Interview with Subkulture, November, 2016 *This article remains unpublished.
1. You released a new album recently(Our Sky’s Falling). What’s the creative drive/inspiration behind the new album.
“Our Sky’s Falling” is a very personal album for me, a little more than “The World’s Not Sorry”. Lyrically, there’s a surreal narrative to some of the songs like, “The Siren’s Call” and “Stars Break Away”. I’ve discussed this before, but I was a bit of a mess for a while and did some things for the sake of testing my own limits. I think I’m better for it (now), but there are experiences from that period I wouldn’t repeat. What’s great about releasing an album is it’s a way of having hindsight, letting go, and transitioning into the next phase.
2. Your website is currently under construction. Are we expecting something exciting this year?
We were finally signed with a publisher late last year. James Hazley is back in the line up, but this time on guitar, which occasionally frees me up. I enjoy performing without an instrument sometimes. We’ve been working this year on cover songs from David Bowie and Split Endz. I anticipate another writing period soon, but we have a music video to make first.
3. You formed in 2008. There were changes in the band line-up since then. What did you learn so far about being in a band?
Everyone who has ever been involved usually either expanded on my ideas or made them better. In some instances when someone else brought in a song, I would finish theirs. The best examples of that are “Broken Glass” and “Far Away”. I’ve learned of different ways in collaborating with people, managing egos, and embracing different work ethics. I’ve also learned a lot about myself, which could take up this entire issue 😉
In regards to the line up changes, what I’ve learned is you need to make it worth everyone’s time. I think we’ve more or less stabilized as we are getting into some interesting things again. We never replaced Brad (our former drummer), so Dave started making beats. That’s something that keeps him engaged. Eventually, we may find another live drummer, but the drum machine has certainly kept things fresh for all of us.
4. There is a huge market out there for this type of music. Do you think you have tapped the cult potential or you are still working on it?
I think we’re always working on it.There’s always room for exploration. But, “cult” status can be very relative. I use to hide behind the pretense of things considered “cult” and relish in its novelty. These days it doesn’t matter as much. “Rocky Horror” was once a nitch thing, but these days you can find it anywhere. I was outside the Nuart Theatre on a Saturday night and noticed everyone there to see “Rocky” was younger than me…So this phenomenon still draws fresh faces, and I found that fantastic! Everything is more accessible nowadays, which has changed the Alternative paradigm that my bandmates and I grew up with. It’s not a bad thing. That’s just the way it is right now.
5. Can you tell us more about the upcoming music video?
Yes! The next video will be from the title track of our most recent album, “Our Sky’s Falling”. It will leave off from our second video, “Rumors” and go in a completely different direction. We’ve been shooting outdoors in places like Vasquez Rocks, and soon Joshua Tree and the Salton Sea. We’re getting out of the ghetto and into nature, which will make for a visually stunning video.
The process of Part III started over a couple years ago. Originally, the song was going to be “Life of Sin”. I then decided to go for the heart of the matter and do the title track, instead There’s been so many changes ever since there was talk of another video. But, recently things have been coming into focus as I found the way we did things for the first two features wasn’t going to work this time around. It took me a while to realize that. I was accustomed to a very structured and carefully planned execution of making videos and albums. This video, (“OSF”) has a strong foundation, but what we build on top of that is flexible and leaves more room for us to experiment. I partially attribute this to Matt, who has been helping me. He’s the janitor at the end of “Rumors”.
The Datsun Z that is in our other videos will become more like another character, such as the Millennium Falcon is in Star Wars…….Although, I think the Z is more like an X-Wing 😉 Anyway, a lot of footage is from the car’s perspective, as we see a journey taking place. PG has been existing under the “OSF” banner for a while now. The video will concluded the “OSF” era. I intend for it to be the final chapter, so that we may move forward with new music, videos, and ideas.
6. What’s on your playlist?
I don’t have a playlist. I still listen to a lot of CD’s and records. I don’t have any music on my phone. I’m behind the times, however I have found some amazing stuff randomly on Youtube. I really dig this one group from New York called Cigarettes After Sex. The vocals are androgynous accompanied by music that reminds me of a little of Velvet Underground.
I still listen to FM radio, but only the college stations in Santa Monica and Pasadena, (KCRW & KPCC). Henry Rollins has a really great show on KCRW. Lately, I’ve been listening to film scores. Those always get me inspired, but in a different way. There’s an Elvis Costello record sitting on top of my turntable. I think the last CD I had on was the Blade Runner soundtrack.
Here’s the first review of our new album. Initial feedback is very positive, so far: OSF Album Review
Interview with Subkulture Magazine, Issue #4, January, 2014
I am from the Philippines and it’s a great day over here. I hope you have a pleasant afternoon in California. Ok let’s get the grass rolling…
1. You cite influences from great bands like The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen etc but there are very very few bands that make music like them. I am glad you are keen on preserving the mood and the style of the ‘classic’ era. What will your listeners expect in terms of musical direction this 2014?
Yes, those are the core of the influences. For our next album due later this year, you can expect that DNA to be retained. However, it’s going to be a different record from “The World’s Not Sorry” and even the current single “Rumors”.
