Grey Hairs

14 November 11 words: Paul Klotschkow
"You get better as you go along, and more to the point, you get angrier"

Whose idea was it for you all to form a band?
Chris: I just thought there’s a lot of stuff you have to think about when you are making music and you can get too involved in that. You forget that you can just have a target which is to get through two minutes and thirty seconds of a song and it be alright. There’s nothing wrong with thinking like that, and it has been ages since I thought in that way.

Is this a mid-life crisis band?
Dave: Definitely
Bod: I’m past mid-life now, quite possibly.

How did you all meet?
D: Just from going to gigs in Nottingham.
C: I’ve known James and Dave for ages and I met Bod in London really randomly. She was like, “you should come and see my band." I tried to get out of it by saying that I didn't live in London and she told me that she lived in Nottingham. It turned out that she lived one street away from me. I thought that’s a good omen to do something.
B: I’ve been doing a few different projects here, but I’ve been meaning to do something that is just plain fun. Fonda 500 is my main fun thing, but I need something in Nottingham that is fun and simple.

So are the songs all simple and straightforward?
C: I thought they were, but they aren’t.

What’s your longest song?
James: The one that we cut from the set, which is currently titled Depressing.

Why is it called Depressing?
J: Probably because it’s five minutes long.

What does the band sound like?
J: I guess it’s music from a certain time.
C: Actually music stopped after 1994.
D: We are trying to found out why.
C: It doesn’t really have any dynamics. It’s just as loud as it can be all of the time.

When did you start rehearsing together?
B: About three months ago.
J: It didn’t originally go that easily. Chris had these riffs and they were slightly awkward, because it was noisy hardcore music with strange structures. From doing stuff with Fists previously, our stuff is structured in a way that I understand. Chris’ songs are structured in a way that is totally non-understandable to me. So when we initially started rehearsing I was quite nervous...
B:...And drank beer...
J: Yes and I drank beer. With gentle encouragement I started singing. Then I started shouting, going over the top and putting everything in. We were recording those rehearsals at the time and when we listened back it was just awful. A terrible, terrible thing.

How did you ask James to be in the band?
C: I think I was quite drunk.
J: It was after a Part Chimp gig. We were really pissed...
B: I’m sensing a theme here.
C: We didn’t do anything for ages, it was just pub talk. I just wanted to go out a get leathered with people from my own age group.

When was the moment when you started to feel like an actual band?
C: The thing that made it feel like a band was that I had a riff at home that I could imagine Dave drumming on. As soon as I played it, Dave played the drums exactly as I imagined they would sound like. That was the first song that James came up with vocals for that were fully formed and really good. It’s dead easy to play to, every time we play it it is a total breeze, even though it’s actually one of the harder songs.

How does the songwriting work?
J: Initially Chris had a demo of 16 songs, we got together and worked out bass and drums and I worked out vocals. Then there were a few newer ones that Chris brought in and then it all came together.
C: A lot of other bands that I’ve been in work on details for quite a long while. With this band though, if you have something new you play it for ten minutes, leave it, then go back to it next time around. There’s no real laboured point. We go to the rehearsal room, play the things that we can play quite badly, then James says, “I’ll go and get some cans” and then it starts to get a little bit better.
J: Our rehearsals are 10% thinking about volume, 10% getting psychological about not being able to meet the requirements of the song, 10% drinking, 10% getting Chris to play classic rock riffs, and then 60% going deaf.
C: What we are worried about is that we don’t really know what ‘this’ is and we are going to need somebody to tell us what it is. We thought that it would be a good idea to get our friend Andy who makes films to come down to our practice room and just film us, but from a deeply unprofessional standpoint. He gave us the film back and it was pretty illuminating (see video above). I’ve never done that before, I’ve always done a demo. I’ve not been in a band with a bass player for years and what amazed me about that video is that it just sounds like it’s got just one big sound, because you forget about the bass player being the bass and you can get on with doing other things.
B: Basically he just gives me all of the difficult riffs to play.
J: Watching the video was a massive epiphany to Chris because he realised that the whole sound was complete because all he could hear was his guitar before that.

Are you ready to finally present your music to the world at you first gig?
J: It swings between ‘absolutely’ and ‘fuck’.

Grey Hairs Interview
"You can just make an entire band out minor knee-jerk reactions"

How do you think people will react considering the other bands that you play in?
C: I reckon in theory it represents something that we all like musically, a common ground. If you were to put together all of the bands that we have been in, you will pick up on the fact that we have shared common interests, but maybe that has never been completely obvious.
B: It’s just really healthy to have a big range of musical interests and I think that is why we are all in more than one band.
D: You can’t do all of the things that you want to do in one band.

Do you think the band will change once you start playing shows?
C: Yes. As soon as people start calling us “bollocks” we will probably stop.
J: For me personally, it’s the band that I’ve always wanted to be in. It’s like a school boy fantasy band.

Is this a record collection band?
C: If your record collection only has five records in it.
D: We are going back to our youth and the stuff we listened to when we first started getting in to music, so it’s kind of exciting.
C: If I’m sitting at home watching Top Gear with my guitar and not thinking, I’m not playing riffs that’d fit my other bands that often. I’m playing stuff that sounds like Nirvana, basically, because that’s what I suppose I naturally do. You think that you can’t do the things that are really obvious to you. This band feels that it’s really obvious to me.

