In Session: The Grandstand Jockeys

ALBANY – Spearheaded by songwriter Ron Burris, The Grandstand Jockeys, releasing their second EP, Place, are just getting started. Taking their alt-rock studio work to the test, the band is beginning to embark on a slew of shows, with more recordings in the works.

I had a chance to sit down with Ron Burris and Eric Braymer of The Grandstand Jockeys. What follows is our conversation.

Photo provided.

Lucas Garrett: Eric and Ron, thank you for taking time today to talk about the band. How’ve you two been?

Ron Burris: Alright! How’ve you been, Lucas?

LG: I can’t complain on my end.

Eric Braymer: I’m doing good!

LG: Tell us a bit about this band. I haven’t had a chance to talk to both of you at the same time until now.

RB: The Grandstand Jockeys have been doing this since 2021; Eric’s been with me on this journey of helping me realize a bunch of my songs. We’re just starting to get to play out now.

LG: Where did the name come from?

RB: We used to play an old club called Saratoga Winners. Whenever we played [there] when I was a kid, there was always a group of people who would stand at the back of the club who would judge all the bands as they were playing, and they’d basically say how they would do it better. Yet, none of them would ever get up on a stage. So, I used to call them the Grandstand Jockeys, and I held onto that name for years.

LG: It’s a great name. One of your songs on the new record that just came out addresses this. It was funny when I heard the voiceover. I think we’ve all been there: we get announced by somebody, and they get the name all wrong.

EB: We’ve had gigs where they would call us the wrong name – you could screw it up at three different spots. The disc jockey on that track, you know.

RB: Rob Smittix is the one that did the voiceover.

LG: Oh, I had no idea.

EB: We picked him up on the way to the studio, and we’re just talking about everything. We got talking about that song, and we started joking about the things we’d say. I told him you could introduce it as a Vaudeville idea – Ron had that idea. He really hit it. He remembered these dumb things we said and made a story out of it. Rob hit a home run on it.

RB: Definitely. We’ve been called multiple different names… I wanted to incorporate it in because we have a little bit of a personality with it, too. We like to laugh at ourselves.

EB: That song, “Mary Sausage,” is a more major key, upbeat one.

RB: When I wrote that – it’s going to sound terrible – it was my attempt at a Beatles song, but it ended up sounding like a Weezer song instead.

LG: Who is on the record, Place, besides you and Eric?

RB: On the record, there’s me; Eric, who did all of the bass lines, and did some of the guitar lines, and did backup vocals, AND the harmonies – he’s all over the place; Jared Weed did the solos for us – he did lead guitar work and some regular rhythm guitar as well; my niece, Kyra Pearl, came in and sang the female vocals on “Broken Dreams” and “Change”; Dave Parker, who recorded us, did the synth on “Change” and additional guitar wailing noises at the end; Brian Mangini played keyboards on “Broken Dreams”; Brian Rex did percussion; Eric Johnson did the hand claps.

EB: [Jared Weed’s] sound is very distinct. He’s an “in the chord” player – he could play jazz if he wanted to.

RB: Hard metal is his forte, but came in and did this. I’m so glad we thought of having him come in.

EB: I would do some of the signature leads before a vocal part or after. And, then, you’d hear his lead come in, and it sounded like the song was taking off. He just came in and did a couple of sessions.

RB: Jared’s still a really good friend.

LG: Who’s in the band currently?

RB: The Grandstand Jockeys live band is: me on vocals and guitar; Eric Braymer on lead guitar; Brian Rex on percussion; Brian Schifferdecker on bass.

LG: Your album, Place, just came out on June 27th. What else does the band have going on?

RB: We’re playing the Troy Pig Out on the 16th of July, the Chance Theater on the 21st of July… We’re in Boston at the Midway Café on August 19th. That’s what we have right now for shows.

We also have our third EP, & Show, in October. I haven’t set the date yet, but the album is fully recorded and ready to go.

I’m constantly writing songs. I’ve been talking with Ted Marotta (Ominous Seapods), and he’s going to start working with us on pre-production for the next recording.

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

RB: After & Show comes out, we’re going to release all three EPs – probably six months after – on vinyl and call it Saratoga.

LG: Where’d that name come from?

RB: I’m keeping everything… everything has been a play on words for me. I like to call the guys that are in the group the jockeys’ club. We’ve had a few people come in and out, so they’re the jockeys’ club. Everything is a play on words. I like to play on the fact that we’re in a highly stimulated area for gambling, horse-racing… to a degree; I like pushing the dark side of that, not the happy, cheerful side.

LG: Thanks again for your time!

RB: Good seeing you, Lucas.

EB: Take care.

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