I wrote a couple songs heavily influenced by The Jesus and Mary Chain last year. People may not hear it in the future album, but I was also going through a period of listening to a lot of Prince. The theatrical and emotional quality of “Purple Rain” really stood out. There is an epic feeling from that soundtrack that I want to introduce for the next release.
We have our growing foundation of influences, but I also don’t want to stick to a formula very much. The 80’s was a great time for music, but it is our intention to try new things, or at the very least take a particular era or sound and make it our own. I think bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees excelled at things like that. They rose from the ashes of Punk and for a while created their own twist on Psychedelia. It is something to marvel at.
2. You took part in the EDW11 last November in SF. How was the experience with the gang?
The experience was overall very positive. Doi, and the fellows from Dominion were very hospitable and a joy to work with…..One of the best out of town experiences we’ve had. We were glad to participate. The fried duck sandwich before the shows was amazing.
3. Two EPs, two samplers and an album (The World’s Not Sorry). What’s the next project?
Our next project which is currently being written is “Our Sky’s Falling”. It will be a full length album, our first since 2011. For a while, we did the singles route, but we are due to put out a real album again. I don’t really care what the market or trend is nowadays. It feels right, so we’re going with that.
Writing for this year’s upcoming album started in the second half of 2012. It’s a song that was written from the keyboards, which is a first for this band. It’s different, abstract, and not really a pop song at all. However, the decision to work towards a second album wasn’t made until early last year. There was new found inspiration, we felt reinvigorated, so I thought it would be a wonderful goal to work towards. We’re all very excited about the next album.
4. I listen to Front Line Assembly and I know you’ve talked about it in your previous interview but any plans of working with them again in the future?
Our association with FLA was by second degree. Greg Reely mastered our first album, but I’m not sure what are in the cards in terms of future projects that involve members or crew of FLA. I doubt it, but never say never is what I’ve learned.
5. I love the concept behind the James Quarterly video. I think it’s well done and it really reflects the mood of the music. What will we be seeing in your future videos?
Thank you…..Our current video “Rumors” just came out late December. It leaves off from the scene of “James Quarterly”. We went back to the same location and took it from there. The main part of the video, which mostly takes place on a soundstage, contrasts what you’ve seen in the first one. It’s colorful, playful, and shows another side to the band that I don’t think people would expect, which was my intention.
I saw an opportunity to visually appeal to people in a different way, reflecting what I decided about this group from day one….That it would evolve. But, it’s not contrived in any sense of the word. The tone, aesthetic, and so on felt right. We had a lot of fun working on the set, and I think that shows in the piece.
6. What’s the process of creating an album for the band? You do write the lyrics then the guitar comes in or is it the other way around?
The process is similar to any band, I suppose. We write songs and then after we feel we have enough we put out an album. This time though I am making sure that conceptually the material ties in better than the first release.
Lyrics or music? Which come first? Classic question. It works both ways, really. I have a ton of words and poems that will probably never be turned into songs. Sometimes the lyrics just come to me and it instantly becomes a song. Other times they are stored away. The opening lines for “Peeling Grey” was scribbled on a piece of paper and in storage for five years. So yeah, there’s no set method if that’s what you mean.
7. What’s the routine before any gig/ Do you practice for hours? Drink or read a book?
I don’t have a set routine at all. We rehearse shortly before the gig, like perhaps the day before and then we just walk right into the venue the next day. I don’t drink too much anymore before a show. I learned quickly that I am not a member of the Replacements. I can’t play fucked up. As a matter of fact, I’ve been using my discretion more to when it comes an appropriate time to drink or whatever. I usually wait to celebrate after we are finished.
8. What’s great about being a singer/bass player?
I play guitar nowadays, although in the beginning I was also the bassist. Dave Skott of Element plays bass for us these days. Ummm……..well, I don’t know. It’s fun, and the possibilities are endless. I didn’t sing before this band. I was terrified. I think I enjoy singing the most even though I may be stronger in other areas. I’ve been called intense. So, it is a form of expression that I value very much. There is a lot I have to say, and I know there are people that can relate with that. Besides, I probably scare less people behind a microphone as opposed to any personal relationship I may have with anyone. What can I say? Or as it pertains to the band, what can I sing? Thanks, I’ll be here all night.
Album Review for “The World’s Not Sorry”, Big Wheel Magazine
Interview with Gothic Rock, Russia, April, 2011 *The original article is no longer online.
GR: Greetings. It’s very nice to have a chance to chat with you. Please introduce yourself and your project to our web-audience in the words you like.
Hello. I’m Andy Smith, lead vocalist and bassist for the Los Angeles band Peeling Grey.
2. GR: How was formed the idea of Peeling Grey? Is it your first music experience?
Peeling Grey is not my first band. I’ve been in other projects since I was around 16. I played bass and guitar in quite a few projects actually but none of them ever experienced any degree of success or even local buzz. Furthermore none of them had enough ambition behind them, and honestly some were mismanaged in my opinion.
There was Nightmare of the Elf a few years ago. James Hazley, Naren Renz, and I were all in that project fronted by our friend John Landau. Frank Alpine was also involved for a while too. I felt N.O.T.E. had real potential, but things happened or didn’t happen however you look at it. Another band that I felt similar about was The Chaste. James and I were also in that group with Veronika Sorrow who was a heavy hitter in the Los Angeles Dark Underground for a long time. Again, that project imploded for various reasons. That’s where I learned a lot about the do’s and dont’s of managing your own band and truly being aware of where you really stand compared to your peers in any given scene.
