An Interview With The Australian Alt-Rockers THE GRISWOLDS!
Posted On 03 Nov 2016
Australian alt-rock band The Griswolds have announced the release of their sophomore album entitled High Times For Low Lives, out November 11th on Wind-up Records.
With atmospheric synths and aching, cut-to-the-bone lyrics delivered by front man Chris Whitehall, the song previews the sonic expansion and intensely personal nature of the new album. Helmed by Grammy Award-winning producer Andrew Dawson (Kanye West, Sleigh Bells, fun.), High Times For Low Lives chronicles the ups and downs of the band’s real-life journey as they follow their dreams and experience love and heartbreak – and the sacrifices, bad behavior and lessons that come in the aftermath
The Griswolds recently made their national TV debut performing their punchy and infectious lead single “Out Of My Head” on the TODAY Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda as Elvis Duran’s Artist of The Month and are currently featured in a worldwide Apple Music ad campaign for the Apple Music Student Plan. “Out of My Head” which premiered via Huffington Post, racked up more than 800,000 Spotify streams upon release. The track is quickly heating up at Alternative Radio, and was just featured on SiriusXM Alt Nation’s Alt 18 Countdown.
High Times For Low Lives is a playful, ominous, twisted, exuberant and turbulent album that explores tattered lives and shredded emotional states. It also showcases a major sonic evolution for the band, and even includes a special guest feature by acclaimed rapper-vocalist Lizzo, as well as a cover of Rhianna’s “James Joint.” While still fueled with the sun-soaked Griswolds’ shimmer that fans have come to know and love, their signature indie-alt-tropical sound has expanded to include beat-laden R&B, afro-beat funk, sparkling pop, soul and electronic flavors, making for an album on the cutting edge of pop music.
The band’s 2014 debut album, Be Impressive hit #2 on the Billboard Alternative Chart, garnered a staggering 30 million album streams, and saw the band notch a #1 position on Hype Machine and tour extensively, playing massive festivals around the globe. The Grisworlds are Chris Whitehall [vocals/guitar], Dan Duque-Perez [guitar/synth], Tim John [bass], and Lachlan West [drums].
Learn more about The Griswolds in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that we are entering the fall of 2016, what are some words you would use to describe this year? What have been some of the highlights for the band?
Surreal is the word that comes to mind instantly. The band’s journey this year has taken to us to some pretty damn cool places, and we’ve checked off some big bucket list things this year. We played one of the best festivals in the US, on the gulf shores, called Hangout Festival. It’s literally a big music party on the beach. We also decided at the show (very last minute) that we would learn and play “Jump” by Van Halen with our buddies Walk the Moon and Magic Man. We’ve recorded our sophomore album this year as well, and done a lot of traveling. We’ve seen some amazing things this year as well as made a heap of new friends along the way.
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall your earliest musical memories?
Yeah, I did for sure, right from the first time I heard my first Nirvana record! My mum bought me a drum kit when i was 5, and I remember smashing the life out of it. A year later, it “vanished.” Let’s just say mum and dad weren’t huge fans of the ruckus.
How did The Griswolds first come together? How did you come up with your band name?
We were all playing in separate bands in Sydney, but we knew each other and our bands played together a lot. When Dan and I started hanging out, we were really hating our current bands. One night (whilst quite drunk), we said, “We’re best friends and we’re so like-minded, let’s just start our own band. Let’s enjoy every minute of it and only write music we love.” So, we did.
The band name is always the hardest part, actually. We had already recorded our first EP and we had a run of shows coming up, but still no name. On the last night recording our EP, we were celebrating and talking 80’s movies and someone was like, “Hey let’s call us ‘Weekend at Bernies’.” Hell no. We kept rattling off names and eventually landed on the The Griswolds – it was a clear winner.
Next month, you will release your newest album, “High Times for Low Lives.” How different is this collection then your debut album? What was the inspiration for the collection’s single, “Out Of My Head”?
It’s a totally different ball game with this new record. I think, with the debut, we hadn’t really found our stride yet; we were still very influenced by what other bands were doing. This time around, we knew no bounds. If we wanted to write it, we wrote it. If we wanted to sample Michael Jackson, we did. If we want to cover a Rihanna song, we will. There are no rules in the way we created this new album. We dug really deep for fresh, different inspirations that would take us out of the league of being just another rock band or just another indie band. I think we definitely succeeded in that. This record is raw and full of heart, it hasn’t been tamed down at all, and we’re saying everything we want to say, even if it makes us feel vulnerable.
“Out of my Head” is a break-up song. It sums up a period in my life when I was holding on to a woman I loved, even though we had broken up. Every time we saw each other and hung out I felt connected, even though it wasn’t a real or a healthy thing. This song talks about finally finding the resolve and strength to break it off completely, no matter how much it hurt. There’s a really victorious feeling that comes with finally conquering that.
What if anything has surprised you about the music industry? What do you think has been your biggest challenge? And what do you think has come really naturally to you?
I’ve been noticing that in the music industry there are a lot of nae-sayers, as well as a lot of people listening to the nae-sayers who are not really being true to what they want to create. So many artists are almost scared to say something or show their colors to their audience. Being really honest in your music is not always a simple thing to do, but it’s really rewarding. My biggest personal challenge is conquering the nae-sayer in my own head telling me “You can’t do that,” or “What will people think?” Conquering that has been a huge stepping stone to creating and writing this new album.
The thing that comes most naturally to us is making decisions based off our gut and trusting them – I think that’s what makes us The Griswolds.
You have toured with so many different kinds of bands like Passion Pit, Walk The Moon, New Politics and more. What have you learned from these touring mates? What do you think makes for a perfect show?
We’ve learned something from every band we’ve toured with, including some new things we can take with us on our own journey. Watching Nick from Walk the Moon taught me a lot about working a crowd, and about how to look after my voice on the road. I think the perfect show is kind of an illusion, almost like a surfer waiting for the perfect wave. A show is never going to go exactly as planned. There are so many variables, but the main thing is to go out there and leave everything behind and have the most insane fun you can with the crowd. You get one shot to play that show on that day in that venue with that exact crowd of people, so just enjoy it. The perfect show happens when we walk off stage feeling like we gave it our all and knowing the fans aren’t going to forget it for a long time!
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you and your music? Who would you still love to work with in the future?
A few of my favorite artists recently are Tame Impala, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. All of these artists are very guilty of inspiring our sophomore record. All of them have a really honest, almost confessional way of writing lyrics and I love that (not to mention the music rocks.) It’s so creative and daring. I’d love to do a collaboration with Kevin Parker from Tame Impala, that would be nuts. Any of our inspirations would be a dream to work with.
When you aren’t performing, working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you unwind from it all?
The beach is a second home for me, whether it’s in Sydney or LA, that’s my ultimate way to unwind – purification by water and sun.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
I hope they listen and learn from our mistakes, but also learn that life doesn’t have to be a huge stress. You can enjoy it and not worry too much about having to always be perfect or make the absolute right choice EVERY time. Enjoy, love and experience life, make some mistakes of your own and learn from them.