Grandaddy

Silent Uproar: So you just released an EP as a sort of a teaser for the upcoming album, right?

Jason: Yeah.

SU: Are all the songs on the EP also on the album as well, or is it totally new songs?

Jason: Ah…no, no. None of them, actually, I like to keep those things separate. Not only are none of the songs on there, but it’s actually a lot different than the EP. It’s just an excuse to put out something specific in whatever category our music is.

SU: So these were recorded at a separate time and stand out completely from the songs that are going to be on the new album?

Jason: Yep. Actually they were recorded sometime around the same time, but there’s more of a relaxed fuck-around feeling in doing the EP stuff. It’s kind of a way to kill time while taking a break during the recording of the album.

SU: What about the process of recording the new album? I think I read something about the EP was done in your garage, and maybe the album was done in your house instead of the garage?

Jason: Yeah, that’s pretty close. Actually, I have a small B-studio setup in one of the smaller rooms in the house. About 75 percent of the house is a recording studio, and about 15 percent of the house is this small recording studio, and whatever room is left over is where I actually get to live.

SU: Much has already been said about the new album as being a sort of kiss-off to your hometown. Has the press taken that and run with it, or is that really the theme of the new album?

Jason: Yeah well, it’s just putting the cap on it. You know? I don’t know, maybe I’m just coming to terms with the years of frustration it’s given me, although it’s also given me lots of material to exhaust too. Whatever the case, I’m just shaking hands and saying see you later, for whatever it’s worth.

SU: And what is it about Modesto that has bothered you so much?

Jason: Well, I’m biased because I spent most of my growing-up years there, aside from sporadic traveling. It’s just getting familiar, a little too familiar but is also has regionally specific, sort of soul-sucking attributes. There’s a lot I’ve grappled with through the years and there are just way too many memories; I think that’s what it is.

SU: Where do you think you’ll be moving on to?

Jason: I don’t know, right now I’m sort of bouncing back and forth between the Lost Angeles area and Montana. (laughs)

SU: That’s a bit of a difference.

Jason: Yeah, I know. I need to get my head around it, but I haven’t really had the opportunity. I’ve been so wrapped up in the album; I’m still wrapped up in it. I’m actually in a mix session right now, finishing it up.

SU: So does that affect the status of the band? Is Grandaddy something you feel you want to continue, and will the band go with you if you move?

Jason: Yeah. I mean, I think, whatever we decide to do, we can do it. We’ll make it happen regardless. Unless a couple members moved to Iceland or Bosnia, which would probably put a lot of constraints on things. We’ll make it happen, whatever needs to happen.

SU: And there’s been some talk recently that the new album might be the end of Grandaddy.

Jason: Well, in all reality, I really, I really don’t know. I think within the next couple weeks we’re all going to convene and start working on the DVD that’s going to be coming out. I think that’s going to be our first opportunity to all kind of hang out again, for the first time in a long time. So, maybe, maybe things will just sort of naturally unfold.
Right now there’s just a lot of uncertainty and a lot of stress on individual members. The older you get and when you’re in a band that everybody’s always considered to be right on the verge of greatness but it never really got around to that. It seems like people have been saying that for years, and you just kind of ask yourself, is it worth it? Doing this thing that I’m doing? You know, what am I really getting out of it? And how much more time do I want to invest? It’s pretty tough stuff. I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.

SU: Well, what do you feel that Grandaddy has brought to music that other bands have kind of failed to do?

Jason: Ah.

SU: That’s kind of a weighty question, but, like, maybe I know a way to rephrase it. What are you most proud of in terms of what the band has done?

Jason: Well, it really sounds corny to me, and I don’t know how many rock documentaries you’ve heard it said in, but you really got to just find the thing you really believe in. Even if that means trying to expand upon this idea that you have of what is interesting and honest, and important in music. Just put your spin on it and really just stick with what you believe in.

It sounds corny coming out of my mouth and back into my ears but I really have believed in what we’ve been doing all these years. I don’t feel like I tried to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. I just tried to say it the way I see it, and be happy with making a connection with people. Then just take it as far as it can go, as long as all those people are still willing to be accepting of it.

SU: Right. And I think people certainly appreciate that, because one thing about your music…as a listener I’ve never felt that it was contrived in any way whatsoever, it always felt very honest.

Jason: Yeah, and I’m glad you think that. It’s really frustrating, especially with record labels, the turnover rate with bands and that people are so used to everything being so damn disposable. It becomes this frightening contest altogether that your going to entrust this extended amount of time, and you try not to pull out all the stops and just hit them fast and hit them hard with whatever is popular at the time. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with keeping your ears to the ground and staying abreast of production techniques or whatever else is going on, but there’s a fine line. I just don’t think it’s good to knowingly be bullshitting people to make a quick buck.

SU: Do you still enjoy the process of making music and playing live shows, or has it come to a point where it just feels like too much work?

Jason: From day one I was never comfortable performing live. That was just something that I had to do. Not to say that I was pulling teeth every moment that I was up there on stage. It’s just like anything else, even if I break my collarbone and go to the hospital, I’ll be laying in my bed making jokes and watching TV and trying to make the best of it. I’ve always tried to make the best of any of those situations. But eventually it has gotten to the point where I have to reassess my priorities. I feel like I’m wasting a lot of my…I think I have energy and talent that may be better used in other areas than pounding the pavement and playing endless shows with mysterious results.

