On June 16th, Grandview, the latest edition to Decapolis Records, was scheduled to play a show at the Skoolhouse in Harrisburg, PA. Wanting to learn more about this band, I contacted them to arrange an interview I soon found myself seated in a dingy room in the Skoolhouse, talking with all four band members. What follows is the conversation we had, which touched on everything from emo to ewoks. I had a fun time getting to know Grandview, and hopefully you will, too.
Andrea: Can you guys first tell me your name, what instrument you play, and how old you are?
Josh: I'm Josh, I play the drums, and I am 21.
Mitch: I'm Mitch, I play guitar and sing, and I'm 18.
Darren: I'm Darren, I play the guitar, and I'm 19.
Wes: My name's Wes, I'm 21, and I play the bass.
Andrea: And how did you guys come to know each other?
Mitch: We're brothers, (pointing to Josh), and I found Darren in a gutter one time, and wanted to see if he wanted to play in a band… Actually, Josh and I are brothers, and we played in a band called Double Zero together, and Double Zero broke up, and we wanted to start another band. Wes was actually in Double Zero for a while as well. About three or four months later, we'd been wanting another guitarist and that's when I found Darren on the street.
Josh: We actually knew Darren because he'd done sound for a couple of our shows, and we heard that he played guitar.
Andrea: Are you working, or in school?
Josh: I've done some college, but right now I'm just working.
Mitch: I just graduated [high school], and hopefully I'll be doing this band full-time.
Darren: I had a job, but I quit. So now I'm in a band, and sleep.
Wes: I was at Penn State for two years, and now I'm at a community college, in Harrisburg, and that's where I found these guys. And I work in the mailroom at my school.
Andrea: Why the name Grandview?
Darren: Don't ask this.
Mitch: When we started this, we didn't have any ideas, and Conrad was very picky, and one of our friends, who takes pictures for us, suggested the name.
Wes: We actually got it off a road sign.
Andrea: I noticed there was a Grandview Road near here.
Wes: (pointing at Mitch) That was actually the name of the road that he was born on.
Mitch: That I was conceived on. That was the real reason.
Josh: Nobody else had it. You go through all the names, and think they sound really cool, and somebody else has it.
Mitch: It suits our style well.
Andrea: How did you get hooked up with Decapolis? What exactly is Conrad's role with the band?
Mitch: I went to a Ghoti Hook show with Wes and one of the guys who was in Double Zero, and we went to talk to Conrad, and he suggested that we mail him a CD that we had done. He came to see us, and he liked it. When Double Zero broke up, and we formed this band, it still seemed like he was interested in working with us.
Andrea: I know everyone hates this question because they hate being pigeonholed, but how would you describe your sound?
Josh: Rock and roll. Without the hard edge. (Note: This is the slogan for a local radio station. Josh was being funny.)
Mitch: If you ever get really sick, and you vomit all night, that's pretty much what we like to describe our sound as.
Darren hits Mitch over the head with an empty water bottle.
Andrea: That's more of a feeling than a sound.
Darren: How about some influences? That's the easiest way to answer that.
Mitch: It's basically indie rock.
Josh: Jimmy Eat World, Samiam, Midtown. Bands like that.
Darren: We really like to focus on not sounding like any style, or any other bands. I don't know if that means we're a new sound.
Wes: But we do have influences and I think we show it.
Mitch: I'm a big fan of the Backstreet Boys.
Andrea: What other bands do you guys like?
Wes: I listen to a lot of oldies, '50's and '60's stuff.
Mitch: Led Zeppelin.
Darren: We like a lot of classic rock. We like new music, but a lot of it sucks.
Mitch: A lot of the pop and mainstream stuff really isn't done that well.
Andrea: I was actually just discussing this with my dad, about how a lot of the mainstream stuff from the '60's and '70's was the best in rock, but today it's not. Why do you think that is?
Mitch: I think it was harder for the bands in the 70's.
