XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Grass: First of all thanks so much for XS Rock for giving us the opportunity to do this. We have the physical CD release of our debut Fresh Grass EP coming out on February 23rd which we’re all excited about. It was released last October on digital and streaming but we wanted to give it a proper hard copy release.
We’re also currently writing some new music for a full length that we hope to record this upcoming spring or summer. We’re all really happy with the new music we’re writing as well which is awesome.
As far as shows go we have one up in Boston on February 22nd with some good friends of ours, a band called Heavy Hands and they’re great. This will be our first show outside of New York which is definitely exciting; we’d love to get out of the city more often and play different areas and to different people.
After that we have a gig at Gold Sounds in Brooklyn on February 26th, another one at The Well in Brooklyn March 15th, one at Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan on March 30th, and another gig on May 2nd at The Kingsland in Brooklyn.
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Grass: We’ve been together a little under a year.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Grass: All of us just love music and wanted to create some of our own. Music has always been a big part of our lives and it’s what we love to do.
We all also work day jobs so having music as a creative outlet is super important.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Grass: All of us have been involved in music for a long time and are primarily self-taught with a little bit of formal music training. I think we all fell in love with heavy music at a young age and hoped we’d be here playing it at some point in our lives.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Grass: We just generally create a heavy atmosphere if that makes any sense. Everything is loud and heavy, from the vocals to the lyrics to the guitars and drums. I think our music is fun live as well but in general it’s heavy and a little doomy and definitely something to bang your head to.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)
Grass: Keep recording as much music as possible and play as many shows in as many areas we can. I think an immediate goal is also to maybe get some sort of record label involved so we can do things like press vinyl and play bigger and louder shows with more established bands.
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Grass: I think our long term goals are pretty similar to our immediate ones but if we’re talking ideally here, to play festivals and stadiums and things like that. We want to play as loud as possible to as many people as we possibly can and spread our music. Music can be a very fickle and crushing industry so these are definitely aspirations, but we all can dream, right?
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Grass: I think in general we prefer playing live over recording and writing. Both are fun and integral parts of making music but there’s just something awesome about playing your own music to a crowd of people and watching them react positively. We’re definitely super conscious of only writing/recording music that we can faithfully replicate live as well so I think we’re a band that puts a lot of effort and thought into live performance.
XS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Grass: Our songs generally try to convey a certain mood, whether it be about things like alienation or anxiety or love or pain. I don’t know if we’ve ever really written a song that was consciously about x or y particular situation or x or y event. We like to keep our lyrics pretty ambiguous as well to try and create a mood and something a listener can identify with on their own terms.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road?
Grass: Not quite yet! We haven’t toured or anything but we definitely hope to do so in the near future. I’m sure we’ll have some interesting stories when that happens, but nothing too crazy. We’re all pretty low key people as far as our personal lives go.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Grass: Just general heckling things at shows like friends screaming at us to take off clothing or drink something, etc. We haven’t been on the road yet so I don’t think there’s been ample opportunity for any really weird requests. We’ve had people buy our shirts and put them on during our sets though, which is pretty awesome.
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Grass: I think all of our parents are super supportive about anything we love to do. They’re all understandably and logically realistic and aren’t pushing us to quit our day jobs or live in a van but they definitely appreciate what we’re doing.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Grass: My personal favorites are the opening and closing tracks of our EP, “Amnesia/My Wall” and “Easy Rider”. I think they serve as great set openers and closers as well and they’re just a lot of fun to play live. Both have great instrumental and vocal sections that showcase all of us.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Grass: We all definitely have our own influences and personal favorites but for me, my top five bands are Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden, Sleep and the Misfits. I tend to gravitate towards the more melodic spectrum of heavy music and all of those bands really rely on good melody, whether it be insanely impressive vocals or a repeated melodic drone over and over again. Chris Cornell is also my personal favorite singer and I can’t say enough about his vocal or songwriting ability. All of these bands inspired us to try our own hand at creating music.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Grass: An absolute dream tour would be Black Sabbath, Sleep, and the Obsessed. If we’re talking bands that have members that are no longer with us I’d add Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd to that bill.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Grass: I think that we’ve been able to do all of this on our own terms and everything has happened really organically. We’ve had people guide and help us along the way of course but we’re not out here like, buying thousands of fake FaceBook or Instagram followers or having a producer write all of our songs for us and a family member foot the bill. We are a hardworking group of people that genuinely love what we do and I think it shows.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Grass: I think all of us would be working in some sort of creative field, whether it be building things, or art, or writing. We’re all artistic people at heart and having some aspect of that be a job would be wonderful.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Grass: Our lead guitar player has a Gibson Les Paul Standard and plays it through an Orange TH100 head and a Rockerberb 100 MKI, and the two of them together sounds brilliant through two orange cabs. Unfortunately most clubs aren’t really stocking two guitar cabinets backstage so we usually only bring one to gigs.
Our bass player plays an Orange AD200B through an old Sunn 2×15 which complements the Orange guitar heads beautifully. Guitar and bass tone is a huge part of our sound and we’re super happy with Orange and wouldn’t play anything else. Their stuff is really simple well made gear that just sounds amazing.
For drums the venue usually supplies the shells and hardware but our drummer always brings a fat DW aluminum snare and Sabian Hand-Hammered ride, crashes, and hi-hat. He’d love to be able to bring his own kit to venues but right now he plays on a custom maple Yamaha jazz kit which he doesn’t think brings enough volume for a live setting.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Grass: I think it’s a good time to be a band playing heavy music! Obviously some of the older more famous bands are still around and selling out stadiums (bands like Metallica and Black Sabbath and Megadeth). Time has also been really good to bands like Sleep and the Obsessed who seem to be touring a lot more consistently now and people are really into their music, from their original stuff in the 80s/90s to their new records. It’s a good time for heavy music when bands like High on Fire and Deafheaven are being nominated for Grammy Awards as well.
As far as local scene goes, there’s definitely a strong community of like minded bands in New York and the general Northeast. We’ve played with and seen some great bands including Uncrossing, Sun Voyager, Mick’s Jaguar, Hot Knives, High Reeper, and Black Lung.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Grass: A few of us are actually really into electronic music! We were trying to go to the Aphex Twin show at Avant Gardner in Brooklyn this spring and failed miserably at getting tickets like I imagine a lot of other fans did.
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Grass: Groovy, heavy and melodic. Everything we do is pretty much designed around those key three things.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Grass: Just thanks for listening and letting us play you our music! Keep an eye out for the CD release on February 23rd and more music coming from us this following year. We’re really stoked for 2019 and are super excited for the future of the band to come.
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!
Grass: Thanks for having us y’all, we really appreciate it.