Especially in Holland, man. We have major festivals from 7,000 to 30,000 people in the summer months. There are a lot of them. People here love to go to festivals.

Amps: The first track I gravitated to on Revolution On Hold was “Olympus.” And I think “I Feel Your Pain” is just awesome. “Think” kicks ass, and I liked the proggy feel of “Sound.” What are some of your standouts?

Andrew: You just mentioned “Sound” and that came from an idea I had. It is kind of proggy with that weird timing to it. I just started writing a song about the battle between analog and digital.

If you know your prog, I borrowed it off of RUSH, like “The Trees.” You’ve got this push and pull going on, where digital totally obliterated analog when the CD first came out. Now analog is fighting back, people are into vinyl again so I figured I’d write a song about it. I tried to get artsy with it (laughs).

Amps: “God Only Knows” has a real heartfelt delivery vocal-wise.

Andrew: Thank you. That was a hard nut for me to crack. I wrote those lyrics, and I’m not a religious guy at all. Anyone who is, that’s fine with me. But this song is about abuse in the Catholic church; I thought it was too heavy and deep. But the guys in the band wanted me to leave it as is. The song kept fighting me so I gave in and left the subject matter there.

Amps: Do we have any shot at a U.S. tour?

Andrew: Tell your President to back off on immigration and work permits (laughs)! Yeah there’s a chance we might come over. It’s funny because when American bands come over here they don’t go through NEARLY what we do in terms of being allowed into the country. They just come over and play.

For me to bring the band to the U.S. the amount of time and paperwork spent is crazy. You have to have a good lawyer. I’d love to come over there and play. It’s been too long.

Amps: Joris Lindnor…where’d you find this guy?? He’s great!!
Andrew: He actually found me through a mutual friend Mark Martin, a bass player I’ve known for years. He’s such a great player with amazing chops. He’s also really easy to work with. I told him, “Do what you want, but you need to make the solos recognizable, and that people will wanna whistle them after hearing them.” And he took that and ran with it, you know? His soloing turned into something beautiful, along the lines of Steve Lukather and Neal Schon, very melodic and fluid.
Amps: How often are you writing?
Andrew: I’m a lazy motherfucker when it comes to that. I really enjoy writing in the heat of the moment. I can remember the third SLEEZE BEEZ album that we did, Insanity Beach, I wrote most of those songs on the train headed to the studio. Because I just like the pressure. I had a lot of basic melodies and some lyrics written down but I’d go into the studio and kind of sit there as the guys looked at me going, “Come on, man. We don’t have a lot of time!” And I’d just say, “No, just wait. Something’s gonna come along any minute!”

Amps: What are you listening to lately?

Andrew: I like the old Motown and Stax stuff. I don’t get much into the new metal, and not to piss anyone off, but I can’t do the whole Dungeons and Dragons type of Power Metal. People love it, but it’s just not my thing. RUSH and KANSAS are personal favorites for me.

Amps: Away from music, what do you do for fun, or to relax?

Andrew: I like to cook. I’m not a chef, far from it, but I can cook a good meal. I find it like, when I’m not onstage or on a tour, ’cause I do tour management as well, that when I cook, it’s also last minute. I look in the fridge, see what’s there and then put it together. I walk the dog, but I don’t really do much else besides music.

Amps: What do you want to say to all the Andrew Elt fans out there in the world?

Andrew: Wherever you can get your hands on a copy of Revolution On Hold, or listen to it on Spotify or wherever, even steal it from a friend. Just listen to the music and I hope you all enjoy it.

I had a lot of fun talking with Andrew Elt. He’s got a great attitude on life and his art. Here’s a guy been in the music biz for over 30 years, and he still loves what he does. Heed my advice and pick up Revolution On Hold. You’ll be glad you did.

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