NEW GRIFTER INTERVIEW IN MORKESKYE MAGAZINE!!!
Issue 14 of Morkeskye magazine features a lengthy and in depth interview with Ollie. This is a paper based magazine from Germany (in English) and is a real labour of love from its creator Thor Joakimsson. It’s well worth a look featuring bands such as Lonely Kamel, Audrey Horne, Glowsun, Amplifier and Kamchatka amongst others.
RACER FROM RIPPLE MUSIC BREAKS RADIO SILENCE!!!
Racer, or as we know him Todd, one of the brains (and stunning good looks) behind our label Ripple Music recently did an interview over at The Sludgelord blogspot…and he says some very nice things about Grifter.
“Interview with Racer from Ripple Music
Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing Racer, one of the geniuses behind ace record label – Ripple Music
Ripple Music are one of the best Record Labels I have came across when doing this blog. They have sent me some excellent releases to review. Like Stone Axe, Mos Generator and Cody Foster Army.
They are highly thought of within the Stoner, Sludge, Doom Metal scene. Their releases have been acclaimed across the board.
I am pleased to say that they have kindly agreed to do an interview with me.
Fuck Yeah. Which I am very excited about. So lets get down with the grooviest record label out there.
Q1 – Hi Guys, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today.
Ah, Mr. Sludge, we’re doing great. Working our butts off to get the music out there, but that’s what we love. So all’s good.
We started in 2007 as a music review site, The Ripple Effect. Pope and I have been friends for 20 years and we’re both dedicated dumpster divers in dollar bins, always searching for cool music that we didn’t know about. We started the Ripple Effect to spread the word on all the great music we’d uncovered and had in our collections; create ripples. Things grew and the Ripple Effect took off. Soon there was Ripple Radio on blogtalkradio.com and guests like Marky Ramone and Fee Waybill were stopping by. Then one of the bands we’d befriended over the years, JPT Scare Band – the legendary heavy acid rock band from the 70’s—wrote us and asked if we’d be willing to put their album out. One thing led to another, and soon Ripple Music, the Record Label was born.
We still run The Ripple Effect and Ripple Radio. Music is our passion, so besides putting out our own releases we still love spreading the word on work by other labels, bands, and individuals.
Q3 – What made you decide to just focus on the genres of music that you cover now.
Ripple Music puts out what we call Heavy Rock. Some stoner, some doom, some sludge, but none of it is quite typical of any of those genres. We like big heavy riffs, thick grooves and great songwriting and performing. Both Pope and I come to music from slightly different perspectives, so this is the intersection of our musical tastes.
The one criteria for a Ripple release is that we both have to love it. I mean really love it. 100% agreement between us, that it is music that lives in our bones. With that kind of commitment on our part, we can give the band and the release the love and attention and energy that it deserves.
Q4 – I must congratulate you on your superb releases so far. You have an outstanding roster of bands and musicians.
We’ve been blessed and really lucky. A lot of things took off when Tony Reed of Stone Axe and Mos Generator came on board with us. He’s a legend in the industry and a tireless worker and he needed a partner that’s as tireless as he his. Over all the years he’d been in the business, he’d never signed on with any label, but he liked the way we did business and decided to join us. He’s our George Martin. He’s such a great producer and technician that he’s mastered many of our releases and always gives it that ballsy heavy sound.
Lots of bands came to us fortuitously, like Grifter, who came in via The Ripple Effect where they sent their music for review. We dug em, asked them to contribute a couple of songs on our double-7” release Heavy Ripples, then asked if they wanted to do an album. To be honest, we weren’t prepared for how good the final release was gonna be. They totally outdid themselves. And they’re doing it again with their next album. And it seems that lots of bands do that for us. Although we thought they were great when we asked them to join us, the work they turn in blows away anything we anticipated. The new Devil to Pay album is another example of that. A freaking epic doom album!
I don’t know what we’ve done to deserve such great bands joining us, other than to say that when we formed we set out with the intention to be men of our words, do what we say we were going to do, and treat all of our artists honestly, fairly, and with respect. To this date, I’m proud to say that we’ve done that.
Q5 – How did you get involved with the bands on your label at the moment. They all speak very highly of you guys and the work that you do.
