Elephants at rest

Hills Like Elephants' frontman and drummer take a call from New York

Hills’ Michael Alan Hams (second from left) and Sean Davenport (far right) will get shown either “the ropes or the door” in New York City.
  • Hills’ Michael Alan Hams (second from left) and Sean Davenport (far right) will get shown either “the ropes or the door” in New York City.

“Sean Davenport and I decided to move to New York.” Michael Alan Hams offers this as the main reason behind Hills Like Elephants’ recent disbanding. Two days after the August 25 release of Tacet, the self-described dance-friendly indie/soul/electronica five-piece played their final show at the Whistle Stop in South Park.

“We had that one last album in progress, and we decided to do one last show. We wanted to tie up all the loose ends,” Hams explains, “and do it right.”

"Misquote"

...off of Hills Like Elephants' <em>Tell-Tales</em>

...off of Hills Like Elephants' Tell-Tales

Along with Davenport on vox and keys and Hams on drums, Hills Like Elephants is/was guitarist Andrew Armerding, Greg Thielmann on guitars and keys, and bassist Bobby Roquero. “They were a band before I joined them two and a half years ago,” says Hams, “so I’d say they’ve had about a five-year run.” Hills Like Elephants was started by Davenport in 2011.

“I was originally hired to play drums for them during a recording session.” After, they asked Hams to join the band. “That was three records ago.” Hams replaced founding drummer Carlos Ortiz. “They won a San Diego Music Award the first year.” Hills Like Elephants (the band name is a nod to a similarly titled Ernest Hemmingway story) was SDMA’s Best New Artist in 2012. “Yes, we’ve been nominated since, but we haven’t won since I’ve been a member.”

Tacet is available for download only. “‘Tacet’ is a musical term that means taking a rest, sort of,” Hams says. Does the album’s title hint at future collaborations or possible Elephants reunions? “As a band, we talked about having a long-distance relationship, but there’s no pressure. It’s tough to break up the band. We all love playing together, and that chemistry is hard to let go.”

Never a group to wear out their welcome, Hams says that touring was rarely possible, given the members’ day-jobs and family commitments. “And we tried to keep the local shows down to once a month,” he says, “so as not to burn out the audience.”

Born in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the 32-year-old multi-instrumentalist and lyricist (he wrote words for three of the new songs) moved to San Diego eight years ago. “Why New York? I love it here, but ever since I came here I knew I’d eventually move again. I like the adventure. I like seeing what’s out there. And in the end, it came down to having Sean say, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s go to New York and make some noise. Some good noise.’ I’ll be surrounded by great musicians in New York,” he says. “They’ll either show me the ropes or the door.”

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