Grey Hairs playing Gringo Records' 15th Birthday Party at Nottingham Contemporary
The last time we spoke was a year ago and you were just about to play your first show. Can you bring us up to date as with the last 12 months in GH’s world?
James: There’s nearly 20 questions here…..
Dave: Due to Grey Hairs, i've probably added an extra 15-20 cans a week of Red Stripe to my already unhealthy diet over the past 12 months. Oh, and played some good shows with great bands all over the UK. Just. I might invest in an oxygen tank a la Angus Young, it's not getting any easier.
Bod: It’s been a blur. In a good way.
Chris: Still no Red Stripe endorsement though. Maybe this boom in Nottingham music will bring us a high-power manager who can negotiate things like that for us?
You are all in other bands, care to use this opportunity to bring us up to speed with who they are?
B: Fonda 500, Paper Plane Crash, Greta Guignolet.
D: I'm playing bass in Fists with James and Cuban Crimewave (just) and drums in Cult Of Dom Keller.
C: I’m in Kogumaza. I play the bass for Dusty Bible sometimes too and both me and James are occasional members of the Ex Easter Island Head Orchestra. I guess I’m also still in Lords technically seeing we never broke up, it’s just been 3 years since the last practise.
How much has the band changed from your initial idea and conception through to what it is today?
B: This implies serious forethought took place. GH is like testing when pasta is ready by chucking it at a wall.
C: We’re probably a bit better at doing whatever it is we do now than we were a year or so ago. Couldn’t be much worse.
D: Originally Neck wrote all the tunes, now we're writing together a lot more. It definitely feels more like a 'proper' band rather than another drunken discussion becoming a reality
You once said that it’s possible to form a band around “tiny knee-jerk reactions to things” - is that what Grey Hairs is?
D: I don't care about that, I just want to beat the shit out of a drum kit in style
C: Grey Hairs is an excuse to be drunk with my friends and turn my amp up as loud as I can stand it. If that’s not a knee-jerk reaction to the world around me I don’t know what is.
What was the last thing to wind you up?
C: The internet, always the internet. A man jumps out of a balloon in space and some dude at a desk with a sandwich in one hand types “meh”. That’s a pretty neat summary of the way the internet works. There is the possibility to do anything with it, to put any thought out there and find an audience but really it’s just porn, funny pictures of cats and people arguing over microscopic musical genre differences on YouTube. "I think you'll find this is post-hardcore not post-post-emo-mosh you faggot" and so on. If I spent any more time reading the opinions of shitheads on the internet I'd never leave the house or do anything again.
D: A motorcyclist for undercutting me at about 50mph in a 30mph zone then pulling up to my window and calling me 'a f**kin muppet' for nearly knocking him off. Wish I had.
B: Trying to stick arms on a puppet. Product design is not my strong point.
What do you hope to achieve with the band?
B: Achieve?! ....Survival.
C: There’s never been much of a long term plan so the answer would have to be “to get us and our gear to the next gig OK”.
D: Release a few records, play some shows with good people, drink the odd can of Red Stripe (angling for an endorsement here) and use it as an excuse to go on holiday (tour).
C: And obviously a Number One for Nottingham would be nice. I forgot that.
You said in a recent interview that “UK underground music is in the best health that I can ever remember.” You’ve been playing and making music for a while, so what makes it ‘healthier’ now than at any other point?
C: For years it used to be that UK bands on a certain rung didn’t have the resources or time or money to represent themselves well on record and in the last few years that’s really changed for the better. Bands that you know are amazing live are finally working out how to represent that on record. It’s a shame that people seem to buy less records now and have less desire to seek out new sounds but on a purely creative level everywhere I look I see friends and contemporaries making phenomenal music and that's great.
D: If you're serious about playing these days, you have to do it yourself. There's no mirage of a big label signing you up anymore. I don't know…This fucking Absinthe is horrible…
B: As bands seldom make money from record sales any more, the live circuit is essential to getting going. This makes for some pretty slick shows, I reckon. But live music is always more exciting, isn’t it? Crowd reaction and interaction creates the real buzz and feeds back to what’s going on on stage.
How come you've not released anything yet?