After a failed attempt at rebooting The Chaste (Mark II) I had to start a lot of things over in my life. So, that’s where the story of Peeling Grey begins. I decided it was time for me to front a band and be in control of my musical future. I started from scratch, meaning that I had never really sang at all and played bass at the same time. Although I had some ideas about songwriting it was a period of growing pains on a technical level. The idea of Peeling Grey is a culmination of many things both personal and artistic. Sometimes I do feel it is all I have, but that is a different story.
3. GR: What inspires you to be creative in musical and lyrical senses?
Sometimes the words come before the music. I write when I feel strongly about something. That’s pretty much it. I can write for selfish reasons, and then there are times where I really want to make a point and have people listen. And I think it’s time musicians starting speaking up again and fight the good fight. I like when bands seem to have a deeper purpose. Being a vocalist I can make a positive impression so that inspires me to continue.
4. GR: Let’s speak about your debut album “The World’s Not Sorry”. By what definitions could you present it to your audience?
The best presentation for the album is listening to it on CD with a decent home sound-system. That applies to all music. I understand MP3s are convenient, but they still cannot match what you get on CD. One day I’d like to release a limited edition vinyl version of the album. Moreover I wish more people cared about sound quality, but the most important thing is that they listen…..on their computer, in the car, in the shower, during sex, while exercising, you catch my drift.
For our record release we performed the entire album live in track order. That was a somewhat ambitious move on our part as we usually play under an hour. It was a very memorable evening. The venue was packed and our fans and friends really seem happy for us.
The album can be purchased through our website at www.peelinggrey.com. It is also available for download on itunes and Amazon.com. Hence we’re keeping up with the 21st century 🙂 However, nobody knows where this is all going concerning how people discover, listen, and follow bands…..Which gives us an uncertain advantage, but at the same time levels out the playing-field somewhat. The one thing that hasn’t changed is money helps a lot…..If you have it.
5. GR: Is there anything uncommon or hidden that you would you like to underline in the content of the new album?
The album is quite an eclectic collection of songs. I don’t think you see that very often regardless of genre of music. There is a developing Peeling Grey sound that is documented from the original line-up to the current one. This spans about two years of writing between six people really. You can hear an evolution of sound from the early songs like “Peeling Grey” and “James Quarterly” all the way to the last song to make the final cut “Summer Days Unsaid” which happens to a favorite of ours.
Changing half the band’s line-up before preparing to record the album made a huge difference. James Hazley did an amazing job staying true to Richard Nielsen’s beats (original drummer) while enhancing them at the same time. Richard wrote most of the drum parts for the album truth be told. Christian Mendez gave the guitar a similar treatment. Originally I wrote the guitar for “James Quarterly”, but he took a two-chord song to new heights. I couldn’t have asked for anything better from two guys that were not writing with us in the beginning. What they both came up with for some of the newer stuff was even better.
I do believe there is a confessional theme that runs throughout most of the album, lyrically speaking. I have many stories to tell 🙂 But, not all the songs are centered on my own experiences. The title track “The World’s Not Sorry” at first glance sounds very post modern i.e. cynical. If you listen you might catch my drift of what I really meant. It is a strange and tough world out there. Because very few things are handed to us I feel it should motivate people to better themselves. I’ve seen a lot of humanity either settle or just give in to fear and that does bother me sometimes.
6. GR: What tracks on the new album do you consider as the most successful and personal ones? What about their storyline?
We’ve generally received positive feedback on all the tracks. But, it seems “James Quarterly”, “The Strip”, and “Soulless” are among the crowd pleasers. As far as what are the most personal ones, that’s a toss-up. “Faith In Forever”, “The End of the Road”,and “Far Away” are the first ones to come to mind I suppose. “Far Away” is a very unique song in its structure and how it was initially written which was by Christian, our guitarist. He came in with a great demo, and I added lyrics and a vocal melody to it. It was a first for me in terms of writing over pre-existing music.
The story-lines vary. Sometimes there is an element of a journey unfolding. I like road-trips so maybe that’s a subliminal influence over how I tell a story. The stories are not always serious however, and it shows in the music as well. “Soulless” is a great example of how campy we can make things. One night Naren and I were intoxicated at a Goth Club near Hollywood. In my altered state of mind I found most people there seemed unhappy deep down and pretentious. It’s in my nature to explore the dark side of things, but there is a certain blackness I feel is unhealthy and very off-putting. Ever since then I call them soulless! I have no problem dedicating that song to people that seem to be stuck in that mode.
“Young Heart” is another confessional track but done so in a more light-hearted spirit. The band did a wonderful job encapsulating that innocence I was trying to share. It was about the innocence of a girl I was involved with very briefly while the band was in San Diego. Essentially, I felt bad for hurting her, and chalked her tears up to being younger than me…….I don’t think she dated very many musicians 😉
7. GR: A bit strange and senseless question, but… How did you achieve such great late 70’s synth sound which reminds of Joy Division / early New Order? Did you use some special gear for it?
