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(added September 2011)
INTERVIEW WITH JOE GROGAN
(BASS PLAYER, SINGER WITH THE GRAVEYARD JOHNNYS)
by John McVicker
How and when did you form and who influenced you?
We started Graveyard Johnnys in October 2007 for a one-off Halloween gig in our local, word got around that it was a good night and we started to get more gigs. Things just carried on from there really.
What's the guitarist situation now? Is Broughton from Rock-It Dogs / Coffin Nails a permanent member now?
He's always been a stand-in for us since the very first tour but he's not ours full-time. He's a busy boy. Plus he's just been diagnosed with RSI in his wrist from cracking himself off to Cathy Barry films too much. We're using three different lads on guitar at the moment just filling in as and when they can. We're open to having a full-time third member definitely but we're not gonna rush into it this time.
What happened to Liam and Jimmy?
Liam doesn't really enjoy being away from home too long, he's a great musician and a good friend but once we started playing twice or three times a week and going on long tours you could tell he wasn't completely happy so we all decided it'd be best to get someone else in. Jimmy jumped into Liam's shoes straight away. We had just signed a record deal and a publishing deal, there was dates booked all around Europe, he couldn't believe his luck. However he was on a different page to us, musically and just in general. We found ourselves still rehearsing the same songs with him after being in the band a year and still not playing them right. We rushed into having Jimmy in the band and it was a mistake. I feel sorry for him that he got mixed up with us, it definitely wasn't right from the start, we had some good times though, I'm sure he enjoyed some of it and so did we.
It's been over three years since your first CD, the mini-album Streetblocks and City Lights, when's the new album out?
It's looking like the end of November, we've only really got started on writing and recording it in the past few months even though the gap between this record and that first EP is so large. All our time previously was just taken up with gigs and sorting other shit out. It feels good to finally get stuck into some new stuff.
What label is it on and how did you get the deal?
The album comes out on the German label Wolverine Records. In 2008 we signed with a different German label but after a while we weren't really happy with how things we going with them and decided to walk out. There was no hard feelings it just wasn't right for us. Word got around as it does and a couple of labels showed interest. We decided to work out a deal with Wolverine simply because they're one of the hardest working labels in the world. We're really proud to be a part of it and things have worked out great. Some things definitely happen for a reason.
How well did/does Streetblocks & City Lights sell?
We were blown away with how well it sold, especially because there was NO promotion whatsoever for it. We literally got it pressed, sent it to one magazine for a review and then to three radio DJs and managed to sell out 2000 copies. We thought they were gonna last us a lot longer than they did. We soon blew all the money on expensive chicken burgers and lapdancers, maybe we'll be a bit more careful with the funds from the next one. The downloads still sell on iTunes and Amazon etc but there's been talks of re-releasing it properly in the future as a collector vinyl with bonus tracks etc. There's definitely a few ideas.
Were you happy with the sound on it?
Yeah it was pretty beefy, it was recorded entirely live as well apart from lead guitar overdubs so the producer definitely did a good job. We didn't really have a vision of how we wanted to sound at the time either so we just sort of let him loose.
Where's the best place you have played in UK or in Europe?
There's been loadsa good places. Sometimes the worst venues get the best atmosphere and it works the other way around too. You can never tell how it's going to go until you get up there on stage and start smashing it. The general rule seems to be that if the sound engineer knows what he's doing then the gig is going to be good. It's good to play to people who don't know what to expect too. We get a buzz out of kicking the fuck into everything and playing as hard as we can and some people find that really strange.
Any funny on the road stories to tell us?
Our mate Divers is always worth a laugh, for a while he was doing merch for us, he was fucking useless at selling t-shirts coz he was always too pissed to talk but he is such a laugh to have around. The first time we went to Finland for a few gigs we had a day off in-between the gigs and naturally we all spent it on the piss, well Divers actually did drink some piss that day but that's another story! Anyway, we were all drunk as hell so we went back to the Hotel for an afternoon snooze. Divers woke up around 8pm and was convinced it was 8am so he headed downstairs looking like death covered in liquorice booze and piss and was demanding breakfast with the staff of this unusually posh hotel. They insisted he eat from the evening menu and he couldn't understand why. "What's the matter with you people!? I just want a bloody sausage!" They asked him to leave anyway and he came back to the room ranting, it was only when we told him it was night-time that he sat down, sparked another Karhu and had a laugh about it! The poor staff and guests probably thought we were some typical, pisshead idiot Brits on tour. They were definitely right! There's so many stories from that trip. Tom was on top form too, you'll have to ask him about it.
What does the future hold for Graveyard Johnnys and any chance of you playing North Wales in the future?
Well we're gonna get this album done and dusted and pretty much go on tour then for the rest of the year, we might make some more music videos and a DVD, we might re-release the first EP, we might start work on the next album, we might someday be able to get a new van, who knows. We're just gonna have fun with it while it lasts. It'd be good to come to North Wales one day yeah, we're near there soon I think in a town called Helsby, you should come John, the Milkybars are on me.
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