Fountains of youth
Late For Rent
Reno riffslingers Late For Rent are very damn heavy. The power trio—made up of vocalist/guitarist Elleanor Burke, drummer Michael Maxwell and bassist Travis Rubio—began with them recording a self-titled EP in November 2017. The tracks, which were recorded live, have the fresh, young energy of a new band.
“We prefer to record together live,” said Maxwell. “If not, it loses a ton of energy. Things don’t sync up as well.”
Late For Rent is foremost a live band. The music is a sonic assault of virtuosic intensity best enjoyed through a good pair of earplugs, with atmospheric shifts from noisy and chaotic, to groovy and spacey, or heavy and sludgy. Interwoven throughout are pretty and melodic moments.
Burke attributes the ambitious sound to the sheer number of different styles that influence her, from shoegaze to stoner rock to black metal. Additionally, the rest of the band agrees the leaps are a good buffer for boredom.
“If we do something more than four times, we have to change it,” said Maxwell.
Burke also cites an old jazz trick as the mother of invention for many of the band’s more eclectic twists and turns: she makes mistakes. “I just make the mistake more than once, so it seems like I did it on purpose,” she said.
It’s in the imperfection that Late For Rent finds thematic unity. Burke’s lyrics focus on things that scare her, that isolate her, and ultimately strengthen her resolve. They’re inexorably tied to a life story with many frightening moments.
“As an artist and trans woman living in northern Idaho, I just found it wasn’t the best environment,” she said. “Everyone was telling me that Reno was gross. It was sketchy. They were warning me not to move here. But ever since I did, I’m so much better off.”
Maxwell, who met Burke online by discovering Burke’s interpretations of Legend of Zelda music, agrees that life has improved since the relocation.
“I just remember lying in the back of your van listening to [King Gizzard & the Infinity Lizard’s] Nonagon Infinity and felt so young. I thought, ’Life is beautiful now,’” said Maxwell.
In many ways, the bandmates face their challenges head on, and their adventurous sound provides its own challenges. Burke, in pursuit of the ideal guitar sound, admits she goes for broke, spending money on the right gear, when the funds can be hard to come by. It’s this hardscrabble mentality that partially inspired the band name.
“It’s a product of being young and poor,” said Burke. “Gear comes first.”
Maxwell’s total war on his drum set has caused many casualties. Band-Aid wrappers litter the floor of the band’s practice space. The Band-Aids are used to patch up a crack in the bass drum, as well as cracks in Maxwell’s skin, when he strikes a rim of the drums and draws blood, as he did during the interview.
“You break the drums, and the drums break you,” said Burke.
It’s clear that the challenges galvanize the band’s sound. One song may take the listener through a chaotic punk beat, to the foggy terrain of doom metal, to soaring through the clouds on a cloud of reverb and delay. With such unpredictable and ambitious concepts, it’s no surprise the band members find fulfillment in the pursuit of the challenge.
“Being 20, this is just something we all need in our lives—to be crazy, young and loud,” said Burke.