Former student finds passion for music, entertainment

OLDSPORT lead vocalist and UNA alumnus Jake Elliff performs in the Mane Room downtown last spring. Elliff found his passion for music in high school before becoming OLDSPORT’s frontman.

UNA alumnus Jake Elliff discovered his passion for music long before OLDSPORT and UNA were in the picture.

Elliff said he grew up listening to music his parents showed interested in, and he drew influence from the “rootsy, singer-songwriter kind of thing.” From bluegrass to James Taylor, he heard it all.

“I had a friend named Seth who gave me a Mayday Parade CD one time, and he said, ‘You would really like this music,'” Elliff said.

He said he also listened and learned from bands like All Time Low and Blink 182 during middle school.

“And then I found Never Shout Never on MySpace, and I was like, ‘I want to do that one day,'” he said.

Elliff said his uncle gave him an acoustic guitar and encouraged him to pursue his new-found passion, when previously, sports were his life. They occupied the majority of his time.

“Music and sports kind of flipped as my passions,” Elliff said. “What was once my passion became a hobby, and now, this hobby had become a passion.”

The desire to perform appeared in his home church. His parents pointed out the idea to participate during worship services after they saw his enthusiasm for music, Elliff said.

Elliff said he and guitarist Will Martin met in high school, when they paired up for a history project. While their classmates chose to act out skits, the OLDSPORT frontmen decided to write a cover of Bowling for Soup’s song, “1985.”

“We couldn’t really find anybody that liked the kind of music we liked, so we kind of clung to each other. And, we decided to make a band,” said lead guitarist Will Martin.

The two realized they could write and perform together, and that was the starting point, Elliff said.

The two were best friends since the, even outside of the musical setting, Martin said.

“I think that’s the reason why I’m such close friends with Jake, too. It’s that I found somebody who could be my voice with the music I wrote,” Martin said.

Martin said Elliff picked up where he lacked in vocals.

“Will writes the majority of the lyrics, and then I kind of fill in the blanks,” he said.

Elliff said the group does eccentric things to capture the audienceís attention.

The group performed their first live show at a country church, he said.

“We played the Space Jam theme song over the loud speakers in the church, and we all wore basketball jerseys,” Elliff said.

He said the back of his jersey read ìrepent or perish.î

“I just remember hearing this old lady in the back of the church go, ‘Oh Lord,'”Elliff said.

“They’re just so energetic, (and) some of the best performers I’ve ever seen,” said junior Rosie McLendon.

They are always entertaining to watch, McLendon said.

Sometimes, the tactics used to catch peoples’ attention help conquer fears, and everything they do has a special meaning. Swinging from the rafters during the song ‘What Haunts Me’ is his own way of beating his fear of heights, he said.

“We’re stoked to do some stuff around Florence in the fall,” Elliff said.

Elliff said he graduated with a degree in public communication, which he uses through his work at The Well church and at Highland Baptist Church, where he works.

Elliff said he misses being around campus since he graduated, but he spends his free time with the people of the Shoals community and with his wife.

OLDSPORT will headline a show Oct. 14 at 116 Mobile St. The presale tickets include early entrance to the show, plus a grilled cheese sandwich the band members will make themselves, Elliff said.

OLDSPORT, Jordy Searcy and The Bear and the Bride will go on tour together at the end of October. through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, Elliff said.

They will end the tour in Florence on Oct. 31.