Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Ripple Conversation With Gregg Emley Of Holy Grove

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

I have really distinct memories of hearing Master of Puppets for the first time in 88/89 or so, followed shortly after by hearing Paranoid for the first time. I already loved music at that time, but I was more into U2, The Cure, R.E.M....more "college radio" type stuff like that. I remember hearing Battery and thinking it was the heaviest thing I'd ever heard. I had never heard a palm muted guitar, aggressive sounding vocals, double was definitely transformative. Of course after that I couldn't go back to my U2 records. My memory of hearing the song Paranoid is also similar...My cousin called me and was like "you have to hear this band!" and he held the phone up to the speaker and played it to me over the phone. I begged my mom to take me to buy the tape the next day.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

For us, it's usually a riff or two that will get the ball rolling. Trent (guitar) or I will come with an idea or two, and we'll talk about what we're envisioning the song to be a little bit, and bring it to practice. Once the song gets to closer to having a solid structure, Andrea starts working on melodies and lyrics. It's a pretty constant process of collaboration across the whole band before we feel like a song is ready.

Who has influenced you the most?

For me personally as a musician I'd say Cliff Burton. He made me want to play heavy rock bass on a Rickenbacker with a fuzz pedal. I'm still not sure there is much better than Anesthesia turned up really loud. If I had to pick a band, I'd say Rush. Not that they influence our sound necessarily, but the way they have stuck to their vision, they aren't afraid to try new things with their music, and they've maintained a friendship and sense of humor for 40 years. That's tough to do.
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

We're from Portland, OR. I don't know if that necessarily reflects in our music so much as I am hesitant to say that there is a specific "Portland" sound. I think the biggest way the city seeps in to our music is through the supportive community of artists and musicians we're surrounded by. There is very little competition between bands, everyone is happy to see everyone, and the city is small enough that you know everyone in the scene and give em all hugs and high fives when you see them at shows.

Where'd the band name come from?

Our name was chosen after a long deliberation process. We didn't have a name for the first few months of a band. I think we really wanted to find something that was unique, was appropriately heavy sounding and would look good on a flier. It was definitely one of those things that when it was suggested we all instantly said "that's it!" Total agreement across the board after all having different opinions and suggestions for months.

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

Good one! I'm a huge comic/sci-fi fan so....let's say the Swamp Thing movie they'll end up re-making someday, or perhaps if they ever re-make Dune. Those would probably be the top 2. Maybe if they ever make a movie out of Samuel Delany's Dhalgren. That would be fun.

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

Hmmm...that's a tough one. My first instinct is to say a Rush song, because those guys always have interesting ideas in the music and the lyrics, so there would be plenty of material to work with and write about....How about By-Tor and The Snow Dog. Definitely my favorite of their pre-2112 stuff. You can really hear them pushing themselves and their sound and I think it's the first glimpse of what they would eventually turn in to.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

I'm probably going to jinx myself, but I haven't had too many of those, thankfully. One that kind of sticks out is when we toured Europe last year, the 2nd or 3rd show of the tour was on a beautiful beach somewhere in Italy. They served us this amazing 3 course meal,  bottles of wine, etc and they put us up in an amazing bed and breakfast type place. We were all talking that night about how great Europe treated bands, how great being on tour night we slept in a punk squat and I woke up in the morning with kitty litter stuck to my face and in my hair...

You're just about to hit the road, tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

The live show for us is the most important thing. We all love seeing live music, and being blown away by a good live band is one of the more rewarding experiences I feel like you can have with music. We strive to bring energy and urgency to our live show, and do our best to put on a good show. I think it's important for fans to see you working up there. No one likes a band that just stands there looking bored.

What makes a great song?

Hmmm...that's hard to say...I'm inclined to say it's a "you know when you hear it" type thing. Of course, for me, I love good riffs, good feel, powerful vocals, big drums... but I feel there is something undefinable to a "great" song.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

My first band basically consisted of us playing Ramones and Minor Threat songs really poorly, and I'm not sure we even knew a whole song from beginning to end, so we'd basically only play the parts we could figure out. We had an one or two originals that were along those same lines...basically re-written versions of Blitzkrieg Bop.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

I am extremely proud of all of our new songs, and that's not just a phoned in answer. We've put in a tremendous amount of work in on them, and tried our best to really take our writing to a new level. It's hasn't always been an easy process, but it's been very rewarding for all of us, I think.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

I gotta go with Yob. They just keep getting better and better. I love how they progress a little with each record, but still have that unmistakable Yob sound. No one better, in my opinion. For more singer/songwriter stuff, Joanna Newsom. Her record Ys is truly a masterpiece. Music, lyrics, arrangement, clarity of's all there.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

I'm a vinyl guy. Nothing compares to holding the cover in your hand while listening, looking at big full size artwork, reading along with the lyrics.

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice.

Both! Two great tastes that taste great together. I think Bob Dylan said that.

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

We're based out of Portland, OR. My two most frequented shops in town are Crossroads, which is great for back-filling your collection and finding all the older records you need to complete and add to it, and for newer stuff I go to 2nd Avenue Records. Great shop for metal/punk records!

What's next for the band?

We're headed out on a West Coast tour from 3/15-3/26. We'll be playing a bunch of new songs before we head in to the studio to record them in April. After it comes out we hope to hit the east coast and then make our way back to Europe.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

Thanks for reading! Come see us on tour and we'll give you high fives. Cheers!

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