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The Golden Grass

Listening to the new album ‘Absolutely’ is certainly a great way to get to know the band The Golden Grass! Beautiful memories from several musical highlights from both sixties and seventies came to my mind. Typical such a band I want to know more about. Fortunately drummer/singer Captain Adzo has plenty stuff to talk about; some interesting background information and a critical opinion about some topics are passing by.

By: Cor | Archive under hardrock / aor

First of all, congratulations with the release of 'Absolutely'. What's so absolute about the new album by the way?
Thank you very much we're very excited about the record. To answer your question, I think that the title of the album has many meanings, for us personally, I think it is absolutely the best album we could have made, and quite possibly will ever make, we shall see. But on an external level I think there are numerous interpretations that don't require any specific description or explanation, but in short, I will just say that we are extremely fucking certain that our listeners are going to love it.

Like many of our readers, I didn't know any material by The Golden Grass until now. Can you tell us the story of how this band got to this point?
The band began rehearsing in early 2013, and we were signed to Svart Records right from the beginning, and then signed to Listenable Records for our second LP release and that's where we still are. We have released three full length albums (including the new one ‘Absolutely’), two 7" EPs, a very limited edition 11" lathe cut record, an early demo cassette, and appear on two vinyl split/compilations. We're just about to embark on our fourth European tour, and we've done some limited USA touring as well, and locally in the states we have supported Deep Purple, Captain Beyond, and Corky Laing of Mountain. The next European tour will be in May of this year.

Curious band name also; especially in combination with the late sixties/early seventies hippie era kind of music. Are there any connections with the kind of grass consumed pretty much in those days, or is it that your music can take you on a comparable trip?
There is no right or wrong meaning to the name, of course there are several connotations which are all fine. However, if one can imagine sitting on the back porch of a house overlooking a field of grass or wheat, in the late afternoon when the Sun is setting, you will understand another meaning of the name.

Listening to your music makes you think you guys being inspired by lots of different bands from that sixties/seventies period like Allman Brothers, Jefferson Airplane and Captain Beyond, but also shreds Led Zeppelin or even Zappa can be heard. Who do you consider your sources of inspiration?
I think you touched on some pretty fantastic groups there, thank you for understanding the progressive side of what we do and mentioning Zappa, but I think that there is also inspiration from non-rock and roll music in what we do, most specifically lots of soul and jazz and funk influence, there is a heavy influence from traditional Black American Music in what we do. Of course, you can just about mention any 60s or 70s rock and roll band and there will be something similar between what they did and what we are doing. I think in 2018 we are in a unique position to choose the aesthetic and style of ideas we would like to combine to make our music and I think that it stretches from the mid-1960s until the late-1970s as far as our influence goes. But always you must return to the source, all of it comes from Black Music. All of our favourite rock bands were inspired by that music and so are we. The music of our band is not inspired by anything from the 90’s or after.

Most songs have that typical freewheeling jam-approach in the arrangements; are the songs also "grown" out of jams, or are they written and worked out on paper by one or two members? What about that jam-approach on stage; is there room for alternative and extended versions?
All of our music is pretty heavily composed, there are some very brief moments where we can dive into a more improvisational place, but that is not the concept behind the band. All three members of the band contribute to the writing process, and we are all lead singers and backup singers, there is no support members of the band! We do not write our music on paper, like a symphony, it is all living in our minds. Our music takes a long time to write because it is highly complex, while we also try not to lose the listener with our musical stories. So, it is a balance between sonic exploration and delivering a memorable tune, and for me that is a much more exciting and difficult job then just improvising, but it is very interesting to think that people who are listening to our music think it is freewheeling or jamming, that means that it is working! We actually rework a lot of our material after we have released it on an album, sometimes we maybe write a new version of a song for the stage, but to be honest in my experience we do not have the same audience as the group's did in the 1960's and 1970's and most people nowadays do not have the attention or interest or understanding of improvisational music for us to really do a lot of experimentation with departures from the written material. If there were more psychedelic drugs at the concerts maybe we could maybe try it....

