The Key Studio Sessions: Grayling

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While Philly alt-punk upstarts Grayling packed up after its Key Studio Session this week, frontwoman Lexi Campion told us a story about an old drum teacher.

It was back when she was ten years old, early on in her percussive education. She went in for a lesson, and to her dismay at the time, her teacher said they were going to spend a day learning how to take the drumkit apart and put it back together, to screw and unscrew all its miscellaneous hardware components, to tune and retune the snare and toms. “You need to know how to do this stuff,” she was told.

To reiterate: Campion was ten. And getting such a diligent education early on shaped who she is as a musician today, it instilled a work ethic that carried into her two bands — the math-pop outfit Edelweiss (where she spent a year and change killing it on drums) and the more recently formed Grayling, where she runs the show.

The band is loud and dynamic, heavily informed by blazing punked-up modern rock — there’s some Fall Out Boy bravado in there, for sure. But there’s also a touch of introspective indie and emo, and you can definitely hear the fragility of Grayling’s recent tourmate Julien Baker in Campion’s aching vocal delivery.

She says the band began as a creative outlet that extended beyond drumming; as much as Campion loved playing in Edelweiss, she was limited to the beats. And in addition her background as a drummer, she’s played guitar since her early teens. So late last year, Campion started writing and recording the songs that would be come the Everything That Burns EP, released in April on local charitable label NDE Records. The music you hear on the EP was almost entirely played by Campion, with producer / engineer Evan Rudenjak filling in gaps.

As a live band, Grayling is filled out by Campion’s brother Greg on rhythm guitar, as well as bassist Sean Rynkewicz and drummer Nicco Piagessi. In addition to lead vocals, Lexi does lead guitar as well — something you don’t see super often, but a skill that makes perfect sense considering that she’s been playing music for literally half her life. Anthemic rager “Indigo Child” opens the set, a soaring new song not found on the EP; the brooding single “Bidding War” follows, as does the catchy-as-hell “Tired.”

And then there the stirring dynamism of “Empath” which rocks the set to a close; watch a video of it below, via VuHaus, to get a vibe on the Grayling live experience. You can also grab a free download of the full set via Soundcloud. And then mark your calendars: they play The Fire with Honeytiger on Friday October 7th, and then take the stage at Bourbon and Branch on Monday October 10th. Tickets and more information on both shows can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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