A Q&A with Grade 2
Straight up punk from Isle of Wight – here’s Sid from Grade 2…
How did you get the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
I’m sure every band can relate but due to covid all our plans hit the fan. We really wanted to try stay active and creatively writing. We had no idea when we would be getting into the studio next, or even hitting the road. We started writing songs acoustically and just naturally back tracked to previous songs jamming them together. This is where the idea came together to take a handful of tracks from our previous LP, Graveyard Island and release them acoustically. It gave us the opportunity to experiment musically, as well as giving a lease of life to the previous record that we’re still yet to properly tour.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
This whole release was as DIY as it gets. Jack (Guitarist) bought an interface and briefly learnt the ropes on how to record at home. We used one mic, so we had to record every single instrument separate. Even the snare, kick and tambourine, they were all separate takes. So, it was a real test for us musically but we kept it all light hearted.
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
The original songs were produced by Tim Armstrong. However, the acoustic versions we worked on ourselves. The one song that took a whole new turn is ‘Don’t Look Back’, it was one of the last ones we recorded and we really wanted to give it something new. After nearly two years of not being able to play music, it was just enjoyable to get the feel of recording music again.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
These songs are slightly slower than the original record. I’m hoping that people are able to take in the full song this way, really hear every lyric crystal clear and everything we’re playing musically. I’m hoping that people are able to see that we’re flexible within our style and able to adapt. Most importantly, I’m hoping people straight up enjoy it.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
We haven’t really got a particular process. Normally, we’ll bring a verse, chorus and a few chords to the table. Then everyone can add their input, building the song together. It’s common for whoever writes the song, they end up singing it but again it’s not always the case. One thing we always try to focus on is how it translates live, especially as a three piece we never want a song to drop out and sound weak or empty at any point. It’s always got to be working in the rehearsal room before putting down a demo.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
Damn, this could be a really long list but I’ll try summarise. Lions Law (Paris) – we played our first ever shows in Europe with them. They released a few records before us, really opening up a breath of fresh air for the Oi! Scene. We definitely took influence from ‘A Day Will Come’. Bishops Green (Canada) – took us on our first full tour, I think we played 28 shows. Really gave us a true experience of life on the road. Stomper 98 (Germany) – Helped pave the way for our introduction to a German audience, always been a band that’s helped us out. Already a legendary band. Rancid (USA) – a band that needs no introduction. Huge influence on myself and the band since we started. Working with Tim and Lars taught us more than we could have ever anticipated. From how we write songs to live performances.
When the world is back to normal where would like to tour, and why?
This is tough!! It’s been so long that we’ve played anywhere I just want to take any show we’re offered at this point! As far as a particular place, I’d love to go back to Athens, Greece. We had a truly unreal experience there and if we could get anything close to the first experience again I’d be buzzing.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
‘Bowling Green Lane’. You can find this track on Graveyard Island and there will also be a new acoustic version of this. The main reason I’d choose this track is just the relatability. Everyone has been on a night out, got the last bus home and see their fair share of trouble. I feel the way we translate that with a bit of humour really grabs you into the story. Musically, it demonstrates what we’re all capable of. There’s a riff and solo, tempo changes, breakdown and a beefy drumbeat behind it all.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
Due to covid my answer has definitely changed. Right now, I just want to take in every opportunity, share our music with as many people as possible and enjoy the ride. After having it pulled from under my feet, I don’t think I can ever take it for granted the opportunities this band has given us. We’re going to focus on our next record, get back out on the road and take each day as it comes!
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Thank you to everyone for checking this interview, huge thanks to you guys over at On: Magazine. We hope you all enjoy our new record and we’ll see you at a show soon!
For more info visit: facebook.com/grade2iow