B: Keep yer knickers on! If you take a cake out of the oven too early it sinks and while it might still taste nice the middle is a gooey mess. Fact.
D: We recorded, it wasn't good enough, we recorded again, it's coming out. The End.
C: Recording is a whole new problem we never thought about when we started. Like getting a job as an Admin Assistant and finding out part of the job involves hang-gliding. You've got to give us time to learn how to do it.
So when can we expect something?
C: We just finished four songs in a day with an old friend in Derby and it was a blast. Three are coming out on a 7” on Gringo and the other one is coming out on one of 2 split 7”s we have coming up both with bands we love. Not jinxing them by saying any more.
What does it mean to be playing Supersonic festival this weekend?
D: Supersonic is, at least, one of the best festivals in the UK. A combination of underground big name bands and 'unheard of' bands. It's usually the latter that blows you away.
C: Playing it is a real honour.
And what about Branch Out Festival?
C: I don’t know. I think we’re planning on collaborating with all the other artists playing in a giant cover of We Are The World after which we’ll watch the live link up of BBC News as they announce all war is over and thank Nottingham Music for what it’s done.
D: We just love playing Sunday nights, when we're at our lowest point of the week emotionally.
What can we expect from a Grey Hairs gig?
B: Sweat, blood, tears....in that order…
D: …Red Stripe. Ali Rep. Loud shit. More blood. More sweat. A little bit of sick.
C: Expectation can only lead to let downs in all walks of life. There’s some life advice right there.
What’s been your favourite gig to play so far?
C: They’ve all been fun in one way or another. Aside from our own performance being good or bad, playing shows with Flipper was a bit like being on Jim’ll Fix It but with less (alleged) inappropriate touching.
D: There's been a couple. Gringofest was a favourite of mine. The Rescue Rooms gig that involved full stage abortion was fun.
B: Really enjoyed the gig at The Navigation the other week - early evening is our optimum performance time I reckon - home in time for Horlicks and slippers...
Chris, you wrote an article for us a year ago about what is special about the local music scene. How much has the Nottingham music scene changed since you started playing and making music in the city?
C: It hasn’t. What’s good is still good, self-sufficient and largely ignored. I’m generally a very positive person despite how I sound but this attention on Nottingham makes me feel queasy. It's going to lead to some pretty undignified behaviour and not in a good way. My link to the city comes through a line of bands and musicians who have always valued a level of self-sufficiency over record sales – Heresy, The X Rays, Bob Tilton etc. I don’t see a lot of change in that line to be honest, it was always awesome and it still is regardless of what’s going on around it.
What current crop of Notts music makers would you recommend?
D: I Am Lono are sounding better than ever. Kagoule have a VERY bright future ahead of them, great band. Always love a bit of Cantaloupe and White Finger are shit hot too.
B: Fists, I am Lono, The Cusp, Dusty Bible…
C: If there’s a blueprint for doing a band that’s basically a social club and never really compromising that, then it’s The X-Rays and having them back playing music is brilliant. So: them. Also Endless Grinning Skulls, Rattle, Sleaford Mods, Boulty and the JT Soar folks, Gringo, Hello Thor, Low Point... Basically – anyone doing it on their own terms is good with me. The less complicated and less 'man-music' styled it is, the better too.
Who are your biggest non-musical influences?
C: Kurt Vonnegut. Raymond Pettibon. Barry Fry. Nick Turner.
D: Red Stripe
C: Bill Werbeniuk (Google him).
If Grey Hairs was a car, what car would it be?
C: An Alfa Romeo Alfasud: exciting but ultimately unreliable. Or the mid-engined Renault 5 GT Turbo: a bad idea in every respect but something decent came out of it even it if drives you more than you drive it. How’s that Dave?
How can we find out more about the band?
B: Usual scrotial media
C: That seems a good place to start. People on the internet know more about what we do, and why we do it than we do - and they're right of course. They're always right.
D: We'll be in the Gladstone later, find out all you need.
Any final words for the LeftLion readers?
J: When do these have to be done by?
Grey Hairs play Supersonic Festival in Birmingham on Sunday 21 October 2012.
Other up-and-coming dates include Nottingham Contemporary on Friday 26 October 2012 and Branch Out Festival downstairs in Stealth on Sunday 28 October 2012.