Our keyboardist Naren primarily uses a Roland JP-8000. It was a very popular synthesizer in the 90’s actually. He also has a Proteus in his arsenal. Currently he’s expanding his set-up as our sound continues to evolve. I think the Joy Division / New Order sounds were influenced by our original drummer Richard Nielsen. However, the Roland Naren uses has many different patches. So I suppose what you hear simply made sense for him to use. I don’t think it was completely intentional to sound somewhat retro, but as I mentioned earlier we are all a product of certain elements of our past.
8. GR: What about image side of Peeling Grey? Do you consider visual and graphic as an important side of the project?
Image is important. Perception goes well beyond what people hear. Sometimes how you look makes people listen….or not. Of course the music should stand on its own and there are plenty of bands that fall flat on that. They’re all image. It’s like a fancy looking car that has nothing powerful under the hood….gutless like a fuel-crisis era Pontiac Firebird. Beauty can run skin deep. I think what people are starting to recognize with us is that we are quite capable of writing well beyond the scope of my own make-up, wardrobe, and haircuts. That’s what I want the album to do for us.
Concerning the graphics for the album, they are also essential in that presentation. I spent a lot of time conjuring up the right layout, photographs, etc. The task of completing the album’s artwork is a story in itself. The cover which shows the LA River was never intended to be used at all. I was doing some location scouting for a band photoshoot and weeks later the image seem to make sense in hindsight. The insert was shot on a rainy day in the desert. Thus I was reluctant to drive far from my home, but we had a deadline to meet. I was surprised of the results as it panned out beautifully. One of the reasons why I’d love to do a limited vinyl release is to further enhance that appreciation for the album’s artwork.
9. GR: What are the general goals for Peeling Grey in close and distant future? What are your creative ideals?
For 2011 it is concentrating on our hometown and branching out across the state and even southwest region of the United States. Last year, it was about getting on the map in LA, and I think we established that at our Release the Bats show in 2010. Now, it’s a matter of staying relevant locally while continuing to expand beyond our own city. Promoting the album is the backbone of our plans to expand.
My creative ideals are very simple. Write honestly and always try a new approach. I don’t see us making any creative decisions purely for the sake of appeasing people or always indulging in their expectations. If anything I want us to grow in a creative sense while retaining our integrity. Let’s just hope people will still listen by then. The stuff we’ve been writing for a future follow up release is already a departure from what we are currently known for….Whatever that may be.
10. GR: How could you estimate the current independent scene in L.A. and California? Do you feel yourself as a part of it? Any other bands you could recommend?
There’s a lot of passion in the underground scene here in LA. From an industry perspective I feel much of it is untapped, diamonds in the rough if you will. There’s a lot of talk about how the LA crowd is on the other hand, and there is some truth to that. We have a reputation for just standing there with our arms crossed waiting to be catered to. Thing is perhaps the LA crowd shows its true colors when a band plays. I’ve played quite a few shows and seen many bands around this city, and I can tell you that if we like it we’ll respond accordingly. If we don’t, then we’ll stand with our arms crossed. It’s that simple. I’ve been on both sides of the stage and I know when a band is being well received…..Be it Peeling Grey or anyone else.
When you’re in the thick of it you go to a lot of different events and meet many different people across the state of California and beyond. Some towns have talent and some places just can’t get their act together in different ways. In general we know how to get things done in LA. Music is suppose to be fun, but if you’re going to take it outside the garage or studio then be a good sport when you suffer some losses financially and or when your ego gets bruised. This is also a business and the best promoters and bands here treat it as such. That goes for any city. No, we don’t do things perfect here and no one would claim that. All I’m saying is the heart of the LA scene tends to be focused.
It’s a bit of an extended family I suppose. We’ve aligned ourselves with many interesting people in the LA Deathrock / Gothic / Indie scenes. Through that we’ve been fortunate to make friends over the years. Many of the bands, promoters, and DJs know each other outside the club circuit. There is a real sense of community in a lot of ways. I practically see the same faces every weekend and it is truly something unique. As incestuous as it may sound, it makes a “scene” more enjoyable and above all real.
But, back to the bands here I recommend Fangs On Fur, Sleepmask, D-Tox, Native Fauna, BloodPenny, & Unextraordinary Gentlemen to name a few. It’s an eclectic bunch and that’s what makes LA a vibrant scene. I’d like to see ourselves and the rest start to branch out and really make something happen in the next couple years. The world will remain partially deprived before then. Trust me 😉 And with the recent Element reunion that should make things even more interesting.
11. GR: Is it difficult to be an independent performer these days? What things could be better?
I can’t recall a time when being independent was easy. The music industry is constantly changing of course. I think one of the elements that characterizes this period apart from any other time is how rapid the changes are occurring. More than ever independent artists need to stay ontop of keeping themselves aware of what audiences are looking for and how to keep them. I think the key is to never get too comfortable with whatever methods are working for you currently. You never know when that may change.
With the Internet and all its potential, underground bands have the best opportunity yet to engage their followers and so on. I don’t think a simple sales pitch “buy my music” really is enough nowadays. People are a lot more likely to keep you in mind if you add a little personal charm to your newsletters, blogs, updates, etc. So there’s lies the extra work in a way. You have to write your own music, manage your own band, and stay connected with people. If you don’t have the corporate backing or prestige of being a legend, you’ve got your work cut out for you as your own PR representative and diplomat.
