We felt the only way to follow-up our recent review of ‘Plough More Sky’ by Grass House would be to meet the band personally. Here, Lee Thomas discusses everything from art and poetry to the unstable environment that is the music industry with guitarist Steven Dove and frontman Liam Palmer.
Hello Grass House! Firstly would you mind explaining where you’re from, how long the band have been friends and how you met?
[Steven] well I’ve known Liam for years, we’re both from the same town (Driffield) and both went to the same school, although he is notably a year older! We met Nick and Ross during the university years in Leeds but we formed once we’d all moved to London. I think it’s important for the band that first and foremost we’re a group of friends making music rather than a just a group of ‘musicians’.
Why the name Grass House?
[Liam] It took us a while to get there but we wanted to choose something with longevity, not to rely on current trends and to have something that we can relate to. Grass House was something one of us came across and it felt suited us.
You’re often compared to the likes of Nick cave and Tom Waits, how do you as a band feel about this? I assume it’s a compliment, or is it something you’d like to try to get away from?
[Steven] When we first started making music we were heavily into Nick Cave and Tom Waits, this came through quite clearly and took us a while to shake off the immediate referencing. I think any band starting out has these transparent influences and over time you can hopefully become unique, or at least make steps forward. [Liam] I guess our ideal is to sound like Grass House.
Sure, any new music you’d recommend? What are you listening to at the moment?
[Liam] It’s difficult to keep up with what seems like a fickle music world, everything moves on so fast and people tend to change their opinions rather quickly. However, we’ve currently been enjoying White Fence and Sharon Van Etten. [Steven] Azealia Banks, Atlas Sound, Toy, Still Corners are good too.
I’ve noticed your lyrics are quite un-predictable and rarely give much away, what inspires your songwriting?
[Steven] Poetry mainly, art partially and film occasionally. Off the top of my head I’d say Osip Mandelstam, Paul Celan, Karel Appel, Mayakovsky, Adrienne Rich, E.E Cummings, the abstract expressionists, Roger De La Fresneye, Francis Horowitz, Bela Tarr, Ernst Haas, I could keep going.
[Liam] Basically the motive behind the lyrics is to set a mood to allow enough light for the listener to create their own picture, we want the songs to be personal to whatever background you come at them from. There are fundamental feelings that all humans share and from them our personalities are built, if you can tap into the core of a person you can relate to them in a so many ways.
What was the idea surrounding Holiday Club?
[Steven] Holiday Club was initially used as a way to get our music out, we needed a platform to release stuff and we didn’t want to tout ourselves out to the labels. It’s evolved since then though, we’re all big fans of film, art and such so it now kind of hones our influences, a place of homage where we can post stuff that we like with the hope that others can enjoy it as much as we do. We’ve left it open to submissions too so if people want to share things they like, they can drop us an email and we’ll post it for them, hopefully we can create a sense of community.
I noticed you offered The Faun and The Breeze downloadable on Holiday Club, leaving fans to pay as little or much as they’d like, what was the idea behind this?
[Steven] It was more so we could just get it out there really; we’re a new band and relatively unknown at the moment so it’s difficult to start charging people 5 pounds for 2 songs. Also, the music industry is pretty buggered anyway and it’s even hard for the big guns to shift records these days. [Liam] People can listen to the music and make their own mind up, if they like it I’d hope they would help the cause and pay whatever they can.
You’ve announced some gigs for the summer; Beacons, Secret Garden Party and you’re returning to Leeds in May, is there anything in particular you’re most looking forward to?
[Steven] It’s always nice going back up North and playing to friends so we’re excited for Beacons and Live at Leeds. I’m excited about getting our live show out there again too as we’ve taken a month or so off to really hone our sound, hopefully people will get it.
Plough More Sky is available at the moment with three singles on, is there plans to release a full album?
[Steven] In the past we felt our music was changing too rapidly to create an album, which is why we have only released EP’s or singles. We feel comfortable in our sound now, and ready to concentrate on a full-length record. [Liam] It’s something we’ve always had the intention of doing, but only now does it seems like the next step. Plus, we’ve been writing with the album in mind since November so we’ve got a load of songs demoed, it’s now just a case of getting together 10 or 12 that work and recording them. It’s something we’re all very much looking forward too.
What are your ambitions? What does the future hold?
[Steven] Obviously the album is the number one priority and something which is gonna take up the majority of the upcoming months. Once that’s complete, we will be looking to release and then hopefully tour it across the UK and possibly overseas. It’s difficult to look further than that, as it’s an unpredictable industry to be in, let’s hope it’s an accepting one.
If you’re interested in getting involved with the Grass House label, Holiday Recordings, follow this link.