These United States' Jesse Elliott On Opening For Willie Nelson: "It Was Like, Bam, Eleven Dimensions"

Categories: My First Show

These United States hit Lola's on Friday with locals Jacob Furr & the Lonely Road and Nicholas Altobelli. The NYC group released a collaboration-heavy self-titled album earlier in the summer, lending a big-band feel to their roots rock. Frontman Jesse Elliott talked with us about playing Dallas, the first These United States song, and playing with Willie Nelson.

What can you remember about the first These United States song? What was it, and has it ever been released?
It really is hard to draw the line between the months or weeks or years of half-mutated melodies and then that one deformed beautiful creature that finally manages to grow some legs or whatever it uses to haul itself up on to land and declare some kind of tortured independence from the rest of the muck. I think it was "The Business," which came at me from the sea before I'd thought of doing music for a living. I was still working in this gigantic bureaucracy at the time. It made our first album, and I honestly still love playing it now, six years later, maybe cause it's a song that connects me to my own pre-music reality, a place where a lot of great friends and family still live and love.

What can you remember about the first time These United States played live?
We wore obnoxious ties and vests and butchered "A Hard Day's Night." Like most great Beatles songs, it's a bit trickier than it first appears.

What was it like to open for Willie Nelson?
Truthfully, it was easy, and not just because they were all some of the kindest folks we've ever worked and played with. There was something just so separate from your everyday reality about it that all you could do was surrender. It wasn't like finding yourself suddenly understanding that you're living in five dimensions, which might be a bit overwhelming or confusing. It was like, bam, eleven dimensions, and you're so completely powerless that all you do is look around and start cracking up and just keep on living the way you usually do in four, cause what else could you possibly know how to do? I live for those moments, total joy in surrender.

Have you been to Dallas before? If so, what do you remember about playing here?
We've always had a blast in Dallas, whether it was opening for Trampled By Turtles at The Loft or some of our very first tours through at Club Dada. In fact, we had an amazing show there for the release tour of our first album, where we played with 33 different bands in 33 different cities across the country, completely different cast of characters joining us on stage every night. That would have been Eaton Lake Tonics and The Silent Years at Dada, if memory serves.

What was the first record that disappointed you?
Deeply and truly disappointed? Probably one of ours. All of ours, I guess. There's things to love about them all, of course - you can't carry on without love. But you've got no itch to carry on without disappointment. Happily, we shoot at the moon with ineffectual arrows, that whole idea.

So far, what's the best show you've ever played?
See: eleventh dimension with Willie Nelson.

These United States play Lola's on Friday, August 24.

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