Q&A with Sydney Party-starters The Griswolds!
Posted On 15 Mar 2015
Tag: A Tribe Called Red, All Access, All Access Music Group, Arctic Monkeys, Artist Interview, Be Impressive, Bear Hands, Beck, Chris Whitehall, Christopher Whitehall, CHVRCHES, Coolio, Daniel Duque-Perez, David Bowie, Dr. Dre, Drake, Firefly, Firefly Festival, Flume, Foster The People, Frank Ocean, Friendly Fires, Gangsta's Paradise, Heart of a Lion, If You Wanna Stay?, Interview, INXS, Kanye West, Kings Of Leon, Lachlan West, Los Angeles, M83, Metallica, Mexican food, Music, music interview, Nirvana, Passion Pit, Pearl Jam, Pharrell, Steve Hennig, Sydney, Tame Impala, Ten, The Griswolds, Theophilus London, Tim John, Tony Hoffer, Tupac Shakur, Walk The Moon, Wind Up, Wind-Up Records
As far as debut album mantras go, Be Impressive is a fantastically simple statement of intent.
For Sydney party-starters The Griswolds it proved the driving ideal that would shake off the daiquiri-flavoured tropical tones of their Heart of a Lion EP and unite the four-piece’s more refined musical goals. On Be Impressive these 11 shimmering, anthemic tracks are that and more. The album isn’t just an indie-rock record you can dance to; it’s a record that’ll break and mend your heart, have you dancing with joy. It’s the hedonistic island paradise that’s an escape from all of your worries… before it becomes obvious it’s better to confront them than to run away.
It’s a long way from the Sydney houseparty where Christopher Whitehall (vocals/guitar) challenged “sometime drinking buddy” Daniel Duque-Perez (guitar/synth), to write a riff on the spot. “That was how the band started,” laughs Dan. “Chris thought that riff was really fun and interesting, and it turned into our first single, ’Mississippi’. The two of us realized that perhaps we could do something really cool, that the way we wrote songs together was something neither of us wanted to waste.”
After forays to the UK and US, the band — Chris, Dan, bassist Tim John and drummer Lachlan West were itching to record their debut album, signing with American super-indie Wind-Up Records.
With deadlines looming, NYC provided songwriting panacea. There Chris and Dan hit their stride; in the studio where Tupac Shakur was shot, no less. By January 2014, the band were flying to LA to meet producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Foster the People, M83).
Says Chris, “We wanted to make a fun record that touches on deeper feelings we all have from time to time; that idea of balancing out maturing and wanting to have fun and live life the way you want to. Knowing that growing up can be painful, but those experiences add up to something fun. It’s about that cusp of being a carefree kid and an adult.”
Be Impressive is about growing up, finding your own path and dealing with the challenges that presents. It’s about love and loss; spontaneous happiness and devastating sadness. It covers a wide emotional spectrum; able to soundtrack a crazy road trip with your best friends… or your next ‘we all lost our shirts’ house party… or your next breakup.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa got to ask singer, Chris Whitehall a few questions. Read more in their interview below:
Hi Chris! Where does this interview find you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
Funnily enough we’ve just landed in Los Angeles from Sydney this morning. It was a 13 hour flight and none of us have slept in over 2 days.
Right now, we’re all just trying to stay awake so we don’t get too jet lagged later on, but I gotta feeling tonight will involve a hot spa, some beer and some good old LA Mexican food.
For those not as familiar with The Griswolds, how did you guys get your start in music? Who or what was the catalyst for you?
I think our own complacency was a catalyst for us, we’d all played in so many bands before The Griswolds and we’d been lazy about it and never really worked that hard.
“We got sick of just being another band so we quit the bands we were in and started this new one. There was so much passion that went into it, we literally busted our balls to get this band off the ground, we just wanted it really bad and it paid off.”
You guys just released your debut album, Be Impressive last August. What did you learn between EPs and playing live that you felt you wanted to infuse into the new album?
I guess the major difference was everything that we experienced between making the EP and the album, we saw the world and experienced so many good and bad things along the way, all of that naturally made its way into the album. Back when we made the EP, we didn’t even have a band or a band name, so it was a lot more of a laid back experience, and I think you can kinda hear that in the EP vs the Album, there is a lot more depth in the album.
Can you share with me what your inspiration was for your current single, “If You Wanna Stay”?
The song is about being on the road all the time, and how everything changes around you including relationships. It’s saying,
“I love what I do and I’m gonna keep doing it, and if you can’t understand that then I’ll be moving on”
Who are your musical influences?
My personal influences change a lot, but these are my “go to” artists: INXS, Nirvana, Kanye West, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie
Do you remember the first album you bought for yourself?
It was Pearl Jam’s TEN album
What was the first song you fell in love with and why?
“It’s a bit lame, but I really remember falling in love with “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio. I just loved the sound of the string synths in the beginning.”
Who would your dream collaboration be with, living or dead?
Theophilus London, Metallica, Drake, Flume, Chvrches, Pharrell
Who is in your current playlist? Any artists, musicians or genres we might be surprised to find in there?
I’ve gone back and been smashing Frank Ocean and Arctic Monkeys a lot recently. As well as Bear Hands, (old) Kings of Leon, Dr. Dre, Passion Pit, Friendly Fires and Tame Impala.
What’s on tap next for The Griswolds? What are you most excited about in 2015?
Well, we’re about to start a 2 month tour with Walk The Moon all around America, so that is gonna be mega! After that we’ll be going around Europe and the UK and then coming back here to play Firefly Festival which has a huge lineup!
I’m also really really excited about releasing our new music video for “If You Wanna Stay”, it was such a fun shoot and I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks, it’s the coolest clip we’ve done so far!
To learn more about THE GRISWOLDS and find out upcoming tour dates, visit their website HERE .