The Hereafter creates good vibrations
Posted Sept. 29, 2006

Maria Villalpando

With its new self-titled CD out, the band the Hereafter has been touring locally. John Elliot, guitarist, and Andy Featherston, drummer, played on Sept. 21 at the Motley, a student run café at Scripps College in Claremont.


Los Angeles-based band the Hereafter returned to the roots of traditional acoustic pop, invading the studious atmosphere of the Motley Café at Scripps College in Claremont on Sept. 21.

A sound anchored by guitar and percussion inevitably served as background music, while after-class stragglers and late-night minglers sipped a variety of caffeinated beverages from large ceramic mugs.

Tuning in and out, they caught up with electronic correspondence or class assignments, studied French, philosophy and biology and participated in rousing games of Guess Who, Scrabble and Clue.

The Hereafter, a two-man act with a full band sound, composed of singer/songwriter John Elliot and percussionist Andy Featherston, began making music together in 2003.

Friends since their sixth grade year at Oakwood Elementary in their hometown of Plymouth, Minn., the pair explored various aspects of the musical world before uniting in harmony.

They learned guitar essentials from the same instructor, sang side by side in concert choir, shared the stage during several high school theatrical performances and developed a collective obsession for music.

“I love the communication element of music; that people use it to communicate with each other in a way that they don’t usually,” Elliot said.

“Music, for me, is more of a pounding device,” Featherston added.

Elliot’s musical fascination was spurred by a Bon Jovi epiphany.

After watching the band’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” music video for the first time, he begged his father for an electric guitar and immersed himself in the rock ‘n’ roll world.

Though his musical tastes have since grown, he has never ceased to find inspiration in the classics.

He said he listened to the great American composers rather than contemporary fads and that he has always advocated the concept of themed recordings over downloadable radio singles.

“I still believe in albums,” Elliot said.  “I like the idea of creating a complete novel of music and I’d rather listen to ‘Blonde on Blonde’ than any of the current trends.”

The duo parted ways after high school; with Elliot leaving his home state for Northwestern University in Illinois and Featherston remaining in Minnesota where he attended Bethel University, eventually curbing his preacher dreams.

Elliot said he explored various artistic outlets at Northwestern, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in theater and creative writing, before realizing his aptitude for song.

Featherston, hailing from a long line of drumming men, followed in his father’s footsteps, teaching himself the art of percussion and becoming an entirely different kind of soul man.

“What I consider to be music has changed so much over the last several years and as my definition of it broadened, I became more interested,” Featherston said.

“Drumming was something I always wanted to do but I had no idea I would love it this much,” he added.

Featherston moved to the L.A. area in 2003 and “the Hereafter” was born, debuting its independent release “Parade” in 2004 and a self-titled follow-up in 2005.

Elliot’s husky vocals filled the small and cozy corridors of the café, as he sang an uplifting mix of lyrically simplistic songs.

The band’s musical influences could easily be pinpointed to the likes of Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Elliot Smith and Semisonic, though Featherston’s exceptional percussion and instrumentation abilities – created through use of phone and various drumsticks – distinguished its sound from that of musical counterparts.

Elliot often paused mid-song to interact with members of the crowd, integrating his surroundings into the overall performance.

Commenting on subjects of study and launching into a conversation regarding the futility of philosophy with one onlooker, he ultimately declared “the Big Mac to be the only certainty.”

A banner advocating feministic values, urging women to think outside the makeup bag, as it preached peace, civil disobedience and the notion that love is law, also found its way into several of Elliot’s lively tunes.

Students found musical fulfillment in the Hereafter.

They danced to Elliot’s chorus of “bahdahdadas” during “The Heads of the State” and reveled in the band’s spontaneous nature.

“The wonderful thing about them is the effort they make to connect to the audience,” said Ivy McDaniel, a junior molecular biology major at Scripps. “It was really creative of them to incorporate the mural into their music.”

“They have a very mellow coffeehouse vibe,” said Rachael Williams, a freshman undeclared major at Scripps. “They’re more than the typical screaming college band.”

Another album and DVD project are currently in the works, but for the time being, Elliot and Featherston said sharing their musical creations with anyone willing to listen would continue to be a top priority.

“We just want to make the best music that we can,” Featherston said. “Everything else comes after that.”

For more information and upcoming show dates visit www.thehereafterishere.com.

Jessica Bell can be reached at ledjessilin@yahoo.com.

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