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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Grayceon Interview - October 2008
    Posted: October 10 2008 at 16:12
Being a big fan of Grayceon I had the pleasure of reviewing a promotional copy of their up and coming album This grand Show that is officially out in November 2008.
When discovering the band in 2007 with the s/t album, I was struck by their special and compelling sound made up of a trio of drums, guitar and electric cello.
I now had the pleasure of conducting an online interview with cellist and vocalist
Jackie Perez Gratz who also plays in other bands such as
Giant Squid and Asunder.

1.      For those unfamiliar with the band, could you give us a brief background of the band?

a.       How did it start, when and by whom?

b.      What's your musical background?

c.       What are your influences?

d.      Hardships that band have had to face?


Jackie: I met Max and Zack at a Walken show and was blown away by them. They were having so much fun and the music was really fresh. We became quick friends and they approached me on the eve of the New Year 2006 to jam with them. Max had a bunch of wacky riffs that didn’t work for Walken and Zack wanted to start playing drums again, which is his first instrument anyways. We started jamming together and we all really liked the sound and vibe of the three of us as a group. And that was that, Grayceon was formed. I have been playing cello for 26 years. I started as a classical musician until I joined Amber Asylum in 1997 and then moved towards playing more metal and ambient styles as that is what I enjoy listening to myself. My personal influences range from Romantic era and 20th century classical composers to 60’s/70’s/80’s rock and metal. Max and Zack listen to that, but also have some folk, country and 90’s metal influence as well. So, really we have influences from all over the place and just really love music! Lately, we’ve been inspired by a variety of films and film scores. We would love to create a film score or our own some day. As for hardships… we don’t really have any, but I think that’s because we seem to maintain positive attitudes. We keep our expectations realistic so we don’t get disappointed! As long as we enjoy making music together we will keep at it. Our band van is in bad shape right now and our booking agent went back to school, so we are having some troubles getting on the road to tour- so, that is probably our biggest hardship at the moment.\


2.      Before we start talking about your new album, tell us what was the response to your first album by fans, crowds in shows and critics?

J: The debut album was well received by almost everyone who listened to it. It was obvious that Grayceon was hitting a spot that no one had filled yet. There were some weasel-y reviews where the writer thought we were a jam band and improvising the music as we recorded it (right!) and some other folks who just didn’t like long songs, but for the most part it was a fresh sound to people’s ears, so there was nothing to not like or to at least be a little curious about.


3.      How do you personally look at it now a year later? Are you satisfied? Would you do anything differently?

J: Yes, I am pretty satisfied and I wouldn’t do anything differently. That album is what it is. It represents our earliest ideas as a forming band, some of which we ditched, some of which we watered and watch grow. I listened to “Ride” the other day for the first time in eons and I thought, “Wow, that’s a really great song! We should write more songs like that one!” So, I guess being inspired by past offerings is surprising and is a good thing.


4.      What is the meaning behind the title of your new album, This Grand Show?

J: It’s the beginning of a quote by John Muir, which is also the title of the last track on the album, “This Grand Show Is Eternal.” John Muir is a legendary naturalist and advocate who was seminal figure in the conservation of US wilderness. He was also a writer, telling stories about his adventures in nature. The quote continues on to say, “It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” Basically, how I see it is that no matter what false self importance we may have or any kind of suffering we may feel in this world, the greater elements of the universe keep turning and everything still gets done as it is intended to. That’s just one way of looking at it.


5.      Do you have ideas/plans for your next album? Will you continue in a similar direction?

J: Not sure yet. We haven’t really talked about it, although we have two new songs already in the works and one of them has a slight Spanish flavor. There was a little talk about doing an EP on vinyl next, but we’ll see what happens. We’re just going with the flow at the moment.


6.      Do you envisage staying as a trio, in the same lineup or will you consider expanding and enriching/changing your sound with further musicians and/or instruments?

J: I don’t envision the instrumental or personnel line-up changing. The three of us are enough of a handful, believe me! We might experiment with some different ways of playing our instruments, but we keep it pretty pure to the three of us. And, if any one of us decided we didn’t want to be in Grayceon anymore that would be the end of it.


7.      Do you have any band or musician/s that you'd like to collaborate with?

J: Agalloch. Ennio Morricone- ha!