12. GR: What do you like to do in your spare time? Any hobbies?
I like answering interview questions……I do enjoy them so far. If I’m pulled away from PG related stuff I go out and dance, socialize, drink, and wonder how things came to be when I wake up somewhere strange the next morning.
Hmmm….I wish I had more time and funds to play with my cars. I attend car shows, especially if I’m a participant. DJing is more of a hobby than career, so I’ve done plenty of free gigs, haha. Come to think of it there are many other things I do enjoy, but it’s been difficult for me to make time. I have a Netflix account and I’m always falling behind. I’m still wondering if “District 9” is any good. It’s been sitting on my coffee table for a while.
I’ve mentioned this before but sometimes a simple road trip on my own makes me happy. I like the beach, but I fear being stuck in the middle of the ocean, unless I’m on a boat. Watching the Dodgers win is something I relish in. Browsing through used record shops never gets old even in this day and age of digital downloading. I also devote some spare time to listening to my friends vent and worry about random things. In return I offer free spiritual advice based on Peeling Grey lyrics. It really works!
13. GR: Thanks for your answers. If you have anything to add for the conclusion, please – do it. Cheers!
Ummm….the new material we are currently working on will be a departure from what you hear on the debut album. There will be the PG-DNA, but we’re moving in a new direction….One that none of us could ever have forecast a year ago. It is really amazing and keeps the band fresh. I think it will intrigue our listeners actually.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from our influences evolving is key to longevity. Granted there are some bands that stick to a similar formula and it works….Take the Ramones for example, although if you listen to their catalog they even tried some new things, like on “Pleasant Dreams” they showed more of their pop 60’s sensibility and it worked. But, in our case I think we can broaden the scope even more.
I’d like to see that with more bands that are local to LA…everywhere actually. We’re going to up the ante. I think our peers should as well. As mentioned, there is a lot of potential here. London 76/77 was a classic example of how one idea or sound can change things forever. The Banshees had the right idea.
Thank you 🙂
Interview with Dead Weather Magazine, October, 2010 *The original article is no longer online.
Hey Andy! Let’s start this simple – Tell us a bit about yourself and your band!
Hello. I sing and play bass for the band Peeling Grey. We’re based in Los Angeles and have been together for over a couple years. We’ve managed to gain some local attention at home. We are currently working on expanding our following to a much larger scale with a debut album.
Now you’ve been playing in a lot of different cities and venues lately – is there any particular venue that you favour over another?
I like The Strange in Los Angeles. It’s a new venue that just opened. El Cid is another great place in Los Angeles, but it’s even better when the place actually has people. I feel that it is cursed.
Any stories you’d like to share?
I was cold on a very strange Monday night.
Who are your key musical inspirations?
There are bands such as The Cure, The Clash, Siouxsie, The Bunnymen, and so on that have shaped my creative landscape. I will always claim that our deepest roots are in Punk and the period that followed. Aside from groups there’s all kinds of things that inspire me to write.
Lately I’ve noticed that I use the word “alone” quite a bit in my lyrics. So it has become evident that me being single for a while now has a hand in all this. Different people I know or meet seem to be a topic of our songs. I do enjoy enjoy writing about women that I feel I cannot have. I know that’s been covered before 😉
Politics was once a hotbed for our music. I wanted to write like Joe Strummer. Then I realized that when I could do just that, but there were many other things I wanted to write about too. A journey / adventure anywhere is inspiring. It was brought to my attention a while ago that there was a running theme in my words. They would start about some sort of loss or despair but in the end would show a glimmer of hope or determination to rise again.
If you were given the chance to go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
That’s a tough one. You’re asking this based on an assumption that in the event I was able to prevent something from happening it would make things better now. At least that’s how I see the question.
In some ways I don’t wish to change anything. What’s lost is lost. There’s no guarantee that changing something would improve my life nowadays. Besides, that’s cheating destiny. I’ll try to make the right decisions as I go 🙂
How did Peeling Grey come to form?
It started in June of 2008 with just the original guitarist Mike O’Hare and I. I brought in a couple songs and we took it from there. Mike seem to have some strange belief that I had something that I wasn’t showing. So in a matter of a few days I opened up and started singing while playing bass. That in itself was a huge leap for myself. The irony was I had written words for years but never knew what to do with them.
Eventually we recruited our other original member, drummer Richard Nielsen and Naren Renz on keys. The first few months were really something. We were determined to start playing shows by Spring of 2009 and we defiantly met that goal. Eventually some tough decisions had to be made so half the band went through a transition. Christian Mendez formerly of Pins & Needles hopped on board in our darkest hour lol. James Hazley who was initially just our producer went on double duty to play drums. We’ve never had a stronger line-up to date.
So, you’ve been working a lot on the new album lately. Any news on when this is going to be released? For those interested, where’s best for getting a copy?
Yes, it is set for the closing of this year or possibly early 2011. It’s been really exciting and we really feel we’re onto something here with these songs. We have some rather big names involved with the process. We have people from Front Line Assembly involved even though their music is different from ours. They have worked with the likes of Sarah Mclachlan, Coldplay, and so on.
