I pick a booth by the window, bathed in just the right amount of sunlight and pop in my headphones. One sip of freshly squeezed orange juice, hold the champagne on this Sunday (Peter Pan is growing up, I know) and I try to limber up my fingers to tackle the writing ahead of me. Just on cue though, I hear through the noise of my own music, a familiar tune falling out of the overhead speakers in the coffee shop; “Riptide.” It’s not the high, bouncy voice of Vance Joy that I hear though. It is, however, another Aussie band whose cover of the top 40 hit still reverberates in my head from the previous evening. The Griswolds, Aussie rockers, paid tribute to their fellow home countryman when they played at the House of Blues on November 7th alongside a bill of great bands; Lolo, New Politics, and headliner, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.
I got to catch up with The Griswolds before their set and luckily for everyone involved it was only recorded with audio. 😉 My shaking knees and off beat laughter will only forever be imbedded within the cracked screen of my iPhone 4. Also, lucky for me, these dudes were as down to earth as their lyrics about tequila shots and missing home.
As the door opens, it’s as if I’ve stepped into a portal of some kind of second world. Beer cans decorate the room (PBR is the nectar of these rock gods) and I barely miss treading on one band member who’s receiving a pre-show massage from who I later realize is opening act singer and absolute angel banshee, Lolo. We exchange handshakes and names (is this real?!), and we’re off!
I make a Coming to America reference as I welcome the guys to the United States for this tour. Lachlan West, drummer of the band, is quick to chime in,
That is my favorite movie of all time, Eddie Murphy at his absolute best. And now he’s gone steadily downhill.”
He chuckles, “Oh God, Daddy Day Care 2 …” It won some Oscars, I’m pretty sure, I jab. “If not, it should have,” he pans with a sly smile. These are my kind of guys. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and we ease into talking about their debut album, Be Impressive, which is now just over one year old (released August 25, 2014). “It’s very tongue in cheek,” Chris Whitehall, lead singer, says as he moves his impressively curly blonde locks out of his face.
We were just really pissed off at our record label putting pressure on us to write a good album and be impressive. So we were just like, f–k this, let’s write a song about ignoring those pressures. It’s a bit of a joke actually.”
Lachlan adds, “You only get one shot at a debut album. You can’t try and better it later. You have to get it right the first time. It’s all about trying your best and having fun.”
That attitude really reflects on the record as it has an uplifting aura and is filled with dancey uptempo tracks. “America,” on the album, talks about the being on the road and being away from home. The boys inform me that is a 17 hour time difference between here and their native Australia. Beer is the general consensus among the band of how they deal best with the toll a tour can take.
“I don’t think anyone deals well, really. I mean you learn how to cope with it, call home regularly,” Chris says, “but we have eight people out here on the road with us. We’re a pretty tight crew. We’re all really close.” They’ve made some pretty good pals along the way too, name dropping the likes of high energy Ohio natives, Walk The Moon. Through sips of his beer, Chris explains, “We just like to blow off steam. We’re all going through the same sh*t. Our buddies in Walk The Moon taught us how to play Ultimate Pool. It’s a game where you’re throwing the pool balls all over the table and then running around to the other side. It’s quite physical.” There’s drinking involved of course. Count me in. I’m rapidly mind mapping the fastest way to a billiard lounge so they can teach me this game after the show.
There are several items, other than beer, that make them feel at home on the road, though. As if I have cued a children’s choir, they all shout in unison, “Socks!”
We always pack a bunch of socks and deodorant. You all have sh*t deodorant over here, smells horrible. I bring like three cans,”
lead singer, Chris says. I can’t say I disagree. They laugh when I state I wear famed men’s brand in the U.S., Old Spice. It’s not on the top of my list to smell like sweaty lavender, sorry Dove. (Note to self; what IS making a list, Sweaty Lavender would make a sick band name.)
They do, however, have some American favorites in the food category. One of their Florida staples is Pollo Tropical as far as fast food goes. They are fortunate enough to have traveled all over the United States and have go-to’s all over. “There’s Gino’s deep dish in Chicago and this nice little breakfast joint out in Denver. We have our spots wherever we go,” Chris states. “We try a beer wherever we go too, probably not a good habit. We’re actually collecting all the cans and gluing them to the top of our van. I’m kidding. That would be so dangerous.” My turn to suggest a drinking game, wizard. I explain that after every beer you drink, you then stack them on top of each other and see who has the biggest wizard staff by the end. “Sounds like a game I’d f–king win,” says Chris perfectly on cue. I don’t disagree.
