The Golden Grass are as exciting as they are cool – they know the musical landscape inside out, and you’ve got the feeling they might own one or two more records than you. And good on them – their record is a leafy combination of bone-dry hard rock and gloopy stoner vibes all wrapped up in one horns-aloft package.
If you’re into your classic rock, this is the band for you – I thought I was the only bloke in the Western world to still be listening to The Move in 2014 (one of Birmingham’s all-time finest bands). I was wrong. The Golden Grass pay homage to some well-known and some forgotten greats by forging ahead with riff after riff of tasty rock ‘n’ roll – if you haven’t checked them out by now, what are you waiting for?
Hello Golden Grass. Thank you, firstly, for bestowing such an enjoyable record on the world, it’s much appreciated. Let me start by asking you outright – are you from the past?
We are timeless. We’re just tapping into an energy field.
‘Please Man’ is a great cut to open up with – was it as fun to record as it was to listen to, or was it one of those endless-take nightmares we always hear about?
I think it was actually the ONLY song recorded mostly in 1 take, maybe we only spliced on the outro, but for the most part, we nailed that in 1 take, and of course spent a while on overdubs and add meknowitional instrumentation. The main tracks for the entire album were all recorded in about 8 hours of studio time, it was a very smooth process, after all, we had been rehearsing and performing these songs for 11 months by this point, so there wasn’t much guess work, we were very ready to lay it all down!
I ask every band this, but do you think most bands take themselves too seriously nowadays? I’m not saying for one second that old-school bands didn’t take themselves too seriously, but it seems to be a curiously modern affliction.
It’s funny, I don’t think most bands take what they are doing seriously at ALL! If they did, people would me WAY more excited about modern music, especially in the underground hard/heavy rock scenes. I think the amount of energy and focus we put into what we do and the level of seriousness we have about it is DIRECTLY reflected in the overwhelming and affirming positive responses we’re getting from the audience. Maybe you’re talking about bands creating ‘imagery’ around them that is a ‘put on’, or “evil” black metal bands that are actually the sweetest dudes you’ve ever met in your life, things like that, I don’t know, but we’re 3 hard working artists trying to create something beautiful and uplifting, and we take that very seriously because WE need it to keep going in our personal lives and I know the world needs it too.
Are there any musicians that you’ve got a particular fondness for? We’d especially like to know if you’ve got any obscure heroes i.e. Nilsson.
I’d hardly call Nilsson obscure at all, but yes of course, we are all fans of the fringe, freaks, one-offs, no-hit wonders, nobodies, weirdos, who managed to just ‘get it’ for at least an album, or in some cases just one song! Everything from soul to funk to psych-pop to jazz-fusion to prog to southern rock, etc. It’s an endless list across many genres, but for fun, here’s a few band favorites: The Misunderstood, Truth N Janey, Hairy Chapter, The Action, The Move, Lucifers Friend, Hp Lovecraft, Alkana, Hydra, November, Icecross, The Poets, Blue Mountain Eagle, Point Blank etc. But let me be clear, we listen to just as much JAMES GANG, Led Zepellin, Stephen Stills, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Small Faces, Pretty Things, etc, as we do the obscure stuff.
Following on from that, are there any bands that have particularly influenced your sound? I said in my review I heard echoes of Kiss, Creedence and the Dead, but that might just be because I love those bands and wanted to hear them.
Well let me start by saying that the amount of Creedence comparisons we’re receiving is totally mind boggling, as we never for a second thought about them as an outright influence or ‘put something Creedence-like in there’ type of thing, NEVER! But of course we love them, and somehow folks are HEARING this in our music, which is amazing, bizarre, and a total surprise! Now, Kiss, again, we’re honored for that comparison, which has been much less frequent than the Creedence, but just as much “wow, you HEAR that in our music? Uh, ok, awesome, we love Kiss!”. But not an outright influence at all! However as for your Grateful Dead comment, well there you are spot on, perhaps even more than you know, as for two years, I was in an early period Grateful Dead cover band (‘65-‘74 years only) called Dead Tape, and it was a seriously kick-ass band with incredible improvisers, and we actually were building up quite a following in Brooklyn, but broke up last summer (of 2012). And in my time with that group, studying all of these epic Grateful Dead compositions and how their live shows and medleys would flow, and how they dealt with improvisational elements, well all of that knowledge went directly into The Golden Grass, and just the looseness that they played with, it all helped create our sound, so good work hearing that!
But yes, some of the bands that were direct early influences on what we were trying to do (even though we might have ended up doing something else) are: Cactus, The Move, Small Faces, The Action, Mighty Baby, Stephen Stills Manassas, Pretty Things, etc.
And favourite records?
See above lists in previous two questions!
The record itself sounds fantastic, can you tell us a bit about the gear you used to record it? I’m envisioning Marshall stacks and Gibson Les Pauls…
Well now, this is all top secret stuff. The most important gear we used on the record was our own GOOD TASTE, we’ll leave it at that.
‘Sugar N Spice’ was my favourite track on the record… can you tell us how that bad boy came into existence?
Oddly enough, the initial part was the funky-swamp boogie we call ‘The Duck Part’ at 2:08, which our bassist Jojo wrote, and then we just slowly built it up around that on both sides, and it ended up being this wicked heavy beast. Our writing is super weird, and well, very prog-rock-esque, non-traditional, as far some sort of verse-chorus-bridge kind of thing goes we don’t do much in that vein, at least not obviously, and like most of our tunes, we probably spent 3-4 months constructing it before it was done, but that’s definitely a band favorite! Really happy you dig it!
‘Wheels’… arduous or a pleasure to record?
Oh man, it was great! Because of the length of the piece, we recorded a few versions of the songs and just spliced together the best possible final version, and we all love that song too! This is the simplest way to be effective with limited studio time, and it’s a pretty standard way that I record, it takes a lot of pressure off getting perfect takes. But in the end, nobody knows at all, except us.
If the record had a smell, what would it be?
Whiskey, wine, weed, salt peanuts, patchouli, and nag champa.
Finally, this being a British website and all, who are the best bands from our shores in your opinion? Feel free to say Hawkwind or Black Sabbath.
Mighty Baby, Small Faces, Led Zeppelin, The Pretty Things.
Thanks for your time. Please go wild and tell us one final thing you want our readers to know (a good time for a plug or something)
Thanks for the awesome interview, and stay “FEELING ALRIGHT” everyone!
Interviewed by: Ross Horton