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You guys succeeded to put that freewheeling "freakbeat" in a very accessible production. In my review I mentioned a link with the Tom Scholz-like approach (parts of 'Out On The Road' could even have been a Boston song in my opinion). Do you think (or hope) your music to be commercially attractive, or do you prefer to be appreciated by a selective audience?
That's very interesting that you compare parts of ‘Out On The Road’ to Boston, that's an unexpected compliment to me. I think it would be fantastic if all of a sudden we were selling out venues, but I have very little faith in the modern world that the kind of music we make could ever be commercially accessible or even to rise above within the underground. I feel like we will be playing to a select audience forever unless there is some magical change on the planet. In the heavy/hard rock underground, people generally do not give a shit about the kind of traditional music that we are making, they only want to listen to music inspired by 90s grunge or post-rock which is not psychedelic or interesting to us at all, or even worse 99% of all the garbage stoner and doom music, which as I see it is a plague. But of course, we hope that this new album will have a more far-reaching audience, and I believe that we intentionally designed it to be more enjoyable for the listener, and still retaining all the complexity and honesty that makes our music special.

The artwork of all your previous material and the new album breaths that hippie atmosphere also. What can you tell about the choice for this art work and it's maker(s)?
All of the artwork is very special to us and all three LP album covers have been designed by the same artist Niko Potočnjak. I don't know about the word "hippie", but as far as we concerned we are very appreciative for the collage and psychedelic nature of the artwork, it is a wonderful metaphor for the pastiche of sounds that we incorporate.

Your music sounds as if some pretty authentic vintage gear is used; what can you tell us about the instruments and other equipment used for recording, and is this the same that you use on stage?
There is nothing too special about what we use, of course I use a vintage drum kit in the studio, live and when touring if possible, and I think overall we just make sure that the tones of our instruments and the settings on the amplifiers are pleasing to our own ears. I have already stated the influence of our music, so obviously we are always trying to draw from that influence, and the way that instruments sound on those classic records is something we are always trying to strive to recreate. But really all of the magic is in the fingers, and it comes from understanding the roots and the source of what we are doing, we are students of music and collectors of records and we do our homework so we are able to channel what we learn into our art. To be honest, I don't know why we would want to sound like anything modern or even made after the late-70s, because 99% of modern stuff sounds like shit, especially modern equipment and most modern production. So what you are hearing is us, as individuals, more than any instruments that we are playing or gear that we are using.

About that live performances; which songs from the new album are your favourites to play, which bands were the most memorable to share a stage with, and which bands are still on your wish-list?
We are playing the entire new album live in concert (except for the song ‘Walk Along’). I don't know that we have any favourites, but we are all very enthusiastic about playing the new material, it feels very good to perform it. We really enjoyed playing with Travelin Jack (from Berlin) on our last European tour, probably one of the best hard rock bands on the planet right now and they have a fantastic stage show! I wish we could play every show with them. Another great band we played with in EU was Supersonic Blues (from Netherlands). But as far as wish list modern bands, i wish we could play with Skogen Brinner (Sweden), Honeymoon Disease (Sweden), Pushy (US), Freeways (Canada), Siena Root (Sweden), The Tower (Sweden), Hexvessel (Finland)…. to name a few. We are excited for our May 2018 tour with Heat (from Berlin).

You're touring Germany in May together with Heat (the seventies freak rockers from Germany, not the eighties melodic rockers version from Sweden); any chance of seeing you in The Netherlands also? If not this time, are there plans for coming to our country and do you have any news, gossip or message for your Dutch audience?
Yes we are very excited for this tour upcoming, unfortunately it is not as long as we would have hoped and we are not able to come to Netherlands this time, but we have already played there twice and been very happy with the concerts. As far as news or gossip for your country, everybody should check out the best up-and-coming band from your country, Supersonic Blues! And also if you have any rare 1970s Dutch hard rock records, please send them to us ha, ha!

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