The Band GROUCHO is visiting Soundville
Welcome, music Jedis, to an exclusive interview with the sensational alt/rock band hailing from Tulsa, OK: GROUCHO! Currently embarked on a thrilling tour, these talented musicians are taking the music scene by storm with their captivating sound. With an explosive new single titled "Blood inthe Water," GROUCHO has captivated audiences with their unique blend of influences from the golden era of 90s rock to iconic bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Nirvana, Muse, Thrice, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles.
Today, we have the incredible opportunity to delve deeper into the creative minds behind GROUCHO and discover what makes these individuals such an extraordinary force in the world ofmusic. So, grab your headphones and prepare for an unforgettable encounter with these super talented and genuinely wonderful guys. Get ready to dive into the music of GROUCHO!
Hi guys, its pleasure to talk with you. So, how would you best describe the magical blend of influences and musical style that Groucho brings to the table?
GROUCHO is a project started by myself (singer/guitarist) Dustin Edward Howard. Much of the influences of my life are eclectic. From ELO, Harry Nillson, or Alan Parsons but also harder rock likeQueens of the Stone Age, Tool, or bands like Incubus/Deftones. Bands with lots of range. I like to think we all span a large spectrum of influence as well. From metal to 70s country.
We are each multi instrumentalists. We've got "kill" and "chill" mode. Sometimes in the same song. Outside of GROUCHO, I make music for film/TV productions. From Sesame Street to documentaries, I consider myself a musical chameleon. Originally Groucho started as a place for songs that didn't fit with some of my other rock projects.
Who are the talented members that make up Groucho, and what roles do they individually bring to the band's captivating sound? How do their uniquecontributions come together to create the magical musical experience that is Groucho?
Groucho is Dustin Edward Howard. Layne Farmen and Royce Buckmaster. Royce used tobe our 2nd guitarist but moved to the drums a year ago. We had another fella playing for us, and ultimately he (Royce) ended up onthe drums. Layne brings a super powerful sound to the outfit playing out of multiple amps and tones. Guitar amps and Bass amps with a variety of options to cover the spectrum.
We've been described as a 5 piece bands' sound crammed into 3 people's bodies. Occasionally our friend Evan Stiles will join us for some shows where we need a lil extra guitar. Dustin plays keys, synth, guitar and sings. Sometimes in the same song. It gets weird and messy and we love it. Dustin scores music for everything from video games to film. That palete gets used often in the scope of dynamics. Sometimes we play with a projector or psychedelic visuals.
How does your latest single "Blood in the Water" differ from your previous releases in terms of sound or lyrical themes? Did you guys accidentally stumble upon a secret formula of rock 'n' roll awesomeness while experimenting in the studio, or did you summon a mischievous musical genie who sprinkled extra spice into this single?
We worked with Engineer Trent Bell (Flaming Lips, The Bourgeois, Starlight Mints) for Blood in the Water. We wanted a larger and polished sound for what we felt would be our first single of 4 for 2023. 3 of them were done with Trent. I think it differs from some of the previous stuff as we have matured in our sound. I (Dustin) had done a lot of the writing previously on my own, as the members have rotated and changed a bit over the last 6 years. This line up really feels like what the recording captures. Heavy guitar and softer vocals. Juxtaposition. I love recording out of small amps, and Trent is a master of mixing indie rock. He's super easy to work with and a machine as far as keeping the day moving. We did the tracking for Blood in the Water in a day or two and came back a week later for the mixing.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of creating the music video for "Blood in theWater"?
We worked with a company called Pursuit Films for Blood in the Water's video. I met with director Viet Nguyen and we discussed the overall theme of the lyrics - which is essentially a manufactured divide of society. We see it everywhere. Its clearly done on purpose. And it feels as if the system may pay the price for it, as folks have had enough.
We aren't exactly a political band, but we are a socially aware group of folks. Ive been greatly influenced by bands like Rage or The Refused.. We wanted to tackle that subject without taking ourselves too seriously, hence the tongue in cheek newspaper headlines. We set up a scene and wanted to do a long shot. No edits. In the Long version of the video, we did maybe 6 takes and kept the one that felt great. Pursuit is a company that really focuses on powerful stories and most of the staff is friends and peers Ive worked with before. The intro music for the long version will be on our next EP release but is currently only on Youtube.
