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Jon Elling, the man at the heart of Grand & Noble, grew up in Los Angeles and Jacksonville, Fla. His bi-coastal upbringing is partly responsible for his wide-open songwriting style. “I got the full L.A. experience, including muggings and drive-bys,” Elling recalls. “A bullet went through our house just over my head. Meanwhile, in Florida, my grandfather taught me how to call alligators. As a teenager, I would use it as a party trick when we drank under the bridge by the river.”
Elling’s schoolmates listened to country music and classic rock, sounds he hated at first, but slowly learned to appreciate. “I rode the school bus with headphones squashed to my ears, trying to block out the sound of Alan Jackson with a cassette of Minor Threat. Headphones can only block so much.” After he finished school, Elling moved to Chicago. He’d been writing songs and playing guitar since high school, and used Grand & Noble as a pseudonym when he started performing in 2009. “We used to practice near the corner of Grand & Noble in Chicago and I loved the name. It’s almost comically high minded, but the intersection is in a scrappy Chicago neighborhood. Cement factories next to high-end Italian restaurants, a burger joint next to an organic grocer.”
Elling’s musical philosophy is a simple one. “Back when we bought CDs, I picked albums based on how many ‘keeper songs’ were on them,” he says. “[A record] had to have at least three great songs to get my money. The ultimate thrill was an album you could put on and leave on. Those are the kind of records I want to make.”
Grand and Noble officially released in January of 2012, with 10 quality songs – all keepers.
[via Green Light Go]