10 Questions to Grifter

1. Hey fellas, please imagine for a moment that you do not have any experience in playing heavy riffs as you do now. What would you advise to the younger fellas when starting a band ?

This question comes up a lot…I guess we must look really old hahahaha! I think the most important thing is to enjoy what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. Play the music you want to play, the music that comes out of you and not the music you think will be popular. People can tell when a band is faking it. Never ever get into a band thinking you will make money from it…you won’t, it will cost you a lot of time and money! 

Make sure you get along with the guys in the band, there is nothing more hard work and destructive than being in a band with someone you don’t like…if things go well you could end up spending a lot of time with the guys, practically living with them for days or weeks on end so be respectful of each other. Finally make sure you have decent gear…the simple fact is bad gear will sound bad, plus if you want to share gigs with bands it’s good to have something decent you can offer them to share.

2. Do you have any hobbies in your lives besides riffs & beers ? Any regular jobs ?

Unfortunately we all work day jobs. I work in IT for an energy company, Phil works as a design engineer for a metalwork company and Foz is in construction. Outside of work and the band I think music in general is fairly consuming for all of us so we listen to a lot of music away from the band as well as spending time with our families, watching TV/Films/Reading…etc. Personally I’m a bit of a history geek so I like top visit places of historical interest…etc, but my family is less keen!!!

3. How do you access the current situation of the genre of heavy music in general, and particulary in stoner rock?

Although things are bad in the music industry there will always be heavy rock and roll as people love to play it and people love to listen to it, people just don’t want to pay for it! I have to admit for the most part I’m not too certain what’s happen in the wider heavy rock world right now as I tend to listen to a lot of older stuff from the 70’s and 80’s. Similarly when it comes to stoner rock I don’t really listen to it that much apart from a few bands. We’ve never thought of ourselves as a stoner band, just a heavy rock and roll band. We do have a healthy scene of underground bands in the UK who are doing some good things, working hard, playing some great gigs and putting out good releases…Suns Of Thunder, XII Boar, Tricorn, Stubb, Widows, Goat Leaf, Trippy Wicked, Enos, Desert Storm, Gurt, Bacchus Baracus, Gorilla, Mother Corona, Mage, Pist, Sigiriya, Ten Ton Tabby, Gonga, Druganaut, Lifer…all very cool bands who are worth checking out.

4. Who of the band members advised to choose “Grifter” as a band name ? Or was it a common decision?
We were struggling to find a name in the early days. Some of the first suggestions were Greedo, Teet and Simon’s F*ck Hammer but our drummer Foz one day suggested Grifter. The Grifter was a type of bicycle that was very popular in the UK when we were growing up in the 70’s and 80’s and Foz was a big fan of them. We liked the sound of the name and went with it. We found out later that it is also the name for a criminal who defrauds people for money…a con man so we thought that was pretty cool as well. It’s a bit different to all the bands who have Bong, Wizard, Witch or whatever in their name.

5. What inspires you when writing songs? Do you have any secrets?

Inspiration can come from anywhere…a riff, a chord progression, a rhythm…etc. We all listen to a lot of different types of music so anything can find its way in there. We are all big fans of music that has a groove and makes you want to move so there’s a lot of that in there and we also like to rock out to music that has a real high energy so some of our stuff gets pretty fast. Lyrically I tend to be inspired by all sorts of things…mostly people and the things that they do that I find amusing or ridiculous. People are such a rich source of inspiration, the human race is a very odd thing when you start to look at it in detail, at once remarkable yet utterly ludicrous! 

6. Grifter's last album is gorgeous and it's very true, some fans compares it with Clutch’s music. What can you say about that?

Thank you, I’m glad you like it. We’re flattered by the Clutch comparisons. When we started out 11 years ago they were definitely a huge influence on us and they are collectively one of our favourite bands. I think the comparison is less relevant nowadays as I think we’ve developed our own sound now. I think the fact that we draw from the blues as an influence and we like our music to have a groove will always draw us comparisons to Clutch though as we operate in the same musical territory in that respect…but that’s cool. They are definitely one of the bands we would love to play/tour with.

7. What is the best\worst gig in Grifter’s history ? Remember any weird\funny details ?

Well in 11 years of doing this band we’ve done a lot of gigs, some great, some terrible. Oddly some of the smaller gigs in tiny venues with small crowds can turn out to be some of the best gigs with some of the best atmospheres. Some of the best ones would include headlining one of the stages at the first Desertfest. We played to a packed room and everyone was having a great time. The tour we did with Orange Goblin in 2012 was also a lot of fun. 

We played Bloodstock festival last year which is a big metal festival in the summer. We played the second stage on Sunday lunchtime thinking we would have a tiny crowd but it was full and we got an amazing reaction…then we got to go and watch Slayer, Anthrax and Exodus on the main stage later on. We always enjoy playing at The Anvil in Bournemouth as well, it’s a tiny venue but with a great atmosphere. Some band ones stand out. 

We were invited to play a biker rally outdoors which we thought would be an amazing event but it turns out during the course of the day no-one seemed to be watching a single band, they stayed in the beer tent chatting to mates…we just played and collected the cash and went home. There was another gig where we were headlining but we got messed around so much and the whole thing kept getting pushed back so by the time we went on no-one was left, we did two songs and walked off. We’ve done our fair share of gigs where promoters say they’ve worked to promote a show and loads of people will be there but when you get there they haven’t even put posters up in the venue, all they’ve done is put an event on Facebook. We’re a bit more selective about gigging nowadays.

8. If you’re really fond of something for the past times (book, tv series, fests, anything…) – please recommend it or not to our readers.

Good question! I’m a big film fan and could recommend stuff to watch all day. I could recommend the obvious stuff like Star Wars, Close Encounters Of the Third Kind, Angel Heart…etc but I recently watched a French film called Blue Is the Warmest Colour from 2013 about the love affair between two teenage girls. It’s by far one of the best films I have ever seen with some incredible acting from the two lead characters. I’m a big fan of French cinema anyway and this one blew me away completely. 

9. Can you name any fresh robust bands from the UK that we should care about ?

Apart from the obvious ones like Orange Goblin and Black Spiders all the bands I mentioned above are doing some really cool things. Suns Of Thunder are a particular favourite of mine…one of those bands who when we play with them make us feel nervous! We also played with Tricorn from Portsmouth recently who are a great band in the vein of Orange Goblin meets Alice in Chains. Our label mates Stubb are also worth a look, their new album is released in November if you like riff heavy psych rock. That’s just three for starters but all the bands I listed earlier are definitely worth checking out and run the gamut from balls out stoner rock to sludge to trippy psychedelia.

10. Do you have any ideas for new album ? Your future plans...

We don’t have plans for a new album as yet. Although we recorded the current album in the summer of 2013 it took over a year to be released so at the moment we’re concentrating on promoting this but we have started to write a few riffs and have the makings of two new songs that are sounding promising. Apart from that this year has been a little quiet due to family pressures but we’re planning to work hard in 2015. For the rest of this year we play a festival here called Hard Rock Hell in a few weeks that also features Blue Oyster Cult, Michael Schenker, Diamond Head, Girlschool, Y&T, Krokus, Big Elf, Truckfighters, Blues Pills, Queensryche amongst many others which should be a lot of fun. Next year we’re booking gigs and are hoping to tour the UK and Europe with our Ripple label mates White Dynomite who feature members of Roadsaw and Antler. We may even shoot another video at some point!

 (Questions by PhillO))) & Dron)