London born, artrock musician and singer-songwriter GRICE performs with his 4-piece band, featuring GRICE on guitars and vocals, 05Ric on drums, Al Swainger on bass and Duncan Chave on keys. GRICE’s music has been described as ‘a challenging cocktail of electro-acoustic glitch, art-rock and avant-pop synthesis tempered into passionate and well-crafted songs.’ His highly regarded debut album Propeller was described as 'an extraordinary slice of experimental rock' (Classic Rock presents Prog). His new album ‘Alexandrine’ features musical contributions by sonic innovator Richard Barbieri (Japan/ Porcupine Tree) & Steve Jansen (Japan/Rain Tree Crow), Hossam Ramzy (Led Zeppelin/Peter Gabriel), BJ Cole (T-Rex) and more.
We caught up with Grice and had a good chat about all sorts of things including Bohemian Rhapsody, nose flutes and Dangermouse, here's how we got on....
We know very little about you other than you’re a singer songwriter from London, can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your music?
I am (as you say) a London Born artist currently based between Exeter in the South West and South London. From an early age I made and wrote music and formed bands whilst attending Croydon College of Art. I sing and play all manner of guitars (and a little keys/programming) but started life as a drummer (and percussionist). I have a number of influences but my music has been described as ‘a challenging cocktail of electro-acoustic glitch, Art rock and avant-pop synthesis’ - I like this :)
When and how did you form as a band?
Although GRICE is a solo Art Rock artist, I love to play live and work with core musicians on my albums. Following Propeller, the live GRICE outfit was formed: Al Swainger (bass) - 05Ric (drums) - Duncan Chave (keys, loops treatments) - Grice Peters (vocals gtrs) these players form the backbone of the live performances and create the signature sound on some of the tracks on the album. I also worked closely (sometimes remotely) with Richard Barbieri (Japan, Porcupine Tree), Steve Jansen (Japan) and Hossam Ramzy (Peter Gabriel, Led Zeppelin) which adds to the cocktail to create the sound of Alexandrine. There are also additional fine guesting musicians on the work.
Do you and your band all share the same tastes in music?
We do share the love of improvised alternative styles of music and artists as well as in most cases the love of avant sonic pioneers Japan (and their solo incarnations and work). We also have of course our own interests and musical loves (ranging from punk, art rock and prog through to jazz, folk and forms of electronica and acoustica).
I just watched a video of you performing ‘Highly Strung’ at the Voodoo Lounge in Exeter back in May 2014, we work in partnership with The Phoenix, are you planning another visit to the West country anytime soon?
As we are based in the West Country, we do have some shows planned here and in Bristol. we are also off to Berlin in October to play and follow our European musical path which is growing and evolving before us.
What are your views about the use of smartphones and video recording equipment at gigs?
I think as an artist who puts on shows, I prefer to be able to monitor and put out great quality and aesthetically pleasing material for fans - I suspect most artists feel this way. however, I understand that people want to capture the experience and have a record of the vibe. Maybe they should keep these memories close and avoid the temptation to post everything on-line, but this is the uber digital world we live in!
Who would you say are your main musical influences?
Always loved the work of Japan (Barbieri, Sylvian, Karn and Jansen) but also was brought up on a cocktail of Beatles, Beach Boys, T-Rex, The Police, The Jam, The Small Faces, CSN & Y, Banshees, Marley, Aswad, Bauhaus, Scott Walker and many many more
Your new album ‘Alexandrine’ (released on June 22nd) features musical contributions from sonic innovator Richard Barbieri (Japan/ Porcupine Tree), Steve Jansen (Japan/Rain Tree Crow), Hossam Ramzy (Led Zeppelin/Peter Gabriel) & BJ Cole (T-Rex), how did these come about?
Richard and Steve had always been on my musical radar, hailing from the same part of the South London I felt an affinity with them and was always was drawn to their music and their unique style. I first met Richard a few years back at an alternative music expo (The A2D Expo). We became friends, he remixed a track from the first album Propeller (Highly Strung) and did a great job, this lead to us collaborating on Alexandrine more intensely. It was Richard who introduced me to to his good friend and musical associate Steve Jansen who mixed and played on Alexandrine to wonderful effect. I am very proud to have both of them on the album they are an integral part of the signature sound. Hossam contacted me after the release of Propeller and was a big fan of the album, we met and again became good friends. We both had a connection over Alexandrine (him being from Cairo, Egypt and my mother though european having been born in Alexandria on the Nile). He provided some beautiful rhythms to the album. B J Cole I worked with on Propeller with Lee Fletcher (who produced the album) and I love what he does so naturally asked if he was happy to contribute to Alexandrine, which he did to great effect.
If we were to put all of you in a UFC fighting cage, who would be the last one standing?
We would most probably escape the cage and convert it into a faraday cage to reduce and radio interference from our amps and pick ups!
London is a real melting pot of musical genres and styles, what do you need to do these days in order to stand out from the crowd?
Difficult to say but I still romantically like to think that quality control, un-faltering dedication and a clear vision are an important part of the mix..I fear this may not always be true.
