INTERVIEW: Grizfolk on their new album, new direction and current tour
February has already been a blur with bands getting on the road earlier than ever and we’ve been there for the wild ride so far. One band in particular, Grizfolk are currently experiencing the daunting task of a two-month tour. And absolutely smashing it. The band has relentlessly toured for the last several years and being on the cusp of releasing their next record, it seems to only have restored their energy. With ‘Spoonful’ and ‘Heavy Crown’ being the first tracks released, it’s clear the band has taken a musical departure from the synth-rock vibes the band had become known for. And the natural progression clearly makes sense considering it’s been several years since the band’s last record. Find my chat below with the band where they talked their current tour with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, their studio mascot Carl and how they approached the new record!
This is a mammoth of a tour. It started January 25th, two months straight on the road but you’re out with some great people with Andrew McMahon and the band, he’s obviously been around for a really long time and then Flor who are really starting to pick up as well like you. Maybe preparations you made going into this long of a tour, how have these shows been going this run?
Sebastian Fritze: Preparation was a lot of stretching. We met up a week prior, maybe two weeks before, and kind of finished up the album that we were working on. Put the final touches on it because we wanted to get it done before we hit the road. Then we just did a bunch of rehearsals, jumped on the road and now we’re here! A month in.
Bill Delia: Yeah, it was a lot of getting ready for the new songs. We released ‘Spoonful’ in early January then ‘Heavy Crown’ a little later in January. It was an interesting kind of process because when we recorded the songs, we had never really played them as a full band. We recorded them in parts so when we got in the rehearsal space, it was a little bit foreign when we actually started rehearsing songs. So that took a while.
Then I know it’s been about four years since the last record, it was released in 2015 with “Waking Up The Giants”. But these two songs from listening to them, at least to me are quite a bit of a departure. Looking at who you just signed with, with Nettwerk, and the other artists that are on that label with Guster and The Ballroom Thieves. When did these songs come together? When did it start moving in this direction for the band?
Sebastian: I guess it started, after our first record, we started writing again and we wrote a bunch of songs and we loved them but it didn’t really feel right. We took a little break and then when we got back in the studio, it came very naturally to just use what was in the room. There was an upright piano, guitars and it fell into this very natural, very organic kind of sound and we were vibing off of that. We put that into the record and kind of stripped back the electronic kind of stuff that we had in our first record.
So this one was a lot more sort of throwback, retro feel to it and I want to say warmer. And the live instruments.
Bill: Our producer, Allen Blickle, kind of encouraged us to go down that road too. Because in his studio at Venice, he has this beautiful old upright piano that’s just sitting there, miked up and it’s so inviting.
You wanted to include it, you were drawn to it.
Adam Roth: It’s the first time we had really made a record in the same room. The last record was made on the road, in hotel rooms, in several different studios. This one was made in one room. You could hear it in the recording. Actually, there’s a dog, his name was Carl, he made this noise, Hrrrrgh, it was like his thing, he’s all over the recordings.
Sebastian: Yeah, he left an impression.
Adam: Exactly that. He passed away, actually the week we finished the record.
Bill: Like right after we finished the record.
Did they know he was sick or just maybe older?
Adam: You know I haven’t even thought about him being gone until right now.
Oh, I’m sorry to bring up bad memories.
Bill: He was on the older side but it was definitely a surprise that he passed away.
Sebastian: He made the process a little bit more easy going I think. We would be in there getting really serious and doing this final vocal take and all of a sudden you’d hear …Hrrrgh, coming from the corner of the room and you’d be like ‘Oh it’s Carl’.
Bill: He was licking the power outlet.
Adam: I mean we really should have named the album Carl.
In his honor.
Adam: In his honor, yeah. We’ll dedicate the album to Carl.
So some of that made it on the record? You can hear it a little?
Bill: Yeah it’s in there.
Fredrik Eriksson: You can also hear if you’re listening close enough some parrots in the background of one of the songs.
Bill: Yeah these wild parrots.
Adam: In Los Angeles! There’s a lot of parrots in Los Angeles. CPP.
Bill: That’s another conversation altogether.
Then like we talked about before, obviously, these new songs are out, a new direction coming about, you had this unique experience doing this album in one room. Instead of having to send ideas to each other. So obviously that’s something new in the process but maybe something really new you tried in the studio? Because you were all in that room together. And then maybe something that’s going to still scream Grizfolk to fans of the band, even if the music is changing a little bit? Maybe something in the songwriting, lyric wise?
Adam: Well, we stopped using synthesizers for the most part and there’s maybe one spot where it’s in there.
Bill: There’s some groove stuff in there. You can’t really tell but it’s in there.
Adam: There are analog synths. I mean we stopped really using computers to produce. Well, that’s not true at all.
Sebastian: It doesn’t really define the sound anymore. Before it was like a very prominent sound, it played most of the hooks but now it’s a little bit more of the piano takes that part and the guitar takes that part.
Bill: Also a big change this time around is that Adam recently moved to Nashville and I’m sure he can say how that affected his creative process.
Adam: Yeah, we did a lot of writing in Nashville. They actually came to visit and we worked in Nashville with some other great writers. Actually, I guess this is the first time we really opened it up to other writers, producers. We worked with some very talented people. Tim Bruns and John Rausch and also, we got to work with Pat McLaughlin, who’s an old legend. He plays with John Prine and Dan Auerbach.
So that definitely had some effect on it too. Being in that music-loving community, clearly something different from LA.
Bill: Yeah that affected the writing process for sure. Taking it all back to Allen’s studio and recording it there.
I know from watching a recent interview that you had done, you mentioned that you had just finished the album, so I’m sure it’s still a few months away from being actually released. When it comes to these sets, I’m sure you do have fans that are coming for Grizfolk, that are coming for Flor. You guys are both in this new age of music that is coming out, both have been touring for a few years now. For people that are coming just for you, are you still playing some of the old songs, maybe the two new ones as well?
Sebastian: We’ve been mixing it up and just kind of testing them out. We’re playing probably, what would you say 70/30? 70 percent old, 30 percent new?
Fredrik: Maybe even 65/35?
Out of like seven songs.
Fredrik: 63.3 old.
Adam: If you count the intro.
Bill: Carry the four. To the power of.
Adam: It’s been cool though, with the older songs, we have the instruments on stage with no synths on stage. So it’s been really cool to take the old songs and kind of reimagine them in the new sound. So that’s been pretty cool, and it seems like people are responding to that.
You can still please those fans that love those records but you guys are progressing so you don’t want to slide back into that mode just for those songs.
Adam: Yes ma’am.
Then to end it off, you’re just about halfway through this tour. In these next few months, maybe focuses or goals for Grizfolk? I’m sure you can’t say when the album is coming out just yet.
Adam: I definitely think we’re trying to get overseas and do some more international stuff. When the record is out probably.
Sebastian: We’re just excited to start, we released the two songs off the record, so we’ll maybe keep on releasing more songs. Then give y’all the whole package, the whole deal!