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January 19, 2009
Sacramento Single: Them Hills "Grow Down"

His idea was to keep it simple: Guitar, bass and drums and an exploration of the spaces in between each sound.

Dan Elkan was on break from a guest stint playing for Hella on tour and the former Pocket for Corduroy musician wanted to put together another band of his own. So he contacted his old PFC bandmate Thad Stoenner who was living in Elkan's Nevada City hometown.

Next thing Elkan knew he'd moved back to the foothills and, with the addition of drummer David Torch, had put together Them Hills.

The band was born in January 2006 but wouldn't play its first show until the end of that year.

"I didn't want to just start a group and play before we were ready," Elkan says.

During that time, the band explored its dynamic.

"Most bands have two guitars, bass and drums - or maybe even more (instruments) than that, I wanted something that was simple," he says. "I wanted to (work on) creating a sound where each instrument would matter more than if you had a bunch playing - especially in a live setting."

The band tried to capture that ethos on its debut CD, "Greener Grassing."

"I wanted to have a simple sound that was (also) dynamic," he said. "I wanted there to be more spaces where instruments were not playing - it's like when you think about a song like U2's 'With or Without You.' That's a powerful sound but it's just bass."

Them Hills

Song: "Grow Down"

Style: Jangly indie rock

Behind the song: The track stemmed from a single drum beat, Elkan says.

"David came up with this really quirky punk sounding (riff) and the concept came out of just us thinking about punk rock," he says. "It's about how you deal with the idea of getting older while still keeping your mind young and fresh."

It's OK, he says, to not conform to so-called "adult" standards.

"That's an old punk idea: You can grow up but still be young at heart."

See them: Jan. 25 at Luigi's Fun Garden, 1050 20th St, Sacramento. Tera Melos and Sbach are also on the bill. $5.

On the Web:

Listen to "Grown Down" here:

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