Thanks. We appreciate that. Most of the bands came in one way or another through the Ripple Effect. They’d sent in releases for review, we dug em, and set out to work with them in the future. I think almost all the bands came to us that way. Heck, Woody was a writer for The Ripple Effect long before we ever heard his band, Mighty High. Devil to Pay came to us from a very dedicated, devoted friend/fan who wouldn’t stop annoying us until we listened to the band. And man, are we glad we did!! Mothership is another band that kind of came in through the Ripple Effect as well as our sponsoring of the Metroplex Heavyfest rock festival in Dallas last year. After seeing them play live and hanging out with the boys, we knew they were our kinda band. Great guys. And that’s important because if we’re gonna make noise together, we have to like them and they have to like us. They become a part of our Ripple family.
Q6 – Do you still have regular jobs to pay the bills or is Ripple Music your full time job.
Oh, someday. Someday!!! Actually, we decided to bite the bullet and start the label when Pope lost his job as a manager in a construction company when the housing market crashed. That gave us the opportunity for us to realistically have the time to devote to the label. He puts in about 70-80 hours a week doing what he needs to do on the Ripple front (no weekends or holidays off). I still work a full-time gig and add in about 40-50 hours a week to Ripple on top of that.
We’re both married and our wives are angels and saints. They put up with us even before we formed the label (remember, Pope and I have been friends for 20 years) but now we really push em to the edge. But they’re amazingly supportive and help to keep us balanced by pulling us away from the label from time to time. As for friends, most are supportive and many have jumped in to give us a hand from time to time, like my buddy Paul who helps with the accounting or Chris who started us on the Ripple Radio Show. But to be honest, a lot of our friends really don’t understand the whole thing. They don’t get the idea of what we’re doing or the type of music or the mindset/passion. And there are always a lot of naysayers, who we ignore as if they were bad political commercials.
Q8 – Is is it a struggle running a label nowadays especially with the download culture going around on the Internet.
Yes. But not impossible. What the download culture has done has allowed the casual music fan to drop out of the equation for music sales. There are two types of people in this world; those who listen to music and those who love music. The music listeners are content with a download of a few songs or Pandora or XM Radio or what have you. They like music, but it’s not really that important to them. In the past, these people grossly inflated music sales numbers. If Janet Jackson put out an album and they liked one song, they’d buy the CD, since there was no reasonable way to get just the one song. Now, they download or steal the song. As a consequence, the sales of CD’s has plummeted.
Music lovers are different. They love music. It’s a tangible part of their lives. Some may be content with digital albums, (mostly for convenience) but many still want physical product. They love having a collection, a wall of music to look to and categorize and enjoy. They still buy CD’s and more and more they’re turning on to vinyl. Kids are turning on to vinyl too. They love the art and the size and the ability to hold the music, unlike a download. There’s also the whole ritual of pulling the vinyl out of the sleeve and laying the needle down onto the groove. A real tactile experience. And of course, the sound is much better.
Q9 – Now you run your own blog as well. Which is not unusual for a label but you do the same sort of stuff as ourselves and other great blogs and websites. Is that hard to do as well at the same time.
Sleep? What’s sleep?
Sure, it’s a challenge, but as we talked about, the blog actually came first, so it’s the founder of this whole madness that we call Ripple. We still love writing about music and digging through our collections and sharing what we find with others; our readers, who we call the waveriders. We wouldn’t be near what we are without the help of a bunch of dedicated music crazies who help pour through the submissions and write their hearts out about the music.
And just as importantly, since we started as bloggers, we’ve been amazed and truly appreciative of how tight and powerful the music blogging community is. We’re all friends with all these great sites, like yours and The Obelisk, and Soda Shop, Heavy Planet, Captain Beyond Zen, Cosmic Lava, Core of Destruction Radio, Sleeping Shaman, Broken Beard, and so, so, so many more sites and radio sites. These are all people who love music. It’s a shared passion amongst all of us, and that passion has created a brotherhood. I dig that. Through that brotherhood, I’ve made some great friends, like Bill at Soda Shop who I vinyl shop with every time I’m in Chicago, or Lee at Sleeping Shaman, who jumped in to help us when we had website problems.
And then you get a situation like Ed at Doommantia, who had health problems, big bills and lost his home. The whole community, including many bands, pulled together to put on a benefit concert and download album, with all the proceeds going to help get Ed back in a home. That’s brotherhood. That’s what this is all about.
