A Sit Down With UK Heavy Hitters GRIFTER

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In an interview I was granted by Ollie Stygall from the UK’s awesome band GRIFTER, I was able to find out more about this fantastic power trio. The first time I heard them I was taken aback by how raw and, at the same time, touching the music was and how much I could relate to all of the songs and knew that they would be a band to watch. Soon after, they released their second full length album entitled The Return Of The Bearded Brethren. To be honest with you, it melted my face.

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I started with three simple questions that I wanted to know the most. #1, when did the band form, and how, and why? #2, Tell me about the lineup changes over the years and why, and what came of them for the good or bad of the band. #3 Where is my goddamn song about finding a stash of porn in the woods? It’s been a year and a half, maybe two. (Ollie stated on his facebook a while back that they had started writing a song about finding a stash of porn in the woods as a kid. That actually happened to me so I was immediately intrigued, and have been bugging him about the song ever since.)

He replied “#1, I’m glad you asked this Deric as it’s never ever been asked in an interview before! When did the band form? In around September or October of 2003. How? Phil and Foz were in another band called 16 STONE MULLET with a singer called Nev and a guitarist called Nick. Nick was going to university so we decided to get together and start jamming as a 4 piece and chose the name GRIFTER because it was better than Teet, Greedo, and Simon’s Fuck Hammer which were the other choices. Why? I’d always wanted to play with Phil again after playing in a band with him in the 90’s so this seemed like a good opportunity. Fortunately Foz also turned out to be an incredible drummer. It quickly became apparent that the world needed our brand of rock and roll!”

“#2, There has only been one line-up change. Nev, the original singer, rehearsed with us for a couple of months, we did the first gig on December 19th 2003 then he walked off stage and out of the band claiming he wasn’t good enough. To be fair he was right actually. Since that date it’s just been the 3 of us as I took over the vocals. As for what happened to Nev…he’s still around, he seems to float from band to band but has never really done that much since. He’s a good guy but from the first rehearsal the real chemistry was between the three of us…hence why we’re still here nearly 12 years on.”

“#3 Funny you should mention that. I think it’s been about a year since we first started work on that song. We wrote it but decided we didn’t like it so in the last 2 months it’s been completely rewritten and is now called Page Turner…and it’s an absolute killer!!!” I, myself, can’t wait to hear it!

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I asked if there was any speculation as to when a new album might be released to which Ollie replied “None whatsoever. We only have a song and a half complete right now and a ton of ideas to put into shape. The next release might be an album, an EP or maybe a split release…they’re all ideas we’ve floated.”

GRIFTER has seemed to be listed as “stoner rock” on many media outlets. When asked about how he felt about that label, his reply was “If people want to call us that it’s cool, it gives them a frame of reference and I can see why people do it but, to be honest, none of us are particularly interested in stoner rock or listen to it. As far as we’re concerned we’re just a rock and roll band…a noisy, heavy one but just a rock and roll band.”

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I then asked what new shows they had booked and which one(s) he was looking forward to the most. His answers were, “Yeah we have a few things…Red Sun Festival in Cardiff on May 2nd, Bulletfest in Wales on May 24th, a hometown show in Plymouth on July 10th, The Iron Road Rock Bar in Evesham on August 15th, Reading on October 2nd. We’re also planning a few dates in September with our Ripple label mates APE MACHINE in September and we’re getting offers for other stuff come trough all the time. Red Sun looks pretty cool as that features around 70 of the UK’s best up and coming heavy bands across 4 venues over 3 days…should be pretty special. We’re thinking of pooling our dates and calling it the ‘We hate it when bands put a random bunch of scattered dates together over several months and call it a tour tour!'” That made me laugh out loud.

When asked if the Name GRIFTER had any relation to the DC comics character (Yes, I’m a fucking nerd) His statement was, “The DC character is something I only heard about after we formed the band. We’re actually named after a type of push bike that we had over here in the UK in the 70’s and 80’s. Our drummer Foz was a huge fan of them growing up. It’s also a name for a con man…which is pretty cool.”

Being a musician myself and having horror as well as glory stories, I had to keep asking questions. After finding out so much and being drawn in even more, I had to ask both the coolest and most fucked up things that ever happened while playing a gig and what he said was priceless!

“Coolest thing at a gig. I guess having a guy come on stage wearing a horse mask and dance with us was pretty cool. We also played a charity gig and a guy offered to strip if people raised £100…he started taking his clothes off straight away before the money even started coming in anyway and got naked while we played. I think he got £125 buy the end of the song. Occasionally we also get the GRIFTER Choir on stage to sing Sweat Like Horses with us…this consists of pretty much anybody who wants to get up and shout down a mic…I love it when shit like that happens. We also played a show in London with ORANGE GOBLIN once and had Ben, their singer, pouring Jim Beam down our throats while we played..good times!”

“Fucked up stuff…Phil fell off stage once, that was pretty funny. He didn’t miss a note though. Most shows go pretty smoothly to be honest.”

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This was, by far, the coolest interview I have ever done. Here is Princess Leia from the new album Return Of The Bearded Brethren.

If you doubt the live power, we also have a fantastic fan recorded video from Bloodstock 2013!

Knowing that you all would want to know, I asked Ollie where fans could purchase their music, both digital and hard copies. Here is where to get more ladies and gentlemen.

Our stuff should actually be available in stores worldwide thanks to Ripple Music‘s pretty extensive distribution. We’re stocking CDs and vinyl of our latest album on our own web store at www.grifter.bigcartel.com though we have run out of copies of the first album. For folk in America we would recommend going to Ripple directly where they still have the first album available as well http://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/artist/grifter. Digitally both albums are on iTunes, Amazon…etc but the best place is probably the Ripple Bandcamp page https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/music. We also have our first couple of EPs and demo available as downloads on our own Bandcamp page at http://grifterrock.bandcamp.com though we’ve long since run out of physical copies. People can feel free to check out our Facebook page though, get in touch and we can help try and track down copies of stuff wherever they live…we’re nice like that!”