17 Jul 2017

Raw Power: an interview with the almighty Bo Gritz

Bo Gritz are a noise-rock band like no other; a pummelling screech of industrial guitar noise, their sound is invasive and unignorable. Indeed, if you've caught them as the support for the likes of Ho99o9, HMLTD, Table Scraps and Taman Shud, you'll be fully aware they deliver so much noise with such an intensity that you simply can't help but be engulfed. Last week, I caught up with them for a quick chat.

Can you tell me a bit about the beginnings of the band? 
Finn (vocals, guitar) and me formed the band back in the halcyon pre-Brexit, pre-Trump world of 2015. We started jamming in studios around London, self-releasing an EP called Everyday Ennui not long after. We recorded it live straight to tape with help from a few friends at Super Unison Studios in Peckham. The EP gave us a springboard and we started getting some really good gig offers off the back of it. Shortly after that release we met Max at one of our shows and he joined us on drums to complete the trio.

A quick google shows that the original Bo Gritz was a US military officer. What's the significance of the band's name? 
To be honest there’s no significance whatsoever. I was reading a book called ‘Them’ by journalist Jon Ronson at the time we formed the band. His name kept repeatedly cropping up as this loony crackpot character with a dubious sense of morality. I just thought it looked quite interesting written down. Hopefully I was right. That’s where the association ends I’m afraid.

Could you tell us a bit about the new single, You Just Cover?
Yeah that one’s been floating around a while actually. I remember when we were writing and jamming it out because I wanted to channel that whole early 80s hardcore punk sound on the bass line, I mean if you listen to Black Flag’s Slip It In that’s the vibe I was going for. From that, Max put down this great driving beat which really propels the track. The guitars are nasty on this one as well. Finn is the master of getting the craziest sounds from his instrument, I think it’s the tuning he uses, it’s pretty unique and inventive. The guitar really explodes from the speakers. It’s got a great energy to it. It’s heavy as shit but your mum can hum along as well.

You put it out on Strong Island Recordings, how'd you get involved with those guys?
Well Max has being doing odd bits with them for a while. You know, organising and repping shows et cetera. When he joined the band we naturally started hanging out with everyone at the label, going to their gigs and stuff. When we decided to put out a single Brad (the label manager) very kindly offered to release it and boom, here we are.

Your live shows are extremely noisy affairs, what's the best gig you've done so far? 
The one that sticks out for me was when we supported Ho99o9 at The Old Blue Last a few months back. It was just before they released their record. The crowd were nuts, mosh pits and everything. Plus we love that band. We opened for HMLTD in Bristol at the end of last year as well which was cool. It was a free entry show at this tiny pub called the Old England, proper toilet venue. Atmosphere was insane, it was physically impossible to get any more people in the venue by the end of the night.

How much of a struggle was it to get the live chaos onto record?
The recording was relatively pain free to be honest. We recorded it with a guy called Wayne Adams at Bear Bites Horse Studio in Haggerston. He’s pretty experienced at capturing that raw, chaotic sound we were after. He recorded other bands we love like USA Nails and Casual Nun so we knew he would understand the sound we had in our heads. Max did some final mastering as well which really made it nasty, especially the guitar sound I think.

What are you listening to at the moment? Any new bands you think are worth checking out?
 Ahh there’s always too much to mention isn’t there? That Idles record is ace, the lyrics are hilarious. You can’t really look past the new Kendrick album either, the man is a genius. New bands? There’s a hip-hop collective called 404 Guild from Peckham that we’ve played with a few times. Their live show is raw, definitely recommend checking them out.

What next for the band?
We have a few live shows coming up that are gonna be fun. Playing the Fluffer Records Pit Party on the 22nd of July with an amazing line up (Hey Colossus and Spectres!) so especially looking forward to that. We’re looking to do a few more releases as well, perhaps a physical this time. I think there’s a live cassette in the pipeline and we’ve got a bit more studio time booked also so all very exciting.

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(Words: Cal Cashin)