US - California - Full Moon 43 - 04/18/00
- an interview in Cologne
Creating Beauty Out Of Junk
"Hailing from Modesto California, Grandaddy originally began as a three-piece with Jason (vocals, guitars, keyboards),
Kevin (bass) and Aaron (drums). The line-up later expanded to include Jim (guitar) and Tim (piano). From the outset, Jason
had recorded Grandaddy's music, but with little money and poor distribution the band did not release a record they considered
a proper debut until Under The Western Freeway. A collection of songs from this period was released last summer, entitled
The Broken Down Comforter Collection. When their self-recorded debut album Under The Western Freeway finally was
released it received rapturous critical acclaim and introduced Grandaddy as a band who could inspire emotion and affection in even
the most hardened critics."
This is how Grandaddy guitarist Jim describes the band's past. This month, the band releases their
glorious second album proper, The Sophtware Slump (sic!) and will embark on an extensive tour as soon as the album hits the
shops. The new release marks a step away from the more lo-fi quality of the early recordings, and a turn to a more fantasy-like sound
not a million miles away from the recent epics by The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev. Traces of Neil Young's singing style, and E.L.O.'s
production technique are also present. The band describes their new album as "a grand catherdral made out of cheap lumber" and here's what
more they had to say when we met Jason and Jim in their record company's office in Cologne, Germany.
Lu.Ka: The new album is not only the follow up to a very successful record, it's also the first that you'll put out on V2 Records. Did you feel any pressure?
Jim: Most of the time the pressure is self-imposed. We want to outdo ourselves every time. We get some pressure from the record company, but more in the form of: "This needs to
be done in a certain amount of time" and so on. I'm sure they have expectations, but they don't put that across to us because they know we wouldn't respond to it very well.
Jason: There were little attempts in the beginning, but we were like: "Nah, this is not where we want to go". You need to have pretty good reasons to denounce certain things.
We got all of this out of the way right at the start and that made everybody's job a little easier.
Lu.Ka: You still record all your songs at home...
Jim: Jason's house is pretty much filled with equipment. That's why we never discussed recording at a proper studio. The label knew that Jason had always recorded our music. That's
what we're comfortable with. Also, we demonstrated it adequately on the first record, that it was alright. As for the new record, we just bought a ton of new equipment and that was it.
Lu.Ka: What do you think is the one thing that all of your songs have in common?
Jason: The escaping quality. When we needed to find focus again, I do remember always coming back to that point: Okay, above all this needs to have an escapism quality to it.
Jim: I guess every true music fan knows what a magical feeling it is when a song just hits you and you think: "What the fuck created THIS?" And your mind is racing in all these
different directions ad you're soaking it up and you wonder how it did happen. That's why we don't like to talk about the recording process too much. It's like: "There's this signature change
there and here's EXACTLY how we did it... it just takes away the magic.
Jason: The idea of creating beauty out of junk is really important to me. In my mind I totally over romanticized that idea - to take really simple ingredients and create something
wonderous. It's almost like folk art.
Lu.Ka: You're often cited as one of the best bands when it comes to home-recording... Any advise for our readers who might wanna try it as well?
Jason: There's a good magazine, called Tape Op, that's a really good source. It focusses on creative music recording. There are so many good bands out there now that are so good at recording
their own stuff, it's crazy. Before, the whole lo-fi movement existed as a necessity, now that equipment gets better you can't really tell the difference anymore. It's like the best of both worlds...
Here's what the Grandaddies recommend... go to your nearest records store and buy these albums immediately, please!
Super Furry Animals: Guerilla (Creation)
Home Elf: Gulf Bore Waltz (Jet Set)
Radar Brothers: The Singing Hatchet (Chemikal Underground)
Electric Light Orchestra: El Dorado (Epic)
The Handsome Family: In The Air (Trocadero)
Interview support: Joerg Castor
Copyright © 2000 Carsten Wohlfeld