Friday, January 25, 2019

Interview: Grace Vonderkuhn Plays Asbury Park Brewery This Sunday, 1/27, with Thin Lips, Earth Telephone, and Luke Henderiks

Photo courtesy of Grace Vonderkuhn

Bring Snacks!

In February of 2018, Grace Vonderkuhn released her debut LP, Reveries. The night before the album's official release, Grace and her band opened a show that we were throwing at The Saint in Asbury. They were real troopers to take the opening slot on a bill that I'd kind of let get out of hand (5 bands? What was I even thinking??) and made the most of their short set. They made such an impression on me that I think I purchased the first official copy of Reveries just as the band were getting in the car to head back home to Delaware.

Reveries is a record that combines elements of noisy rock with a real sense of what makes a great pop song. Grace Vonderkuhn rode the excellence of Reveries to an official showcasing slot at South By Southwest 2018 where San Jose's Mercury News named her one of the top 10 performers at the festival.

Currently on tour with Thin Lips, Grace Vonderkuhn will play Asbury Park Brewery this Sunday, January 27th, as part of a bill that also features Earth Telephone and Luke Henderiks. I shot some questions over to Grace just as the band were packing up to head out on this run.

I want to start off by saying that the show you played for CoolDad Music and Good Eye Records in Asbury Park last year, on the night before you released Reveries, stands as one of the most impressive efforts I've ever seen from a band. You came straight from work in Delaware during a rain storm to play an opening slot (That was my fault. Sorry.) and were on stage, playing within 15 minutes of your arrival. You absolutely blew the room away. As a touring band, how do you maintain the energy to give it your best when presented with less than ideal circumstances?

Well, thanks! That's nice to hear. I think it's just about keeping the performance as the priority. Knowing what we're on the road to do and storing / summoning energy for that 30 or 40 minutes when we have the stage. Playing a set is usually the best part of the day so it's (generally) pretty easy to put everything else aside for that chunk of time and let adrenaline take over.

Grace Vonderkuhn at The Saint last February

Reveries came out the day after you played that show; and it's one of those records that, while it contains some great singles, really works as a whole album. It seems like there are a few recurring themes like trying to overcome negative thoughts and behaviors, escape, mental health in general. When you wrote these songs, were you specifically setting out to write an album or did it come together on its own over time?

They were mostly written around the same time but not specifically for an album. It did come together over time, and I definitely put thought into themes and flow when I was picking songs to put on the album. It was important for me to put out a cohesive record.

Regardless of how the songs came together, you clearly took a lot of care in organizing Reveries. Do you think that's a dying art in the era of streaming services where singles have become almost the default unit of musical consumption?

My thought was, why not have both easily consumable singles and an album that works well as a whole so that if someone hears a single and decides to dig deeper, there's a curated ride they can hop on with the record. It may be harder to come by a listener willing to put on a whole album these days, but I know these people exist and I think they will continue to exist. I'm one of them!

Reveries contains elements of psych rock, garage rock, and post-punk -- sometimes in the same song (I'm thinking of songs like "Something to Say" or "Bad Habits."). The songs can be heavy, but everything is anchored by a pop sensibility. What's some of your favorite pure pop music?

For sure. The Beatles, David Bowie, The Kinks, Blondie, Prince all wrote some fantastic pop. I'm a fan of well balanced pop, that's not too saccharine but not afraid of satisfying melodies either. Also, I think a lot of "rock" is pop with heavier / fuzzier textures. Hopefully This won't damage my street cred, but recently I've been known to spin a few singles from Miley Cyrus, Tove Lo, Justin Timberlake, and Harry Styles.

You're just about to head out on tour with Thin Lips. How did that come together?

Yeah! We had played a few of the same bills over the years but the last one we played together, I think my band and I had really hit our stride and Thin Lips was feeling it. A couple months passed and Chrissy (of Thin Lips) asked if we wanted to support them on an upcoming tour and of course we answered with an emphatic "Yes!" because they are such an excellent band.

Is there anything specific you're looking forward to (Asbury Park, obviously) or that will be new for you on this upcoming run?

Well Asbury Park, of course! I have never been to Michigan, so I'm excited for our show there. I'm looking forward to playing Chicago again, too. Plus we're playing some sort of bowling alley / venue in Cleveland which just looks like so much fun.

How do you pass the time while going between cities on tour? Books? Music? Podcasts? Do you have any specific recommendations for anyone else planning a roadtrip?

All of the above! I usually rotate between reading, promoting shows, listening to music or podcasts. We listened to "S Town" on our last tour which was great. We listen to a lot of comedy too, like Tim Heidecker's podcast "Office Hours." As far as advice, I'd say rotate media, take turns driving if you're traveling in a group, and give yourself lots of time to take breaks and stretch. Also, bring snacks!

What do you have planned for when this current tour wraps up?

We're going to start recording a new record! Then going on another tour in April.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, and I'll see you at Asbury Park Brewery on Sunday, 1/27.

Reveries is out now on EggHunt Records.

No comments :

Post a Comment