Prior to the show at The Madrid in Kansas City, I was able to stop in and chat with Tim and Lucky from the Griswolds about their upcoming album, their relationship with fans, and making it in the music industry.
You guys have been working on a new album- are you playing any of those songs tonight?
Lucky: Yeah! We are playing two new ones tonight.
How do you go about picking which songs are released as singles?
Lucky: I mean, it’s partly up to us, partly up to management, and partly up to the label. There’s no correct way to choose, we just kind of do it and hope that it goes well.
Tim: And you kind of having a feeling which one is going to be first.
Is there one so far that you think describes the album as a whole?
Lucky: We have a collective favorite, “Role Models,” one of the songs we are playing tonight. But yeah, that’s a favorite now because we’ve recorded like three songs and that’s one of them, but we are going to record another twelve or something. Surely other ones will come up and be our new favorite. But this one is good because it’s kind of nice to be on the road and test it and play it live.
Do you have a set time that this new album is going to be out, or is it just up in the air for now?
Tim: There’s no pressure which is cool- well, a little bit of pressure- but we just want it to be good and then we’ll release it.
Are you nervous for the feedback on it when you do release it? Is it a lot different than your first album?
Lucky: I think I was more nervous for the first one because it was the first album. You only get one chance for a first album, so if anything I’m less nervous because I’m more confident in the songs.
Tim: Yeah, and the four of us wrote it together, as opposed to Chris and Danny who kinda wrote a majority [of the first album] because they started the band. It’s cool though, there’s more influences.
Lucky: So we’ve gone through a whole lot since writing the first album. The amount of touring we’ve done and shit that we’ve seen and bands that we’ve watched- everyone that we’ve played with on tour, we gain stuff from them.
Going onto touring, what’s the main difference between opening, headlining, and co-headlining? Would you say there is a difference in the crowds or how you play?
Lucky: Yeah, definitely. You have to work hard in both, but in a different way. I guess when you’re playing for someone else’s crowd, they don’t know who the hell you are. So, you’re trying to win over their fans. You’ve got 40 minutes to just give it everything you’ve got to take some of their fans. With headlining, people already know your songs and are there to see you but you’ve got to work harder because the expectations re higher.
You guys are so involved with your fans- you’re always liking pictures, replying to tweets, and staying behind after shows. Is that how you think you’ve gained a lot of fans?
Tim: I think maybe that how they’ve stuck around because of that, but it’s fun. We will totally admit that we’ll look up our own band name. I mean, why not? You can either be elusive or you can sit on a tour bus all day. You may as well talk to people.
Lucky: Yeah, some of the fans have bought every piece of merchandise we’ve ever put out and come to every show in their state. There’s people on this tour that are coming to like seven or eight shows.
Do you recognize a lot of fans?
Lucky: Oh yeah, there’s people in the front row every night for a state or a couple of states and it’s awesome! You don’t have to be a dick to them, we realize it’s because of them that we can do this.
So if you put yourself in the position of a fan, would you say that The Griswolds are really good to their fans?
Tim: I don’t know what other bands really do but-
Lucky: But I think we are pretty self-deprecating in general.
Tim: Yeah we don’t like ourselves or each other.
Tim: That’s why we talk to our fans.
Lucky: Yeah, that makes it easier!
You all do have a pretty close relationship with each other though, right?
Lucky: We’ve seen each other every day for the past-
Tim: Every body part.
Lucky: Each other and every body part for the past, I don’t even know how long.
Were you all in separate bands and doing music before you all came together?
Lucky: Tim and I have been playing together for almost ten years now in different bands and stuff which is cool because we just know each other and don’t really have to talk to each other to know what we’re thinking. But the other guys they were playing in bands in Sydney and we were playing in bands, and all those bands were really shitty.
Tim: We all left our shitty bands and joined this shitty band.
What’s the writing process like for you guys?
Lucky: It’s different for every song. There have been ones that have started out as more just an idea and jam, kind of more collaborative. Then there’s ones that Chris will just bring in start to finish with chords and melodies and words, then we will make it sound like the band. But yeah, it’s just different for every single song.
Are you finished with all the writing for the new album and just working on getting it out there now?
Tim: We’ve definitely got some more stuff to go and we are always changing stuff until we have to hand it over. The songs are mostly there so right now we are working with a producer and he’ll fix them for us.
Why do you all play music? Is it just to entertain or inspire? Or is it simply just a way to showcase your talent?
Tim: I don’t think we’re really good at anything else. God knows we tried.
Lucky: We couldn’t cut it in our real people jobs.
Tim: Yeah, we couldn’t make it in the real world.
What did you guys do before music?
Lucky: I used to teach people how to play drums, but before that I was a landscaper.
Tim: I worked in insurance- life insurance in particular. It was very fun, I don’t know why I left it!
Lucky: Do you guys need any life insurance at all, because we’ve got the hook up. Have you thought about your family when you pass?
Tim: Their financial security!
Lucky: What sort of burden do you want to leave them?! But, to answer your question, obviously we make music because we love it- that’s why we started- but I’m not gonna lie and say we just do it for ourselves. I mean, I make songs that make people happy. And that’s what I wanna do. I’m not thinking “is this going to be the most artistic, creative, integral thing in my life?” I’m thinking “cool, a kid is gonna love this” and that’s kind of what makes me happy.
