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Elvis Monroe Shares Quarantine Song “Be The Change”

In 2008, two small towns on opposite sides of the globe came together when guitarist Ben Carey from Bairnsdale, Victoria, Australia met singer/songwriter Bryan Hopkins from Salem, Oregon. When their paths initially crossed, Casey was a member of multi-platinum recording artist Lifehouse and Hopkins was the frontman for Hollywood-based and award winning rock band Paperback Hero.

Elvis Monroe was forged on friendships and is an honest, heart-felt and unique listening experience. Their songs speak their stories with rare truth and integrity, and their accessibility as humans is endearing to fans nationwide.

You met Ben at Mel’s Drive-In on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood in 2008. How did your impression of the Aussie guitarist change when you found out he was part of one of your favorite bands, Lifehouse?

I knew I had met a good guy because he has offered to help me musically with my live shows and recordings and he didn’t even know me. We had just met. And in that same sit down, I found out he was in My FAVORITE band Lifehouse…my jaw hit the floor. I laughed and said, “You’re one of the blurred out guys in the background behind Jason Wade.” LOL

Both of you were star athletes in high school. Together you’ve been involved in anti-drug and alcohol programs for students in Alaskan high schools. Was it your past involvement in sports that influenced your decision to work with the high schoolers?

Sports gave us both the “work hard foundation.” We both grew up in small towns but had big dreams and staying away from drugs and alcohol was something that gave us a leg-up on other student athletes and it happened to stick with the both. We’re both grown men who haven’t touched either drugs or alcohol EVER! Which we both found very rare and we thought we might want to share our stories in these small towns hoping to resonate with a handful of students among 10’s of thousands.

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Your radio hit “Backyard Family Barbeque” was written in Anchorage. Was it written about your experiences with the students?

We did write “Backyard Family Barbeque” in Anchorage, Alaska the night before opening for Jake Owen and we tried it out in front of thousands. That next day because we’re crazy like that.

BBQ is about growing up in my backyard as a kid. My uncle would play his pawnshop guitar and my dad would play the spoons and sing. They would sing every old-school country song while I stood back tossing a ball in the air. Any random day could turn into a backyard family BBQ when they started playing together. My uncle isn’t with us anymore and we can’t go back in time but we can write it and hope it connects with others.

The first show you played with Ben was actually with your band Paperback Hero. However, it led to the start of Elvis Monroe. It was actually bass player Matt Nelson who came up with the band’s name Elvis Monroe. What was the first song written for the band?

The very first song written and recorded by Elvis Monroe was a song called “Green Light.” Matt and Ben took it upon themselves to help me with Paperback Hero which ended up being the signature sound for Paperback Hero which carried over into the creation of Elvis Monroe. It was the perfect evolution. They are world-class players helping me take my talents to the next level and I know I’m blessed for it. It’s been an amazing journey with them so far.

The band played at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in 2017 in Las Vegas. Afterwards you were watching Jason Aldean’s show when the mass shooting began. That’s when you saw Nicole Ruffino, whom you met the day before, and together joined others to hide in a catering truck backstage. The two of you found healing by writing poetry. What are some of your favorite poems and poets?

Elvis Monroe didn’t play that year but we did play in 2015, the very first Route 91. In 2017 we were just there in support of our buddy Brett Young and we came back the next day to watch Jason Aldean.

After surviving that horrible night together Nicole and I found comfort in helping each other heal. She would write poetry and share it with me and I would write songs with a handful of poems as well. She had written some special pieces and Ben and I had written six songs almost straight away which is how I deal with my emotions. We found healing in this process together which lead to Nicole and I falling love with each other.

The last song written in this series was a song called “Fallen For You Bad” that I had given her hoping she felt the same way. Every poem she wrote I loved. It gave me a little more insight to who she was and how she was feeling. Neither of us has a favorite poet but we do have favorite country artists and Jason Aldean was one which is why we met.

Your song, “The Fight”, a song originally started with the American Heart Association in mind, but finished after the tragedy in Las Vegas. The lyrics are a reminder to help others who are struggling. It can also apply to everything going on today with the Coronavirus pandemic. What are some ways even the homebound can help others right now?

“…Shoulder to Shoulder let’s show our might…” a line from the chorus of “The Fight” says it all. We can get through this by doing our parts together. Stay home if that’s your part so those on the front lines can do their jobs much easier. Our prayers go out to those fighting for their lives at this time.

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Each band member filmed their part of the music video for “Be the Change” from their homes to honor those on the front line in the current pandemic battle. Was there a specific event that inspired the song’s write?

Be the Change” was just piece of music Ben sent me after a few days of self-quarantine and I was inspired to write lyrics and melody to after having a conversation with Nicole. I was sharing all the things I had lived through in my lifetime and sharing that we would get through this like I did those nights and the night the three of us survived on October 1 in Las Vegas.

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But the day she came home from working at the hospital scared for her life, mine and those in that building and around the world was the day I put pen to paper. I said to her “we would get through this and it will be a story you tell one day” and I know that when we speak of these days those on the frontlines (medical workers, grocery stores workers, truck drivers and those having to work) will be the people we remember because they will “Be the Change” and why we get through this together. Ben and I knew we wanted to try and help others and had to get the song out somehow. The talent we gathered up from across the country on this song made it special.

Like “The Fight”, “Be the Change” addresses the personal battles people face while dealing with the most difficult of situations. Writing these lyrics must be both cathartic and depleting. As we all struggle with the new reality in our world, how can we also use writing as an outlet for our unsettled feelings?

Putting pen to paper helps me deal with the feelings that fight their way to the top. It helps me sort out what is just fear or what I can tackle. Elvis Monroe is about telling stories that we live or witness, writing songs that may or may not connect with others but we still had to let out.

I believe putting your thoughts down could really help as we’re going through these very trying times. We all have a different perspective on life and this new moment we’re all going through together but so very different. Keeping a journal might help with sorting feelings and sharing their story when we get through these trying days.

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For fans, can you share brief bios for each band member?

Be the Change” written by Bryan Hopkins and Ben Carey

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Bryan Hopkins (lead singer) of Paperback Hero

Ben Carey (lead guitar) from Savage Garden out of Australia and formerly of Lifehouse

Matthew Nelson (bass guitar) of Nelson, son of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Ricky Nelson, grandson of Ozzie & Harriet Nelson (The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet)

Chris Reeve touring drummer for Tom Morello and currently Avril Lavigne

Ashley Reeve touring bass player for Cher

David Pichette (fiddle) from Emerson Drive

How can we help support the band through these uncertain times?

Continue to share our music and support one another. We would love to have everyone who needs to hear “Be the Change” hear it and hope a smile slides across their face for even a moment. Be safe, be kind and BE THE CHANGE.

♥️ This is our song to you… We will get through this together with a little Faith and doing our part to stay safe together. This is our special Thank You to the men and woman on the front lines… Doctors, Nurses, Truck Drivers, Grocery Stores, convenient stores and more… #quarantine #song #inthistogether

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