Grieves Wants To Tell You A Story: Interview

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: A midget, The Outlaw, and Grieves walk into a club . . . Actually I’ll let Grieves tell it.

I caught up with Grieves via T-Mobile signal while he was out in Portland, a few days before the Rhymesayers Soundset Festival. We got into Together/Apart(released yesterday so pick it up, HERE), the process for the new album, and definitely a lot more. . . Oh yeah and that thing about the midget & The Outlaw.

@bjones21: I’m here chiming in for the phoner today.
@Grievesmusic: Yeah I’m into it. I was supposed to do another one before you guys, but they’re not as punctual as you are. You’re at 12:20pm on the dot.

BJ: HAHA yeah I just noticed that myself. Ya know we try to keep it together; make sure you guys get your shit done & same here.
G: I appreciate it more than you can possibly know.

BJ: Where you at right now?
G: I am in the basement of some college, in Portland.

BJ: You have a performance there then, headed to Soundset?
G: Nah I got a lady friend out here, and she goes to college and wanted me to sit in on her ideology class; and I told her I didn’t want to. So I went to Seattle’s Best and got a Chai Tea while she’s in class, and now I’m in some weird basement, while she has a meeting with her study group and i do my rap interviews.

BJ: Alright not bad, is she just a lady friend? Just handshakes and that’s all?
G: Yeah just a lady friend.

BJ: Let’s jump into the new album.
G: Yeah.

BJ: What was the process this time around For Together/Apart?
G: Well this time around its different in so many different ways, because its our first record with RSE [Rhymesayers Entertainement]. By first record, I mean its the first record we sat down and created 88Keys was a rerelease of a record that was already made at that point. So it wasn’t like a record that we sat down and went through the process of creating a record with Rhymesayers. This one’s new for us. Also we tapped into a lot of outlets than before with this record, in terms of distribution and promotion and how that goes.

So there was like . .. I don’t want to say pressure, but there is a want to and a need to do good, ya know. But the thing was since we just signed with RSE, we were working a lot. We were doing artist dev stuff, so I was on the road a lot, and it was hard for us to actually sit down and conceptualize and create a coherent batch of music because we kept havng to leave, we’d be flustered and in a different space than when we left, and it was hard to really sit down adn really make something; a giant consistent batch of music to pick from. So Budo and I would get a little flustered until we really sat down with all the little batches of music we made; there we found our consistency and that was that flustered. it was that tension in the music. A lot of the music represents that tension cuz we’re not home and we’re not able to spend a lot of time around our friends and family, and we were living our lives ya know like the record, Together/Apart.

B: Is that kinda what you wanted to impart on this album versus 88Keys and Irreversible, what kinda makes this one different?
G: What makes this one different is it is 100% sample free. 88keys was a dabble into that world for us, cuz Budo and I have been playing for years, and we’ve done a lot of sample free production but we didn’t go 100% on that record. On this one its completely sample free, but me being comfortable in the things I like, I didn’t want to sacrifice some of the textures and some of the sonics you get from sampling old vinyl. So we really found the vinyl vibe. its something we haven’t done before, but it wasn’t uncomfortable to people that are already comfortable with our sonics; its not stepping out of the box. Like when people go “Oh we really stepped out of the box with this one” and then their fans then go “Ooooh Shit, There’s gonna be tons of kuzoo solos or some shit on here”

G: So yeah its not like that.

B: Do you play any instruments?
G: Yeah I do, I play the keys and I play guitar.

B: Did you guys bring in anyone else to build the sound?
G: All of the baseline, all production and everything was him and I. Then there were 2 songs that had samples in them originally, with the beat, that we had to reconstruct the music without any samples. For those we brought in a saxophone player, and we also used a session violin player for one of our songs “Falling From You”

B: And working with Budo, is that just a comfortable space, is there anybody in particular in the future you’re looking to work with in the future?
G: Budo and I have always really clicked. Ever since the first song we made, which ended up being “Catapults” off of 88keys. We were just linking together making songs that day, and we got to talking and we’re pretty like minded on the things we’re interested in and where we want to go as far as releasing music goes. After we made that song, we made a couple more, then all of a sudden we have a record out, and then all of a sudden he’s on the road. Now we’re like joined at the hip.