Q10 – Your releases seem to have received a lot of praise amongst the Sludge/Stoner/Doom Metal crowd. Bet your pleased with the responses.
Pleased, shocked, stunned. And very appreciative. We never know how any particular release is going to be received, we just know what we like and what we believe in. To see some of the response to some albums has been beyond words.
Q11 – What are your favourite bands around at the moment. Do you listen to modern day rock/metal or do you just listen to the classic era of Stoner/Sludge/Doom Metal.
With the Ripple Effect still running, we listen to everything. We still get about 500 submissions a month, and we accept all genres, cause we have varied tastes. We’ll listen to everything from stoner to jazz to metal to African to punk to hardcore to doom to pop. It just depends upon how well they do what they do.
As for favourite bands right now – ignoring our own bands, of course—I know Pope’s hot buttons right now are Nightwish and Diablo Swing Orchestra, Wo Fat and Katatonia, amongst others, and he lives and dies by Iron Maiden. I tend more towards the rockier bands, like Roadsaw and SuperGiant and Siena Root, and also love Maiden, but I’m more the Di’Anno years while Pope is more the Dickinson years.
And we’re both still total fans. When a band sends in a submission that we dig, we’ll both still run right out and buy the vinyl even though we have the download. I just did that with Heavy Eyes and Orcus Chylde. And the new Arkona album kinda blew me away, so I’ll buy that when I find it.
It’s amazing. Our music is the underground right now, we know that. Stoner and sludge and doom aren’t mainstream material. Some of our releases get picked up by glossy mags, like Classic Rock or Metal Hammer and of course we love that, if it’s good for our bands. But we started in the underground with this amazing family of like-minded bloggers and writers and home radio DJ’s. They’re our extended family and we definitely aim to impress the members of our own community with great music and killer packaging.
Now, having said all that, one thing we’ve definitely noticed since we’ve been a Label is that our “underground” music is getting more and more exposure. Lots of previously Heavy Metal only magazines are regularly featuring Heavy Rock bands now. And bands like Baroness have really helped to break down some of those boundaries. We’ve also noticed labels that would normally be more metal inclined have been picking up some interesting bands, like Candlelight picking up My Sleeping Karma. Not something we would’ve seen a few years ago. I think people are clamouring for really, authentic rock music again. Music that dominated festivals and shows back in the seventies- organic and heavy and real.
That’s what we do. We bring on that sound.
Q13 – How do you decide on which band to sign to your label. Are their bands you have turned down but instantly regretted it.
As far as who joins on with us? It’s all about the music and its ability to capture us and fire our imaginations and hearts and souls. No band is ruled out, whether they’re new or old. All we ask is that the music really blows us away and sinks into our beings. Also, the band has to be working band, gigging, pushing themselves. No label can “make” a band, the band has to work just as hard. And it’s that partnership of hardworking band with supportive, hard-working label that can make something happen.
Q14 – I must congratulate you with your ever excellent work with the legend that is Tony Reed. How did you guys hook up with him and his great bands such as Mos Generator and Stone Axe. Plus producing Cody Foster Army excellent new album as well.
Ah, thanks. Yes, that relationship has blown us away. As has Tony’s ever present work ethic and professionalism. Plus he’s one helluva guy. A while back, Stone Axe played on the East Coast with Mighty High. Later Tony called Woody and asked if he wanted to put out a split single together, and Woody agreed. Tony asked if he knew a Label to do it, and Woody called me right away. We’d only been a Label for about 6 months at that time. I didn’t even let him finish the sentence “Do you want to put out a split with Stone Axe and . . . “ Yes!! I yelled.
Q15 – What are your future plans for the upcoming 12 months or so. Anything we should be excited about.
Oh God yes! 2013 is going to be a massive year for us. Seems each year just keeps getting bigger! New releases from Mothership and Devil to Pay are first up and they’re both killer albums. Grifter and Trucker Diablo should finish up new albums. We’re re-releasing the first original two JPT Scare Band albums of heavy, heavy psych as a 2-LP gatefold package. These albums haven’t been available in decades, and we have the first ever re-issue of Poobah’s classic 1976 album, “US Rock.” This album has been out of print for almost 40 years and sells for hundreds of dollars on ebay if you can find one. There’s always the possibility of more Tony Reed stuff, and we have two new band signings that we haven’t announced yet, but we’re really excited about.
