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  INTERVIEW WITH OLLIE STYGALL OF GRIFTER

jools green

Jools Green

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grifter

With their second full length album tucked well and truly under their belt, 'Return Of The Bearded Brethren', I caught up with Ollie Stygall, vocalist and guitarist of UK heavy rock trio Grifter to chat about, amongst other things, the new album.

Ollie, thanks for taking the time to chat with MetalTalk.

"Cheers Jools. As the late great Bob Hoskins once said, 'it's good to talk', and talking Metal seems as good a subject as any!"

Your second album, the rather excellent 'Return Of The Bearded Brethren', has just been unleashed on the unsuspecting public. How well has it been received and has it surpassed your expectations?

"It's officially released in America on August 12th and the rest of the world on the 18th so we haven't had the full impact of it yet but the reviews that we have had so far have been extremely positive which is a huge relief. We also had a week long pre-release sale for the die hards and the general opinion from those that have bought it seems to be that we've topped the first album by a long way.

Article continues below...

   


"It is nerve wracking when you put out a new release as you can never fully judge how people are going to respond, especially for a band like us that doesn't really sit comfortably in any particular scene. We all have a lot of confidence in this album but until you start hearing back from people it could all go horribly wrong!

"You tend to feel so close to what you do as a musician that getting a bad review is a bit like being told your child is ugly or retarded... fortunately people seem to unanimously be telling us our baby is beautiful and bouncing... so far!"

Musically the band has progressed a great deal since the self titled debut release. How do you see this progression?

"Well, the first album kind of came about by accident. We were offered the chance to do the 'Heavy Ripples' split double 7" by Ripple Music with Stone Axe, Mighty High and Sun Gods In Exile and we figured if we had to record something we'd just record everything we had that hadn't been released and figure out what to do with it later.

"As it turns out Ripple offered to release an album, literally when we'd finished the first day of recording, so it suddenly became an album. At the time it was basically us clearing house and getting everything down on tape so that was a collection of songs that had been written over a long period of time and a long period of our development as a band.

"This time round we'd had one album that had been a critical success so that put the pressure on, but also we knew that we were specifically writing for an album. I think this made us more focussed as we were aware of making an album that had a level of diversity that would keep the listeners' interest. We really put an emphasis into making sure the songs were the best they could be... we're very self critical and edit ourselves a lot to make sure we don't labour the point and keep things nice and concise (unlike my replies to interview questions!).

"We made sure the songs had good, memorable riffs, melodies and structures more so than we have in the past. I also think we were a lot more comfortable in the studio this time; we felt far more confident in the songs and our playing and it was our second time working with Rich Robinson so we knew how it was going to work before we went in. It was all recorded ridiculously quickly; all instruments in two days, all lead vocals in about three hours and all backing vocals in about two hours. I think that's also been a factor in keeping the album sound lively and not over worked."

The art work brought a smile to my face; it certainly epitomises the Grifter sense of humour and there have been a lot of positive comments about it. Who created it and is it based on anyone specific?

"When we came up with the album title it obviously had to have a beard somewhere on the cover. We did originally find a great piece of artwork but were denied permission to use it so had to look elsewhere. As luck would have it there was a chap at my work called Jamie Campbell who was working part time as a tattooist (he's since left my work to go full time). I'd seen some stuff he'd done and knew he was good so chanced my arm and asked if he fancied doing it and he said yes.

"It turns out he likes the heavy stuff anyway and loved our stuff so it was a match made in heaven. We showed him the original piece of art we had in mind and asked him to bear that in mind but do what he wanted... and the final result is magnificent, even better than we could have hoped for. I'm now planning to go to Jamie for some tattoo work.

"I don't think Jamie based it on anyone specific, at least I fucking hope he didn't base it on me as most people seem to think!!!! The character is actually a progression of the cartoon character that appeared on the 'High Unholy Mighty Rollin'' EP cover called Mikey The Cunt. If you look carefully you can see little nods to our past on there with the tattoo that refers to 'Good Day For Bad News' from the first album, though our drummer Foz thought is was a tribute to the band Bad News!"

Lyrically the album covers a broad spectrum of topics, including the obligatory "Guinness ode", 'Black Gold'. Is the task of the lyric writing a combined band effort or is just one band member responsible?

"I pretty much write all the lyrics as I'm the one who does the singing. It's not really a case that the other guys are excluded, it's more that as I come up with the melody lines I start slotting lyrics in to fit that then form those into themes and ideas for a song.

"Sometimes I'll have an idea for a subject and then shoe horn lyrics in to fit the music based on that. Sometimes the guys will suggest a line and we'll make that fit. Phil also has a habit of completely mishearing what I sing as we write stuff and sometimes what he thinks he's heard is better... or funnier than what I've written so it'll go in.

