Unbelievably, it’s been nearly eight months since Far Out’s very first interview which was with one of our favourite bands; Grass House. This must also be when I saw the band for the first time. Live at Leeds 2012; Nation of shopkeepers; pissed; shortly before Chelsea beat Liverpool in the FA Cup. These are the main memories that surrounded the gig, which was undoubtedly a highlight of the weekend.
Many things have changed in that time but one thing that remains the same is our excitement and anticipation of Grass House’s new releases. Luckily for us, then, that they recently spent time in the idyllic setting of Monnow Valley Studios; hidden in the dense forests of Monmouth, Wales. Previous clients/rock legends include Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Queen and Iggy Pop, you would imagine that this would’ve been the main inspiration for choosing the setting, but no. Guitarist Steven Dove explains the alternative: “It’s a residential place so you get to stay over, it was the ideal choice really as it meant we could really immerse ourselves in the record. Plus, more importantly, no time is wasted travelling to and from the studio each day so it means you get an extra hour in bed.”
Apart from the obvious pragmatics of being able to sleep on the job, sort of, frontman Liam Palmer discusses the more metaphysical perks of spending a week in isolation: “The benefit of Monnow Valley was that we basically spent the week solely in one another’s company, you really end up working in time with everyone and it makes the collaboration so much more creative because the subtle understandings of the inner-workings of everyone’s minds start to become very apparent and we gelled into a really strong unit.”
Now that it’s easier than ever to record and release music, some bands cave the temptation of putting out albums before they’re really ready to, resulting in a piece of work that comes across as rushed and often badly produced. Steven explains why it’s taken the band a year or two to feel comfortable in releasing a full album: “It’s been a long time coming and it’s not like we’ve never had the songs for it or anything, it’s just not felt right to do a full-length album until now,” he said. However he’s satisfied things have changed: “I think we progressed at such a rate that wouldn’t allow for a coherent record, however, we’ve stabilised a little now and the time feels right to release a bigger unit of work.”
Waiting for the right time has not only allowed Grass House to get their sound right but also the ability to express exactly what they want to say as a collective. For Liam, the thought of producing a quality album has always been intrinsically important rather than ‘hitting the market’ with the right sounds: “The aim has always been to move up and record an idea. For us, it’s not about creating an album of singles but creating a body of work that sits together and complements each other, commercial success is not the driving spirit behind it but personal gain. We’ve put so much into the band from the start that we d didn’t want to churn out an album full of catchy numbers that might get us on the radio.”
He continued: “We really wanted to say something unique with the album, it is a statement of intent, our outlook on the world, and our current disposition.”
For a long time, the band member’s knowledge of film, music and literature collectively has been prevalent and Liam explains that respecting those surrounding influences is key to progression: “I really believe that to progress, an idea has to be propelled from somewhere in the first place. We’re all building on the thoughts of others and so as a collective we move forward. I really hate it when people believe themselves to be more instrumental to the process than others, as individuals and as part of a species we’re all pushing the boundaries in different places, this is what, as people, we should be all about instead of for being such megalomanic imbeciles.”
The overlying theme to the whole process has been forward-thinking, producing content with longevity that is also bursting with life and energy and so even though the album is sure to contain some of the sounds of Grass House’s early stuff but it will certainly be an evolved version: “We’re very happy with the older material but we don’t think it fits with our now forward-facing side.
“As soon as you stop progressing it’s time to consider why you’re doing it in the first place.”