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New Groove of the Month: Grinch

With all the jam bands that are emerging the past few years, many people feel that the scene is becoming over-saturated. If originality is the key to getting noticed, then it is only a matter of time before Grinch gets noticed. With a sound all their own, Grinch has toured the Mid-Atlantic, South, and Colorado extensively, and is planning an upcoming Northeast Tour. Grinch is a six-member band playing out of the college atmosphere at the University of Delaware in Newark. Their lineup has changed over the years, and is now consisted of two original members and four new members. Scott Alexander (lead/rhythm/acoustic guitars, vocals) and Steve Bailey (lead/rhythm guitars, vocals) began the band in the early 90’s, with Scott Forsythe (Hammond organ, keyboards, vocals) joining while they were still in their cover-song days. Andy Kuhlman (bass) joined in the fall of 1996, and former moe. drummer Chris Mazur hopped on a year later. Grinch has recently added Karl “Big Daddy” Davis to the mix. Hailing from Northern Florida, Davis, a singer, songwriter, and percussionist, adds a new dimension to the band that had previously been lacking.

As the new faces changed, so did the style and sound of Grinch. It has grown from being a one-dimensional, quick, high-energy jam band to a more polished and diverse band with a more dynamic sound. They are still able to jam out their old songs, but they have added more variety and originality to create their own distinct sound. They can play a long jazz/rock instrumental with “Flush”, then jump right into “Delaney” a quick little country tune. Then they will jam out “Swoopy”, a more straightforward rock song, then proceed into “Cornerbag Blues”, an appropriate title for this blues/funk/rock piece. Throw in a 15-minute instrumental in “Tucson-Grand Canyon”, mix in some reggae with “G.I. Jah”, and you have all the makings of a very diverse band.

After taking much of the summer off, they played a couple shows before there returned to Newark on September 1st at the East End Cafe. They were able to take time out between sets for an interview, which focused on the changes in Grinch over the years.

JB: How do you deal with all the changes that have occurred in the band lineup?

SA: Well, it has been a long road for us in terms of our lineup. We just try to make the changes positive ones. In the case of Karl, he brings a great deal of energy, as well as being a great singer.

CM: Yeah, he is a trained musician.

SA: He fits in well with the new direction we’re taking.

JB: Speaking of that new direction, could you describe the change in your music?

SA: We have been trying to work with a lot of techno beats and texturing of instruments. Basically diagramming the chord, instead of just everyone jamming it.

CM: What that means is that we break up the chord into sections, with each of us playing a different section.

JB: And this is a change from your old 1996 sound of just everyone playing fast.

SA: Instead of just jamming and jamming and jamming, we are trying to create a more dynamic sound.

CM: We want to let the grooves evolve, not just be unidirectional. Instead of having the groove start out low, build high, and end, we want to have it stay at one level and just add on and let it go from there.

JB: Question for Karl, why did you decide to join?

KD: We got along and jammed well, and it was a splendiferous awakening.

SA: Nice use of splendiferous.

KD: Yeah, then we just talked about it a short time and that’s all that was really said.

JB: For everyone, could you name a few of your influences?

SA: Well, we have a wide variety of them.

SF: Everyone from Coltrane to Mr. Bungle.

SA: As far as lyrically, I like Dylan and Neil Young.

KD: I’ve been listening to a lot of Al Green lately.

JB: How about favorite bands to play with?

SF: Schleigho … that’s it.

SA: Yeah, Schleigho definitely. Yolk, Moon Boot Lover —

KD: Barefeet were good yesterday.

SF: Hypnotic Clambake is another favorite.

JB: As far as touring, you really haven’t had a chance to play the Northeast, any chances of getting there soon?

SA: Yes, definitely in the fall and winter.

SF: We are going to try to get up there as much as possible. The Mid-Atlantic and South are looking real good for us. We need to get back to Colorado and the Mid-West. But when you’re trying to play across the country, it is hard to work one region when you can’t get back there much.

JB: Any plans for a new CD?

SF: Yeah, we are going to be in Florida for two nights later in September, and plan on doing some ADAT recording from their board. If we get 10 or so good tracks, we might cut a CD from them. As far as studio work, we plan on getting in some time in late December or early January. Hopefully we’ll have something from that.

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