If money was no object, what would be your ‘dream’ musical instrument(s) to own?
An ancient Greek water Organ, an original Vincenzo sodi dual manual harpsichord....failing that kazoo - ukulele - spoons - triangle and a guitar and a revolving nose flute will suffice.
Are you planning any music festivals this year?
We have already played respect festival to a lovely crowd which was cool. The full band (Al Swainger, 05Ric, Duncan Chave, Grice) have been working on the live set and I am very happy with the sound we are making, they are all great players. Some smaller festivals also in the South West (Acoustica, Vibraphonic) Still waiting to hear from some...
We are also looking to playing Berlin during the Festival of lights in October this year
Tell me about the first ever gig you attended as a paying customer....
I snuck into a few gigs at The Cartoon in Croydon and the Half Moon in Putney, not sure what was the first gig I paid to enter was - I saw Doctor and The Medics support Hawkwind at Crystal Palace bowl (Pond) and Santana in Hyde Park early on but not sure if money changed hands...
You’re all over social media, which channel/channels do you think have assisted you the most in engaging with your fanbase and getting your music out there?
Facebook and YouTube work well if you can work them in a particular fashion, more recently Twitter is a great way to interact with people on a good level. I am a great advocate of bandcamp also to present your music well and retain control, though we work with the legendary burning shed label and store also.
If you were to liken yourself to a fictional character, who or what would it be and why?
Dangermouse - resourceful, dashing and fearless (and a little bit impulsive)
You recorded your new album at the Sound Gallery Studios in Exeter and it was produced by Lee Fletcher of Unsung Productions, why this studio and producer?
Lee produced the last album Propeller, Alexandrine was produced by myself (GRICE) with some additional co-production by Richard Barbieri and sonic input from Steve Jansen. I also worked extensively with Duncan Chave (head engineer at SG Studios). Some additional contributions were recorded on location (Milan and UK). I built and run Sound Gallery studios which makes it the perfect choice of course - I Produce and create there. They are a Social enterprise and I like the ethos.
Are you excited with the new music that is appearing these days or do you feel that it is just more of the same, regurgitated with electro beats behind it?
There is of course some amazing music emerging (all the time), I think that as digital music becomes easier to create and release (home recordings, self releases etc) we are becoming a little saturated and not always unfortunately with the highest quality work.
Elizabeth McAlpine provided some of her artwork for the ‘Alexandrine’ CD cover, is she an artist you’ve worked with previously? If not, how did you meet?
Yes she provided some wonderful artwork for Propeller as well as Alexandrine. She is an extraordinary installation artist. I worked with her previously on one of her installations involving laser cut coloured vinyl that was re-constructed into working LPs with incredible mosaic images (based on Du Champ originals). I used some of the crackle, glitch and the audio on Propeller as well as some manipulated laser cut images on the album artwork. Alexandrine features work from a piece called ‘Sprayed Sound’.
What was the first ever CD/record that you bought?
Was most probably a vinyl single - remember those?.... not sure which...I did buy Bohemian Rhapsody and later a load of Marc Bolan and Japan records and there were lots more as I recall - I loved all types of music - I used to buy odd singles from ‘Beanos’ behind Croydon market when I heard something cool on the radio.
You’re signed to hungersleep records, when and how did this come about and has it helped you with regards to the recording process (knowledge of studios/producers etc?)
hungersleep records works alongside Sound Gallery studios and is an artist lead small independent label. The association with the studio is a useful alliance as it has means flexibility and down time to work on exploring and creating a unique sound.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2015?
A trip to Berlin with the band to check out the scene and play a few shows A launch gig or 2 where we will play the full album (tbc)
New album or not, there was no way that Grice was going to escape having to answer to the random quick fire question generator, we strapped him in and fired her up....
Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones?
Baking Bad Gnomes
Beach or Pool?
Infinity pool next to Beach
Springwatch or Baywatch?
Indigenous feathered birds (possibly in Bikinis)
Kebab or Burger?
Slush Puppie or Smoothie?
Camembert or Stilton?
Both have their part to play.
Lie in or early riser?
Been trying to lie in for years but never happens.
Al Pacino or Robert de Niro?
Both have their part to play.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Trek every time
James Brown or James Blunt? -
James Brown every time
Sunday Roast or Fry Up?
Both have their part to play.
PS4 or XBoxOne?
stylophones and space invaders
Night out or Night in?
love both if both are engaging!
Cider or Ale?
Wine then Ale
Beards or No Beards?
I think not
God or Google?
Greek Gods & noodle maps.
We'd like to thank Grice for taking the time out to answer our questions, we wish him every success for the future and look forward to catching him live in Exeter someday soon. In the meantime, please spare a few minutes of your time and check out his social media channels, I've listed them below, just point and click....
You can catch Grice playing live at the following dates;
26 Sept 2015 - Rugby World Cup Fanzone - Northernhay Gardens - Exeter 1-2pm
St Stephen's Church - Exeter tbc
11-17 October Berlin tbc
Interview by Steve Muscutt