They recently tore the Takeover stage apart at Download, they’ve just been announced for Hammerfest VI, their debut album is going down a storm (and did too right here on Planetmosh). We caught up with GraViL’s vocalist Grant Stacey to talk about their experience so far.
Hi Grant, cheers for taking the time to chat to us today. Before anything else, for those readers of the site who maybe haven’t heard of you can you give us a bit of background about yourselves?
How would you describe the band? Where are you from? How long have you been together?
We’re an industrial melo-death band. Plenty of riffs, twiddly bits and aggression. Mostly, we’re based in Essex, the exceptions being Conor (Wales) and Andy (Devon). We’ve been together for a year and a half-ish, the roots of the band go back to 2007/2008, but this line-up has been rocking hard since 2012!!!!
We’ll come to the new album in a minute, but you recently took to the Takeover stage at Download. How was the whole experience? What did you enjoy most about it?
It was absolutely incredible. We’ve spent years standing in the crowd (and mud) looking up at the bands on the stage wishing it was us and to have it happen was a dream come true. I remember feeling truly inspired by the year Joey Jordison played drums for Metallica in 2004. This year the experience didn’t fail to live up to all were hoping for, the crowd were amazing and really into what we did, the bands on before us were amazing and the staff/crew were welcoming and helpful, an experience we’ll take to our graves. I guess if I had to put my finger on the thing I enjoyed the most…. Probably the fact there were people dressed as bananas in the mosh pit.
Did you get the chance to rub shoulders with much rock and metal royalty?
Royalty not so much, although not through lack of trying. It also became a lot harder over the course of the day as we drank more. It all became slightly blurry. But we met some cool people backstage, our good friends in Collapse were hanging out, Johnny Doom and some hazy individuals.
You’ve also just been announced as one of the first bands appearing at Hammerfest VI. Do you prefer these kind of gigs or those in the smaller venues?
Both have their positive and negatives. We love playing up close and personal with our fans and getting them to sing along. We also enjoy playing on a big stage as it gives us a chance to run around and deliver an energetic performance with sweat and blood. I couldn’t pick between the two, we need both types to operate.
Back to your album, how did you approach your first full length release? What was the writing and recording process like?
We basically sat down and wrote a load of songs we enjoyed. It’s clichéd I know, but we honestly recorded the music we loved, on the understanding of “if we like it, other people must enjoy it too”. It was an exciting and totally enjoyable experience for this reason: we spent a lot of time with good friends, getting wasted, writing metal we loved. It led to a varied album that we are very proud of.
Can you give us a bit of background about each of the tracks and their meanings?
1. Structurally Unsound
This song, lyrically, was based on a weird dream one of our band members had. It’s about a bunch of people that are stuck walking in circles inside a desert. They are watched from above by a man in a crystal tower. He eventually gets overthrown by a stranger and the scenario repeats. Musically, we wanted a song that lead people into a false sense of security before dropping into an aggressive blitz. I think we achieved that…..
2. Enemy Within
Enemy Within is about people that live their lives by leaching off of others . This is the first time in the album you hear us use synths, we’ve never shied away from trying new stuff. I think this worked out well.
3. Beyond Reprieve
Beyond reprieve is one of the oldest GraVil tracks, we were going for all out aggression and stomping grooves. Lyrically it’s about choosing who you want to be and never allowing people tell you how they think you should be. We’re our own free spirits Beyond Reprieve .
4. The Wanderer
The wanderer was written after getting drunk and watching the film “Solomon Kane” with James Purefoy.
5. Something Worth Chasing
Something worth Chasing was the title track to our first EP, it changed slightly over the years, the guitar intro gave way to piano performed by a good friend Sina Tehrani and we have a cool new solo provided by Irene Ketikidi. Lyrically, it’s all about our struggle in life, to find something worth chasing. Everyone needs a dream to follow, or they fade into the darkness. Even if it’s something as simple as wanting a family or getting that dream job, we need hopes and goals. We really went melodic on this song and metaphorically into a snow covered world…. Sort of like narnia….but without the ice queen.
