Thursday, 5 April 2007

Grizzle Yo Nizzle

Here's another interview from the end of last year. Since Grizzly Giant are now reformed and rollicking round Brighton again I'm putting this up to spread the word. Not because they need all the help they can get. That's what alcohol's for.

Grizzly Giant

I’m at the Engine Rooms, and it’s swathed in dark red light, bodies sticking together on contact in the sweaty summer heat. Onstage there is a band of three people. Solid framed, bearded guitarist George is holding a video camera and filming the crowd for the benefit of member Lee, who is on holiday in Scotland. He is getting the crowd to shout jibes about his absence into the lens. Behind him Ryan, bearded and diminutive in comparison is shouting harsh insults in a thick Welsh accent and fumbling around, eventually producing a large hard-backed book. George puts the camera down and they ask the audience to pick a number between 1 and 74. ‘24!’ yells a voice clearly. As Ryan turns to the page, Rich starts a drum machine beating and releases glitchy noises into action as George hammers his guitar – Ryan begins singing from the book about myelination and greater specialization of function of neurological pathways, magically phrasing the lines so they fit with the music.

Meet Brighton’s art-punk terrorists Grizzly Giant.

I joined them in a pub before a rehearsal to understand how a band like theirs comes about.

“We’re like a cross between a bad punk band and The Price Is Right” says Ryan, animated band poet, surreal lyricist and Welshman, who was once described by a woman in a pub as “an ugly Elvis, but good looking Johnny Cash”. “We’d never be the kind of band to walk coolly onstage and take ourselves seriously as people” says Lee, the band’s founding mastermind.

So how did it all start?

Lee says that he’ll “Miss out the relationship bit” but found himself “Living in a shed with a desire to get on stage. I said to Ryan, ‘We’ve got a gig at the Albert tomorrow’ and got him to come. I said ‘Right, I’m going to play guitar and you say one of your poems’ and that bit went o.k., so I said ‘Right, now we’re both going to moan like zombies and when we stop moaning, I’ll play guitar for a bit’” Ryan interjects “I’d just like to point out that at the time I was playing a turntable with a plank of wood coming from it and an elastic band strapped to it” “Yeah, a Technics record deck guitar” confirms Lee matter-of-factly. “I’d wired a microphone under the stylus so it sort of went BOOWAAUUUNNNG”. Ryan says “The idea was sprung when we crashed that open mic night. It was at The Farm and we were pissed as fuckers, just invaded on the hippies and did a fucking screaming, howling fucking punk poem. Then there was the Rock Rave where we did the werewolf song, which is a bit like the Zombie song but with howling instead of moaning, and this dog came and sat right in front of me and went AWROOO! Fucking mental”

Do you rehearse or plan for this kind of audience interaction?

“No, we rehearse a really tight set, then on the night we play we just get shitfaced – it’s just nervousness” says Ryan “And these two have microphones trying to get some validation from the audience” says George, indicating Ryan and Lee “but we’ve played as a 1, 2, 3 and 4 piece, depending on who’s here, and we never play the same songs again, not even if we’ve got two gigs in one week.”

Ryan stresses he has “No emotional attachment to any of the songs. I don’t get precious about them, just use them at a later date if they’re any good”, so I ask how this transient approach to songwriting affect their recorded output, the band, formed under a year ago, having not actually recorded anything other than live shows.

“We’re doing an album” says Rich excitably. “We’re going to treat the studio very differently” asserts Lee. “Still raw, but layers of instruments that we couldn’t do live on stage – and we’ll probably learn from it stuff to take on stage.” Ryan’s vision of the band’s recording process is somewhat more apocalyptic “We want to hole up somewhere, treat it with a real bunker mentality, lock ourselves away with whatever we need and it will turn into Project Zombie. We’ll convince ourselves that the whole world has turned to zombies and the only way of getting out will be to produce an album that it so good it will hypnotize them. We’ll have intricate ways of smashing their heads in. Oh, and we’re bringing out our own liquor as well.” He says, becoming increasingly enthusiastic “The Grizzly Giant Project Zombie – we’re buying a still and worked out we could knock out about a litre of vodka every four hours.”

Expect to get shitfaced, expect to have your head caved in in any number of unimaginable ways, but most of all, as Lee says “”Expect the unexpected”. Grizzly Giant are coming for you. Prepare yourselves.

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