If you could choose one word to encapsulate the essence of "Blood in the Water," whatwould it be and why?
If your band had a theme song that played every time you entered a room, what wouldit be and why?
Theme song? Legend of Zelda (Link to the Past) theme. 90s vibes with an agenda.
Can you give us a sneak peek into what fans can expect from your next single or upcoming album? Any hints about the musical direction or themes we can look forward to?
We've got two singles coming in the next few months. One is a revisioned version of "The Truth is Out There (Bob Lazar)" which is a song obviously about the reality of non human intelligence and cover ups by gubberment. We are gonna basically release this one on a whim as the subject is getting a lot of notoriety. The OG version of it didn't really capture the way the song has now evolved, so we re-tracked it on our own and mixed it with CM Rodriguez (Acid Queen.) I hate to say it's better, but I will say it's more accurate to our current lineup and sound.
The other is a cover of "Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS. Remember when I mentioned eclectic soundlol? We just filmed a music video for NTUA and went with a James Bond style intro thingy. Silhouette and a dancer. Trying to keep it timeless and lean into the idea of swagger a bit. End of Aug is the release for that. You'll have to check back in and maybe we can give y'all a sneak peak.
What was it like collaborating with Grammy-award winning producer Trent Bell for your upcoming album? Did he bring any quirky or unconventional techniques to the table, like using a magical unicorn horn to enhance the sound or conducting recording sessions in a zero-gravity studio? We're dying toknow what kind of wizardry went on at Bell Labs in Norman, OK during the making of your album!
Trent is a true gem. Ive had the pleasure of knowing him for a long time. He was a part of the Chainsaw Kittens, a fantastic engineer and is true to the craft as it gets. He actually called me last week just to talk shop and chat. He will wear any hat required. From engineer only to full on producer. For these sessions we had an overall plan in mind, andhe achieved it through as you say, full on wizardry. Laynes bass rig isn't exactly conventional to record. He has handmade unique pedals and a routing system on his board that needs a legend and map to understand. We also get as much tone as we can out of small amps pushed to the max. I love stoner rock guitar, but I dislike fuzz pedals. We spent some time just playing around and mixing and matching tones but once we had it dialed in, it was smooth sailing. As far as vocals, he's got an incredible ear for mixing. I willalmost always record stuff that isn't going to make the final mix, and I need that trust with a person to shut me down with some ideas. The respect is there and mutual. The trust as well. We literally slept in the studio on weekends. Ive got a lot of video from the sessions, and we even used some live takes on two of the instrumentals we did. The drums were done in a huge room, and mostly Royce had an element of improv as he had only been playing drums for a few weeks for Groucho,but knew the songs intimately from being on guitar. Trent isn't afraid to say "lets go again" if he thinks a person can get a better take.
What are your wildest dreams or aspirations for the future of Groucho? Is there aparticular milestone, venue, or achievement that you're itching to conquer?
We just want to play. We're touring midwest shows right now and I'd love to take the outfit to Europe or South America. I mean, of course I would. Bands like Cliffdiver, or Wilderado are from Tulsa like we are. There is a recipe out there for connecting with folks and I think that's our focus right now. We live in a unique time for music where much of the responsibility is on the artists. We'd like to shop some of our unreleased stuff to the right label or partner. We've been doing that actually and even straight up ignored a semi reputable label because it was clear that we have different visions of how to proceed. Ive played shows for 2k people as well as a single bartender (no one.) We're still alive and going and I suspect we will all be making music in some form or another for the rest of our individual existence. Getting on the road and playing for new crowds is rewarding but costly. We'd like to connect with the right venues and promoters. Humbly, we can bring it in front of the crowds, and we've shared the stage with some incredibly talented bands. The recipe for "success" is arbitrary, but I like to think that living in a time of self publishing and leaving your art on the internet for the rest of humanity is a gift in and of itself. We take it seriously and I want to connect with anyone who wants to listen.
And the last question, please take it seriously. If Groucho were a pizza, what toppings would represent each band member's unique personality? Would Dustin's topping be a fiery jalapeño to match his passionate guitar skills? Perhaps Layne's topping would be a scholarly sprinkle of parmesan.
Dustin -Supreme. hodgepodge of influence and divisive ideas. Why choose one when you canhave it all?
Layne - Margherita. Educated, classic and timeless.
Royce - Pepperoni. Dude is a straightforward rock and roll. Deal with it.