Thursday 4 August 2022

An Interview With Psych Sludge/Stoner Metallers GRIN

Psyched Out Tribal Sludge/Stoner Metallers GRIN return with their upcoming 3rd length album Phantom Knocks. The album is meant to be quite different to their previous releases with GRIN taking a more TRIBAL approach.

I caught up with the band recently to discuss the new album and the other projects EARTHSHIP and SLOWSHINE that Jan and Sabine fully contribute to.

Here we go.

Hi Jan and Sabine. How’s it going? Thanks for doing the interview.

Hi Steve, we've to thank you for this interview and your continuing support. That's awesome and really appreciated. Otherwise we're doing great and enjoying summertime here in Berlin.

So here you both are back with GRIN. For folks not in the know, can you give a brief history of the band and where it is today.

We are a heavy psych-doom duo from Berlin, founded in early 2018. A new Earth Ship album wasn't supposed to be released before end of that year back then, so we had plenty of time and were just eager to start something new with a totally different approach than with our main band, just the two of us as loud as it can get. I had also taken a break of being an active drummer for about 15 years already, so it was about time to get back on the throne. ;)

We've released 2 full-length albums so far. Our debut album 'Revenant' in 2018 and 'Translucent Blades' in 2020. The third one, entitled “Phantom Knocks”, will be released on October 14th 2022. That's gonna be great!

How would you describe your music in your own words?

Low-pitched dark atmospheric music for happy people would capture it quite well, sometimes even danceable.

We’re here to talk about your upcoming new album Phantom Knocks. What can people expect for this album? 

Of course the best one we've released to date, haha, but honestly, i think it will be enjoyed by a lot of people who also liked our previous stuff. It's gotten pretty psychedelic this time, but still no less heavy, raw or sludgy but in every way more vivid and powerful.

You premiered the new song Transcendence last month from the new album. A different sound compared to your previous stuff. More Tribal and Ambient in places. Is this how the rest of the album will sound?

Absolutely. 'Transcendence' sets the direction of where the journey is going very well but there is definitely a lot more to discover. 

What is Phantom Knocks all about and why did you call the album that.

The theme of the album is quite spiritual. It's about the connection and the contact between our world and the intermediate world. Short tales from another dimension, so to speak, besides, “Phantom Knocks” is a damn good title and fits perfectly.

I’ve been a fan of GRIN ever since your 2018 debut album Revenant. What a fantastic album that was. Looking back at both Revenant and Translucent Blades. Were you surprised at the reaction of both albums? Would you change anything about them?

Many thanks! We're still completely satisfied with both albums and wouldn't change a thing. While 'Revenant' and 'Translucent Blades' had a completely different approach songwriting and recording wise, both records worked out very well and were well received. 

I'm still not sure if we would do another album like 'Revenant' again, as it's been the fastest recording that we ever made. All bass tracks had been written on only one day and everything else was recorded on just another day or two to keep it as fresh and rough as possible. Worked well back then, but wouldn't have worked at all with 'Phantom Knocks'.

What were the recording sessions like for the new album? Was this a hard album to write and record for?

We definitely put a lot more time and energy into this one than we did on our previous releases and I think you can really hear that. Everything sounds more complex, more well thought and is certainly a bit more accessible than before. Instrumentally everything was actually recorded quite quickly but somehow we didn't really have any ideas for the vocals and how everything should sound in the end, that was pretty frustrating. 

We then let it rest for a few months and in the end it still worked out quite well, a slightly longer journey but it was worth it and we're more than happy with it.

Did you do anything different when recording this GRIN album compared to your previous albums? 

Not really, same studio, same gear, same couple. :D

Now, I have to ask about your other amazing musical projects with SLOWSHINE first. Even though I love GRIN, SLOWSHINE is my favourite project from you both. Are there plans for more releases from SLOWSHINE.

Oh sweet, thank you. Yeah, it's extremely likely that there is more to come in the not too distant future. Slowshine is a lot of fun and a very welcome change for us.

Let's see what comes next.

Slowshine debut album Living Light impressed a lot of people within the Doom/Stoner Metal underground scene. Did the response to that album surprise you both?

Yesss, that was actually very exciting how the Doom/Stoner scene would react to it and if it would be accepted and of course we're very glad that it was so well received. 

Probably because it was something complete different and differed from the immense number of rather similar bands in this scene.  Anyways, cheers to all you good people who are digging that record and bought some stuff.

And I have to ask about Earth Ship as well. What is happening with Earth Ship. Any future plans that you can tell us. Or is that top secret.

We'll play a few gigs in August, Pietrasonica Fest in Italy, as well as Salzburg at Rockhouse and also Munich at Backstage Club. Then we'll see what surprises are waiting for us, an album won't be released this year, that's for sure. 

Both of you have been writing and releasing material together for over a decade or so. How do you keep your musical creativity so fresh and exciting? As all your music projects sound quite different to each other. 

Well, that's the trick. If we would do the same kind of stuff in all of our projects over and over again, we certainly wouldn't exist anymore or would just release a lot less than we do now. I mean with Earth Ship we've already released 5 albums, which are veeeery different, but it would be quite difficult for us to write new material for this band at this point of time. 

Do you ever feel about branching out to release some “solo” stuff or do you just enjoy making actual music together.

I don't see us standing alone with the guitar in the pedestrian zone and presenting our solo stuff in front of people walking by, maybe later then, hahaha. We still love making music together, it's a great privilege and we would miss it a lot!

You’re also busy and own a cool record label called The Lasting Dose Records. How did that come about? And how do you find the time to do all your multiple projects?

So far we've only published some of our own projects, so it doesn't take that much time.

We started our little label just because we wanted to be able to decide for ourselves when and how we release something, without any contracts etc.. and it's a lot of fun for us. Apart from the fact that every release is associated with some costs that have to be recovered first, that's less fun. ;)

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans currently out there.

I hope you will like the album, if you don't, that's ok too. Maybe the next one then.

Love, J+S

Words by Steve Howe and GRIN

Thanks to Mona at All Noir PR for arranging this area and Thanks To GRIN for doing this interview.

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