When Elliot Wright was attending UC Santa Cruz in 2006, he would show up at parties, plug his iPod into a sound system and rock the microphone. “When I moved to Santa Cruz I found so many amazing musicians that I realized I had to step up my game,” says Wright. That solo act evolved into Eliquate, a five-member hip-hop outfit featuring Jamie Schnetzler (guitar), Cosmo Stevens (bass), Dan Wells (drums) and Tanner Christiansen (samples, keys, percussion).
With influences ranging from Rage Against the Machine to Weird Al Yankovic, the group’s brand of socially conscious hip-hop is a synthesis of personalities and taste. “There is not one particular goal we are trying to achieve,” says Wright. “We just want to be honest onstage.” To accomplish that, the band is committed to staying true to itself at home and on tour in its converted Dos Equis charter bus, known as Karl Malone—“It’s a big old bus we retrofitted with eight bunks and made it into a mobile roach motel,” admits Wright. The bus will get a workout beginning in March as Eliquate embarks on an American tour that spans the West Coast, makes a stop at South By Southwest in Texas, and treks up the East Coast, before heading back to town. Fans around the country can help make the trip possible via a Kickstarter campaign ending on March 4. “Kickstarter is a way for fans to make a conscious decision to support our art,” Wright explains. “We’ve saved enough to hit key dates like SXSW, but our $8,000 goal would allow us to really branch out. We have fans in places we have never played before and this gives them agency in giving us a chance to reach them.” Wright is hopeful that the campaign will be a success. “I think Santa Cruz is one of the best communities for an amateur level band to grow up in,” he says. “Everyone wants you to succeed.”
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 1. Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $14. Visit http://kck.st/WfdO7m.