NadaMucho.com Interview: Great Grandpa
Q&A with Carrie Miller, Cam LaFlam and Pat Goodwin
The number of times I develop a juvenile crush on a band that’s yet to release a full album seems to have gone down in the last few years, so I was extra excited when I caught Great Grandpa earlier this summer at DIY music festival Big BLDG Bash.
The Seattle group – Alex Menne, Carrie Miller, Cam LaFlam, Pat Goodwin, Dylan Hanwright – put out a terrific 2015 EP, Can Opener, that opens with Menne telling us, “Hey I found a new way / I figured out” before “Cheetoh Lust” slips into a stately Pavement vibe with enough tempo changes to be interesting but not so many that it’s annoying.
“Mostly Here” and “Ram” are dreamier, more textured affairs with Menne boasting “I got my wish / I’m impervious to slips off steep cliffs.” With this debut you get the idea she’ll have the opportunity to find out soon, as the band crests many musical peaks in the coming year; this is a great group of songs.
Fourth track “Waterfall” is a lovely indie rock slow-jam classic worthy of inclusion on your mix tape alongside all those Built to Spill and Luna songs and closer “Let it Get Bad” finishes the set with one of those epic, thick-guitar-shouted-epic-choruses I love so much.
As rock critics, they tell you it’s lazy writing to compare bands to other artists who’ve come before them, but it seems relevant here given Great Grandpa seems to have carefully studied the best of guitar rock music from the 1990s and added it up in to something that feels their own.
The band opens our show tomorrow night with #41for2015 artists Marmot vs. Mammoth, as well as #SXWSixPack super-stars A Giant Dog and their Austin tour mates The Blind Pets. Great Grandpa will hit the stage at 8:30 p.m. sharp so don’t be late.
TheNadaMucho.com: Why did you call yourself Great Grandpa?
Cam: Originally I suggested the name for a friend’s project, and they didn’t choose it and months later when this project was getting started, someone noticed it on that old list and we all liked it. Plus it was better than the alternatives: BBQ JAZZ and OLD BOOBS.
Pat: My great grandpa had electroshock therapy…
Carrie: Should we make up a better reason?
NM: No, those are pretty good reasons. But “Old Boobs” has a nice ring to it too. Where did you guys come from all of a sudden?
Cam: The swamps of Montlake.
Pat: Most of us are/were in other projects both here in Seattle and elsewhere around the country. I’m also in Postmadonna, Dylan was in I Kill Giants in Boston and now also fronts Trashlord, Alex was in As it Starts and has been doing solo stuff for the last while, Cam is in Go Daijo and this is Carrie’s first band. Dylan, Cam and I all come from more niche backgrounds, math rock, instrumental, prog, so this is our first real foray into a more accessible, pop realm.
Carrie: We started making music together last August and had our first show this Halloween, so it’s been pretty exciting to see how quickly things have moved.
Pat: Most of the recording process took place in a basement in Montlake. After Broken World Media asked us to join their family it took a couple more months for a proper release.
NM: I adore your debut EP, Can Opener. What can you tell us about it?
Cam: Thank you! It features a very special zinger thinger in “Cheeto Lust,” aka the vibraslap.
Carrie: The songs were mostly written by Pat last summer. We fleshed them out with final lyrics and harmonies together until we recorded at Sound House in November.
NM: You guys remind me of many of my favorite angular guitar rock bands of the 90s without sounding too much like any of them. It makes me feel like all those years listening to Pavement and Polvo was time well spent. From whence did you derive this influence?
Carrie: I think a lot of it has to do with what we grew up listening to. We all grew up in the 90s and spend a lot of time listening to Weezer and Gwen Stefani.
Pat: I think for me, the angular guitar aspect is heavily influenced buy my love of, and years of playing math/experimental rock. Some of my favorite bands are groups like Tera Melos, Mars Volta, Hella and stuff on the Sargent House label. The pop sensibility is definitely more a result of nostalgia, and like Carrie said, growing up in the 90s listening to all the great alternative radio rock: Pavement, Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, Third Eye Blind, Nirvana, etc.
Cam: I had a big Don Caballero phase in high school. I liked a lot of records on Touch and Go. I always seem to come back to whatever those sounds are–abrasive but catchy.
Carrie: One of my favorite activities is listening to all the bands people compare us to, I’ll have to check out Polvo.
NM: That’s a good idea. Who are some of the other bands you’ve been compared to?
Cam: Speedy Ortiz and Pavement come up sometimes. Alex has been compared to Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. We’ve been hearing that we’re “heavy chill” ever since an early house show in Bellingham.
NM: What’s next for Great Grandpa? Are you working on a full-length?
Carrie: Yes. We have three or four new songs in our set list you might get to hear live on our upcoming tour…
Pat: I have a list above my desk of the demo’s we’ve currently made and it has 11 “definitely’s” and a few more “maybes.” We’re looking to record the full length this winter and hopefully have a big release later next spring or summer.
Carrie: The hardest part is deciding which household appliance to name it after…
NM: What about “crock pot?” Or maybe “waffle iron?”
Cam: Crock pot shows serious potential. Lawnmower, gramophone, nose trimmer..