When we received the piano parts from Sina for Something Worth Chasing we had loads of parts we didn’t use as we felt they didn’t exactly fit the feel of what we wanted or made the song to cluttered. They were far too good to be thrown away though. We started batting ideas around regarding a second “Something Worth Chasing” or maybe even a three part song with a conclusion to the song. We decided on the latter as we found something quite cool in ending the song we started long ago with the release of the album. For the interlude we took the extra piano pieces and wrote an instrumental around it.
7. Thoughts of a Rising Sun
Thoughts of a Rising Sun was the third and final piece to the something worth chasing saga. Musically it followed the feel for the interlude, but we removed the piano from the equation. Lyrically I feel I went to the darker side, I was in a bad place when the lyrics erupted onto the paper. In its most basic form, it’s the result of not being able to achieve your goals but pouring your life Into it. Maybe this was how I felt about music at the time or some other things i had going on? I don’t really know, I hope people take their own meaning from it.
8. The Struggle
The Struggle was more of a punk song originally. We managed to contort it slightly to get it into the album, we made it heavier. I chose to sing the chorus rather than shout it, I felt it made it bigger and more epic. Lyrically it lives up to the title, it’s about the struggle of life.
9. Through the Eyes of Spartans
Through the Eyes of Spartans was on the “Something Worth Chasing ep“ and we re-recorded it with new synths. It‘s such a beautifully simple song that has an infectious head nodding groove. It’s all about the film “300”, I got drunk and wrote a song about Spartans. True story bro…
10. Bottle of Shadows
Bottle of Shadows is my favourite track off the album. You know when you hear a song and it reaches out from the speakers and touches you? This does it to me every time. It’s really synth heavy. We got our old friend York Street to layer up some orchestra and choir parts. The eerie beginning sets the scene perfectly . A good friend of mine was undergoing radiotherapy, whilst visiting for his treatment he caught sight of a young girl, roughly 7 years old. She was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. Her Nan sat there looking morbid and upset whilst the girl laughed, smiled and played. The song takes on all aspects of this. The term bottle of shadows is the name we gave to the chemo drugs as it always damages the body whilst killing the cancer. But more importantly the songs aggression represents the aggression in cancer at a young age, and the chorus is basically a question to all those that shit and whinge about their lives, “Take a Glance, consider, when you feel there’s nothing left to live for, Imagine this, your choice is more than this innocent had”. If she could smile and laugh whilst going through that, why can’t we all?
11. March of The Titans
Titans was written with James McIlroy of Cradle Of Filth. We’re good mates , and falling into our mantra “making music we love” we invited him round for a jam. We had a few drinks and this was the result. The chorus riff reminded me of the ending to God of War 2 for PS2, where the titans march on Olympus. So I took this lyrical theme to the song. We shipped the track off to Alex Lamy to chuck some orchestration on it. And were pleased with the result! It’s a mid paced stomper of a song for headbangers and moshers alike. It got kind words from Bruce Dickinson on his BBC 6 Radio rock show as well which was a bonus
Was there any specific thought for including March of the Titans on the album after its release a few years ago?
We loved the track so much we couldn’t wait to release it with the album so we filmed a video and released it as a single. It got attached to the album as an afterthought , the previous version was a digital single, and was never available physically. So we wanted people that were only just discovering GraVil to be able to enjoy our hard work.
In-between recording and playing live, what do you guys do to kick back and relax?
We love hanging out, this isn’t a band that meet once a week to rehearse and then don’t talk for 7 days. We chill and play Xbox, Playstation, watch films, go to nightclubs. And we’ re always writing! Andy (Slade, guitars) has a studio in his loft that we spend hours jotting down ideas. Some will meet the outside light and possibly album 2, others will be thrown into the vortex of time and space never to be seen/heard again.
What are the plans for the rest of this year?
Aside from being confirmed for Hammerfest VI, we’ve got Headbangers Balls in London and Rock and Metal Circus in Bromsgrove. We’re hoping to be touring later this year and aim to have album two finished by the close of 2013.
Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to our readers?
Don’t talk to strangers and never write a serious birthday card!
Grant Stacey – Vocals
Andy Slade – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Tony Dando – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Sparx – Bass and Backing Vocals
Conor Harkness – Drums