Download: Grandfather, "Tremors"
Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Hey, don't take our word for it. Here's Steve Albini singing the praises of New York indie-snarl trio Grandfather in GQ of all places: "There was a band that came into the studio a while back called Grandfather. They were an art-rock band that organized the funding of their record through Kickstarter. They were really well rehearsed and came into the studio and knocked the record out in a couple of days... That's the kind of nimble, efficient behavior that was previously impossible when there was a corporate structure involved. It gives me confidence other bands will figure it out." Grandfather guitarist Michael Kirsch has been dutifully blogging this process to Sonic Scoop--their weeks of rehearsals, recording and mixing in three days, refusing to cut multiple versions of a song, mixing in between vocal takes. But it's the record itself that's the true testament to their indie ethos. Their nine-track debut Why I'd Try (currently available as a free 320kbps zip file on their website) is a lumbering, melodic beast that's got the visceral art-crunch of Shellac mixed with the flighty and fever-dreamy melodies of Shudder To Think. Says Kirsch, "One of the goals of our band is to explore new sonic territories within the traditional structure of a three piece rock band--drums, bass, guitar. We want a massive sound with minimal arrangements." Lead single "Tremors" is accordingly huge, pulling its loping Jesus Lizard groove through a shining, 120 Minutes-ready hook and a gorgeously minimalist, treble-fucked two note guitar solo.
Q&A: Grandfather guitarist Michael Kirsch
What is "Tremors" about?
I sometimes get really bad anxiety attacks that are mentally debilitating. I become introverted, withdrawn and unable to communicate with others. My internal monologue drowns everything out, and I become socially inept. These anxiety attacks can last for hours at a time. "Tremors" is about these attacks. "Tremors" began with the title; the music literally sounded like it was trembling, with the tense, dissonant bass-riff and choppy, repetitive guitar lines. It reminded me of the panic attacks I had been having, and the song became an opportunity to sublimate those experiences. Writing is a powerful and therapeutic process, allowing me to release negative energy in a positive and productive way. Most of my inspiration comes during moments of existential dread.
Was seeing Albini's quote about you guys in GQ like winning an award?
We ran into Steve at the Shellac show at the Bell House in September and he told us that he mentioned Grandfather in an interview he had just done with GQ. We obviously thought he was messing with us. A few weeks later I typed "Albini" and "GQ" into Google and lo and behold, there it was. We were ecstatic. Reading the interview reaffirmed many of our ideas about how to best release music in 2010. Steve has an incredible insight into the music industry as has seen it evolve over decades. He's incredibly smart and thoughtful. The fact that he championed our methods of recording and releasing music in the current landscape, invigorated us to continue to come up with new ways to survive and function as a band.
What was it like to record a record in three days?
The session was physically and mentally exhausting. We were extremely well prepared, having planned our strategy and rehearsed its execution for three months prior to the recording session. Nevertheless, remaining focused for 12 hours a day was challenging. We were expected to perform on cue and had to remain poised, inspired, and attentive the entire time. The most difficult part of the process was that we had to make decisions instinctually and on the fly. There was no time to second-guess ourselves.
What's the most memorable show you've played in New York?
New Years Eve at Lit Lounge was an amazing night. The grime and sweat of the dive bar provided the perfect atmosphere for our music. A friend of ours put on a light show, which made the tiny, claustrophobic room pulsate. The energy on stage was almost too intense. We ended the set with an extended outro of noise and feedback and the eruption of sound from the stage completely enveloped us. It felt as if the music was playing us and not the other way around.
What's your favorite place to eat in NYC?
NYC makes the best pizza and Strombolis on St. Marks makes the best slice.
Grandfather plays Union Pool on November 20.
Are you an emerging local band who has an upcoming 7", MP3, or album? Are you not totally fucking terrible like 90% of the bands in this city? Then please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Links and YSIs only. No attachments please!
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