Interview with Greg of DEATHGRAVE

Interview with Greg of DEATHGRAVE

- in Written interviews

Hello Greg! Can you tell us about the overall creative process behind your forthcoming album, “It’s Only Midnight”? How did you approach writing and recording this album compared to your previous releases?
I think the approach was similar. One major divergence began with a large portion of the riffs being conceptualized in the room as opposed to riffs being brought into the room. The riffs seem more visceral writing this way.

How do you feel that “It’s Only Midnight” differs from your debut LP and other releases? Were there any specific influences or inspirations that helped shape the sound of this album?
For this album, we wanted the basic rhythm tracks to have a chaotic and bizarre structure built within rather than making “lead sections” or “vocal layerings” to add to the weirdness. There are many instances where Fern and I are playing completely different parts that compliment each other rather than mirroring or harmonizing. The addition of Clint added a more unhinged and polyrhythmic drumming style. Andre pushed his vast palate of vocal styles so much further on this release due to the increase of odd time signatures, layered riffs, and chaos we decided to write in this batch of songs.

How has Clint’s addition to the band impacted your sound? Can you discuss the role that his drumming plays on this album?
Clint has decades of band, touring, & recording experience like Fern, Andre and myself. To no surprise, this became apparent immediately while trying him out. I think we all are always playing music constantly. With Clint, it is very easy for us to just stumble on a few riffs and within 20 minutes bang out the skeleton of a song well enough to refine later. A lot of songs on this record were initiated that way. He understands when to fill up a section and when to fall back for the sake of the song or riff. This is a very key point personally as a songwriter. Because of this, Clint’s drumming is more in your face which makes the amalgamation of our rhythm section a lot more driving the whole time on this album.

DEATHGRAVE music has been described as “undefinable” and transcending typical grindcore genre labels. Can you elaborate on this and what you hope listeners take away from your music?
I think initially we sort of tapped into some new elements right around the time we did the Endorphins Lost split 7”. It was a time where we began to let our guard down and experiment with other sounds and riffs that stray from your typical Grind / Deathgrind style. More echoing guitars, chaotic riffs where our parts began to overlap rather than just playing the same notes. We are far from the only band to do this kind of stuff, but for Deathgrave, it was almost as if we felt we could leave the Gregorian musical theory and enter into the modern music world. I think the takeaway is that for “It’s Only Midnight” we wanted to push these boundaries even further than “So Real, It’s Now” both musically and conceptually.

Many of your songs tackle heavy subject matter, from addiction to societal issues. Can you speak to the inspiration behind the lyrical themes on “It’s Only Midnight” and how you hope listeners interpret them?
I think it’s best to have Andre answer this one… Here is his reply. The lyrical content originates from several different sources but most of those of the subject matter in question are from personal experiences and observations of experiences of people close to me. There’s some other lyrical themes on songs such as “Tony’s Deli” and “Your Rulers are Here” that are pure fantasy with intentional tongue in cheek humor but then there are songs like “Resurr’wreck’ed” and “The Rats are Back” that might seem like fictional stories but are in certain ways based on true events. “On all fours” is based off a fun personal experience but “Atomic Narcotic Withdrawal ” is a story with links to a much darker time of life. I had some personal intention of writing songs for “It’s Only Midnight” my hopes for the listeners is that anyone taking the time and interest to read along has a good time doing so. There’s some unpleasant subjects conveyed on this album but I hope people have fun with the experience.

Your music often features unconventional chord progressions and complex time signatures. How do you approach incorporating these elements into your songwriting and what do you feel they add to the overall sound?
I think a lot of Deathgrave’s music begins with riff’s that just come from the gut. Anything can be a riff if you can consistently repeat the pattern enough. To me, it’s really all about writing riffs that sound sick and are less predictable, yet not alienating to the listener. Changing time signatures while abandoning traditional scales is a great starting point. If you swing too far in the direction, it will probably just sound like shit or you just sound like some snooty music school graduates. I’ve always admired how Frank Zappa wrote a lot of music in odd time signatures while making the actual song sound like a bonehead 4/4 pop song. I feel like we try to implement this technique into our songwriting as well.

As a musician with decades of experience in various bands, can you discuss any lessons or insights that you’ve gained throughout your career that have impacted your approach to creating music with Deathgrave?
Don’t let the genre of music you play define your riffs. Initially, a band will reach a higher level of success if they stay inside the parameters of their claimed genre with proper “marketing”. But if you plan on creating multiple records, this will severely limit you to a “their early shit was better.” That being said, know your audience (if you even care) and keep your sound uniform.

Can you speak to your experiences being part of the metal and punk scenes in San Jose and the Bay Area? How have these scenes influenced your music and identity as a musician?
I grew up and still live in the East Bay (Oakland). But I spent a lot of time in San Jose where Andre and Fern grew up (and where we still practice). I must say both cities are very different animals. One thing they both have is a very rich legacy of bands in the past and in current times. Being friends with people you grow up listening to is an incredible advantage. Being friends with young and upcoming bands is very inspirational and keeps the scene vibrant. I do think all of these facts first schooled me on how to be a musician and pass the torch on. The bay area has always been known for heavy music beginning in the 60’s (and before when it comes to blues). This influenced me to play heavy music out the gate.

Many of your previous releases have been on limited-edition physical formats such as cassettes and vinyl. Can you discuss the importance of physical media in the current musical landscape and why you choose to release your music in this way?
We all grew up releasing music this way. We still collect and listen to music through these formats. The streaming and digital formats really only got its steam in the past decade so it’s still in its infant stage in the greater scope of things. These physical formats have survived for over half a century which says a lot. They sound and look superior with killer art, easy to read lyric sheets, and credits to all those who worked on the release. Streaming and digital formats are like snapshots on your phone. They are great for being able to explore new bands or listen to tunes while on the move. When push comes to shove, vinyl and other physical formats will always be a more invigorating and an intimate way to listen to music. On a whim, digital streaming could become less accessible to us and can vanish instantly once you forget to pay your monthly fees, infrastructure collapse, no internet, etc. With records and tapes, you will always have them (barring some type of personal / natural disaster).

You’ve been involved in various other bands such as Autopsy, Brainoil, Laudanum, Graves At Sea… How has your experience in these bands influenced your approach to writing and performing music with Deathgrave?
To be honest, I can’t say they have beyond just giving me the courage to write and release music.

What’s next for Deathgrave after the release of “It’s Only Midnight”? Are there any upcoming projects, collaborations, or tours that you can share with us? See you!
Plans we are ready to talk about is:
A record release gig in San Jose April 15th.
Tour w/ Necrot & Mortiferum May 12th-20th
PNW shows July 6-11
A few shows in Mexico in Sept
We do have a few other things in the works but they are in the infant stages at this time.

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