Liam Palmer, Steven Dove, Ross Hall and Nicholas Jones form Grass House, a gang of dispossessed Northerners who’ve ended up making music together in London via a shared passion for the likes of Joe Meek, Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits.
The band’s live gigs and recordings have earnt them comparisons to a wide range of enduring artists while self-released singles, A Cradle, A Short Breath and Faun conjure up images of grizzled whisky swigging troubadours. The group’s music reveals a darkness in their collective heart, fittingly described as ‘strange, slightly unwieldy, but oddly compelling’ by The Line of Best Fit.
The band are certainly keeping themselves busy – they released their latest single, The Boredom Rose b/w Caught Green on up-and-coming independent label Dancing Coins and have also started working on their debut album in autumn with producer Jim Anderson (Cold Specks, 2:54, The Twilight Sad).
Grass House appear at PRS for Music’s Almost Famous showcase on Wednesday 28 November.
The night is aimed at highlighting the best new acts in the music industry.
How long have you been making music?
Liam Palmer (LP) – As a band a couple of years. Individually I have probably been at it for 15 years, with a few lulls amongst it.
Steven Dove (SD) – Yeah I’ve been twiddling away for a fair while now, although it wasn’t really until I started writing with Liam that I took it seriously.
What inspired your latest single and video for The Boredom Rose?
LP – Lyrically it was meant to be a mix of light and dark. The verse holds a stronger, more confident opinion and the chorus falls to pieces in terror. The original concept was inspired by a statue in St George’s Square in Pimlico of the first MP to be killed by a motor car – he’s dressed in a roman senatorial toga (for reasons probably only apparent to the sculptor or commissioner). It was described by Osbert Sitwell as ‘boredom rising from the bath’. I quite liked the idea of the boredom rising to the top like scum.
The video was created by our bassman Nick and his friend and co-collaborator/director Collette. It deals with a lot of the same themes as the actual track but tries to visualise them in other ways. It’s not an attempt to hammer the point home but to validate it by visual means. I’m fascinated with how different mediums or modes of art can really add such extra-dimensions to ideas when filtered through other people’s heads.
What process do you go through to create your music?
LP – We spend a lot of time demoing lots and lots of ideas. In different stages we had about 80 songs written in seven months for the upcoming album. It’s nice to just charge at it headlong and see what sticks, though it turns into a bit of a nightmare when trying to whittle them down into an album.
SD – It felt like we kept going and going with new ideas but one of us had to draw a line under it. If that hadn’t happened, we’d probably have 200 half written songs and each one of us would have our own interpretation of the 12/13 tracks we want on the record.
LP – We like to approach music from as creative a standpoint as possible. We’re not interested in creating a throwaway pop hit that could make us money. In fact we’re not really interested in money except for its fundamental purpose of keeping us alive. I’m wholly aware that you can either have creativity or money and that you sacrifice one for the other in most cases. I think that creativity and ideas come from an entirely subconscious realm of your personality/being and you cannot trick your subconscious into believing in anything. Of course this all depends on what you like to write about. Some styles of music really need money for truth in their subject matter – ours just isn’t one of them.
How would you describe your sound?
SD – I’d like to think we’re somewhere between avant-garde and pop. Alternative pop maybe. It’s only recently that I’ve felt 100 percent comfortable with our sound. It’s something that has to go on this natural journey in order to resolve differences in opinion. It feels like we’re all on the same page now.
What would your dream collaboration be?
SD – Unfortunately the majority of musicians I really love are dead now. I would have quite liked to have been one of those musicians who Captain Beefheart locked away during the Trout Mask Replica rehearsals – it would be pretty brutal but an exciting experience all the same.
Where can we catch you performing next?
LP – We’ve got a lot of shows coming up around the country and in London. The set has really evolved of recent and we’re playing a lot of material written for the new album, it’s the kind of thing that’d I’d actually pay to see these days.
12 November – Borderline London with Young Man
28 November – 229 Club (Venue 2), London