The album will be available through our Facebook, Myspace, and official page. We will also have the songs available on iTunes, Amazon, etc. We are currently looking into other markets, outlets, stores, sites, etc to sell the album.
Who is your favourite author? Favourite book?
I don’t have a favorite author. But, I do have some favorite books. Among them are Slaughter House Five, Catcher In the Rye, The Stranger, Les Miserables, and some beat stuff like On the Road and such. I honestly would like to to read more books.
Years ago I started to read Walden, but then got distracted and never finished it. I think the book’s dust jacket is still in Chapter Three or so. I did however get through a book about parapsychology which covers many things. It was a fascinating read about the study of psychic phenomena, clairvoyance, hauntings, and so on. The first Harry Potter novel I admit was fun as well.
Where do you see yourself musically 5 years from now?
Everywhere. That doesn’t mean megastar status like U2, necessarily. I just want us to escape and make a difference. The band is the ideal way of earning a living. Artistically I don’t want to sound exactly how we do now. I want us to evolve over time…….organically
If you could completely erase one musician from the history of music, who would it be?
Where do I start?
Have you run into any problems while playing in different cities?
Logistics….the typical stuff. Transporting our gear within a two car caravan is an adventure itself.
I personally feel I need to make sure everyone is on the same page throughout the trip / tour. It’s like being a morale officer. If one member has isolated himself that puts a damper on everyone else’s spirit……And that is something that cannot go on for prolonged periods of time. It can hinder any sort of brotherhood and or rear its head on stage.
When you’re on the road you spend more time with each other and become more in tune with everyones vulnerabilities……and strengths even. So the challenge with what I am saying is keeping the band on a positive note throughout the journey. I am no exception as I have had to keep my own feelings and frustrations in check.
There’s something refreshing about playing in a town for the first time. Chances are at this level very few people have ever seen or listened to the music. So, when you’re out there performing there’s an urgency to prove ourselves even more. It’s almost like starting over, but without all the mistakes from your early days.
So you were in San Francisco the night of the explosion… what was that like?
Surreal to a degree. The timing was odd as it occurred an hour after check-in. In a way it was an omen as the San Francisco tour turned out to be quite an adventure. My car experienced some trouble so she stayed in the shop down the street from our hotel. I had to rent a vehicle. Then there was a delay in its repair, so I had an extended stay while Naren, James, and Christian all went home on schedule. My last couple days up there alone were interesting. The shows were wonderful and gave us reason to go back soon. Maybe that’s what the explosion was trying to tell us 😉 I don’t like that people actually died though.
Are there any rumours about the band you’d like to put an end to? Or start for that matter…
No. At this time I am unaware of any rumors about the band. As for my own affairs I suppose that is a different story. I think musicians, promoters, DJs, and anyone else who gets the spotlight are easy targets for rumors and gossip. It’s all about how you carry yourself and keep your cool. And it depends on who you associate yourself with.
Perhaps there is a rumor that we’re a straight up Goth band and I find that silly. Maybe it’s based on the venues we have played or how I look. But, let me backtrack; I don’t find Goth silly as it is a genre we are strongly tied with and we have been patrons of for years. But, I feel our music offers more diversity and dynamics than a typical Goth band. We’re anything but typical. I can already see how we have grown in the last two years.
What are your plans for touring in the future?
Speaking of rumors lol. Well, we have something in mind that is very big for next year. Nothing is confirmed quite yet but we are in talks with promoters in Europe. That is all I can say at the moment.
Regionally speaking we plan to tour the West coast of the US next year. San Francisco, Oakland, and San Diego was only the beginning.
What inspired you to start doing music of your own?
I had served as a bassist in many bands ever since I was a teenager. I always had it in mind to start my own band, but I lacked the belief that I could sing in front of a crowd. That thought alone use to terrify me.
Three years ago I went through some major changes in my life. In some sense I was starting over. I had a lot to write about and I wanted to get it out. And I also realized I wasn’t getting any younger. I told myself that if I didn’t start something like Peeling Grey I would regret not having even tried.
Music aside, what else do you want to do in the future?
Ummm…..driving cross country is something I always wanted to do. I once made it to New Orleans from Los Angeles all alone. Next time I’ll set my sights on the tip of Maine and maybe catch parts of Canada here and there 🙂 Perhaps alone again. Like everyone else, traveling is a must. I’ll go to any destination in the world. I’m not restricted to just driving.
As far as any future enterprises outside of music I really don’t know now. Some people want to open a restaurant. Others will join the foreign legion or run for office. It’s hard for me to really imagine putting so much energy into anything outside of what I’m doing now. Oh, wait…..I always did want to rally race through the jungle. That would be fun.
Any last words here?
Thank you for the privilege of answering your questions. I rather enjoyed myself 🙂 We would love to tour Canada someday soon!
Thanks so much for your time 😀
Interview, January, 2010 *Unknown source
1 . How did you guys get together to form Peeling Grey? Was there a precipitating event, so to speak?
