GRIMY STYLES: A tough first question. Grimy Styles began from the idea of a dirty melting pot of sound. It was not always pleasant and it was not always thought out or planned. It was a platform for us to take different genres of music and put them together and make this melting pot. And using the name Grimy gave us a lot of room to create a style.
At the same time in the beginning, as the name implies, it did sound grimy. The sound was definitely dirty. given us room — a platform within a genre itself, you know, definitely dub reggae — to expand from there and include other influences. We call it global dub music because it’s exactly that. Whether it’s Middle Eastern or American Soul or Jamaican Reggae, Afro pop, Afro beat — it all comes together.
AD: You guys are four white guys from Texas. How have you been able to channel the energy of Reggae and dub music?
GS: I don’t necessarily think it’s a color thing. The people of Jamaica took all different styles of R&B and jazz which necessarily wasn’t restricted to any color or ethnicity and created Ska music through their interpretation of it. We were merely taking these ideas and our interpretation of it — just a combination of things that inspires you. You know you imagine in their time as well that they were looking to America for popular sounds. I mean jazz was definitely an extension of popular music at the time. It was kind of underground and that sort of thing. But we do the same thing in this time. Whatever bizarre course we are on we keep it in that reggae element more than anything else does. But that is just by choice and we try to add other things to the melting pot.
AD: Have you gotten feedback from other reggae artists?
GS: Yeah, I would say so. Probably what’s more interesting than anything is for a traditional reggae artist who has been playing reggae for 25 years or who is in the Jamaican scene to listen to what we are doing. And they are going to see it for those things that you brought up: they are going to see that it’s those four white guys playing this music; playing some traditional sounding selections and then also playing this kind of mix of other things. Some might find it odd, some might appreciate it -hopefully they appreciate it. Matt works for Steven Gibbs down in Kingston and all of us have been down there. And it’s interesting to hear his feedback on the album and on the recordings. Truthfully he likes the more roots variety. But in the experimental, atmospheric, post-modern dub that we do, it’s definitely a lot harder for them to digest. But there’s still that backbone there that is appreciated by other people. But that’s our target audience –the entire globe, not the roots lovers or the dub lovers. We try to have a wider audience.
AD: What is the best thing about Austin and the worst?
GS: The best thing is that there is so much music in Austin — so much to see; so much to digest. And the worst thing is there is so much music in Austin. Coming from a selfish point of view, being a band trying to make it and playing on a Saturday night you’re competing with thousands of other bands that are out in the city – good, good talent too. But we are here and love it so we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The other best thing is the real open-minded listeners here. The audience actually listens to the music instead of a bar scene that is just there to drink beer and get drunk and unless you are playing covers of what is on the radio they are not going to pay much attention. We appreciate a listening audience that will intently listen to an instrumental dub band for two hours. There are less people that we have encountered here that ask that question, “Why don’t you have vocals?” than elsewhere. “Play 311”. “Play ‘Free Bird'”.
AD: Do you guys ever plan on incorporating vocals into your music?
GS: No plans. Support other projects and stuff like that. You know we have some friends that we play with – have sit in – but not to seriously take on a singer. It’s an incredible thing to have an instrumental group and capture the audience for a long set without having one person to focus on. It creates a lot more introspective listening where they are not distracted by words or one front man. They are able to sit back and focus on whatever they want.
The important thing to say too is that roots reggae has been associated with positive lyrics, conscious lyrics and often times spiritual lyrics – the Rastafarian movement being associated with roots reggae. For us, while it comes down to four guys who love reggae music, who love dub, respect the roots, respect Rastafar where everything came from, at the same time, we are not all Rasta. And we all come from different spiritual backgrounds. We want people to interpret the music for themselves and not have someone on any sort of platform on a regular basis to tell people a certain message. While we respect that — we definitely love that kind of reggae music — what we do, our backgrounds, our influences, where we traveled, the music we listened to, we are able to express ourselves more clearly in an instrumental way than someone with vocals.
It allows us to have our own separate voices.
AD: You guys have an amazing local, loyal fan base. How did this happen and what do you think about it?
GS: Well we’ve been playing for what, four years? Three years with this line up. We’ve built this for three years, playing on a regular basis, giving people options. You know something different they are not used to. There’s not too many dub bands. You know, all the dub bands that are around are pretty popular. So we just gave them something different with different types of music. People come out; we definitely appreciate it. We are very grateful of our fans.
Word of mouth is more valuable than anything for us is in town. Regardless of however many different promotions and tactics we use, everyone finds out about us from a friend of theirs.
AD: It’s hard to keep a good thing a secret.
GS: Thanks. It’s interesting to see new faces and they get younger and younger and it really is a word of mouth kind of thing. Like most bands, it starts out where you call up a couple of your friends and you tell them to come out and see you play and everybody enjoys themselves or whatever. Then it just keeps accumulating. Of course, we’ve gotten the opportunity to play the bigger spots locally: Eeyore’s Birthday Bash and Bob Marley Fest, which opens it up. So we got all age people coming to the shows and it’s a good thing for us. Nationally, we haven’t done much outside of two small tours – Colorado and New Mexico – and it’s kind of a hit or miss bar scene kind of deal. Maybe some of the ones that saw us the first time when we went through a year ago will come back and bring a few of their friends but it’s nothing like what we have here where we have accumulated this fan base. It’s a pretty special thing for us to see all these people that we don’t know. I guess we offer something locally.
We are kind of wide open.
AD: So if people don’t get to hear about you by word of mouth, is there some other way to find out about you?
GS: Sure. We utilize the myspace.com bit -friend sharing and all that sort of thing. That’s quite a network in itself. We’ve had a web site for the majority of the time that we have been in the band. Dub.com has a live song. We get a lot of feedback from Europe: Brazil, mainly France, Germany, and a little bit of Italy.
AD: I was about your influences on your website and came across Django Reinhard. That is a strange name for a reggae band to name as an influence. Can you explain?
GS: We love it. Gypsy music is a fusion of sound — of ideas in itself. So that and that energy influenced us. A little bit melodically; definitely rhythmically. I guess more of the spirit and energy – that passion.
AD: What local bands bring you all out?
GS: Tribal Nation. They were here for awhile, loved those guys. D-Madness. He puts on a pretty good show: drums, keyboard, bass, sings – everything at the same time. He’s an incredible musician. Of course our friends Collect All Five. We’ve been playing with them since the early, early, days.
Also, any time any of the Texas dub legends such as Sub Oslo or Echo Base Soundsystem are playing; you’ll definitely see our faces there.”
AD: When do we get a recording? Tell us what is available.
GS: Good question. We are working on an album right now in the studio – we’ve been working on it for the past two months. As we speak, we are in the process of doing final mixes and dubbing it. It’s a matter of time; we’re not in a rush. We want to have something that we consider our baby. You know, that will hopefully put us on the next step. Whether it’s promoters or more of a national scene, something that will catapult us to that next level. Right now we are just taking our time. So to say probably by the end of this year is probably somewhat accurate. Fall 2006.
As for what is available now, it is a live disc that is fairly dated but still has a good representation of what we bring to the stage.
AD: What’s next for Grimy Styles?
GS: Our goal is to have a recording that we love that can be heard across the globe and hopefully we can go behind it and perform it in all these places where our niche is. We’re not an MTV group and we never will be. The ground scene is powerful. Dub music is an important weapon also. Just like all music, it heals people. It can make you dance, make you feel good inside, give you something to relate to. So basically, we want to take it to a higher level and affect these people and hopefully do something good for the world. ***