SU: Does that mean that even with this EP release and the new album, you don’t really have any set touring plans as of right now?

Jason: No set touring plans. And, particularly, nothing that resembles the way we did it before. So I’m just not sure how we’re going to do it this time around.

SU: What other things do you do in your free time? What are some of your other interests?

Jason: I actually still do a lot of skateboarding. There are lots of skateboard parks all over the place. And usually when I’m not hurt, and I have a reoccurring back problem, I still ride a couple times a week and I do a lot of bicycling. It’s been a year and a half that I’ve been totally immersed in all this recording, so I’m actually looking forward to taking a trip. I just need some space. I forget how much I really value big open space which, going back to the Montana thing, I think I’m actually taking a road trip here in like a week to just clear my head.

SU: How did the Insound deal come about with the limited edition T-shirts?

Jason: That’s a good question. Usually we get all these little opportunities to do things. Aaron has this stockpile of killer artwork. It’s a good opportunity for him. I don’t even I know all the logistics for it, it got run by me and I just said “Oh, that seems like something Aaron would want to do.”

SU: Right.

Jason: That’s about all I know of it. I’ve seen some of the designs. He has a list of designs for the ones so far, and the ones coming up. He emails them to me to see what I think, and I expect I’ll love all of them.

SU: Yeah, a lot of those shirts are really cool looking. As far as the artwork for the album, does Aaron pretty much take lead on that?

Jason: Well, he started doing a lot more stuff when things started getting a lot more hectic. I also realized the stuff that he was doing was just so good and everything is pretty incestuous because we all love each other so well in terms of ideas and artwork and philosophies and stuff. But sometimes, if I have a really strong idea and I don’t think I have the ability to execute it properly, I get him. I’m actually working on all the full-length album artwork right now. It’s stuff I’ve been working on for a year now, piecing it together slowly. Usually he’ll keep me up to date with stuff he’s been working on. As long as it all feels good and makes sense, it’s great to have a lot of stuff to pull from.

SU: And where do you draw your inspiration from for the visual side of it? Are there certain artists or design houses that you like?

Jason: You know, every now and then I’ll buy one of those expensive graphic art magazines, the nine dollar magazine, and I’m endlessly floored by how good everyone is now. There’s so much great stuff out there. I don’t know if my standards are changing or if it’s a whole front that I’m not able to keep up on. I’ve always been a bit overwhelmed by too many options and too much stuff to choose from. No matter what, it always comes back around to color, not too much gaudiness, and enough natural elements. But I like a blend of big landscapes cut in with sillier, fun, childlike things. At the end of the day, it ends up just being me struggling for balance, wherever it is…musically, visually.

SU: Do you think album artwork and packaging is becoming more or less important in the age of iTunes and mp3’s?

Jason: Unfortunately, and probably out of common sense, it’s less important. But that’s nothing I’m going to voluntarily jump into. I’m still totally romantic about the complete package.

SU: I think there’s almost a line developing where the young generation that grew up with the internet and downloads, that’s what they’re looking for. But a big part of the population is still saying “I grew up with albums and CD’s, and I want the whole package. I don’t just want some files floating around.”

Jason: Yeah. I still rub shoulders with enough people who love it, they love all of it. They love the credits, they love all the details, everything. I’m going to hope that everyone is a little excited about how easily accessible all this stuff is now. If enough people hold on to the whole package thing, it will make resurgence if nothing else. That may be wishful thinking, but the visual part of (digital albums) is going to have to be identified as well.

SU: Warner Brothers recently announced the creation of an all-digital label where songs are released in batches. An artist can release a batch of three or four songs, online only. There is never an album release with it, but the bands get to keep the masters. Does that interest or appeal to you at all, a deal like that?

Jason: I don’t know. My brain just shuts down. I’ll have to do it the slimy way and just wait back in the wings to see how it works for everybody else. Jump at the opportunity once there are enough people, once it’s been proven.

SU: You guys have a label of your own, right?

Jason: Yeah, a few of the guys started up this (Sweat of the Alps?), primarily as a reason just to get this little joke album out that we released a while ago. I’m not really sure what the status of it is.

SU: Grandaddy songs seem to show up pretty regularly on soundtracks. Is that something you seek out, or are a lot of people who make movies into Grandaddy songs, and they ask?

Jason: Yeah, everything gets run by us and, believe me, we’ve turned down just about as much stuff as we’ve accepted. When we were younger, it seemed like a really neat idea to get out of our little small town and just associate ourselves with these people that are trying to do bigger and neater and interesting things out there. To finally have that opportunity with these other creative people, to be connected with it, it’s a pretty neat thing to do. I’m totally up for it as long as it seems fitting.

SU: What’s left for Grandaddy? If it all ended after the next album, would you feel like you achieved with this band what you set out to do? Is there still something you’d like to achieve before you throw in the towel?

Jason: I actually went into this record telling myself that it has to be so good that I’d be okay with it being the very last thing we recorded. And maybe I was just playing a trick on myself to make sure I gave it due focus. But right now, even from the sequencing to the song lengths to not being concerned with whether or not songs have “single potential,” I’m totally fine. I feel like I’m in a pretty good place right now. I have plenty of other interests. We’re not going to result to any pathetic, desperate tactics to stay in the game.

Sep 30 2005