PG: I met our former guitarist Mike at a club I was running in 2007. We use to jam, just the two of us in his Hollywood apartment. I brought in our first two songs “Faith In Forever” and “Peeling Grey”. Months down the road my friends Richard Nielsen and Naren Renz came in to complete the line-up. I had a musical past with the both of them…..especially Naren. After some changes last year my longtime friend Karla Blume took over on guitar.
Everyone I have played with in this project has been a friend, prior to Peeling Grey finally becoming a reality. We even had another friend James Hazley produce & engineer our demo EP. He also was a session guitarist until Karla stepped in. I suppose the band is a family affair of sorts. I’m fortunate to personally know great talent that makes this thing fly.
2. What sort of music were you listening to in your formative years? Was this a major influence on your music now?
PG: First wave Punk, New Wave, and early Goth music paved the way for me ever since I was in my early teens. I always felt I borrowed from various influences and was inspired by very particular characteristics from each group or artist. The Cure has always been a tremendous source of ideas both musically and stylistically. I feel some of our songs reflect a degree of “Cure-esque” emotion if I dare say so. I feel our song “The World’s Not Sorry” is one of them.
The spirit of The Clash always spoke to me on many levels. I think that compelled me to write (lyrically) a few songs geared away from emotional distress and heartache and address bigger issues. “The Strip” is so far our most political song as it is a reflection of everyday life in the Gaza Strip. “James Quarterly” is a track where I’m reaching for my inner Mick Jones, lol. But, it is a serious song about friendship and witnessing someones drug addiction and close brushes with death.
I do hear some touches of more current bands from Rich’s end on drums and I think that is a great thing. Furthermore, some of his drumming reminds me of Joy Division and early New order as well. Naren has similar tastes as I, but his trained background in music gives us an edge over how I personally approach writing, and it works really well. Karla and I see eye to eye on The Cure, and she too comes from a rich musical background. Her mother was a folk singer that use to hang out with Bob Dylan! How’s that for band DNA?
But, back to your question, yes, those very influences from my formative years play a vital role in our sound. I think that goes for all of us. In the end though those influences are simply just that. We’re not here to imitate anyone.
3. The internet is a great thing that allows people more access than ever to new music (after all, it’s how I found Peeling Grey!). But sometimes I think a down side is that access can be too easy. Let me explain: back in the day, if someone even knew about certain bands, they were more than likely a kindred spirit. But now it doesn’t necessarily mean much at all. You can reach a vastly larger audience, but do you think this results in a correspondingly larger number of “real” fans? Or do you have to pick and choose your target audience?
PG: We pick who we feel is most likely to understand, appreciate and of course like our music. But, we welcome everyone to enjoy it. I personally do not have a problem with your average teenie-bopper tapping their foot to our songs. Maybe that’s their gateway to better music!
The internet is unsaturated so it’s kind of a miracle that we’re having this conversation. Yes, back in the day things seem to be more sacred. You had to take your chances with some random junk you would find in the discount bin at a music store. That or it was simply word of mouth that got you interested in a band. It’s been so long since the radio did anyone any favors so I won’t go there. Those things still exist but the internet has made people both impatient and dismissive of lots of things….especially music……Attention span? What’s that?
Hence this calls for bands and promoters to figure out ways to use the internet more effectively. Our way of reaching out to new potential fans through the internet is to actually speak to them one at a time. I like to add a personal touch and remind people that we really do exist! Getting them to your shows is key so that they can make that connection. I think that’s one of the challenges of the internet; The world is condensed down to neutrons and lacks being three dimensional. Still, I would never want the plug pulled on the internet especially in the case of music. Despite the disadvantages anything can happen with billions of people out there. It boggles the mind indeed.
4. It seems like today’s youth culture is rapidly turning into an amorphous thing where everything has a sort of disturbing sameness, from music to fashion. That is, what used to be fairly distinct subcultures now have many elements that are almost identical. I think is largely due to the efficiency of modern communications globalization of mass media. What are your thoughts? Can subcultures still retain their identity in the 21st century? What do think are some of the important factors with this?
PG: I think a new phenomenon may arise. By then who’s to say music will play a significant role. We can only hope so. We call it “subculture” now. It’s so difficult to predict where things will end up in this century. In the long run it’s anyone’s guess. I mean, who in the 19th century would fathom an underground youth movement fueled by music, fashion, and sometimes politics known as Punk Rock in the 20th century?
I think you’re right about technology having its effects on subcultures. The main thing for “subculture” to thrive as we know it in 2010 is passion and rebellion. When people, especially the younger generation cease to revolt or express themselves that is the death of any counter/sub culture. What worries me is that people in general seem to be more complacent these days. That’s what most governments want…if not all of them.
The homogenization of subculture you speak of has been going on for years now. It’s hard to pinpoint what the causes of that is. But I see this “absorption” effect in many area outside of music. I see it in our foreign policy with how we claim to want to spread democratic ideals to other parts of the world while under the table contracts are being awarded to companies that don’t care about American ideals. Instead it’s American homogenization. I see it in globalization as well. It’s also apparent in the media when huge broadcasting companies absorb smaller stations. That’s what happened to KROQ out here in L.A. That was our subculture’s outlet for good music. Now it’s all crap.