8.      How do you create your music? Is it a group work or is one person among you responsible and then all of you work on it further on together? How did you sound come to be/evolve? Were you influenced by the other bands you’re involved with?
J: It’s a pretty collective effort although Max writes so much and so quickly that I can barely keep up with him! He or I will bring in riffs and we will start jamming off them together. Zack plays a very important role in arranging and creating the dynamics of the songs. The music evolves very organically, as does our overall style. Really, we just like to play around and try new stuff out. Zack is always trying to challenge himself by writing a fun beat that he has never done before. I like to create absurd counterpoint melodies to Max’s riffs, which are sometimes very complex. Max likes to tweak on his gear a lot and is a shear genius when it comes to writing epic melodies. I think our experiences in other musical projects are imbedded in what we are about as musicians, so it would be very difficult to keep them completely separate. So, yeah, there is definitely a little bit of influence coming from Walken, Amber Asylum, Asunder, and Giant Squid.


9.      Something that I am curious about since I heard about Grayceon in 2007, how did you come up with the band name, what’s the meaning, if any?

J: We wanted our band name to mean the three of us and only the three of us. I know that some band names eventually mostly connote the band, but when you literally think about what ‘smashing pumpkins’ is… you think about something else! So, Max wanted to honor a sweet stray kitty that lived behind his house named Grayson or Gracie- I can’t remember. It was a commonly used name, but we riffed off it and came up with Grayceon. The final test was putting ‘grayceon’ into a Google search window and when we got the message ‘No standard web pages containing your search terms were found,’ we knew we had the winner.



10.  Do you like the idea of dividing your time between your other bands/musical projects? Does it give you ideas and time to “breath” or does it interrupt the band’s activity?

J: Being in other bands and having other projects helps us stay active and can bring inspiration to the group. Ideas that are too far out there might end up in Grayceon because we are so free flowing and don’t have a specific sound or genre that we are going for. Not to say that Grayceon is a catch-all for the dregs of our other groups, but it can be a place where we can try anything and not feel like it will compromise the way we sound. The only thing that interrupts the band’s activity is when one of our other projects tours. Grayceon feeds off our weekly rehearsals and without that consistency and regularity we would probably be a very sad trio.


11.  Do you have any ideas for your next release? Do you think that you will continue in this direction taken on your two albums, or is it too early to tell?

J: No specific ideas for the next album. We have two new songs we are working on that may end up on an EP or 7” instead of a full-length, but who knows?- not us!


12.  Will you be supporting your new album with live shows?

J: Yes. We have a lot of plans for our CD release show, where we will attempt to play Sleep, which is the 20+ minute song on the new album, and hope to get some touring under our belt if our van starts to cooperate. Other trios with spacious vans please feel free to contact us if you want to schlep us around with you! Saves on gas, too!


13.  Any other information you want to pass on to our readers, feel free to write it here.

J: If you are in the Bay Area, please come out to help us celebrate the release of This Grand Show at Bottom of The Hill in San Francisco on Saturday, November 22, 2008. We will be co-headlining with and introducing two very new bands, Drift Of A Curse (featuring members of Old Grandad and Hammers of Misfortune) and Worm Ouroboros (featuring members of Amber Asylum).


I would also love to say thank you, Assaf, and thank you, ProgArchives! It’s been a pleasure speaking with you and we appreciate all the support you have given us over the past two years.



Thanks a lot for your time,



Listen to Grayceon here:
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2008 at 17:31
Great interview Assaf, cant wait to hear This Grand Show.Clap
Spending more than I should on Prog since 2005

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2008 at 22:30
Nice interview Assaf. Still haven't heard their music yet, but one day maybe.
"The wind is slowly tearing her apart"

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2008 at 01:30
Good interview, though I cant say the new album impressed me much. I guess you didnt get around to asking her too much about Giant Squid eh?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2008 at 15:55
Great work as usual Assaf, these kind of interviews are good for both, the band itself and us the listeners!

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2008 at 11:01
Thanks, nice work!
I can't wait to hear the new album.

Edited by GoldenSpiral - October 14 2008 at 11:02

"Oceans Down You'll Lie"
coming soon
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 16 2008 at 17:51
Thanks for the very nice and classy interview Assaf.

I'm always happy to see musicians with the humility to chat with fans. Hopefully the response from their new album goes well, and earns them more fans.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 25 2008 at 14:20
I'd love them to record something with Agalloch (and a film soundtrack from them would be just as fascinating)!

Thanks for your work, Assaf!

Looking forward to This Grand Show.
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