The Grenaways are a band that are performing at the Sidmouth Fringe Festival on July 31st, we were keen to chat to them prior to the event and find out a little more about what makes them tick. We caught up with Kris, Joff and Laura to chat about, well, just about everything....here's how we got on....
Just so people know a bit about the band, please describe your music to us and any interesting facts or nuggets of information that not many people know (party tricks etc)
We always find it difficult to describe our music to others, even to allocate it to a genre. We love it when others put our music into words, and perhaps our favourite to date has been what Simon Holland from Folk Radio UK wrote when reviewing our debut album.
“The Grenaways could be said to be mining the rich veins of inspirational ore that course through their home turf, adding a sense of their own ties to the region and especially it’s Celtic heritage. But, they are a band set for far wider horizons than just Cornwall with a massive and alternative sound billowing through their musical sails…They are rootsy storytellers, unique in the folk style, with songs that are rich in nautical undertones, influenced so much by the sea, the people and coastal living.”
I was doing some digging on the meaning of ‘Grenaway’ and read that In numerology the name Grenaway has the birth path 4 and it's meaning is connected to stability, safety, construction, method and rooting, is this what it means to you?
That’s amazing to hear and something we’ve never heard before, it resonates, but it’s not where the name comes from. Greenaway is a beautiful beach near Polzeath, which is where we all met and surf. We just took out one of the (e)’s because that’s how you pronounce it!
You’re from Cornwall, how would you say living there has benefited you as a band? Do you feel that it has hindered the progress of the band in anyway (location wise?)
To be honest none of us are from Cornwall, although it has become our home and Isabelle, who plays violin, is married to a Cornishman! It’s a deeply inspiring place to live, especially so close to the sea, which never fails to stir up all kinds of raw emotion.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
Kris – to heal others, I think why goes without saying!
Joff – how do you top what kris said? Would be pretty rad to be able to turn into an animal though.
Laura - to fly, because it would be lots of fun!
What was the very first song that you all played as a band?
I think a song called ‘Taste’, which is on our first EP.
What would you say is your biggest 'claim to fame'?
Joff – I once had Geri Halliwell stroke a butterfly off my back in a butterfly exhibition in the Natural History Museum.
Laura - Spending an evening drinking my dad's home brew with Maddy Prior.
If you could form your own 'Supergroup' using ANY musicians, dead/alive or fictional, who would be in your lineup and why?
Kris – Eddie Vedder / Nick Drake / Animal (Muppets)
Joff – Jimmy Page (he pretty much invented being a rad guy) john Bonham on drums ( he knew how to hit some dead animal skins) pretty much Led Zeppelin and I wouldn’t even need to be in their band, id just be keen to watch them do their thing. I would love to write with Josh Garrels though, he is so unique and takes music to a new level.
Laura - Jez Lowe/ Kate Rusby/ Johnny Cash/ Beyonce
How do you approach the whole songwriting process, melody or lyrics first?
Kris – Lyrics, nearly every time
Joff – I'm a melody man for sure. When I hear Kris or Laura play a song they have written the first thing I do is hear a melody and that’s what takes me to a higher place.
Laura- Lyrics mostly, but occasionally a song will start with an instrumental melody.
Do you all have similar tastes in music?
No, but that’s what creates the beauty. When we pull together and work through our differences in taste and influence, allowing ourselves to be shaped by the process and not letting a single voice dominate.
Scones, jam and clotted cream, cream then jam or jam then cream? Explain!
Kris – to be honest I don’t have a set way of eating scones, I just tend to go for it and mix it up, perhaps that’s the Scottish way!
Joff - I can't even finish a whole scone, makes me feel sick. I would trade it for a pint of cold tribute any day.
Laura- jam then cream, and lots of it.
Michael Eavis wants you to provide 3 headline acts for next year's Glast Fest, who would you put up on the Pyramid stage and why?
Pearl Jam – best band ever! (Kris)
Joff – Radiohead, man those guys are just nuts in an amazing way though.
The Cat Empire - (Laura)
Which act or band made YOU want to get a band together in the first place?
Kris - I wouldn’t say a band or act made me want to get in a band, but the whole 90’S grunge scene was majorly influential to me personally, especially the poetic nature of the lyrics.
Joff – Guns n' Roses made me want to be a musician, well Slash, not so much Axl!
Laura - My dad took me to see a folk band called Rock Salt and Nails from Shetland when I was about 15. They looked like they were having so much fun, it was definitely one of the best gigs I've been to.
You launched your shiny new EP ‘Skath Vyghan’ at the Haywood Cider Farm on July 24th, I guess you’ll be waiting until AFTER your performance prior to getting stuck into the cider?
Haywood Cider Farm is a surprise in itself, there’s not another venue like it! No surprises, just a good old fashioned knees up with some great music from Bradders Bluesinger & Taylor, and an acoustic set from the incredible Island Cassettes. As for as the cider before our performance, come on it’s only apple juice!
Staying with the new EP, where was it recorded and who produced it? Have you worked with this person in the past?
We formed a collaboration with London based record producer Sam Jones (Soundthread) who works mainly in parts of urban Africa where the soulful indigenous music is being influenced by Western culture and sounds to create a cutting edge fusion with raw energy. The current project with Sam begins with the release of an energised set of songs on a new EP, Skath Vyghan, which means Little Boat and was largely recorded live using locations outside the normal studio environment which themselves lend a richness and spirit to the tracks; a pub, a church, and a barn.
