Although Grieving frontman James Parrish admits that it’s “such early days” for the band, the roots of the Cambridge based post-hardcore outfit go back to the mid-2000s, when Parrish fronted a band called The Tupolev Ghost. There was, for a while, a swell of hype and excitement around that band, but despite that, it all came to an end.
“It’s been about seven years since the last ever Tupolev show,” says Parrish. “It was at [Gainesville, Florida punk festival] Fest. No Idea invited us over and it was amazing. It was really awesome, but it was one of those classic things where we were all at that point in our lives where everyone was going back to their own towns and it just became too much of a chore to continue. I tried jamming with a few people but then it just stopped, and I decided to knock it on the head for a while. I started again with friends at the end of last year, and it just immediately felt good.”
After playing their first ever gig, those friends – guitarist Ned Wilson Eames, bassist Jack Hurst and drummer Matt Simper – went into a studio and recorded six songs. At the moment, they’re releasing them one by one online, but the plan is to put out an EP of some of those songs in July, by which time the band hope to have fine-tuned exactly what kind of sound they’re going for.
“It’s called Demonstrations,” explains Parrish, “because that’s exactly what it is. It’s literally demos of the first things we did, and it’s got a really varied sound – from indie-pop to post-hardcore, and there’s even one full-on hardcore track on there that we probably will drop in time, because I can’t see us going completely in that direction. That said, it’s a mish-mash of all our influences and we want to put it out there warts and all and see what people make of it.”
Beyond those six recorded songs, Grieving have since written a few more, and look set to continue their fast-paced work ethic, despite the four members all having lives and jobs outside of the band. The irony, of course, is that it’s precisely what caused The Tupolev Ghost to stop existing that’s spurring on Grieving. With the members settled in various jobs and careers, they have a different perspective on the band than they would were they younger. As a result, their intentions are different, too.
“What’s great,” says Parrish, “is that we’re not putting all our eggs in this basket. We’re doing it to have a good time and we’re doing it to write good music. We still want to have the same standards as any other band would have and we have ambitions for the music, but we don’t necessarily have ambitions to tour constantly or do this full-time. It becomes harder and harder as we become older as a group of people – your life becomes more complicated.”
That’s something also borne out in the music and the themes that these songs take on – Parrish admits that he feels he has more things of worth to say with Grieving than he ever had before. Though they’re certainly not Anti-Flag or Rage Against The Machine, Grieving are a band whose songs are nevertheless shot through with a healthy dose of social and political commentary.
“I think a positive of being older,” says Parrish “is you generally become less introspective. You’re a little bit more aware of who you are as a person and, perhaps, a little wiser to see more things around you. I wouldn’t class us as a political band, but I think that any band with awareness in 2016 isn’t going to be able to avoid politics. So while seven or eight years ago a lot of lyrics I’d have written would have been about myself, I now feel more politically aware and more empathetic as a human being. You’re more understanding of the world around you and you feel more able to comment on it. You feel more like you want to interact with it and make a change – it’s less about you and more about the people around you. I think people need to be more aware. I don’t believe that one person can’t make a change. I think everyone can do, if they just look at the bigger picture and open their eyes a little bit.”
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