Gran Ronde interview

Thanks to photos by Chuck Espinoza for the photos.

Gran Ronde have a reputation as being THE opening band for huge LA shows – but luckily for them it’s not a case of always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Whilst Gran Ronde fans have swelled in number from opening slots for Razorlight, We Are Scientists and The Enemy to name but a few, they are a stand alone force to be reckoned with.

With their Mark Needham produced debut album due for release in the UK in June, a Great Escape appearance this weekend and a UK headline tour, Gran Ronde are taking their well earned place at the top of the bill.

Frontman Chris Pearson took some time out to introduce Dee Massey and the Crossfire readers to Gran Ronde…

Gran Ronde are pretty new to us over in the UK – so give us a little background… how did you meet? How long have you been plugging away with this band? What’s your background?

We are all from different parts of the states. Bryan came from New York, Fern came from Miami and I came from Oregon after a couple years living in Tokyo. I first came to LA in 2000 on a road trip, and just ended up staying. I wanted a place where I could see the best live music and have the best weather and lots of friends. In 2004, I started to get the idea in my head that it would be a really great idea to be in a band, so I started asking all my friends who wanted to play and ended up meeting Fern and Bryan that way …friends of friends.

In the early stages of the band, when we were just figuring stuff out, but there was so much buzz and the shows were crazy. We were offered a weekly residency in December of that year at The Silverlake Lounge by Scott Sterling, a local promoter. A little known band called Silversun Pickups opened up for us. Ha, now they are playing stadiums or something here!

How would you describe your sound to someone new to Gran Ronde?

That’s a hard one to answer. Reverb drenched, melodious guitar driven rock!? Ha, I do love the reverb and delay pedals. I do love a good melody, and am a sucker for a big sound.

What bands do you think you’re mostly influenced by?

I think it’s pretty easy to hear my love for Echo and the Bunnymen, early Cure, but when I was young I was a metal head, and I love it loud. In college I discovered The Jesus and Mary Chain, that completely changed my perspective on music. From there I got into so much music everything from the Flaming Lips to Yo La Tengo and Stereolab, Low, Guided by Voices. I still want to cover Motor Away. Great rock tune. But my voice is kinda weird and when I sing it kinda has it’s own sound. I just build the songs around that really.

For you what’s the best part of being in a band?

Playing live!

I’m going to stop asking that question…everyone says the same thing! You’ve opened for some great bands – Razorlight, We Are Scientists, The Enemy etc – how did those opening slots come about, and what was it like playing to those huge audiences?

We have been very fortunate to get onto some great bills. Mostly, we will just get an email from a promoter asking us if we wanna play a local show and it kinda goes from there. I have to say the WAS dudes are some the nicest guys around. Silly but nice. The highlight so far was playing NYC with Razorlight at the Irving Plaza on Friday evening. Great show, great crowd. You just wanna live in those moments for ever.

So let’s talk about the new album – Secret Rooms. I understand you ended up working with Mark Needham, who’s produced some amazing albums for The Killers, We Are Scientists etc – how did you end up working with him?

Mark is a great champion of music in LA. He had heard about us in the early stages of the band and took us under his wing and really helped us out. We worked on a bunch of music that ended up on Secret Rooms. He is a very talented guy, who really puts his heart into a project. When you work with him you really feel like you can make that sound you are trying to get.

Did you enjoy your time in the studio? Is the end result all you hoped it would be?

Yes. We did record half of the record on our own because Mark was so busy at the time. In the end Mark was kind enough to mix the whole thing.

The album is out on Filter in the US, and I heard you just got a distribution deal in the UK too? When can we expect to get our hands on the record over here?

June 2009, it will be released by Friends Vs. Records

You’re coming over to the UK this spring for a headline show, this isn’t your first time over here it is? What do you make of UK audiences? How do you handle English food?!

We first came over a couple years ago for a week in London. We did a few shows at Club Fandango and opened for The Academy Is at Barfly Camden. It was great fun. We met very cool people, had some so-so food (we try to stick to Indian). The fans were very cool. UK audiences are much more receptive to music than what we were used to in LA. That kinda heightens the whole experience. We have been waiting to have an actual release before coming back.

You just played The Big Escape in Brighton this weekend – are you going to be playing anymore festivals in the UK?

We are doing the Dot to Dot. and we will be doing a full scale UK tour all over the place. Our dates are posted on our myspace page.

A few quickfire questions…

What’ll be on your rider when you’re big and important?

Motorcycles

What’s your poison?

Michilada

Best hangover cure?

Michilada

Most listened to album recently?

Lou Reed Transformer

Worst thing about living in a van on tour?

Living in a van with 4 dudes (sounds pretty self explanatory to me) – that van is my only vehicle too!

Can people follow the band on Twitter? Do you buy into all that social networking stuff?

No. Not really. I don’t have time for it. I’d rather live a life outside of my computer. Too much maintenance!

What was the first gig you ever went to?

David Lee Roth “Eat Em and Smile” Tour. I was a little rocker. Cinderella opened. Haha!

Finally – any words of wisdom for the Crossfire readers?

Don’t anger a rattlesnake. Come see us play!

For further info on Gran Ronde check out their target=”_blank”>MySpace