It is pretty surprising that Grandchildren are still a band given what they have been through since releasing their cinematic debut Everlasting back in 2010. Others would have thrown in the towel, but instead Grandchildren have come out re-energized, with a clearer trajectory and a intuitive, collaborative new album called Golden Age (out May 7th on Ernest Jenning Record Co.). In anticipation of their show at Underground Arts this Friday we met up with Aleks Martray, Roman Salcic and David Fishkin to talk about what has changed in the Grandchildren camp since their last album.
1a. Label Disintegration
Aleks Martray: Our original label (Green Owl) ceased to exist. That was a rollercoaster, nightmare scenario. We had finally got this new label on paper and in our heads it was a great thing. You know, Warner imprint label, Ben Bronfman, MIA connection all these name-dropping superficial opportunities. And we were able to tour, put out a record. We were finally able to make to make a little money get a little licensing opportunities and within months it sort of disappeared. And you realize it is smoke and mirror when people are name-dropping that much, so it is all just an illusion.
So the worst thing that happened at the time was we went from feeling like everything was on track, to being back to square one, but the way I look at it now, that was really the moment when I decided to start writing a new record, and I was going to do everything I wanted to do with the first record but didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I had a clear vision for what I wanted to do, so it was real momentum to get back to the drawing board artistically and be like, you know, “all this other industry bullshit aside, what kind of music do I want to make?” So it was a real motivating force. Maybe for a few weeks it was a little disillusioning, but then I got back on the horse and I was like, this will be good, this will ground me again.
1b. Finding A New Home
AM: We had been on the radar of Earnest Jennings for a couple of years now. We had been talking and indirectly crossing path with them. When the record was finally finished they were the first people we connected with and they were really excited about it. We were really looking for a label that didn’t care about how many names you can drop or connections you have. We wanted somebody who is psyched about it who has the experience and track record of putting out good music and it was just the perfect fit.
Roman Salcic: Our contract this time was two pages, last time it was 46.
AM: And the second page of this contract was me making sure nothing happens like it happened last time. And it was never worrying about the label, one you go through something like that you never want to go through it again. That being said, it’s a much clearer relationship much more based on the artistry of what were doing.
2. Band Rebirth
RS: I think another thing that happened to Grandchildren since the last album is that in a sense we died and had a rebirth. Mended. We are better now as a group as we ever were and it is because we’ve gone through like I don’t even know how to explain it, it’s almost like an exorcism, and I’m talking about really private, personal things that we managed to fix, and once we did, we discovered a new beginning. So there is a real sense of everything is new, even though it’s more or less the same. So that’s a big thing, we nearly collapsed and through that process we discovered we were really strong.
AM: I think that affected how the album turned out. It affected the sense of people’s roles were really clear, and what people wanted to get out of the project was really clear. We went through that roller coaster together, so once you have that bottom drop out, you lose that feeling of life is an evolution of upward trajectory. It is all over the place, it is almost non-linear. You do your best and try your hardest and make the music you want to make and take opportunities when they come and you don’t get as discouraged when things don’t work out. So on a personal level, we all weather that storm together. We’ve toured the country numerous times, so we went through all of that together and I think the past 2 years since the last record we really just realized what the priorities were and what it was like to collaborate constructively.
We just got older and wiser. We don’t get hung up on the small insignificant stuff. We realize it is a big world, there are tons of bands, everyone and their brother has a band, we just have to recognize the uniqueness of what we have and run on it. We are a team, if we are butting heads internally we have no chance, so I think we started connecting on a level where the harmony within the band was that we are going to move forward no matter what, and not worry about external forces.
RS: We were born out of real and perceived friendships, that we’re like a family, and we functioned kind of like a family for a while and then the family just stared to break down. And now we are probably more so like a family, but we’re a band, and that’s where the priority of the relationship is.
3. Touring with Man Man
AM: When we toured with Man Man, we all really loved and appreciated their showmanship, their personality, their energy on stage, and we really loved it and saw what we could get out thinking towards that. But also, we’re not Man Man, were not that. So it’s not about emulating or being someone else. That is the great thing about touring with another band, is like, you recognize your learning curve and what you want to aim for but you also see what you are and you embrace it. One thing that has been really great with this record is that I had a draft of the record, I had most of the songs laid out and we figured out some of them live and toured on them. And in touring on them I got to listen to them every night and rethink them and use audience feedback, see how people respond to different parts, and when I came home I finalized the record and that’s when I started working with Chris Powell from Man Man and Bill Moriarty to finalize the record. So a lot of the final decisions came out of touring.
4. Danger Danger Gallery shutting down
AM: Honestly, it was a positive thing, it’s hard to see from the outside perspective, it was a great venue for local bands and bands moving through, but on an internal level, it was a positive thing. I know that Tristan (Palazzolo) and Russell (Brodie), who live there and own the place and basically run the place, they were basically burnt out. Imagine getting over 100 emails a day with everyone and their brother wanting to play there. It is a lot, and it’s not like you are making money off it. You do it because you love it, they did it for about five or six years because the loved it, but our band was being more active and we were going on tour and stuff, so it was just logical to tone it down and not do as many shows.
RS: You can’t stretch yourself too thin, we are the type of band that doesn’t have great popularity that we make our living just off of music. We have to supplement our lives by working, so you have a very active band and another job, and on top of that you are supposed welcome dozens of bands into your home? You just can’t. And we need a place to rehearse, that’s our headquarters now.
5. Making Babies like a Boss.
Multi-Instrumentalist Tristan Palazzolo is having a baby! Big moves. That is one step closer to the band having Grandchildren, at which point a black hole would probably be created.
Grandchildren plays a tour kick-off show at Underground Arts on Friday, March 1 with Son Step and Buried Beds. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the WXPN Concert Calendar.
Grandchildren, Underground Arts