Darren: I think it also had to do with the weed.
Josh: I think it's become a popularity thing. As long as you can write a catchy vocal line, and sell records…
Wes: The radio has a lot to do with it, too. They're required to play the songs a certain number of times, no matter if the songs are good or bad.
Darren: I think a lot of the major record labels basically decide. "We like this band, so we're going to make this band famous." A perfect example of that is that band, O-Town, or something. They decided they were going to make a band, so they put four guys together, wrote all their songs, and said, "You are now famous." And now you can buy their CD anywhere. And all of a sudden they're playing huge shows. Their first show was in front of like 50,000 people.
Andrea: You sound kind of bitter.
Darren: I'm not bitter. If they make it, and they're legitimate, then I'm happy for them. But I just appreciate it when a band makes it because they're good.
Mitch: We like bands who can make it on their own, because they write great songs and are a great band.
Wes: They are talented guys, I mean, they can sing.
Josh: They can dance.
Mitch: But I mean, if the label wouldn't have wanted them to make it, they wouldn't have.
Darren: It's not like those guys came together and said, "We're going to make a band, we're going to write some songs," and built themselves up.
Mitch: No one's determined to get big anymore, so they don't try hard to break through with incredible music so if a label comes by…These labels are forming these bands with kids who've never been in a band before and never known each other so they do whatever the label tells them. It's not like they've been working hard, so they're not determined to put out good music.
Andrea: What was the last really good band that put out really good music, that got really big?
Mitch: Weezer's up there. Metallica.
Josh: Yeah, Metallica. There are exceptions.
Darren: A new band that's made it big is New Found Glory. Midtown's great.
Mitch: Blink 182 would be pretty good, if they could play live.
Darren: They stink live, but their CD's really good. We kind of lost a little respect for them when we saw them live, but we do like their sound.
Josh: I don't condone this band, but Tool is very talented. They're incredible musicians, but, bad lyrics.
Andrea: How does the songwriting process work in Grandview?
Josh, Darren, and Wes point to Mitch.
Josh: Mitch writes all the songs. He comes to me most of the time, says "Let's work this out." We work on it. As soon as we have the basic idea down, we show it to these guys. Once everybody-
Darren: Once we hear it and think it sounds good-
(Wes punches Darren.)
Josh: Once everybody has played, then everybody has had a chance to put their ideas in, and things work out.
Mitch: Usually I'll just sit around and write some stuff on my own, and come up with ideas for songs, and we'll put in guitars and bass and drums, and when they come in I'll show them what I have for them. After that, we'll come together as a band and add more parts.
Andrea: Do you have any recordings?
Darren: We are actually in the studio right now, working on new songs, looking for someone to sponsor us.
Wes: We'd like to have something out before Cornerstone. We're going to Cornerstone, and we weren't really going to have anything out by then, so we decided to produce ourselves.
(At Cornerstone, Grandview did, indeed, have a three-song EP available for purchase.)
Mitch: Yeah, we figured there will be lots of kids at Cornerstone, and we wanted to have something along people could buy.
Josh: We got nothing. We have no music out right now, but I think we'd do pretty well with sales. We have kids come up to us at shows, "Do you guys have anything out?"
Darren: We sell T-shirts, and hats, but we'd sell so many CDs. Everybody asks us, all the time-
Wes: (laughs) All the time.
Mitch: Yeah, we'd have sold like, 10 of them by now.
Darren: But we do get asked that a lot.
Andrea: Is anyone helping produce that?
Josh: We're pretty much producing it by ourselves, but Mark Lacasse, from Ghoti Hook, was producing some vocals, working with Mitch. And we're pretty good buddies with the sound technician, and he's a great guy.
Andrea: So how much does it cost for a band, without label support, to do something like that?
Darren: Too much, let me tell you.
Mitch: We've spent 700 so far.
Darren: For two songs.
Wes: We're definitely not making money.