Working with a producer was definitely something we felt ready for on our journey, as it’s so easy to get self-indulgent with music. Letting go and allowing someone to take apart your songs (which to us as a band felt right) and then piece them back together again with parts dropped and new parts added is a pretty sensitive experience, and in many ways we found it tough, it required some soul searching! But, over the 5 sunny days in Cornwall we spent with Sam our trust in him and his obvious creativity and ear grew. Even more important than that, we became friends, a deeper connection was forged on so many levels and we really feel that is expressed in the record. We are sure that how the songs are now arranged and the natural way Sam recorded them using room ambience mics, as opposed to post-production reverbs etc, gives the EP the raw, live sound we have always wanted to capture.
We recorded the drums and guitars in Isabelle’s barn / art studio. Then we spent a few days in St Peter’s Church in Port Isaac working on the keys, vocals and trumpet. The song ‘Old Mast’, written about an old ships mast that overlooks the sea from a hill above Port Isaac, was recorded live in St Peter’s with Joe Lee jumping on an old beat up double bass we had to borrow, as his was still back in London, and Laura using the church mini-grand.
The backing vocals in ‘Fisherman’, a song about the cycle of life within the struggling fishing industry, were recorded on a packed Friday night at the Cornish Arms in Pendoggett.
Skath Vyghan, the EP’s title track and Cornish Girl are recorded in the Cornish language. It’s been really significant for us as a band, even though none of us are actually Cornish, to explore writing in this beautiful Celtic language and although the arrangements are contemporary, they feel grounded in the ancient.”
The Grenaways are signing to Elevate Records for the digital release and distribution of Skath Vyghan, with a plan to release a second 5 / 6 track EP in time for Christmas. They are then looking to combine the two EP’s with bonus material on an album release in 2017, including on limited edition vinyl.
In your opinion, what would you say is the BEST album ever released?
Kris – 'Ten' (Pearl Jam)
Joff - Radiohead 'In Rainbows', 'Led Zeppelin 4', Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' and Manchester Orchestra Cope.
Laura- Abbey Road (The Beatles)
You’re playing quite a few festivals over the summer including The Point Beer Festival in Polzeath (July 29th) & Sidmouth Fringe (July 31st), which would you say you’re MOST excited about and why?
Kris – I get excited about playing music live wherever and whenever. I love the performance element of a bigger stage, where in many ways you feel further away from your audience and often can’t even see them because of the lights, so it’s more of a challenge to connect. But, you can’t beat the intimacy of smaller venues. I guess that’s why I still run a regular Open Mic in my village, because it’s so rootsy, no frills, and spontaneous music! So, I’m not more excited about any of the festivals.
Laura - they're all good for different reasons. The Point is always a good one as all our friends are there, but it's also good getting out of Cornwall, going on an adventure together and playing to new audiences.
Staying on the subject of festivals, what are YOUR top three tips to surviving one?
Kris – eat well (there’s so much great food at festivals now), drink lots of water, try and get some sleep!
Joff – make the music a priority, you can go to the pub with your mates anytime
Laura - take a hat, plenty of cider and don't forget your wellies!
You’ve played alongside a slew of quality acts over the years including The Happy Mondays, Stereo MC’s & Fairport Convention to name just three, what have you learned from acts such as these?
Kris – I guess one of the lessons that I’m, we’re still learning is it’s ok to make mistakes and that often they aren’t even noticed or add to the genuine nature of your performance. But, just how to deal with them when they happen in front of loads of people!
I see you’re set to play at the Folk Sessions (part of the Looe Music Festival), there are some pretty big names on the bill, anyone that you’re looking forward to seeing?
Blue Rose Code – they are so good (Kris)
Cara Dillon (Laura)
Give me a local Cornish band or artist that we should be checking out?
Gareth Lee & Annie Baylis – just love those guys!
We thought it was only fair that we put the guys through their paces and fire a few high pressure questions at them via the Quickfire Round....
Whiskey or Wine?
Joff – red wine
Burger or Kebab?
Joff – burger
Laura - Burger
Polzeath or Perranporth?
Polzeath (Kris) – I’m so lazy, it’s only 5 minutes from my house.
Joff – surf Perranporth, vibe Polzeath for sure
Laura - Polzeath
Electric or Acoustic?
Electric (To listen to) - Kris
Joff – electric
Laura - Acoustic
Camping or Camper Van?
Camper Van – Kris (Mine’s a 1971 VW early bay)
Joff – camping
Laura - Camping
Summer or Winter?
Winter - Kris (less crowds, pumping surf, fires and whiskey)
Laura - Summer
Bath or Shower?
Shower - Kris
Joff – shower
Laura - Bath
Pub or Trendy wine bar?
Are you serious? PUB - Kris
Laura - Pub
Pasty or Pie?
Pie – Kris
Joff - pie
Laura - Pasty
Xbox or Playstation?
Neither – unplug! (Kris)
Joff – not into any of it apart from the odd game of Fifa!
Laura - Neither
De Niro or Pacino?
"You talkin' to me?"
Joff - De Niro
Laura - Pacino
Leave or Remain?
Not very political, but remain - Kris
Joff – remain all the way
Laura - Remain
God or Google?
God - Kris
Joff - God every day of the week
Laura - God...but Google is a wonderful thing!
We'd like to thank Kris, Joff and Laura from the band for taking the time out to answer our questions, we're looking forward to seeing them perform at the Sidmouth Fringe Festival, if you're in the area on July 31st (it's a Sunday), why not head down and check them out, I'm sure they'd be more than happy to buy you a beer!
You can keep up to date with the bands happenings at the various social media sites below;