B: I really like the sound, it keeps that sort of coherent space between you guys; you’ve got the MC and the producer, and that’s pretty fly to me; that old school element to it.
G:I love it cuz it carries over our dynamic from the studio onto the stage as well. Cuz I don’t want to be one of those one man band sorta things doing everything myself; I actually don’t really enjoy doing that. I enjoy my role as far as the live performance goes, and Budo gets to carry over a lot of the stuff he contributes in the studio and he gets to take that to the stage and do it in a different way. I think that makes the music that we make . . . it keeps it fresh for us. Cuz we have to play it over and over and over, it really helps to bring it together on stage the way we do.

B: What was kinda the grind of the last 2 years where you guys were just touring constantly?
G: Yeah we were on our road warrior shit, I think we did 150 dates in 2009. We’ve been on the road since we signed with RSE; we haven’t been off the road for more than 2 months I think.

B: Damn, Damn
G: Its fine ya know. A bit hectic and crazy, but you get to see the fruits of your labor. Especially on the last Atmosphere tour, it really sinked in from all that labor, the time with the band, the touring that its really starting to pay off now.

“She’s propped up against our van and puking out her ass!”

B: What’s been the craziest shit you’ve seen while out on tour?
G: haha um good?

B: Well good as in interesting? good could be bad, good could be fucked up, but you know interesting.
G: Um, do you want it “G”, Do you want it “R”, Do you want it “X”?

B: Go wherever you want with it. I think the better hits come with the “R” & the “X”.
G: I think we were playing . . . It was some tour we were doing in the winter; it was a headlining thing. I think it was called the Winter Wonderfest. We were playing somewhere in Montana in this basement and it was a super cold night, really bad snowstorm, and it wasn’t a bad turnout at all. I don’t know if this si the politically correct term to use, but there was a midget walking around. He puts on a show. He was walking up to people and doing a little jig, and it got a laugh out of people. Then he’d look up at your face and say “Buy me a beer?”. I’d be like “Ahh man I don’t know, I don’t know about that.” Then he said “Well my mom just died” I was like “Ah shit I’m sorry, when did that happen? You probably shouldn’t be here” And he just goes “Huh, 14 years ago”. So he was an interesting character.

As the night went on he’d continue to do that. There was a homeless guy sleeping in the doorway, and it was cold out, so the cops tell him “You can either go into the show or go to jail, but you can’t freeze to death.” The guy’s like I have no money to go to the show, and this guy is wearing a bomb leather trenchcoat and hair down to his shoulders. So the cops pay for his ticket to the show. He calls himself The Outlaw. So he comes in and he and the midget immediately become best friends. We’re hanging out at the show and we decided if they carry all of our shit out to the van, then we’d buy them a couple beers.

So we march out to the van, and the clubs are getting out. So we see this girl in a black cocktail dress, ya know dressed to the 9s; and I mean she was fine. Now she’s leaning up against our van as the midget and The Outlaw are carrying our stuff out to the van – and she’s shitting.

G: She’s propped up against our van and puking out her ass!

G:At that point in time I just had to sit back; I’ll never get to experience anything like this except out on tour.

B: Cot damn, a midget, a homeless man, and a chick shitting next to your van.
G: Just shitting in the street. It was pretty disgusting, but at the same time you couldn’t look away. And then The Outlaw and the midget are assholes themselves, they’ve got their own problems, but they’d never shit in the streets.

B: What was their reaction, what were they thinking?
G: We all sat back and watched that unfold. We lost ourselves for a moment; there was no longer a midget, The Outlaw, and rappers, we were just bystanders at that moment.

B: Any guilty pleasures? Any half embarrassing shit that you don’t really tell people, but you’d tell us since we’ll blast it out to millions of people?
G: Not guilty, but definitely Maker’s Mark.

B: Yeah that’s a good one.
G: I like socks, a fresh pair socks, i put that on the rider. I don’t do anything like some sort of taxidermy bear head, but I would like to just put that in.

B: Shit do it next time just to see what you can get out of it.
G:You know we have the rider so we can ask for certain things. You know what I think would be really cool is to take all of that money and ask for a component to something every night.

B: What would you create at the end of it?
G: I don’t know just anything you can compile, like notecards or something. Just something random you can make with random pieces of things you get everyday.

B: I saw on your twitter your, Bums Got Guns rap. You got any more verses?
G: HAHAHAH I just put that up immediately, so I hadn’t developed the concept of the song yet. I was sitting at a bus stop outside of Safeway, and this bum was like “Motherfucker I got guns (garbled message) and I will cap you”. I’m just like “Damn they can’t afford anything, but they got guns” Right now I don’t have anything else written yet.