XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Leland: Warsworn EP, music video, and new material for the upcoming album. We released our 6 song EP titled Warsworn in October and have been trying to get it out to every metalhead we see ever since. Closer to Hate, one of the songs off the EP, we just made a music video for in April featuring my roommate as a man drinking his life away and pushing himself into hate and aggression. We just recently played a few amazing shows with our friend Eric Beard from Angerhead who helped us with leads of the EP.
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Leland: 2015 I believe was the year we all ended up together. The band wasn’t officially Grit until we had our current lineup.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Leland: For being in a band? I discovered a passion for playing bass and making music my freshman year of high school when my friends wanted to start a band and I have always enjoyed the company of other musicians. As for Grit, I joined through one of my friends who was the lead guitarist at the time. All the guys seemed like really down to earth, badass people and it has been fun, motivating, and productive jamming with everyone which is a hard combination to have in bands! So the motivation is self-fueling.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Leland: As I mentioned previously I started playing bass in high school. I am a huge Metallica fan and Cliff Burton is my main influence so his style really shows in music that I write. I was never great at guitar, drums, or singing, but I have made an effort to improve myself on all of them.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Leland: Our image as Grit is exactly as the name suggests. While our music involves a lot of heavy groove-like riffs and tempo changes that require a certain amount of precision from us as musicians, there is also a sense of rough realism. Grit I think of as bridging the gap between professionalism and ruggedness as our music isn’t sugarcoated or synthetic sounding but also demands precision.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals?
Leland: We have a few songs we have been working on, two that we have been performing live “Synthetic Sin” and “Last drop”, and one more in the making. We want to incorporate another featured artist for our fourth song which would bring the album together and give some contrast to the other 9 songs. Other immediate future plans are the continued search for a lead guitarist for our live shows and preparing to go down to California and record the final four songs on the album.
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Leland: Long-term goals for Grit I think involve growing our fan base and conquering the world, we are all 100% on board with what we do and all take the band seriously so it is naturally easy to grow and progress as a band. Personally I would like to see us touring and expanding our reach to the rest of the US as well as the rest of the world.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Leland: Hands down, live performances. I love the experience of recording sessions and the process of finalizing music but the environment of a live show is where I am most at home. The crowd feels like a big metal family and I love showing what we have been working on to the fans. The intensity level is higher during a live performance and there is a better connection with the rest of the band as opposed to each of us recording separately.
XS ROCK: What are your songs about?
Leland: Grit songs tend to portray situations and issues that are inspired by life events or experiences within our personal lives. Closer to Hate portrays someone who has lost everything and begins not caring about anything or anyone and driving themselves into a constant hate and despair. The title track Warsworn covers more of a universal topic that is important to us. This one is about soldiers and the troubles they encounter due to orders and fighting for another person’s endeavors. It is a tribute to veterans and their sacrifice. All of our songs can be interpreted differently by the listener and each of us have different perspectives on what they mean exactly.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road?
Leland: Not yet! We haven’t gotten out enough to gasp the full tour experience. But we did however get locked out of a parking garage coming back from a Metal Allegiance show in San Francisco. We ended up wandering around the city at 1am looking for food and finding our way into the parking garage through a gym next door. We then proceeded to drive 10 hours that night back to our home town in Corvallis which was insane to do. I got back at 11am, said “hey I have time to catch some of my classes”, drank a cup of coffee, and went to class!
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Leland: We were playing a Halloween show in full costumes and I was dressed up as a gladiator that night. After the show, a girl came up to me and asked if she could touch my nipples. Which I responded with uhhh.. I don’t see why not, go for it!
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Leland: Yes, my family has always been very supportive of whatever I have going on. They have been nothing but encouraging in my pursuit of my passion in music and I can’t thank them enough.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Leland: One song on the EP that I wrote “13 Knots” is a fun song for me to play live because it is very bass heavy and leaves a lot of room for me to improvise and show some techniques I have been trying to work on like finger tapping. It also has a very nice flow and contrast between slow, heavy, and fast.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Leland: Metallica is my biggest influence, Black Sabbath, Pantera, and Motorhead all come to mind as metal influences. I also really like the band Rise Against which is a little off point from the other artists. Anyway, I had the amazing opportunity to meet Metallica and this was a huge inspiration seeing them.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Leland: Metallica, Rise Against, and Alice in Chains I think would be a really nice mix of genres with metal, punk, and grunge.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Leland: I think getting our EP recorded is a big accomplishment. It takes a ton of practice and focus to get ready for the recording process. We all practice the hell out of the guitar/vocal scratch tracks we made and learned each song to the maximum extent. It is hard for me to really get pumped about recording by myself to a click track in the studio so this was an eye opening experience to me. Also, prior to this my experience with recording was limited to recording myself on my laptop with a ghetto version of pro-tools. Which turns into a whole different thing when you are down in California in a professional studio with Juan Urteaga who has also recorded Testament, Machine Head, and Angerhead.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Leland: It would definitely still involve music. I am currently studying at Oregon State University for my bachelor’s in music production. So my goal outside of being in Grit would involve studio work with recording software, mixing, mastering, that sort of thing. That being said I don’t think I will ever be out of the band scene as it is literally living my dream.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Leland: I have a pretty tried and true setup. Aguilar Agro pedal for heavy crunch, Morley Dual Bass wah for solos, and a noise suppressor to keep it all tight. I normally play with my 5 string Schecter Omen Extreme bass with an 800-watt Peavy Mark VI xp series head and a Mesa Roadready cab with 2 15 in speakers. The cab is a pain to haul anywhere and I usually load it into my small Subaru which is a real puzzle but this combination of equipment packs a punch!
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Leland: Living in Corvallis Oregon it is hard to say. With my forte being in metal, a lot of metal bands tend to skip over Oregon going from California straight to Washington. That being said, in a universal sense I like where the music scene has gone as far as diversity in genres and how everyone accepts different musical preferences for the most part. It is however very hard for musicians to thrive in this day and age due to the cost of success. I feel like as musicians none of us want to ask for money because we do it for the love of it but at the same time recordings, music videos, promotion. That stuff gets expensive!!
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Leland: When I was 17 I was diagnosed with Leukemia, went through treatment for 3+ years, and got to meet Metallica due to my qualifying for make a wish. By one year might I add! If I was 18 I wouldn’t have been able to. Either way I call it an overall win. Also a lot of people would be very surprised I don’t smoke weed as my personality matches that of a stoner.
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Leland: I usually tell people if they like Metallica, Black Sabbath, or Pantera, they will probably like Grit. It is hard to say that we are like any of those bands though because our sound is pretty unique. I would describe it as heavy groove-metal with gritty vocals, contrasting sections, and a little old school thrash.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Leland: www.gritmetal.com. You can find all of our music, upcoming shows, and other projects underway on the site. Give us a like on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gritmetal. Check out our Warsworn EP on ITunes, Spotify, Google Play and don’t forget to check our new music video for CLOSER TO HATE in HD on YouTube! Thanks for hanging until the end everybody and thanks to XS ROCK for having me on here, Keep it metal homies!
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!