“It sounds a lot more romantic than it actually was,” says The Graveltones’ Jimmy O about the birth of the band. Guitarist/vocalist Jimmy and drummer Mikey Sorbello are antipodean transplants who only met by chance while working on Denmark Street in London. “Mikey was in the drum shop, I was in the guitar shop across the street,” says Jimmy. “I just walked over there and said, ‘Hey, do you know anybody who wants to have a jam?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, me’ so that was it.”
To say they hit the ground running is a huge understatement. “I booked a gig at the 100 Club,” says Jimmy. “I thought, I’ll try to put a band together and if that fails I’ll play it as a solo act. I put a rehearsal together with Mikey and I said, ‘Do you want to play a gig in two days?’” So they tore up the 100 Club after one rehearsal./o:p
Then they attempted to expand their line-up to a trio. “We had rehearsals booked with three different bass players. The first one cancelled, the second never showed up, and the third one moved back to Australia, so we thought somebody is telling us something here,” says Jimmy.
Realising that destiny wanted them to remain a duo, they also concluded that rehearsing was overrated. “London life was so busy, we both had full time jobs,” says Jimmy. “We’ve had maybe 20, 25 rehearsals in the last two years, but those first two years we just winged it and made up songs on the spot. It made everything really fun and flow really smoothly. There was a certain element of spontaneity that was just amazing. We could rock up to a show and neither of us knew which way it was going to go, it just went whichever way it wanted.”/o:p
Their heavy, stomping, distorted blues seems at odds with Jimmy’s musical background. “I’d only picked up an electric guitar a year before I met Mikey, I was always a diehard folkie, hated electric guitar and just wanted to be Bob Dylan,” he says. “Me and Mikey doing this new style of music and just going for it, it brought something out in both of us. I guess not having a bass player has really driven me to do more with the guitar and try to fill the space the same way Mikey approaches drums now.”
Their second album, Love Lies Dying, is in the bag, but now they’re looking forwards to recording album three in December. Between now and then they’ll be eating up miles on the road and giving free rein to their spontaneous, raucous spirits.
“If you go out every night and play the same songs the same way over and over again, I can’t think of anything worse,” says Jimmy. “If we feel something live we have an unwritten law that we just go for it. We don’t know what’s going to come next and the audience certainly doesn’t. I don’t think you can fake that kind of energy.”/o:p
Love Lies Dying is out May 31 on Lagoon Dog Records./o:p
“Neil Young is my favourite electric guitar player. I’ve seen him play live a handful of times now – he just hits it and makes this amazing sound. Half the time the notes aren’t even right, they’re not in the right spots, and he’s not playing scales, but it still does something for me anyway.”/o:p