Mitch: Actually, we're making some off our merch, but-
Wes: You spent it all at Taco Bell.
Mitch: Yeah. And to support my drug habits. (laughs)
Josh: We've been in the studio five days, and we've spent 700 dollars.
Darren: It's not a super cheap studio, but that's because it sounds good.
Mitch: It's worth the money.
Darren: But see, it's different for us. It's expensive to us, but to a label, that would not be a lot of money because they'd make it back on CD sales.
Andrea: So you're on the Decapolis label, but what does that mean?
Darren: We don't know.
Mitch: Conrad's getting us some shows. I'm still trying to find out what he wants to do, as far as producing an album.
Wes: He helped get us into Cornerstone Festival, and the Skoolhouse shows.
Andrea: If the four of you got in a fight, who would win?
Mitch: I don't know… We don't fight. We just yell at each other.
Darren: Rarely, but we do.
Wes: Josh would win. He's the meatiest out of all of us.
Andrea: Seriously, when you guys do have conflicts, whether it's during songwriting or recording, how do you resolve them?
Mitch: We all agree that when a conflict comes up, the best thing to do is tell the person how you feel about it, what bothers you, why it's bothering you. We argue very little, but when we do it's over something…
Darren: A lot of it's just misunderstanding.
Mitch: Yeah. Like if Josh did something that made me really mad, and I sat down and talked about it and told him why it bothered me, he would understand. We always seem to resolve our problems. We all agree that if there's a problem between two people, they're the people who need to talk about it, not me telling Darren I'm pissed at Wes, or something like that.
Andrea: What kind of stuff do you find creates conflicts?
Darren: It's never been a certain thing. It's definitely not in the music.
Wes: We've only been together a year, so I'm sure stuff could happen later on, but as far as anything major, nothing's really happened.
Mitch: Usually, like he said, it's just misunderstanding or tone of voice or something.
(At this point Darren and Mitch started making fun of each other. The specifics of this conversation were not picked up by the recording, but the subsequent conversation, which began with Darren commenting on the reactions of the interviewer, was.)
Darren: You're not easily amused, are you?
Andrea: Oh, I'm amused.
Darren: She's like, "These guys are stupid."
Andrea: I'm laughing on the inside.
Mitch: So we're funny, but you won't tell us.
Darren: Those are other words for, "These guys are stupid."
Mitch: Well, she has a point there.
Andrea: I might not be laughing, but I think it's funny…
Josh: We're very sensitive when people don't laugh at our jokes.
Andrea: If you're sensitive, does that make you emo? (laughter)
Darren: No emo. We don't whine. We don't have whiney vocals.
Mitch: You better watch it. You're ruining our chances of touring with emo bands.
Darren: I didn't say I don't like emo music.
Mitch: I don't know what you consider emo, but I consider emo emotion, and I think emotion should be in every style of music.
Wes: Well said.
Darren: It's not like it's a bad style of music, but it shouldn't be labeled like that.
Mitch: People might consider Brandtson emo, but they're just a great rock band.
Andrea: Do you guys hang out together, outside the band?
Mitch: Yeah. I slept over at Darren's house for the past few nights. We stripped down to our bras and panties for a pillow fight. (laughter)
Josh: Here comes the master.
(Conrad enters to inform the band that they have eight minutes before they need to start their set.)
Andrea: Is there anyone not in the band who has been especially helpful or supportive of the band?
Mitch: Our parents are very emotionally supportive of us, and they're very graceful to the fact that we practice there.
Andrea: You guys are all Christians, right?
Mitch. Yeah. Well, except for Darren here.
Darren: I worship Satan. No, I'm just kidding.
Andrea: So how do you think the band would be different if you weren't Christians?
Mitch: We'd swear a lot, do a lot of drugs.
Josh: Hit on chicks a lot.
Mitch: We do that, anyway. (laughter)
Josh: Speak for yourself.
Darren: (pointing to Josh) We're engaged.
