Tickle me E.L.nO. – An Interview With The Local Show Host Dave Campbell & His Disco Cover Band Electric Light (no) Orchestra

If you haven’t heard of E.L.nO. it’s because you don’t live in Minneapolis. If you do live in Minneapolis and you haven’t heard of E.L.nO. it’s because they’re a 1970’s disco cover band that only plays gigs about once a month. If you ever get a chance to go to one, do it. Not even because of the music (which is well re-made) or the band’s stage presence (which is hilarious) but because everybody in the show will be beyond black out drunk. When I say blackout, I mean most these people should be dead by the amount of alcohol they consume. To give you a brief glance into the insanity I witnessed, my friend was being solicited for a three way with another couple, blatantly, in front of everyone, right in front and center stage. And those were the most normal people in the crowd.

Between people stealing the musician’s beverages, audience participation with cowbells, and the spot-on costumes, I realized the lead singer of the band was the host of 89.3 FM The Current’s The Local Show. His name is Dave Campbell, and for whatever reason, he agreed to have an interview with me.

When did E.L.nO. start?

2005. We all wanted to enter a battle of the cover bands contest. I cant remember what happened, but I’m pretty sure we lost.

Where did the idea to start playing come from?

Some of the guys I play with now were (or are) in other bands. They would come up with ridiculous ideas while they were on the road touring, and this was one of them.

What is E.L.nO?

E.L.O. is a 70’s rock group that at first incorporated the strings into their music. The actual name of the band was Electric Light Orchestra. We don’t have an orchestra, which is where the “no” comes in.

What’s the biggest show you’ve ever had?

I’m not sure. Probably a couple hundred people.

Are there any future plans for E.L.nO.?

We don’t promote it, which is perfect, and I am completely content with it. I just figure, okay, that’s enough. I don’t want to expand because once a month is fine. There is no illusion of making it…I can’t be in a regular band. Writing original content isn’t important to me. Silly cover bands are my forte.

Do you always play in bars?

No we’ve played…I’d say about 10 weddings. People will go all out. We learned Real American for one, and the groom got on stage and started waving an American flag on stage.

Where and when is your next show?

We’ll be at First Ave. on St. Patty’s Day we’ll have some special guests, I don’t want to give away too much. And after that we’ll play at Lee’s on the 30th with the band All Tomorrow’s Petty. They cover Tom Petty songs.

It was nice interviewing a musician who honest to God was a true “hobby musician” as he called himself. David was calm and collective, I might even say morbidly serious for a guy who dressed up in a pink suit and an afro to entertain a bunch of drunk, rowdy patrons at a bar. It was nice to meet someone who wasn’t trying to bring his music to the next level or make 100’s of new fans. He knows what his band is. Fun. Good old-fashioned, American, get sloshed and try to wrangle yourself a three-way fun.

So if you ever make it up north and want to have a weird, but fun dive bar experience see where E.L.nO. is playing.