Fourteen Years of Punk With Elway — Not the Ex-Quarterback Car Dealer Who Sued the Band

Elway band members (left to right): William Orender (Drums), Brian Van Proyen (Guitar),
Tim Browne (Guitar and Vocals), Joe Henderer (Bass).
Elway band members (left to right): William Orender (Drums), Brian Van Proyen (Guitar), Tim Browne (Guitar and Vocals), Joe Henderer (Bass). Elway
Punk music might not scream sentimentality, but friendship is what keeps the fourteen-year-old band Elway creating.

“You wind up having a pretty tight-knit community surrounding the music,” says lead singer Tim Browne. “Nobody is really making any money. They’re just in it for their passion for this genre.”

In 2010, the band signed to Red Scare Industries and has “played shows or toured with just about everybody who’s been on that label," Browne continues. One Red Scare artist and another longtime touring friend even unintentionally helped coin the title for the band’s new two-track release, English Wishbone, which dropped earlier this month.

The songs come a week before Elway returns to the stage with three shows in the Denver area during the weekend of October 1 — opening for none other than a couple of Red Scare comrades, The Menzingers and Broadway Calls.

Browne says he fell into punk music during his high school years in a small, conservative Colorado town “for want of not becoming a jock, a police officer or a meth addict.” The music has a political edge he agreed with, but it was also a good excuse to get drunk and jam with friends.

He formed a four-piece band called 10-4 Eleanor while going to college in Fort Collins in the late aughts. He developed the band with the help of former drummer Garrett Carr and current bandmates Joe Henderer (bass) and Brian Van Proyen (guitar). William Orender eventually replaced Carr on drums.

In 2010, 10-4 Eleanor changed its name to Elway when the band signed with Red Scare, and bandmembers called their sound “a unique and inebriated take on a time-tested formula: aggressive punk rock with soaring melodies.”

They received an instant national spotlight, but only because the Denver Broncos' John Elway sued them in 2011 for using his name. He later ceded his lawsuit. “We got a morsel of invaluable PR over the course of a month,” Browne says. They spoke with national news outlets such as the Associated Press and ESPN, and “got to be snot-nosed assholes on the national stage, which was fun. And then it faded pretty fast.”

Still, Elway kept playing up to 200 annual shows for a number of years, until the group eventually became tired of being broke and driving around in a just-about-broken-down van. These days, Elway's members are scattered across the country: in Philadelphia; Chicago; Johnstown, Colorado; and Denver. And they all pursue full-time careers. Browne works as a software engineer.
While stability may not seem “as conducive to angry or aggressive music, as I became more secure in my life, my relationship with making art became so much more intimate and fruitful,” Browne says. “It feels way more meaningful because I absolutely want to play music and don’t feel like I have to.”

This mindset prompted the recording of Elway’s upcoming album, set to drop in 2022. It explores “the existential malaise that I personally felt, that I’ve been unwittingly married to — whether or not there’s a pandemic,” Browne explains. “It’s just a lot more obvious when the world is so nakedly falling apart.”

An example is “Kronos V. Kairos,” which didn’t make it onto the album but is the B-side single that dropped on September 24. The mood of the song is disparate and disjointed, moving from one section to another. “That’s what it felt like for a while in the pandemic,” Browne says.

He wrote the track after visiting a 7-Eleven and witnessing yet another customer cash in scratch-off lottery tickets only to buy more scratch-off tickets. Something about the scene felt dystopian. Since Browne was “already sort of in a bad way,” he remembers having a small breakdown, dissociating and using his agony to create a storyline for the song.

"English Wishbone" — the A-side single — sets a very different scene. The title is a reference to Sam Russo and James Hull of Apologies, I Have None — the first a Red Scare artist, and both “twiggy, waifish Englishmen,” Browne says. Together they remind him of a wishbone. And allusions to lines in two of Russo and Hull's originals complement the Elway song’s “wistful remembrance of being young and reckless and in love. ... I wanted to pay tribute to them.”

In their own ways, both songs address the albums’s central questions: “Are humans good? Do we do right by each other and the world that we live in? Is this actually the best of all possible worlds?” Browne explains.

Whether or not he reaches a conclusion in the album will have to wait until its release, but until then, Browne is looking forward to getting back on stage with his buddies for the first time in two years. It’s the reason the band keeps playing: for the fun of being together.

Even “when the world seems to be balanced on the pin,” Browne notes, they can still “pretend things [are] kind of like they used to be — for only three nights.”

Listen to The English Wishbone here. Elway’s Denver show with The Menzingers and Broadway Calls on Saturday, October 2, at the Marquis Theater is sold out, but there are still tickets available for the band's Fort Collins show on Friday, October 1, at Washington’s, 132 Laporte Avenue, and a Colorado Springs show on Sunday, October 3, at the Black Sheep, 2106 East Platte Avenue.
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Claire Duncombe is a Denver-based freelance writer who covers the environment, agriculture, food, music, the arts and other subjects.
Contact: Claire Duncombe

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