What was the first band you were in?
J: My first band started in a garage in Corby in about 1992. We went through many name changes in a short while. We were called Morphine for a while until we realised that the band Morphine already existed. All we did was drop the ‘i’ and replace it with an ‘e’, so we were M-O-R-P-H-E-N-E. Rather than doing a fusion of hardcore and jazz we did Pantera’s Walk. In fact we didn’t even do covers of Walk as we couldn’t even play that. What we did do was that the hard kids from over the road overheard us rehearsing and started banging on the garage door and hurling abuse at us. We then turned on the ghetto blaster to play Walk and pretended that was us playing. We then changed our name to Jesus Killing Machine. Cemetery spelt with an ‘S’ was also one of our names. We had a song called Cruel Existence and we had a song about the horrors of animal testing.
D: I’m not going to mention all of the crap blues bands I was in as a teenager. The first proper band that I really enjoyed playing in was Skull Tanker. It was in a mates garage. He got pissed up one night and decided to buy a drum kit off Ebay. We moved a few amps in to the garage and made a horrific heavy metal/punk rock noise. We did really well until we got a complaint and then the Council stopped us from playing.
C: Don’t say the Council, say “The Man”.
D: Then I made Pissy Leg with the lead singer from Skull Tanker, which was drink as much as possible before going in to a studio and make a horrific noise.
J: What are you know as in Grey Hairs?
D: I’m known as Pissy Leg because I got my mate to tattoo ‘Pissy Leg’ on to my leg.
B: I would say that my first band was with my sisters when we used to sit in the back of the car. We were a covers band and used to sing to Duran Duran.
C: My first band was Reynolds. I didn’t started making music until pretty late. I was really into music and would go to gigs, but I didn’t realise that I could do it as well.
J: What was the first song that Reynolds wrote?
C: We were called Fu Manchu, but obviously like Morphene we had to change the name. I don’t remember what the first song was called, our drummer wrote it but he didn’t stick around for long. We had a song called Being Elvis. The comedian Mark Thomas has this thing about being drunk and becoming Elvis because you die on the toilet.
J: That was your first band? Your entire credibility stays intact. You didn’t do any funk-metal?
C: I just didn’t realise that you could. It’s hard growing up in the The Fens, nobody plays anything.
J: Put that one on the record. Summerlin’s sub-culture cool is still intact. John Peel favourites Reynolds was his very first band.

How many bands do you think that you have all be in between you?
C: 10 probably, for me.
D: I think it’s 12.
B: 13 I reckon.
C: The great thing when you get a band together, and with this band, is that when you get together and that first moment when you cover a song or something it’s really exciting. When you are 18 you are full of the pent-up energy about music, and people are in to that energy, but what you actually turn out is pretty bollocks usually. You get to our age and you are better at doing what you do, but no one is interested in you anymore because you are past the point of being ‘cool’. You get better at as you go along, and more to the point, you get angrier. When you are 35 you are angry that you don’t know how to get rid of the red button thing on BBC when you are watching sport. Or you know, you get fed up as you don’t know how things work in your house like your boiler. I don’t think it’s pathetic just to concentrate on those minor things. You can just make an entire band out minor knee-jerk reactions to stuff.

If you are going to sell yourselves to the readers, what would you say you sounded like?
J: We kind of sound like solid music.
C: Ha, that’s the kind of thing Noel Gallagher would say about a new Oasis album. I think that there is a lot of positivity around Nottingham at the moment and we sound like a slightly pathetic shoulder shrug in comparison. I usually don’t like going on tour with bands, but I think that this would be great.
J: I think that the great thing about us is that just whatever happens will dictate itself. It’s just pure expression.
B: We are not trying to chase a record deal or prove anything.

Do you feel it’s a way of letting off steam away from your other bands?
B: And jobs. And Life.
J: This is a totally valid and complete thing in it’s own right. It’s not a side project. I’m really pleased and excited about it.
C: Side project makes it sound as if it’s a vanity project.
J: It’s letting off steam as it is bridging the gap between what my other band doesn’t do musically.
C: For me, what you were doing in Fists made me realise why you would be great in this. You do bridge that gap, but not intentionally maybe.

Is the band a democracy?
C: It wasn’t to start with, but I don’t feel like that anymore.
B: You generate ideas and throw loads of stuff at us...
J: It’s such a new band and the only way to make a band happen in such a quick time is to have someone with loads of songs ready to go. But at the moment we are in that phase where Chris brought in 16 songs and we are focusing on them. At the same time though we are developing more.
C: Only four of those original songs though are now in the set. There’s one cover and five new ones.

Is there anything that you want to say before we finish?
C: You should ask us who our favourite bands are.

No. Who has the most grey hairs?
B: I’m the oldest, but I hide it well.

Grey Hairs play with Uylsess Storm and 8mm Orchestra at Spanky Van Dykes on Friday 18 November 2011.

They also play with Cantaloupe and Beaty Heart at the Rescue Rooms on Wednesday 23 November 2011.

Grey Hairs website

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