Josh: Yeah, Darren and I are engaged.
Darren: To each other.
Mitch: I don't really think the band would be different, but I think we, as people, would be different. People who would come see us at a show might see us do things that aren't the best example.
Josh: I think lyrically it would be different.
Mitch: Well, the only way it would be different lyrically is the fact that there would probably be, seriously, if I didn't have morals like that, there would probably be swearing and stuff in the lyrics, like most secular bands, who really don't have a reason not to and don't see anything wrong with it.
Darren: We'd say the f-word a lot.
Andrea: You don't have to give specifics.
Mitch: We'd play naked a lot.
Darren: We'd come on stage nude.
Mitch: And then we would lose our fan base.
Wes: In any relationship, with us being Christians, it helps to be on the same wavelength.
Mitch: Yeah, with the conflict thing, too.
Darren: We're not really a Christian band. Our lyrics aren't necessarily "Christian" lyrics.
Mitch: I, personally, as a Christian, think it's too much of a concern to bands, Christian or secular, whatever they want to call themselves, whether or not they have that label. They go around worrying so much about whether people think they're a quote-unquote Christian band and that kind of disgusts me, in all honesty, because your human actions are going to show what you really are.
Darren: And this interview is over temporarily, because we need to go play now.
At this point, we could hear Conrad summoning the band from the stage. At the end of the show we resumed the interview. I think we were all a little tired, as the following conversation will reveal.
Mitch: Let's get this show on the road.
Andrea: There was-
Darren: We love you.
Andrea: Thank you. There was-
Darren: Would you like to marry the band?
Andrea: Um, I don't know you well enough to make a decision yet.
Darren: I'll ask you again. (laughs)
Andrea: Do you find that the church, meaning Christians in general, is supportive of your band?
Darren: Christians, people our age, are normally very supportive. I've gotten upset, I've had a few bad experiences with people thinking, not necessarily that it's wrong to be in a band, but that it's second-rate or something. That there could be something else you could be doing. I'm not even sure what they're thinking, maybe that it's second best to your calling. That's a little frustrating. Most people, like my friends, are very supportive.
Mitch: I guess I would want people to support us because they like our music. And if there is someone who is a Christian, and who won't support us because we're labeling ourselves a regular band, and our lyrics don't really talk about Christianity, if they won't support us because of that- I don't agree with that. I think you should support a band because you like who they are and not just because of what they call themselves. But as far as our experiences, you're gonna get Christians who are really supportive, and people who are don't like us because we don't speak from stage or whatever.
Andrea: Which Star Wars movie is the best?
Wes: The one with the ewoks in it.
Darren: Return of the Jedi. I would agree, that's the best one.
Mitch: I'll ponder this question and get back to you.
Josh: That's a tough question.
Andrea: Have you read any good books lately?
This question is met with hearty laughter from Josh, Darren, and Mitch.
Mitch: Wes probably has.
Wes: Actually, I have picked up some books. I'm actually trying to pound away at C.S. Lewis' space trilogy. I'm only half way through the first one. I don't think any of us are really big readers.
Darren: I have never read a complete book ever in my entire life.
Josh: I'd like to read more, but basically, I've haven't read a book since high school.
Mitch: I just graduated, and I haven't read a book in a few years.
Wes: I somehow managed to slip through all the classes that require you to read certain books.
Andrea: That's a shame.
Darren: She's like, "I'm a bookworm!" (laughter)
Andrea: I'm a nerd. I can't help it.
Darren: There's nothing wrong with that.
Andrea: There's nothing wrong with not reading. I was just wondering. What do you guys do besides music?
Mitch: Sleep. And video games.
Darren: I play games.
Josh: I hunt and fish.
Mitch: I just like to hang out. Go out to eat, go to a movie, hang out with these guys.
At this point, my cameraman, Jefferson, who had earlier warned us that we had "negative tape left," announced that our time was up. So ended my entertaining and informative evening with Grandview.
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