Reviews

They Grieve – Interview


Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)

PD:  How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?

Gary: They Grieve is a post-metal duo to put it simply. We try to mix ambient drone music with doom-laden riffs. Our music is meant to be sad without crossing into anger. We take inspiration from our collective experiences of sadness and grief. As a 2-piece we try to push our personal boundaries as musicians and strive to fill the sonic space as much as possible.

 

PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.

Gary: We’re based out of Ottawa, Canada. I once heard that Ottawa is one of the most extreme weather capitals in the world. I don’t know how true that is but the weather can be unpredictable and swings from mountains of snow and -40 degree celsius in the winter to super humid +40 degree weather in the summer. Music has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. Once I started performing I think I found something I didn’t know I needed. As a band, we are 100% collaborative in our writing and I think that helps us develop as artists. We’re always pushing each other.

Deniz: Gary and I met in 2008 or 2009 after I started going to see his previous band Alaskan play whenever I could. We became friends and played in a few different projects together over the next several years until deciding to start something with just the two of us. We wanted to explore drone and ambient music, but realized pretty quickly the best way for us to do that was to stay grounded in our post-metal roots as a foundation.

 

PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?

Gary: Personally I find creating music to be cathartic and therapeutic. I think music will always be a large part of my life even if I’m not performing in front of people or releasing music. It’s a way of releasing things that I can’t get out through other means. It might sound cheesy but Deniz inspires me to keep writing music. I’m grateful for his friendship and what we’ve been able to build together.

Deniz: Our music really stems forth from our friendship, so I’d pretty much echo what Gary said. We write about the things we struggle to talk about in our everyday lives—depression, isolation, grief—the things that weigh most heavily on us individually and are the most difficult to put into words. Our music feels like an extension and exploration of the conversations we have about those experiences.

 

PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?

Gary: I don’t really know. Sometimes I feel like there are boxes that seem to need to be checked off because we are a metal band. But I also get so much out of performing in front of people, meeting people, and talking about the music we create. I’d be fine just doing this for as long as I can. It’d be great to tour internationally again. I think continuously pushing each other artistically and musically pushes our aspirations as well.

Deniz: On the one hand, They Grieve is kind of a space for us to experiment, to be vulnerable, and to learn. I think we both want to see ourselves grow and improve as artists, push ourselves creatively, and find new modes of expression. On the other hand, playing and performing is a therapeutic and cathartic experience for us both. So I guess we aspire to continue doing that as much as possible.

 

PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?

Gary: Personally I think it would be when my previous band Alaskan was offered our first European tour. It was so validating and mind-blowing. Some very fond memories were made on that tour and friendships were made. As They Grieve I think the upcoming release of our full-length record is a pretty awesome moment for me, for a lot of the same reasons.

Deniz: For me, it was probably receiving the finished vinyl for our upcoming record. The process of writing and recording this album was long and arduous—it felt really good to see it materialize in front of me.

 

PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?

Gary: It’s very different. We decided to try going the PR route with this album. We’re happy to be working with Jon Asher and are blown away by his work thus far. We’re lucky to be in a position to be able to afford to go this way but it does feel like it’s increasingly difficult to cut through the noise. All we can hope is that enough people get a chance to hear our music and are inspired by it.

 

PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?

Gary: Currently we book our own shows. We are lucky to have great friends in other bands and we share contacts for promoters etc. We are currently working on doing a run of shows to promote the release of our record this coming spring. More news on that soon!

 

PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?

Gary: It seems harder and harder to be a smaller band these days. Long gone are the blogspot days of promotion. If people are downloading our music for free so be it. It doesn’t really bother me. Spotify is a whole other thing. It’s frustrating to have this great tool but to also be exploited by that tool. Bandcamp is always a better option if you’re trying to support a band. Pay for a download, buy a t-shirt.

Deniz: I loved the blogspot era where people would write reviews, however long, of the albums they would put up for download. That exposed me to a ton of new artists and genres of music I probably wouldn’t have come across otherwise. It also asked something of the audience—you had to be at least a little bit intentional and engaged when checking out a new band. Streaming platforms have the benefit of convenience, but I find it a little too easy to skip through 30 seconds of a song and completely write off a band nowadays.

 

PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?

Gary: Calvin by GIANT (Braveyoung) as far as post-metal goes I think this song is pretty much perfect. It’s a portrait of that period in metal in my opinion.

Deniz: This is a hard one—there are too many to name! First, that comes to mind is “Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears” by A Winged Victory for the Sullen. Their self-titled album changed my life when it came out, and I’ve listened to this song endlessly ever since.

 

PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?

Gary: It can feel like the system is broken sometimes. There is little support for musicians in general and the support that is in place seems to be geared more towards ‘marketable’ music, singer-songwriters, etc. The same goes for venues and practice spaces. There seem to be fewer venues that can accommodate louder or heavier bands and even fewer places to practice. For us, it’s not really possible to write outside of our live setup. We need a space to experiment and flesh out our ideas. There are probably bigger issues regarding the music industry but these are the most glaring ones affecting us.

 

PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?

Gary: We’re currently gearing up to release our first full-length record called To Which I Bore Witness and book some shows in support of that. We also have some ideas for an accompanying EP of drone pieces but we’re still in the early stages of that.

 

PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?

Deniz: We’re most active on instagram, @theygrieve, and you can also find us on Facebook. Links to our music and other things (videos, Patreon, Facebook, etc) can be found there. The upcoming album can be pre-ordered through Silent Pendulum Records: https://silentpendulumrecords.com/products/they-grieve-lp

Thanks a ton for having us!

They Grieve links:
Band/Artist location – Ottawa, Ontario
Facebook – You Tube – Soundcloud – Bandcamp – Merch – 
Instagram – Apple – Spotify – Amazon – Deezer – LinkTree
Check our page for They Grieve


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