Daniel Duque-Perez, guitarist for the band, joins us all mid interview and we veer back to the topic of BE IMPRESSIVE. A line on a deeper track from the album. Opening track, “16 years,” stands out to me. “There’s nothing like being alone on a New York Street–Gives everything some meaning.” “Fun fact, I actually wrote that while walking alone in Times Square at like, 3 in the morning. It was actually really cool. We weren’t even touring at the time. We were away to write the album.” I found it to be a 50/50 topic among bands on whether they’re inspired to create while on the road. Lachlan speaks eloquently on the subject, “You have such an exact schedule while on tour that it’s hard to sit down in a van and write. It’s conducive to the creative process.” They did say that they were working on a second album at the moment, though.
When not writing their own music, they are playing on repeat some of their favorites at the moment.
“I’ve been absolutely smashing that new Tame Impala album every single day,”
Chris animates as he runs his fingers through his hair. I mention how I saw Fidlar on their Spotify playlist and Dan fesses up that was his addition. “I’m absolutely loving the new name of the album, Wipeout. It’s a pretty big statement to do an album like that.” They mention other bands such as Twenty One Pilots, and their friends, The Mowgli’s, as other listens their spinning right now.
The crowd roars up behind the closed curtains which, if opened, would reveal an unkempt crowd as Lolo’s lights illuminate the stage. “It’s about to get loud in here,” Lachlan warns. The tour manager comes in and let’s me know that it’s time for the guys to get ready. I feel as though the wrap up music for my Oscar acceptance speech is playing and I haven’t even thanked my Mom and Dad or tiny baby Jesus or my agent! One more lightning round of questions?! I’m obliged a last couple of minutes and resident drummer and bleach blonde babe, Lachlan, grabs my phone, holds it in the middle like a 1950’s doo wop mic and smiles, “Alright let’s get close in here.” (Men’s deodorant doesn’t seem so silly now!)
I ask them to detail what 2016 looks like for them as they finish up the “Wilderness Politics Tour” to round out this year.
We have a tour already lined up for next year, a world tour. New music, new album,”
Chris coos into the phone. “I’m actually working on my own booty care line,” Lachlan throws in with a dead serious face. “You work on your end, I’ll work on my end.” Not a bad slogan. How can I get in on the ground floor of this? Nicki Minaj apparently won’t return his phone calls. Join the club.
Spirit Animal: Koala or Kangaroo. “Koala because they get high all the time and have STD’s like me,” Chris says followed by, “what a terrible joke.” There’s my pull quote.
Pick a favorite Australian: Hugh Jackman or Chris Hemsworth aka Wolverine or Thor. This a no brainer for the guys as they are all in agreeance, Hugh Jackman. “He’s a beautiful family man and can go from tap dancing on Broadway to f–king people up as Wolverine” Lachlan says. “Chris Hemsworth is too pretty. Too pretty for me,” Chris says shaking his head. His bandmates joke, “He’s like an upgraded version of you, Chris 2.0!” The lead singer is ready to adopt the superhero nickname.
If you could tattoo your own lyrics on your body, what would they be?
“I would just get f–k somewhere, we say that a handful of times,” Lachlan laughs. “I actually have my own lyrics tattooed on me but I’m not telling you what they say,” Chris chimes in as he hides his arm. “You Always Pay For It SomeHow.” He pulls aside the collar of his shirt to reveal the odd rearranging of letters, YAPFISH. “I’m sure that will be in the next album.”
“I actually want that to be the title,” the drummer adds.
“You heard it here first, exclusive. [New Album] YAPFISH.”
Just like that, a picture is taken, high fives exchanged, genuine thanks uttered and I’m on the other side; out into the real world.
These guys are the real deal. They don’t pretend to hold some kind of wholesome candle out into the music realm hoping to appease everybody. They cut the bullshit, down a beer, and play from the heart. It’s clear to see once they hit the stage why they never doubted themselves when starting this career. The audience is with them 100% and I’m bouncing out of my seat trying to keep up. 2016 holds a lot for The Griswolds; new music, world tour, booty care products, and workout videos. I’m all in, whatever it is.
Later on in the evening after their set, front man Chris is seen with spray painted, sweat-matted, pink hair and is spotted sitting cross legged on the floor in a circle of googly-eyed girls. Eat your heart out Chris Hemsworth.
The Griswolds Interview by Staff Writer, Sarah Schumaker.
Feature Photo courtesy of http://wearethegriswolds.com
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