Q16 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with Ripple Music.
Q17 – I have to ask this question but it has been a popular one. What is your stance with major league labels closing down blogs and websites that share links.
That’s a tough one, because I see both sides of the story. As a label, it does frustrate me when a blog uploads an album illegally. I mean, they just don’t have the right to do that. Forget us; the only people who should have the right for an album to be uploaded for free is the band. They created it. It’s their decision and only theirs. What makes it worse are some of these Russian and Greek sites that not only upload the album illegally, but then charge a fee to download it. That’s just blatant stealing from the band. And I’ll argue with those who say that the free downloading helps the band. It doesn’t. It doesn’t build their reputation in a helpful way, because even if folks get together and share the music with each other, they may live in an area where the band will not be likely to tour. So how exactly does it help the band?
On the other hand, we tend not to fight it. First, it’s way too much and too difficult to even attempt to do. And secondly, we’ve taken the stance that if the album is going to be downloaded, then we should at least use that in some way to the band’s advantage. So we pop over and leave comments and direct them to the Ripple Store in case they want the vinyl, or get news on future releases.
In the end, I think it’s more of a negative for the bands and the industry than many who download illegal music have any idea it is.
Q18 – Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans. (Well am a fan and I know a few of our readers are as well of your great label).
Oh yeah. We couldn’t do any of this if it wasn’t for those who love and support heavy rock. So thanks so much for sticking with us and helping us do what we do. We’ll keep living by our promise to try and bring you the best heavy rock we can find. And feel free to write us anytime and tell us what you’re digging. We love the back and forth and creating our releases to really connect with people
Well Guys Thanks for Doing This. All the best from ourselves at Sludgelord. Cheers. Steve.
So folks, there you have it from one of the coolest labels on the planet. Check this brilliant label from the links below:
NEW INTERVIEW IN SLUDGELORD!!!
Ollie recently did an interview for the very fine Sludgelord webzine. Big thanks to Steve Howe for doing this and to Lee at The Sleeping Shaman for hooking us up.
“Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing Ollie (Vocalist and Guitarist) from Grifter. The awesome Blues Rock/Stoner Rock Combo who have gained a whole load of praise for their superb S/T début album which I reviewed earlier this year.
Q1 – For People not in the know – Can you tell them how the band came about, When you formed etc…
Ah, this tale goes back to the mists of time. We formed in September/October 2003 in our original home town of Plymouth. Phil (bass), Foz (drums) and our original singer Nev were in a band called 16 Stone Mullet and I was in a band called Conrad. I was sick of my band and their guitarist was going to university so we hooked up and started jamming. By December we had a set together so we played a gig…then Nev walked off stage and left the band right there and then. Exactly one month later we were back at the same venue as a three piece with my good self taking over the vocal spot…and that’s the way it’s been ever since.
Q2 – How would yourselves describe your sound.
We always get called stoner/classic/blues rock or whatever…and that’s fine if it gives people something to hang on to as a description. But I think Phil summed it up best when he was talking to someone at a gig and they asked him what sort of music we play and he just replied Rock And Roll. That really sums it up but if I wanted to flesh it out a bit for people so they don’t go away expecting us to sound like Elvis I’d say dirty heavy rock and roll.
Q3 – Which bands influence you on your music.
I think like most bands we have direct and indirect influences. The direct influences would be bands like Black Sabbath, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Motorhead, Clutch, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mountain…etc but between us we have a huge range of music tastes from 90’s grunge to reggae and ska to punk to NWOBHM to blues to thrash to hip hop to 60’s soul and all of them have little creeping influences on what we do even if they may not be entirely obvious. It may be something as small as suggesting a bass line that draws from reggae even if the guitars are heavy and stuff like that.
Q4 – Is the band a full time project or do you have full time jobs to contend with.
I’d say it’s a bit of both really. We all have full time jobs…I work for an energy company, Phil works for a metalwork design company and Foz is in construction. On the other hand the band is pretty much at the forefront of our minds most of the time and we’re always thinking about some aspect of it whether it’s the music, promotion, business…etc. Fortunately the band pretty much pays for itself most of the time and any money the band makes goes straight back into the band.
Q5 – What is the song-writing process like in the band. Is it a whole band collective or individuals that write the music.
