Grampfather Release Live Album; Discuss Musical Horizons

KINGSTON – On May 5th, Grampfather released their latest record, Live at the Hive. If their studio work was any indication, this album confirms it: these dudes can play their asses off. The instrumentation being the hallmark of their sound, Grampfather dips in and out of songs flawlessly, covering material from their last two albums, as well as some new material. Guitar tones on tracks such as “Large Thaddeus/Thad B. Garbage” and “Weeding” display great variety in different sonic spaces, and their ability to maneuver medleys and time signatures is displayed well on tracks such as “Dead Ends + Odd Times for Odd Times.” Replicating the performance of a studio track can be hard – depending on the part – but Grampfather shows they’re more than up for the challenge!

This week, I had a chance to sit down with James Kwapisz and Andrew Blot of Grampfather. We discuss the album, as well as future plans, and more.

Lucas Garrett: James, thanks for taking the time to chat today! How’ve you been? What’s new for your band?

James Kwapisz: Hey, Lucas, been good. Been busy. Hope all’s well with you. We’re all jazzed about the live album – Live at the Hive. Pleasantly surprised with how good and crispy it sounds. Much love to the Jive Hive guys.

LG: Let’s talk a bit about the new record. How did the concept of this live album come to pass?

JK: Well, when we saw the Jive Hive Live videos on Instagram and YouTube, we had to hit them up. They’re doing gawd’s work, especially for broke-ass musicians like us, by recording video and audio of bands and sending over all the files, videos, audio stems for each instrument, for free! It was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. We put a lot of work into our live sound and performances, so it’s nice to finally have some representation of it out there. I’m a little obsessive when it comes to mixing, so it was a refreshing experience to be taken out of my comfort zone a bit and try out a new approach. While we did smooth out some hiccups in the mixing process, there are a lot of cool moments and interesting idiosyncrasies that we kept in there to capture the live experience. But yeah, in sum, we wanted to do a live album of our two 2022 albums, Gramppappies and 666G. We also threw in a couple of thrash tracks from Magnum Grampus and thought it’d be cool to get a live version of our newest single “Rot in Bliss,” in there, too. Might as well, eh?

LG: Were all these tracks done live, or were there overdubs? If there were overdubs, how did you decide which parts to play live and do later in the studio?

JK: 95% or so of the album is all from the original live take. There were a few instances where I admittedly messed up some lyrics that I had to overdub or where drum beats were off time that I had to do some surgery on when mixing. I also added synth to “Rot in Bliss” to fill it out a bit and make it sound like the studio version. 

LG: One of the things that really stands out – for me – on this record, is the seamless transition between sections of songs. How did you decide which songs would fit into medleys?

JK: There are a few pairings of songs that we always play together for our live shows. Some of which I planned when writing the songs–like “Pawl Mawl Menthawls + The Man in the Wall” and “Eat Shit and Die + You Just Die, and That’s It”–and others we came across just by experimenting with our live songs–like “Dead Ends + Odd Times for Odd Times.” In the case of “Large Thaddeus/Thad B. Garbage,” we decided to make a medley of “Large Garbage” and “Thad B. Radd.” We kind of stopped playing those songs individually live for some reason, so we decided to keep the parts of the songs that we liked and mash them up in order to revive them. But that’s what’s great about playing songs live–getting to reimagine and refine them.

LG: Another thing, as a guitarist, that I’d like to go over is the tone that is on this record – I love it! There’s so much variety on it, from surf rock to some really great prog rock sounds. Walk us through the process of getting these tones!

JK: I just got a new VOX AC30, which sounds super clean and I’m glad to have it featured on this album. But I think I’ll pass this question on to Andrew, as he’s the pedal wizard of the band. Check out his board featured on the album cover.

Andrew Blot: Really appreciate the compliment and would love to walk through some of the sounds you might be hearing. A lot of pretty dramatic effects on this live album – I’ve always preferred dramatic to subtle. The big one being the Montreal Assembly Count to 5, which can be heard at the end of my solo on “Odd Times for Odd Times.” Still not sure exactly what it does, part sampler/looper and part delay. I usually just turn it on and start playing and am always pleasantly surprised. Check it out, super cool pedal. Another one I used a lot on this is the Big Chill by Jam Pedals which is a really unique tremolo that allows you to alter the “attack” of the tremolo and even has a chop setting for a dramatic, more choppier (helicopter) guitar sound which can be heard on “Doom and Bloom.” Also, right before this performance I had just purchased the newer Boss SY-1 synth pedal, which is like 200 pedals in one. I primarily use it for a filtered synth sound which can be heard in the mid-section for “Poppies.” When the rest of your band has a little more self-control in regard to their live setup, it allows me to utilize this stuff a little bit more over the top without stepping on toes, which I greatly appreciate. 

LG: What other shows do you have lined up? Where else can we see your band?

JK: We’re in the middle of booking a bunch more shows for the latter half of 2023, but here are a few that we’ve got coming up: 

  • 5/12: Elephant Alley—Troy
  • 5/13: Berlin Under A—NYC
  • 5/20: Tasting Lab—Greenville
  • 5/20: Snapper Magees—Kingston
  • 5/26: Hud Station—Albany
  • 7/14: Gramp House—Kingston
  • 8/26: Rushing Duck Brewery—Chester
  • 10/17: Snugs—New Paltz
  • 11/24: Mr. Beery’s—Bethpage

LG: What are some other things you have on the horizon? What are you looking forward to as a band?

JK: We’re cooking up our 7th studio album. We haven’t decided on a title definitively as of yet, but we like Laughlines as a tentative title. Kind of in the vein of “Rot in Bliss,” the main theme of the album is about accepting the unfortunate aspects of life, like our inevitable rotting for instance, but choosing to do so mindfully and even blissfully. Overall, the vibe is more upbeat and cheerful than a lot of our past work. We’re hoping to release it late this year or early next year.

LG: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about today that I may have missed?

JK: Would just like to encourage bands to follow suit and take advantage of the awesome opportunities that the Jive Hive guys are so selflessly providing. Big shout out to Jive Hive Live. We can’t thank them enough.

LG: Thanks again for your time! Have a goodnight.

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