Longform

How Ark Life Made a Promising Career Out of Drinking With Friends

When Jesse Elliott came to Denver in early 2013, he was only passing through. As the frontman of Washington, D.C.-based rock band These United States, he'd passed through Denver plenty of times. In fact, that group toured so much that Elliott hadn't kept a home address for three years.

But a week turned into a month, then three months. Elliott and Leon Art Gallery co-owner Lindsay Giles had talked about moving to New York together, but Denver drew them in. "I didn't realize how fun it is and how really unique it is until I accidentally moved [here]," he says. As Elliott describes it, he and Giles started "basically just drinking and jamming together" with some friends, including Anna Morsett, who plays bass in These United States; Ben Desoto, an experienced Denver drummer who works as a talent buyer for the hi-dive; and Natalie Tate, a gifted guitarist making a career transition from teaching to music. The musicians all share a love for old rock and roll -- in particular, the period between 1958 and 1975 -- but their geographical backgrounds give them unique perspectives. Morsett, for example, is originally from Olympia, Washington, and is inspired by the punk and DIY history there. Desoto is instilled with the blue-collar rock of New Jersey, his home state. Elliott grew up in the Midwest listening to songwriters like John Prine. The five artists' influences and personalities quickly jelled.

See also: Natalie Tate is One of Denver's Most Promising Songwriters and Busiest Guitarists