The song writing process is pretty much as it comes. Sometime songs just come out of jamming or sometimes Phil or I will come in with a riff…Phil tends to come in with a few riffs that work together in a sequence but I’m more likely to come in with a verse and chorus complete with vocals. We then get together and start to put flesh on the bones. Foz will find the groove, things will get twisted around a bit, the groove will dictate maybe what sort of middle section we’re going to use and it all gets built up from there. It’s very rare that anyone will come in with a whole complete song as we’re of the mind that one person’s ideas aren’t necessarily the best all the time and it’s everyone’s input into a song that makes it what it is. Even if someone does come in with a whole song it usually gets ripped apart and put back together again.
Q6 – You have received a whole load of great praise for your excellent début album. That most of took you by surprise. Are you happy with the response you have got so far.
The response to the album completely blew us away. Out of all the reviews we’ve had, which I think is getting on for about 40, we’ve had only 2 more negative reviews, maybe a couple that were a bit non committal and the rest have raved about it which is incredible. What really amazed us is when the end of year best of lists started to appear on various websites and we were on a whole bunch of them like The Obelisk, The Soda Shop, Heavy Planet, Chybucca Sounds…etc. We totally didn’t expect that and it’s quite humbling really to think that three scruffy buggers from the west country can plug away in quiet oblivion and turn out a bunch of songs that people rate as one of the best albums of last year.
Q7 – Your début album was released by the excellent label Ripple Music. How did you hook up with those guys. Great Label and run by a bunch of cool guys.
Ripple is an awesome label and we hooked up with them really at the start of their journey. They hadn’t even released an album when they asked us to work with them so we’ve been growing together. Basically they ran a review site first The Ripple Effect, and I sent them a copy of our previous EP for review. I’m not even sure at that point I was aware they were doing a label. Anyway, they loved the EP, gave it a rave review and then started to ask how we were fixed label wise and would we be interested in being part of a vinyl compilation they were thinking of putting together with Stone Axe, Sun Gods In Exile and Mighty High as all 4 bands had some links by playing together or releasing split vinyls…etc.
Q8 – What has been the reception like to your live gigs. Has it all been good responses. Any major live highlights so far. (I saw you guys perform an excellent performance when supporting Orange Goblin earlier this year).
At the risk of sounding big headed…and I really don’t mean to…the response to our live shows is always pretty amazing. Even if we play to crowds who don’t really know who we are we always seem to win them round and get a great reaction. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it’s because we actually engage with the crowd and try to get some sort of rapport going with them rather than staring at our feet plus, playing the style of music we play, it makes us want to move and we’re passionate about it and I think that sheer enjoyment comes across to an audience.
Gig highlights? There have been loads. Obviously the Orange Goblin tour was incredible, we had a total blast and were really taken aback at how good the reactions were every night…people chanting the band’s name…etc. Headlining the Black Heart stage at Desertfest was also a killer gig as was playing the Freak Valley open air festival in Germany. In 9 years worth of playing gigs we’ve been lucky enough to play with some incredible bands and play some killer shows.
Q9 – Do you get many gigs in your home. Or do you have to travel around a lot.
We could get a lot more gigs at home if we wanted but we prefer to spread them out so we don’t burn out the local crowd. We’d rather make the hometown gigs a bit more special and get other quality bands on than just do everything that’s going. It is difficult there though as venues have taken a hammering and so many have disappeared but a few people are still flying the flag and keeping it alive. Most of our gigs are further afield. We prefer to do that as it’s more fun for us to get in the van, have a road trip and get to play to new crowds and meet different people/bands.
Q10 – Does your family and friends support your band.
Our families are tremendously supportive. Phil and I are both married with kids and the band sometimes takes us away from them but they put up with it all and are very proud of what we do. Apparently I’m some kind of hero at my eldest daughter’s school!!!
Q11 – What is your opinion of the current state of the UK Sludge/Stoner Metal scene. Great bands coming through. Not enough cool venues across the UK to put them on.
There are some amazing bands who are working very hard to put out quality releases and gig as much as possible and keep the scene afloat. Venue/promoter wise it’s a lot harder but there are some that keep things going and they do seem to be able to put on good gigs and get good turnouts so there is definitely a scene there to build upon. It helps when magazines like Metal Hammer devote an entire cover mounted CD to up and coming UK bands of this genre as they did recently as it shows that people are taking notice. It would be great of there were more venues and promoters who could pay the bands for the travel…etc but I’m hoping it’ll pick up slowly.
Q12 – What are your fave bands around at the moment. Any new ones you can recommend for ourselves to check out.
Of the UK bands we have some amazing talent here. Mother Corona from Oxford have released an amazing album and the new Alunah album is incredible. General are band from Birmingham who’s new album has just come out on Catacomb Records and is a real killer , they have an awesome vocalist. Other ones to watch are Desert Storm from Oxford, Steak from London, Undersmile from Oxford, Smoke Pilot (formerly Medamaki) from Evesham, Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight and Stubb from St Albans, XII Boar from Aldershot, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell from Hastings…the list goes on.
On an international scale Ape Machine from the States are incredible, they have 2 self released albums out and are hooking up with someone very cool for the next album. We’re hoping to get them over to tour next year. Also The Lord Fowl album on Small Stone is a killer. I also have to give mention to our label mates Stone Axe, Mos Generator and Mighty High from across the pond for all releasing amazing stuff and our buddies in Sun Gods In Exile. Also check out Doctor Cyclops from Italy who have a new album out now on World In Sound…we toured with them in Europe and they totally rule. Finally check out Bushfire from Germany who have a killer sound and amazing front man.
Q13 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band.
The most rewarding are things like writing a killer song in practice and the buzz that we get from that, playing awesome gigs to amazing crowds and meeting new friends, getting amazing feedback for our album…etc. The downside is having to deal with all the business stuff and stressing about being able to afford to do stuff…we’d like to do a video but that costs, we have a new album to record and that costs…etc. Trying to get gigs that will at least cover petrol costs. It would be great to have someone on board who could deal with all that stuff for us so we can concentrate on the music as the bigger the band gets the more that side of things takes over. We’re getting there though, we’re building a good team.
Q14 – What is your view of bands and blogs giving away music for free. Lot of bands and people have different perspectives.
This is a tough one. I’m guilty of downloading stuff myself …though it tends to be older obscure hard to find stuff or stuff I already have on vinyl though I have grabbed downloads of other stuff to check out. It is certainly one way of spreading music far and wide and getting bands heard and I don’t think any band will turn their noses up at an increased fan base…it’s particularly rewarding when you get positive feedback from people about your stuff. On the other hand, being in a band is a huge financial commitment, similarly running a label, and bands need to make a return on their investment into their music to be able to continue doing it and illegal downloading does draw income away from the bands and labels so people downloading everything are running the risk of killing the industry.
Q15 – What advice or words of wisdom would you give to upcoming bands and musicians who are about to start a Sludge/Doom/Stoner Rock Band.
Make sure you have decent gear so you can get a decent sound from the off…stop using Matamps and Big Muff pedals, everyone has that sound now, you need to stand out. Also, don’t set out trying to be a stoner/doom/sludge band. Listen to a range of stuff and play what feels right to you not what you think will fit into a scene…don’t just copy your heroes as you won’t stand out from the pack and people like sincerity and a touch of originality. If you write a riff that sound like a dead ringer for Fu Manchu or whoever then bin it or rework it into something of your own. It’s a hugely over populated market and you need something to stand out…don’t forget all modern rock music springs from the blues, go back and listen to the source.
Q16 – Finally what are the future plans for the band. Do you have more tours planned or new releases we should be aware of.
We’re constantly working. At them moment we’re writing songs for album number two, we have nearly 7 songs in the bag now and we’ll look to maybe get another 3-4 written before we plan to head in and record. We’ve road tested some of the songs and the response to them has been amazing so we’re confident the album will be pretty strong. Ripple want to release the album and we have some plans to give it plenty of promo like shooting a video…etc Also Ripple have grown hugely as a label since the first one and will be able to make a bigger splash when this one drops.
Well guys thanks for answering these questions. All the best from all of us at Sludgelord.
GRIFTER INTERVIEW AND FREE DOWNLOAD AT THE SODA SHOP!!!
Ollie recently did an interview with Bill from the awesome Soda Shop website. The site are also hosting a free download of the track “Good day For Bad News” so read the words, grab the track and then buy the album if you haven’t already.
GRIFTER INTERVIEW AT THE OBELISK!!!
Despite illness on both sides, Ollie and JJ from the Obelisk manage to get through an interview and here are the results. Big thanks to JJ for running this.
INTERVIEW ON DOOMMANTIA!!!
Here’s an interview Ollie did for Doommantia. Many thanks to Mari for this.
In the meantime I got hold of Ollie Stygall, Grifter’s frontman: a friendly genuine rocker with a nice witty humour and a strong passion, as well as a highly appreciated reviewer for the fine UK webzine The Sleeping Shaman.
I guess you have a lot to say about the tour through UK with Orange Goblin and a lot of expectations and curiosity for the coming dates on the “continent” …
Ollie – Oh thank you Mari, that does seem to be the standard opening question…I’ve heard it so many times I’m tempted to start making up utter rubbish in response!!!
The tour with Orange Goblin was incredible. It was great to be asked by those guys to go on the road with them and they showed us a lot of genuine hospitality, kindness and respect. The tour started off great with Desertfest. We headlined the Black Heart stage on the Saturday night and, despite the time clash with Orange Goblin in the Underworld, we ended up with a full room in front of us giving us a great reaction…it was a real buzz!!! The rest of the tour was also a real buzz. The only flat gig was Newcastle and even there we got a good reaction, everywhere else the crowds were amazing to us, we were blown away. Orange Goblin also put on a great show and Ben is an awesome frontman…it was a real lesson touring with them.
We can’t wait to come to Europe. We have two gigs in Belgium; Room 66 in Leuven and La Taverne Du Theatre in La Louviere on May 17th and 18th with our Italian buddies Doctor Cyclops then we head to Netphen in Germany to play the first Freak Valley festival with bands like Doctor Cyclops, Orange Sunshine, Bushfire, Wicked Minds and Colour Haze. It’s our first time in Europe and hopefully not our last. We’ve heard that European crowds are really cool and the beer looks awesome!!!
Mari – Oh, I am sure the Euro tour will be a blast as well! And I do hope, too, that more will come! And, by the way, how does it feel getting a mention in Metal Hammer?
Ollie – That was awesome. We didn’t even know they had the album so to get such an awesome review from them was pretty cool. I guess we should try to get them to a gig some time. Having said that all the reviews we’ve had so far bar one have been pretty damn good so we can’t complain?
Mari – OK, sorry, I have to do it, I can’t avoid it … For the unlucky ones, for those who still are not conscious about Grifter (!), I have to ask you, please, “that” question … i.e. to outline the history of the band and its roots, previous experiences of you guys, your personal definition of the music you play, how the adventure started, and the whole lot, you know what I mean …
Ollie – Aargh you did it!!!! Well, to sum it up, we formed in Plymouth, UK in 2003. At first we were a four piece with a different singer but he left right after we did our first gig, I mean literally as we walked off stage!!! No problem we were back on stage a month later as a three piece with Foz on drums, Phil on bass and me, Ollie on guitar and vocals and it’s been that way ever since. We started doing the usual local circuit and building up a following then did a demo (Elephantine 2005). Gradually we started getting gigs further afield around the country and caught the eye of Fury 76 Records who released our first EP (High Unholy Mighty Rollin’ 2008). After that we hooked up with Catacomb Records and appeared on their Sound Of The Catacombs compilation and put out another EP (The Simplicity Of The Riff Is Key 2010). The EP release coincided with a UK tour with Sun Gods In Exile which was a lot of fun.
Musically we’re just a rock and roll band…maybe heavier and dirtier than some but still just rock and roll. We don’t really buy into the whole stoner, doom, sludge labelling thing to be honest. None of us listens to much of that stuff and between us our tastes cover a huge range from metal to grunge to blues to ska to reggae to hip-hop to folk to 70′s rock and beyond. Collectively we all dig Sabbath, AC/DC, Clutch, Led Zep, ZZ Top, Motörhead…etc. it’s all just good, hard, arse kicking rock!!!
Ollie – Before they were a label Ripple was, and still is, a very well respected review blog so I sent them the second EP to review and they loved it. This was right at the time they were putting out their first release, the JPT Scare Band album. They asked us to be involved in the Heavy Ripples vinyl split alongside Stone Axe, Sun Gods In Exile and Mighty High so we naturally said yes. When we recorded the tracks for the split we decided to also record an album and see what happened with it but Ripple offered to release that as well. It’s been a great relationship so far, they’ve worked hard for us and want a second album so let’s see what the future holds.
Mari – And now that you are enrolled with a cool American label has life and activity changed in better or the interaction with a label induces stress? And do you miss the “early days”?
Ollie – Distance doesn’t matter with the Internet nowadays. Those guys put their backs into making things happen for the label and the bands and we have no complaints. In fact since we signed with them and put out the album things have been on a constant upward trajectory for us…we got on Classic Rock magazine’s CD, got the Orange Goblin tour, got offered the festival in Germany, hit a whole bunch of year end best of lists, got some incredible reviews…etc
The only thing I miss about the early days is that, now we all have home life commitments and now live in different towns, we don’t get to hang out socially anymore except at practice or gigs…but it makes those times more fun.
Mari – Another mandatory question is about your future plans with Ripple Music, although you gave us already a hint …
Ollie – As I mentioned Ripple have asked for a second album so we’re busy pulling material together for that and aim to record later in the year. The material is a mix of new tunes, some old tunes that have never been released and revamped versions of some other older unreleased stuff that now sounds killer…they’ve finally found a home!!! Other than that we’re working on more gigs and looking to get a European booking agent. There may be other cool things in the pipeline but it’s way too early to say anything now and jinx it!!!
Mari – Right! Well, can’t wait for the new album, then! Now I have another question about an important issue, i.e. about your constant activity in the promotion of your own band during all these years. You made a lot of efforts for auto-promotion and you never lost, let’s say, “faith” even when you had no or very sluggish reactions in forums etc. I admired you a lot for the effort. So do you think all that effort in auto-promotion was worth and effective?
Ollie – I guess “faith” is a good word to use. I have ultimate faith in the band and the music we create. I know we don’t fall into a convenient musical pigeon hole so a lot of the people who can’t see beyond their own narrow genre may pass us by, but a lot of other people do pick up on it. The thing is you have to promote your band if you want to go further than practicing or playing your local bar. It’s a very big world and the potential audience for each band’s music is huge, so you need to go out and get them as people won’t necessarily come to you. Every fan you pick up along the way is important but they need to know you exist. I’m passionate about Grifter, not just as a member of the band but as a fan of what we do. If I hadn’t put in the hours promoting the band, making contacts and getting our music heard there is no way we would have got as far as we have now.
Mari – In this respect, I often have the impression that many young or emerging bands have difficulties in organizing their auto-promotion. So how would you advise an emerging band about this issue?
Ollie – Unfortunately there is no guide book for this. It all boils down to investing the time and making sure you have a product worth promoting. If you’re starting out as a band don’t stick crappy quality rehearsal recordings on the Internet. Get a decent set together and gig it then choose some of the songs and record them properly. The next step is then to get your music in the hands of the people who can spread the word…magazines, fanzines, blogs, radio…etc. if that means spending money and ending up out of pocket then so be it. Put stuff online for free…people love free stuff!!! From there people need to know you exist so you need to start hitting forums, social media sites, posting news on blogs…etc. finally you need to make friends…organise gig swaps to get your music to new audiences, trade CDs, talk to blog writers…etc. maybe even start your own blog to review other bands and send your stuff out in return. Ultimately if you’re passionate about what you do that passion will spread and you will never regret the time and money necessary to promote a band.
Mari – I’m sure your words and advices will be of interest and helpful to many people out there. Well, Ollie, thanks a lot for the pleasant chat. All the best for the European tour and the cool things to come and keep on rocking hard! \m/
Ollie – “Thanks, Mari, for the interview and thanks for the support over the last few years. Hopefully we’ll.continue to kick your arse with rock and roll for a few more years yet!”
Interview by Marilena Moroni”
SLEEPING SHAMAN INTERVIEW!!!
Almost forgot about this. Here’s an audio interview Ollie did with Mark from the Sleeping Shaman back in January that has now seen the light of day. It makes for fun listening.
GRIFTER INTERVIEW AT TIME TO BLAST FRENCH WEBSITE!!!
Ollie recently conducted an interview with Tom from Time To Blast Webzine in France…and it makes him look fluent!!! Cheers to Tom for this, and for translating Ollie’s rambling!!!