Tim: We’ve definitely been in bands where it’s pretty self-indulgent…and then we realize that pop is fun and we want people to hear it. That’s kinda half the fun, the release. We want people to hear it an be happy when they put it on.
Lucky: Pop’s not like a dirty word anymore. It’s cool.
Tim: Pop is so much fun at the moment. You can do anything, there’s no rules.
Lucky: Indie music is getting so much more pop, and pop music is sounding so much more alternative, and it’s awesome. It’s great.
Although pop seems to be a pretty wide genre, would you guys ever be willing to move out of pop?
Lucky: Yeah, I’m open to anything! If we happen to write a song that’s uhm…
Lucky: Yeah totally! If that happens!
Tim: There is- well, I wouldn’t consider that rapping on the album, but there’s definitely some kind of fast paced lyrical pops.
Lucky: We are working with a producer who has engineered the past like five Kanye West records. And Childish Gambino and Future.
Tim: A lot of R&B.
Lucky: The record sounds different because it’s got a lot of outside influences- well, outside the indie world.
So what are some bands or artists that have been influences on your music or inspiration for writing?
Lucky: It can come from anywhere.
Tim: It’s probably all the stuff we grew up listening to. As a band we listened to a lot of Beatles, then hit our Strokes phase-
Lucky: And our metal phase. Slayer, Metallica..
Tim: Yeah then back to Stevie Wonder and Prince and all that.
Speaking of Prince, what’s the story behind your [Lucky] new Prince inspired tattoo? Did you all get one?
Lucky: Just Chris, myself, and Rick- our wonderful sound man. He got purple rain on his knee. I got the little red Corvette! I actually thought about getting a crying dove but it’s too sad.
Tim: The little red Corvette is fun!
Lucky: I actually thought about getting just three drops of purple rain.
Like that filter on Snapchat the other day!
Lucky: Really? Turns out the day we found out we got really drunk and got Prince tattoos and I didn’t even look at Snapchat all day! Probably for the best.
When did you guys feel like you “made it”? Or has it even felt like that yet?
Lucky: No, no.
Lucky: I remember when I was younger thinking “man, when our band goes overseas and plays in America…we’ve made it.” But then you do that, and the goal post just keeps getting further and further. Then you play a big festival and you’re like “Oh, shit!” and again it gets further and further away. So like, I don’t think any band feels like they’ve made it.
So would you say that it depends on playing certain shows, or sales, or awards that contribute to that?
Lucky: I would say venues, like playing Red Rocks or something like that. I mean, that’d be good but we’ve got friends of ours who played there and don’t feel any different. They just played one cool show.
Tim: I think we made it when we stopped working.
Lucky: Yeah, when this became work instead of a hobby. That was great. Just constantly progressing.
Did you ever feel like you were kind of stuck and not going anywhere at all?
Lucky: Constantly. I think every musician feels like that. Whether you’re a journalist or photographer or musician- anything. Everyone feels like they’re stuck even though they’re doing really well. But that’s just the nature of how we are. We just want to keep doing more.
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean! Small vs big venues? Or just crowds in general?
Lucky: Whatever it is, it has to be full. If it’s a small venue it has to be full, if it’s a big venue it has to be full.
Tim: With certain crowds we play in front of, if the energy is there and they’re jumping up and down you can feel it.
Lucky: I have no idea why, but it’s like that in certain cities. It changes every time.
Do you draw energy from the crowd or put out the energy you want to get back?
Tim: Usually when we play the first song, if the crowd is not jumping up and down I get angry- I won’t show it, but I’ll fake it.
During intimate shows, do you every feel like the fans make you feel threatened, or that they cross the line?
Lucky: All the time. Daily.
Tim: Two fans just walked into the venue yesterday.
Walked in while this [pre-show activities] was happening?
Lucky: Yeah, I feel like sometimes they have a strange feeling of entitlement. Which is cool, but at some point we are just at work.
Tim: We are all stressed out before the show and we are wearing bad clothing haven’t brushed our hair-
Lucky: Not that we brush our hair anyway, but still.
Do you feel like you have to upkeep a certain image for the fans?
Lucky: Yes and no. I’m not gonna get onstage wearing like gross shorts covered in mustard.
Tim: Well you did two days ago.
Lucky: Yeah, well…
Tim: But we definitely don’t wear suits or anything, so it’s kinda fun.
Back to keeping up this image, you guys are really active on Twitter, so is there any times that management or someone from the label has been like “you need to delete that” or just tone it down a bit?
Lucky: We’ve got each other to police ourselves. So if one member puts up something that’s like…shitty, we’ll just delete it.
Tim: Yeah there is a line. It does reflect on the whole band.
Lucky: We’ve all got access to all the accounts so it’s like if someone writes something on The Griswolds twitter that’s shitty or not funny…
Tim: Yeah I’ve done it. If Dan writes something stupid I’ll take it down straight away.
Lucky: Tim is quality control.
Before we close up, if you all were to make a playlist that reflects a little bit about what you’re into right now or what your new album might be influenced by, what kind of artists or songs would you add?
Lucky: The Weeknd
Tim: A lot of hip hop. Drake, Kanye West.
Lucky: We still listen to like, The 1975’s latest record. And, really anyone we tour with. Whether it’s watching Magic Man every night or Walk the Moon every night. We toured with a Swedish band called Urban Cone that are really good. So yeah, sometimes you just absorb stuff. Like all the things you listen to as a kid dictates what we write now.
Interview by Liz Watts
Photos by Emma Watts