Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009


Grand Head

From their self-titled new CD...release gig at World Famous Kenton Club Saturday, January 23


Portland, Oregon-based brothers - Barry Brusseau (guitar, vocals) and Tim Ward (drums), both of well-respected pop-punk band The Jimmies - have come together to form the duo Grand Head, a doom-metal act celebrating the release of their debut, self-titled full-length January 23rd at the World Famous Kenton Club.

 Also on the bill are Disenchanter, The Thornes, and Old Kingdom.  Tickets are $5.00 at the door and the show starts at 9pm.
"In my spare time I had been working on some drawings.  It was just seventh grade level stuff, but my brother said that it looked like art that could represent our debut record.  All my drawings were head shots, copied from Justin Hampton's comic Twitch.  We toiled in Tim's basement, putting together short and violent bursts of blood and guts.  We were striving to be creative and heavy.  We wanted to be grand!  Thus, Grand Head was born," says front man Barry Brusseau on the origin of the band, the self-titled album's cover art, and the band's name.
He continues, discussing the growth and progress of the band, and the creation of the full-length stating, "My brother and I played in The Jimmies from 1989-2003.  All those years of working for something better in a punk band, watching our dreams die hard.  Now, we were doing music for fun, just two brothers emerging from the past with new energy.  We went from The Jiimmies, which was melody with intensity, to raw and thudding devastation."
The result is the twenty-five minute, nine-track assault that is Grand Head, a cathartic record that taught these two that playing loud music was indeed fun again.  But, it was no easy feat to make this record.  The duo stumbled in the beginning, before finally coming together and realizing what they wanted to do.
"The two of us started what would become Grand Head when another artist asked us to back him on one song at his CD release show.  We did, turning his folky-electric ballad into a real Sabbath-y doom number, raw with punk melody.  So, for Grand Head we tried to re-create that feeling, but it just fell flat and we abandoned the idea as well as some of the songs we were working on," admits Brusseau.  "We emerged from that defeat, though, less doom-based and more a true mix of our influences, somewhere in between Celtic Frost, Harvey Milk, Black Flag, and The Melvins.  It's heavy on riffs, light on vocals."
Coming out of the basement to play their first show, the band played nine songs and then booked studio time at Type Foundry with Adam Selzer.
"Vocals are a tricky thing in metal," Brusseau says of the initial recording sessions.  "The same is true with overdubbing and layering your sound.  If you sing too much, it sounds dangerously too nice and fratty.  And, if you put the monster effect on the vocals it sounds scream.  Then again, if you do nothing to it, iit might sound thin and dry.  We didn't see this problem coming in, and in the end we had to go back and take the echo off the vocal, and just add a little reverb.  Since we only have one guitar we tried overdubbing another guitar track, but it just sounded over-produced.  We just kept it simple and raw with one guitar.  The low end comes from running simultaneously an old Music Man with an octave pedal."
Brusseau also admits he struggled with the lyrics for the album, stating that "lyrics are tricky, too.  Satanic leanings, death and brutality topics, and war.  None of felt right.  So, instead I started thumbing through my personal journals, pulling ideas and lines from my daily writings.  The result is that some songs only contain two or three lines.  The songs, thus, are riff-heavy, sparse on lyrics, and sparse on vocals."
The result is a sound that has brutality, like gasoline has been poured all over the hills and set ablaze, but maintains it's raw immediacy and sharp teeth.

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