When you think of Elvis Presley what is the first thing that comes to your mind about The King? Is it Graceland? Or that famous white suit, perhaps? One thing that certainly does not spring to mind is the Kurt Cobain fronted grunge band Nirvana—that is unless you have had the pleasure of discovering the Nirvana tribute band fronted by an Elvis impersonator aptly called ‘Elvana’ from Newcastle…
Geordie’s Elvana have built up quite a name for themselves since forming around four years ago and are playing live shows at some esteemed venues across the country, most notably Nottingham’s Rock City on their nationwide tour next month. But how did it all come about?
In an interview from 2016 with Louder Than Sound, the band revealed all about how this strange mix of worlds came to fruition, saying: “It just started out as a stupid conversation about a year and a half ago. We’ve been doing music as long as we can remember—we’ve been in and out of bands trying to make it and release CDs, but nothing particularly happened.”
Until that all changed with guitarist Danny ‘Cobain’ who was interested in making a covers band. ‘Elvis’ continues, “Danny said he wanted to do a bit of his favourite stuff: a bit of Nirvana and a bit of Elvis Presley, and that’s literally where it came from. Just saying: ‘Ha, wouldn’t it be funny if we had Elvis singing Nirvana.” Lightbulb moment.
But what to name such a group built on two fo the most influential rock and rollers of all time? “Of course, you’d call it Elvana, wouldn’t you? Hahaha.’ Then there was this moment of silence. ‘Elvana? Could we… Nah, that’s just bollocks, right?’ We kept coming back to the idea and did a rehearsal – it works a lot better than you’d think, especially with songs like ‘Aneurysm’, ‘School’ and ‘Lithium’.” It does seem hard to imagine, seeing the King fronting a grunge band, but surely weirder things have worked, right? The Nirvana side of things may be a fairly niche area to explore but Elvis is impersonated so often that more than likely there is someone doing an impersonation as we speak. He continued, “I’m not gonna profess that I’ve got the greatest Elvis impersonation in the world, but I’m working on it!”
The band are clearly enjoying their newfound success as they have even taken to that iconic rockstar thing of lying to journalists at every opportunity.
The tale of the band’s formation changed dramatically when asked at Nozstock Festival ahead of their performance this summer, however: “We all met after we all got into a knife fight over an unclaimed cheeseburger at a popular fast food outlet. Once the crowd dispersed, we made our peace and discovered our mutual love and passion of all things Nirvana and Elvis Aaron Presley.” Smirking, he says, “I never did find out who got the burger in the end. True story.” True or not (definitely not) the band are making some serious waves for a covers band and have found themselves a perfect pigeonhole to make their own.
Their live shows sound interesting, to say the least. According to the description they gave to VICE in 2016: “We do little breakdowns in the Nirvana tunes into Elvis ones. We do ‘Breed’ into ”Viva Las Vegas’, ‘Rape Me’ into ‘Love Me Tender’, which is a bit controversial but goes down really well. ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’ into ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ is our most popular. People love the Nirvana stuff, but when we do the Elvis stuff they go crazy.”
It’s the kind of show that if you stumbled on it during the headier days of a music festival you would initially be confused, then curious, then converted, and then crazy in love. It’s an intoxicating mix of a silly foundation and a glorious amount of top tunes.
Elvana don’t take themselves too seriously, and neither should you. But what you most certainly should do is check them out for yourselves – we guarantee that you’ve never seen or heard anything like it.
Except for maybe Elvis and Nirvana…
If you’re interested in seeing the Elvana experience for yourself then check out their dates below and get tickets here.
29 – Sage Two, Gateshead
06 – O2 Institute, Birmingham
07 – Rock City, Nottingham
13 – O2 Forum Kentish Town, London
11 – O2 Academy Liverpool, Liverpool
05 – Waterfront, Norwich
06 – The Welly Club, Hull
07 – Empire, Middlesbrough
12 – Limelight, Belfast
26 – Unit 51, Aberdeen
27 – Church, Dundee
28 – Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh