Getting to Know: Grizfolk
Getting to Know: Grizfolk
Interviewed by: Jinx
Roll call! State your name, your role in the band, and how long you’ve been playing your current instrument.
Fredrik: I’m Fredrik, I play the guitar. I started playing when I was 9.
Brendan: I’m Brendan, I play bass. I started a little later, at 14.
Sebastian: I’m Sebastian, I play the keys. I started when I was 4, maybe?
Bill: I’m Bill, I play the drums. I started playing when I was 9.
Adam: I’m Adam, I sing. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 8. I started trying to sing at the same age.
Two of you are from Sweden (Fredrik and Sebastian), one of you is from Florida (Adam), one of you is from Pennsylvania (Bill), and one of you is from California (Brendan). How in the world did you wind up together, and what was it about L.A. that led you to base your band there over some other major music scene?
Sebastian: At the time we met, we all lived in Los Angeles. So that’s where we met, and that’s where we started a band. We were all friends before, and we had played in different bands. Fredrik, Adam, and I sat in a studio and we wrote a couple songs and we started a new band called Grizfolk, and we brought in Brendan and Bill.
On this last tour, Mike Kamerman (guitarist for Smallpools), made the comment onstage that you were “the only band I know whose name describes their sound perfectly. They’re grizzly…like bears..and they sound a little folky.” What’s the story behind the band name?
Brendan: Well, okay, the story is: when they were working on the music that would become Grizfolk, there was a working title, which was Adam’s name. “Griz Adams.” It just worked out better to have more of an all-encompassing name, so “folk” was kind of pulled so we could encompass the people, and have the people be the “Grizfolk.” So that was kind of a community word: Grizfolk.
Your musical backgrounds range from electro-pop to Americana to hip-hop…how does such musical diversity help or hinder Grizfolk’s creative process?
Sebastian: It helps the process by always… We don’t have any boundaries when we make music. We don’t think about stuff in terms of, “its supposed to sound like this,” or “today’s music sounds like this.” It all comes naturally, because we are from different backgrounds. So when we come together and write music, everyone has their own little splash of color that they want to put on the canvas. Whatever comes out, comes out. And we hope that people like it.
How would YOU describe your sound to someone who’s never heard you before? I’ve seen the term “folktronic” tossed around a few times…do you agree or disagree with that genre? Or, would you prefer to remain “genre-less?”
Bill: I think we’re kind of a rock band that has some influences of folk, some electro, and some hip hop. I mean, we have all these different influences, but I think it kind of circles…I dunno.
Sebastian: Brendan had a funny way of putting it when he said, “north meets south.” North…meets South. We come from Sweden, you know, and Adam’s from the South, and then “everything in between” is what we sound like.
One thing I instantly noticed and fell in love with about your music is that all of your lyrics flow so well–there’s nothing crazy/random thrown in just to make a verse or chorus rhyme, nothing taken out just to make it fit a beat–there’s a story that’s being told with each song. In the evolution of a Grizfolk song, do the lyrics typically come before the music?
Sebastian: All the songs start off in a different way. It can be a melody, or it can be a vision that someone has. When we write songs, we always try to envision a landscape where the story is going to take place, and then we’ll write the story into that landscape. You know, like “Vagabonds” was…we had this vision of open roads and traveling as a band and meeting new people in every city and sharing stories with each other on the road. So it’s a lot based on landscapes, I would say, more than a specific story that we feel. You know, everyone has their own personal stories, and when we write lyrics it’s more like, “oh, I can agree with that feeling.” With Adam writing the lyrics, I can agree with that…I can feel what he’s feeling, you know? Because I have my personal story. So yeah.
You did a major tour last year with Bastille, just wrapped up a full US tour with Smallpools, played Hangout Fest in the middle of that one, did a few more sold-out shows in California, Bottlerock, had -maybe- two days to do some laundry, and you’re already back on tour again…I assume you have to do a lot of your writing on the road? How does that work for you all? I’ve known bands in the past who have had professional recording systems on their bus and others who just use the “voice recorder” on their iPhones to lay stuff down…
Fredrik: Yeah, we’ve got the stuff with us. We record pretty much…everywhere we want to! I mean, we do some stuff on the road, but like…vocal audio, that’s the most difficult, because you have to be in a real quiet room, so we try to do that at a hotel.
Bill: And drums…
Fredrik: Yeah, that’s pretty complicated to do. You have to be in a proper studio. Everything else you can kinda do, but it’s really shaky, you know? But on the computer, you can make all the sounds you want. So if you’re down for that shakedown, it can be pretty wild, musically.
Have you ever pissed off any of your hotel neighbors while you’re recording vocals?
Fredrik: Not yet!
Your EP From The Spark came out last year and you’ve been touring in support of that thus far. I know there’s a full-length studio album that’s been in the works, though… Any day now?
Sebastian: There’s no release date, but it’s done! We’ve got some working titles…
Ah, the “working titles” again..haha Okay. Well, it’s being released under Virgin Records, right?
How did you get signed with them?
Adam: They wanted to take us to dinner, actually. We had a good dinner party.
How did they hear about you?
Adam: I dunno?
Bill: That’s a good question..?
Sebastian: We had a song out on the blog that kind of went viral, and we played a couple shows out on tour with a guy named Andrew Bell at the time when everything was happening, and our manager had called us and said, “Virgin Records is coming out to your Portland gig.” And we were like, “oh, okay… That’s cool.” And they took us out to dinner and…we were hungry!
Fredrik: It was really good sushi…
Sebastian: So we ordered everything on the menu, played the show…haha.. Nah, they showed interest from the beginning. We liked how they were working. It was a new team. And we liked the artists that they had signed; they had signed Bastille, and stuff like that, so… There weren’t a lot of artists at the time that we got signed, and we thought that was a good thing–so we could get a little more of a spotlight on us. So that’s what happened, and we’re a big family right now.
Who–or what–are some of your biggest musical influences, as a band or personally?
Bill: We really like Dave Grohl, we like Justin Vernon..um, recently…the uh….
Sebastian: Eagles. Recently.
Bill: (laughing) I love The Eagles. Looove The Eagles.
Sebastian: (laughing) We love The Eagles.
Fredrik: (pointing to his shirt) I have this shirt on today because we’re in Memphis, so…Sun Studios obviously inspired everybody, but it’s cool to actually be here and actually feel the energy of those guys. Presley, of course…
Did you guys visit Graceland today?
Fredrik: No, I wish we had time to go there! It’s not too far away from here.
Okay, on the flip side, what’s the most embarrassing song on your playlist right now?
Adam: A song by Jose Gonzalez called “Chihuahua.”
Sing us a little bit?
Fredrik: Is it Jose Gonzalez, though?
Adam: Yes, it’s Jose Gonzalez.
Bill: It’s a different one.
Fredrik: Oh, it’s a different one…
Sebastian: Yes, but it’s Jose Gonzalez.
Fredrik: Yeah, it is Jose Gonzalez.
Adam: There’s another Jose Gonzalez, but the actual Mexican artist has a song called “Chihuahua.” It’s a fun song.
Bill: It’s a good song, you should check it out.
Sebastian: It’s a good song.
Adam: It’s a -great- song!
Anybody else have a confession, or is it pretty much “Chihuahua” across the board right now?
Fredrik: I think that one’s on all of our playlists…
Sebastian: That’s kind of “the one.”
What do you feel are your biggest strengths and weaknesses as a band?
Bill: We’re uh…we’re pretty good at basketball? And we’re five people, so…
Sebastian: It’s true! We are an entire basketball team! Our weakness would be ping pong, because we are five people, so one of us would have to sit out.
Fredrik: The same thing with fuzzball, though.
Bill: No, it’s “foosball.”
Sebastian: “Fuzzball” is a different game entirely…
Fredrik: Is that a game?
Bill: We can’t talk about fuzzball! We’ll show you later.
What’s your favorite song to perform live, and why?
Bill: Probably “The Ripple,” because we get a lot of crowd participation. It’s really fun. It’s got a good stomp to it. I like that one.
Adam: I agree. Perfect.
Sebastian: That one and “Vagabonds” is always fun to play. I like “Waiting For You” as well, because it sets the tone of the show. It’s the first song that we play, and you get to know if the crowd is there with you or not, and then if they’re not, you have to win them over.
You guys have been through some crazy shit on tour: near-death experiences, flat tires, break-ins, the one guy in the band from sunny California driving through a major blizzard in Boston…that probably wasn’t the best idea ever. haha What’s the absolute worst or craziest thing that’s ever happened to you on tour?
Adam: It’s not really crazy, I mean…getting stuff stolen isn’t crazy..
Bill: That’s definitely the worst!
Adam: It’s definitely the worst, but nothing actually happened to us, we just kinda walked in and everything was gone. It’s not like someone got punched in the nose or got broken bones or something. We’ve been really lucky so far. We’ve had friends roll their vans and shit. Nothing really crazy with us.
Bill: That’s true. The Oh My’s thing was probably the craziest thing. We were on tour with this band and they showed up and they didn’t have their van, and we were like, “What happened?” And they were like, “well, we rolled it three times…” But nobody broke anything or…
Bill: Yeah, they were really lucky!
What’s been the best/most memorable thing?
Sebastian: The Europe tour with Bastille was very memorable. You know, it was a big tour, it was a great band to tour with, these guys–Brendan and Bill–had never been to Europe before…and we were just like kids in a bus, playing huge shows!
They hand-picked you guys for that tour, didn’t they?
Sebastian: Bastille did, yeah. And we’re very grateful!
So would you say Europe was your favorite place to tour so far, or do you have another city or country that’s been your favorite?
Brendan: We had a great show in Canada. At Montreal.
Fredrik: Radio City Music Hall was fun to play. Historic.
Sebastian: Yeah, and Red Rocks. We’ve played very historic places that I’ve always wanted to go, and they’ve always been amazing.
Fredrik: And the Ed Sullivan theater! That was the best.
What is one thing you’d like to accomplish–or at least like to see accomplished by someone–in the music industry before you die?
Fredrik: That’s a good question…
Sebastian: Uhhh….number one record? Can we all agree on that?
Bill: Yeah, I’d like that.
Brendan: I’d like to accomplish that.
Adam: I’d like to play Coachella.
Sebastian: -Headline- Coachella! Headline every festival in the world!
Adam: Yeah. That’s…that’s a lot.
Sebastian: I would also like to play a private, deserted island, in the middle of…I don’t know what ocean? Maybe the Indian Ocean or something like that? Bunch of boats that just drive out there and there’s one concert–no, a lot of concerts!–but we’ll headline this concert on this deserted island. It would be awesome.
With all the technological advances of the present-day, where do you see the future of music heading, and do you see Grizfolk “fitting in” with that future, or blazing your own unique trail?
Sebastian: We’re all gonna be holograms. And we’ll be sitting at home watching TV. While our hologram performs.
Sebastian: No, but like, iTunes just released their streaming services, and it wasn’t very…it wasn’t what we expected it to be.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that.
Sebastian: It’s either really good or really bad. These times are really… It’s cool how music spreads, you know? That way that everything is “up for grabs” for people to listen to–easy access—but it’s hard for musicians to survive. I dunno…there’s gonna come a way where everything works out. I don’t know how, but everything will work out.
What social cause do you feel most strongly about as a band or as individuals?
Adam: Oh, Waves for Water. It’s a charity that provides clean water for communities in need around the world. They provide filters in places like Nicaragua, Haiti…they’re in Nepal now, after that earthquake… We take for granted how far clean water can go in preventing diseases, but in places like that…it’s [a concern] every day. So yeah, Waves for Water.
If Grizfolk didn’t exist, what would you be doing with your lives?
Bill: Making pizzas.
Adam: Definitely pizzas.
Sebastian: I would probably be rolling Brendan’s guacamole tray.
Sebastian: Oh. Cart.
He makes a mean guac?
Brendan: A mean guac! Yep.
Adam: I’d be working at a pizza place…next to his guacamole cart.
Bill: Basically we’d be in the food business…making food.
What is your favorite piece of art outside your medium?
Adam: I’m super into the Mona Lisa.
She’s hot, right?
Adam: What a babe… No, I’m really into Paris and like their architecture. European architecture. Everybody in Europe has better architecture than…anywhere in America!
Fredrik: It’s like, when you’re there, you feel like, “this place is not even real!” And you realize how much history is in those buildings, in that city, and it just blows your mind. Every time you go back. It’s pretty cool. Honestly, I would agree on that.
Sebastian: Um….this is hard!
Fredrik: I like dinosaurs, so… “Jurassic World” is out, I think, right now, so I can’t wait til I can be at the cinema!
I passed a place called “Dinosaur World” on my way down here…there’s a big t-rex off the side of the road. You can’t miss it. You should go there someday.
Sebastian: Photography. Brendan and I are both into photography. For me, there’s a Japanese photographer called Hiroshi Sugimoto. What he does is really simple–it’s like the horizon of the oceans and seas, but it’s taken at a certain level and a certain time of the day…and they’re very limited. My friends’ dad has three of them. I said they’re very limited, but–if you can get them–when you look at all of them, they all align so it’s…there’s a line through all of them at exactly the same point. So you can hang them up next to each other and they all match up. It’s very soothing to the eyes.
What celebrity would you most like to have dinner with?
Bill: Taylor Swift.
Brendan: Rachel McAdams.
Adam: Matthew McConaughey.
Fredrik: I would say Dave Grohl.
Didn’t you guys do that already?
Adam: Well, we kinda…
Bill: We had drinks with him.
Sebastian: This is a real dinner though! Hm..a celebrity…I’ll say…Mike Tyson.
(everyone starts doing Mike Tyson impressions and laughing at each other)
Alright, alright..and for dessert: if Ben & Jerry made “Grizfolk” into an ice cream flavor, what would the ingredients be/what would you taste like?
Adam: It would definitely be called “The Struggle,” because it’s just so good…and hard not to eat it!
Sebastian: Yeah. “The Struggle.” And it’s like, so hard, that it like, bends spoons! So even getting a taste is really hard.
And it’s just made of pure awesomeness, right?
Sebastian: (shrugs) It’s just ice.
Brendan: Just ice…but with a rock on the top.
Bill: Or a “brownie on my head…” (In reference to what some people have heard within the chorus to their song “Bounty On My Head.”)
Sebastion: That’s good.
Bill: Yep. Ben & Jerry’s “Brownie On My Head.” That’s it.
If you could have any superpower for a day, what would you choose, and what superhero name would you give yourself?
Sebsastian: Teleportation! Teleportation Man!
Sebastian: …See Ya?
Wouldn’t wanna be ya!
Sebastian: Yeah, Teleportation Man.
Brendan: I guess I’d probably be invisible…
And you would be the Invisible Man?
Brendan: No, I think that’s already taken.
Yeah it is.
Brendan: I would be…Don’t See Ya.
Fredrik: I have one for Billy… Bluebilly Muffin. (Adam is actually wearing a shirt that features Bill’s face atop a “bluebilly muffin.”)
Bluebilly Muffin Man!
Bill: I’d be a muffin. And you would know the Muffin Man.
Adam: I’d be Bill. In a blueberry muffin.
Bill: I’d be Adam. He’s my superhero.
Fredrik: That’s so cute.
Bill: Shut up.
One item on your Bucket List?
Bill: Bucket List…I wanna play at Wembley.
Bill: (laughs) Yeah, tennis. No. A concert!
Fredrik: The new Wembley, or the old Wembley?
Fredrik: Oh, both. Okay, I see.
Brendan: I would go to New Zealand where they filmed “Lord of the Rings.” Hobbit town.
Adam: I wanna go to Bali.
Fredrik: I always knew one day I wanted to go to Memphis…
Fredrik: Yeah. Did it!
Sebastian: Yeah. Uh…take a roadtrip through America? Oh, wait…
Bill: One more time!
Brendan: The midwest!
Sebastian: I dunno… Space travel!
Who snores the loudest?
(Sebastian proudly raises his hand, to everyone’s overwhelming agreement.)
Favorite curse word–let it fly, guys!
“Jerk” is not a curse!
Bill: …it is to me!
Fredrik: (something in Swedish)
Fredrik: (repeats himself)
Is that like “fuck” in Swedish?
Fredrik: Not really…
(Upon my return home, I did some research and found out what was said. I will not print it here.)
Finish these sentences: “I’ll never forget the first time I…”
Sebastian: (interrupting to not miss a beat) I met you!
Aww, thanks! Now follow that up with, “I’ll never forget the first time (bandmate did something)…”
Brendan: I’ll never forget the first time Sebastian……wore a hat!
Brendan: I remember when you got that hat.
Sebastian: That’s awesome.
Name one item you absolutely cannot go on tour without–and you can’t say anything obvious like “the van,” or “gear,” or anything like that. Then name one item that inevitaby gets left behind in the venue/hotel room.
Sebastian: iPhone chargers!
Brendan: And iPhone chargers!
Bill: I can’t go on tour without my hat. And…um…
Have you ever forgotten your hat anywhere?
Bill: Never left my hat! I always leave my facewash behind.
If you were given acess to a time machine and could return to any point in musical history and change one thing, what point would you go to and what would you change?
Fredrik: I would go back to the fifties when Elvis recorded “Thats All Right, Mama” and change it to “That’s All Right, Papa.” You know? It’s all right, Papa. It’s all right, Mama.
Brendan: I’d probably go back and tell John Lennon not to walk down that alley…
Adam: Yeah. I was gonna say that, too. Or tell Kurt Cobain to stop doing drugs.
Bill: That’d be a tougher one.
If you had to be handcuffed to one of your bandmates for 48 hours, who would you choose and why?
Sebastian: I would be handcuffed to Bill because he has a good workout regime, so I would just be buff all the time! Or, at least one arm would be.
Or he would, because he’d be lifting you up in the air.
Bill: Yeah, but then we’d have to shower after we work out…
Sebastian: Ugh. That’s true.
Adam: What if we all just handcuff each other to Bill?
Bill: That’d be alright. You guys are the best.
Adam: Like, “this is gonna suck, but…”
Bill: Or what about Fred? He’s the lightest, so we could just drag him around.
Fredrik: I don’t think I’m the lightest anymore…after this tour?
Sebastian: Yeah, there’s a lot of barbeque going on right now!
Famous last words…
Sebastian: Weeee love you!
Upcoming Tour Dates:
Sept 25 Boston City Hall Plaza Boston, MA
Sept 26 Boston Calling Boston, MA