As mentioned it’s always about passion. But with passion which can be a fashion as well, comes purpose. Too many people do not have that. Maybe it’s more convenient that way. We use to call out the people who didn’t have a purpose or understanding for their scene or subculture. They were called poseurs! Now, I don’t intend on going off on an elitist tangent but that is part of the problem; More and more people get into something because it has become accepted. It’s safer nowadays, but I know I can’t turn back the clock….And that’s not what Peeling Grey is all about. We wish to look forward.
At any rate subculture can be the symptom of an ill society. It can also be a wonderful forum for creativity nonetheless. But it seems a lot of art is also the product of social strife and upheaval. I think that’s what made the original London Punk scene real. Bands like The Clash provided a social commentary. It would be interesting what the youth in Iran have to say these days. Maybe that’s where Goth and Punk need to regroup!
5. How is the LA scene doing these days? What are some of your favorite venues and events?
PG: Los Angeles is vast and diverse much like any big city. There are many facets of the Goth scene here. To simplify I would boil it down to two factions, but not really opposing ones: Hollywood is one with its establishments and promoters that seemingly have the financial backing. This comes after years of doing it I suppose. Most events that relate to that side of town or its entrepreneurs cater mostly to dancing…..which I do enjoy…..when the music is decent.
Then there’s the rest of us that throw our own clubs, and more or less stay true to the original aesthetic. I think there’s more of a grassroots feel with the independent promoters and DJ’s that really try to promote not only new and obscure music, but local bands. That’s currently our nitch in L.A. and everyday I do appreciate more what we still have in this town.
My favorite club is Release the Bats…..period. That’s in Long Beach at the Que Sera and was integral to bringing Deathrock into the 21st century. We play there in March and it is a good feeling. I hate the Sunset Strip and never had a good experience at The Knitting Factory in Hollywood…oh that’s gone now, good!
6. What are some of the good things about the music “underground? What are some of the bad?
PG: The good thing is there are no limits. I have seen a few artists really push them. In my opinion it doesn’t always translate into good art or music, but I appreciate anything out of the ordinary.
One of the bad things is depriving the rest of the world of what you want to share. Usually when it’s “underground” it’s relatively unknown. That can also be a good thing, but I think after a while that can get old. I don’t care what anyone says. 99% of art is created with the intent of exhibition……and there usually isn’t a set limit on how many people are allowed to appreciate your craft. Of course I am aware of the stigma of success beyond underground approval. I think I may have touched on that in a previous question. However, as long as the artist remains sincere I do not see a problem.
I suppose what can get annoying is when people’s interest in “underground” scenes is either to be seen or relish in being among those that pioneer a movement for the sake of it. The most important thing is to really like something, to care for it, and understand it.
7. How do you get that cool “fuzzy” sort of sound on the guitar on your demo?
PG: That was our original guitarist (Mike O’Hare) sound. He would just sit there and tinker with his processor during practice. It use to drive us mad because we took 10 minutes between songs! He was very particular. I think the fuzz was partially our collective brainwaves being processed and amplified too. I heard that’s how The Jesus and Mary Chain do it 🙂
8. When do you anticipate your full length CD coming out? Can you tell us anything about it?
PG: Initially we had our sights set on another E.P. Then it dawned on us that a full length is really what we want. It’s difficult to gauge what type of release would get people on board. I figure we’ve already done an EP (even if it was a demo) so now it’s time to properly record our songs for a full length album.
I anticipate the album will be ready for the masses in June or July. In my line of thinking the sooner the better as no one waits for anything these days……so I won’t either. Afterall we’re competing with instant gratification all around!
We’re going to feature at least 10 tracks on the album. We have more songs than that, but anything leftover can be released as a b-side I suppose. I don’t even know if b-sides are still relevant….To hell with the rules, we’ll still have them!
We begin recording on Feb 6th. Our reworked and final version of “Peeling Grey” will be submitted to a German compilation titled “Darness before Dawn” that will be distributed at this year’s WGT Festival in Leipzig in May. All I can say at this point is I am confident that our album will do justice to all our music. It will sound real, and have some raw nerve yet still hold up to today’s standards of recording.
9. Where will Peeling Grey be performing next? Do you have any plans for a national tour? (hint, hint!)
PG: We’re booked through April. We actually play this weekend at Club Vicious in Rosemead. After our Release the Bats show we’ll be opening for Fangs On Fur and The Deep Eynde in April….Exciting stuff.
We will tour eventually. No matter how much more accessible music is online, it can never replicate playing out. And that is one of our goals; To be a touring band around the world and break some hearts while we’re at it! I wouldn’t be surprised if we were invited over to Europe before the rest of America. We’ve been getting some great feedback from NME Radio in the UK and as mentioned we will also be featured on the German compilation.
I have a feeling there will be a long road (no pun intended) ahead. I think gigging is half the fun…..Could be chaotic and memorable at the same time. Tell us if anyone is willing to sponsor or help us reach that goal 🙂 One way or another we’re coming to your town.
10. Thanks so much for doing the interview! is there anything else you would like to add?
PG: Yes, we will be playing your daughter’s next birthday party drunk. Just kidding. Actually we don’t really drink until after the show….At least that’s how I handle it.
Thank you for the interview and we will see you in 2010 and beyond! Stay tuned for our debut album as we’ll be landing in your neck of the woods someday soon. Goodnight!