South by Northwest (Interview with Grifter) …   Leave a comment

Hi, this is the first interview, as part of a small tribute I do for new (and relatively unknown) bands that have southern rock influences on their sound. Typically, fans of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Down, Clutch etc. will love most of the bands mentioned in the tribute! This is an interview with Ollie, the guitarist and frontman of the band.

Dr.D: Hi Ollie, thanks for the interview! Can you please introduce Grifter to the world?
O: Grifter are a dirty rock and roll three piece based in the South West in England…by the sea and miles from anywhere that does anything interesting musically!!! We are Foz on drums, Phil on bass and myself, Ollie on guitar and vocals. We’ve been around since the tail end of 2003 and in that time covered a lot of road miles, written a lot of songs, played with a lot of great bands (and a fair few shitty ones), made a lot of friends, released a demo and a couple of EPs on a couple of different labels and drunk a lot of Guinness!!!

Dr.D: You released your first demo in 2005 but you still haven’t released a full length yet. Good things need their time, or simply lazy?
O: We could have released an album instead of doing “The Simplicity of the Riff is Key” as an EP, the option was there and the material was recorded but we figured we had better recodings in us and we were in no hurry to rush into anything. We’re like a fine wine…or Helen Mirren…we get better with age!!!

Dr.D: Should we expect the full length any time soon?
O: Indeed you can!!! We have hooked up with Ripple Music based in California (home of Stone Axe, Mos Generator, Poobah, JPT Scare Band…etc) so they will be releasing our self titled album in summer 2011. It’s all recorded and we literally finished mixing it yesterday so that will be going over to Tony Reed of Stone Axe fame to master as soon as we decide on a running order. Before that Ripple will be releasing the Heavy Ripples double split vinyl 7? featuring our good selves, Stone Axe, Sun Gods In Exile and Mighty High with each band getting a side of vinyl. This is something we’re really stoked about as we grew up with vinyl and to share this release with some amazing bands is very cool.

Dr.D: You seem to have a very clear idea on how you want to sound like. Does this leave room for experimentation?
O: We pretty much do what we think the song needs and won’t experiment for the sake of it but having said that there are a couple of things on the new album/split that may turn a few heads…some different guitar tones, some slide stuff, some differnt structures, some psychedelic touches…even an acoustic blues. If it sounds cool to us we’ll give it a go…it’s just that hitting a groove or rocking out seems to be what sounds the most cool to us.

Dr.D: “Simplicity of the riff is the key” besides a killer title for an EP is this becoming your moto in music?
O: It’s not a hard and fast rule but we all really dig stuff that just hits you in the gut. I’m a huge fan of stuff like Rush, King Crimson and Jethro Tull but when I play music I like to get my head down and go for it and it’s the same for the other guys. There’s something about keeping it simple that gets the blood going and gets the party rocking.

Dr.D: “…there is a few people here that may be over the age of 30… we can see it in your eyes you’ve f***ing lived.” This was said on a live before playing “Young Blood Old Veins”. Do you believe that kids these days don’t live their lives?
O: I grew up as a kid in the 70?s and teenager in the 80?s and we didn’t have tons of video games, the internet, mobile phones, computers…etc and I just remember it as being a very cool time. I had to get on the bus to go into town to search out vinyl and got a buzz from finding something rare or obscure. We actually had to go out and physically hook up with our friends and play each other music or hang out rather than sitting on Facebook. I have nothing but great memories of it. Everything seems too easy nowadays…I see my 12 year old daughter come home from school and go on Facebook to talk to the people she’s just been at school with!!! I’m surprised kids these days still have the power of speech!!! Also musically kids these days seem so driven by what is “cool” or who’s wearing the best clothes and far too driven by their immediate influences so modern bands tend to sound like carbon copies of a ton of other shoit than exploring the roots of what they’re listening to to expand their horizons. I’m saying that though through the eyes of a 41 year old man and I’m pretty certain that if was this age in the 70?s or 80?s I’d be saying the same things about a lot of the bands back then. It’s all about the rose tinted spectacles!!!

Dr.D: You hail from Plymouth, UK. Yet you have adopted many southern rock elements in your music. I was wondering have you realized that lately this southern rock movement is becoming very popular especially in the metal scene?
O: I started listening to stuff like Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot whan I was about 15 in the 80?s and that stuff has always stuck with me along with stuff like Led Zep and Sabbath. I was also brought up listening to a lot of stuff like the Stones and old blues so for me this music has always been there. Obviously I am aware that there is a growing tide of bands taking the old southern rock sound and beefing it up but to be honest I only really started hearing about most of these bands since Grifter got together and I started hitting various sites to promote the band. That’s where I started to hear stuff like Alabama Thunderpussy, Halfway To Gone, Dixie Witch…etc. I’m glad I did hear all this though as I love that style of music. It was kind of a moment of serendipity realising that I wasn’t alone!!! I will admit though that Corrosion of Conformity’s Deliverance album did hit me pretty big in ’94 and for me that is where the southern style and metal first became apparent bedfellows. Also, I guess Devon is about as far south in the UK as it gets so we have a legitimate claim to the term “Southern Rock” over here…hahaha!!!

Dr.D: Besides from the classic bands that have inspired you is there any newer band you think has influence on your sound?
O: It depends if you class Clutch as current or classic. They’re one of the bands we all agree on, also Scissorfight. Other than that we all have personal influences that range from sludge to classic doom to punk to reggae to prog…etc but my biggest influences for writing remain the old school stuff like Sabbath, ZZ Top, Skynyrd, Led Zep, Mountain, Cactus, Grand Funk…etc

Dr.D: Many people consider you as the ultimate pub band. Do you consciously try to write songs more “appropriate” for live shows?
O: It’s a cliche but we are a live band. we write the songs to be fun for us to play and that we think we’re cool. Virtually none of the songs were really written with the studio in mind and that’s why we try to retain a live vibe in the studio and stay true to how the songs have been written. I wouldn’t say though that anything is written to be appropriate for an audience…if we think it’s cool and we enjoy playing it then hopefully the crowd will also be into it and when they are it’s a bonus. if they don’t like them then we still get a buzz from playing them in rehearsal…but fortunately our stuff pretty much goes down well live.

Dr.D: Thanks again for the interview man! Before we close, you can say what you want!
O: Thanks for the interview dude…I hope you can make sense of my inane rambling!!! Cheers to anyone who takes the time out to check us out, come to the shows, buy our stuff…etc. Feel free to offer us gigs or go and grab some downloads at our Bandcamp page…Grifter @ Bandcamp
Interview By Dr.Doom Metal ( Dr.Dooms Lair )

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Posted February 3, 2011 by doommantia in Grifter

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