"Foz comes out with all the backing vocals so sometimes he'll work them around the words that are there or come up with lines to fit with what I'm singing. I'm generally careful, as I'm representing the band as a whole, not to impose my views on things that the other guys may not agree with, and if I can make them laugh then I know I'm on to a winner! If Phil had to write the lyrics I don't think we'd ever be able to release any of it!!!"

Who inspires Grifter musically or otherwise?

"We're all older guys and we've seen a lot of trends come and go... and played through a few of them... so we've kind of got to the point where our range of influences are pretty vast between the three of us so that, matched up with our complete lack of interest in being part of any scene, gives us a lot of freedom. Ultimately I think we influence ourselves when we get in a room and are pretty much given over to the power of the riff as well as making sure we hit a mighty groove... or rock like f**k!!!

"We know how we want to sound and know what kind of things get us moving so that's what we work to. We all listen to a ton of stuff from 70s rock, 80s Metal, thrash, grunge, hardcore punk, blues, ska, reggae, hip hop, indie, some modern stuff... etc. Bands we tend to agree on are Black Sabbath, Clutch, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Motorhead but the list could also include Status Quo, Mountain, Dead Kennedys, Jane's Addiction, Mudhoney, Metallica and loads of bands.

"Outside of music influence comes from all over the place, comedy, films, weird news stories, weird people, random phrases we hear, stupid conversations, an insular disregard of the outside world, beer... the usual."

Last year saw Grifter hitting the festivals. What tour plans do you have for 2014?

"Yeah, last year was great, in fact we had a good couple of years after the first album came out. In 2012 we played the first Desertfest, headlining the Black Heart stage one night and managed to fill the place despite overlapping with Orange Goblin on another stage, we toured with Orange Goblin as special guests and played the first Freak Valley Festival in Germany.

"Last year we did Bloodstock and Hard Rock Hell. Bloodstock was a complete blag. Somehow we'd ended up on their radar so I dropped Vicky the organiser a message asking if we could play and within ten minutes I was on the phone to her sorting it all out. We played the Sophie Lancaster stage which was particularly awesome. We were a bit of a wild card there as we don't think of ourselves as so much of a Metal band and more as a heavy rock and roll band so we didn't think we'd go down that well, but we played to a full tent on the Sunday lunch time and got an amazing reaction.

"This year has been a bit quieter as some family issues cropped up that put a hole in the middle of the year and we had to cancel some gigs but with the release of the album we're starting to get back into it. We play Hard Rock Hell again this year alongside bands such as W.A.S.P, Blue Oyster Cult, Michael Schenker, Diamond Head, Y&T etc.

"We'll hopefully be able to make up some of the gigs we had to cancel later this year and I think we'll be looking to do a lot more stuff next year, maybe a UK tour and definitely aiming to get back over to Europe, maybe to try and jump on some of the festivals going on over there and do some club gigs as we have various promoters willing to help us out, which is nice."

Expanding on that question, given the choice, is there anyone you would really love to do a tour with and why?

"At our level if you get offered something good you'd pretty much jump on it... unless we got offered a tour with Stryper or some shit like that!!! If we could pick and choose... well there would be plenty of options.

"We had a real blast playing with Orange Goblin and would love to go out with those guys at any time. We have a history with them going back to 1996 on and off and get on with them like a house on fire so that would be fun again.

"Clutch would be another one. They are definitely one band we all agree on and between us have seen countless times so the chance to get to play to their crowd, who I think would love us, as well as getting to see Clutch for free every night would be a bit of a dream.

"Black Spiders would also be a cool one. They're a great rock and roll band. We played with a band a few years ago called Dirty Blood that featured Ozzy and Pete from Black Spiders so we got chatting with them and they really seemed to like us, in fact I'm still in touch with Ozzy so who knows. It would be good to break out of the stoner rock thing a bit more often.

"Black Sabbath would also be an obvious one. As a band they mean more to me than any other band on the planet personally and musically so, even though they're knocking on a bit, it would be a huge thrill to play a) to a Sabbath crowd and b) to a massive crowd.

"Similarly Motorhead, ZZ Top and AC/DC before they all die. I think we'd be a good fit and it would be nice to play with our heroes.

"This list, however, could be exhaustive if I were to continue."

Any final comments?

"Firstly, thanks Jools for the interview, and also for the fantastic review of the album that MetalTalk published. It truly means a lot when something you've poured so much energy and heart into is so well received and regarded.

"Secondly, don't forget, the album is released worldwide on August 18th through Ripple Music (http://www.ripple-music.com) so please keep an eye out for that, check out our video for 'Princess Leia' on Youtube and hook up with us on Facebook where you can find all the up to date news on the band, links to download some of the older stuff and chat with us should you so wish.

"If you see us at a gig feel free to come and say hi and give us a hug. We're friendly chaps and we will always accept the offer of a pint!

Online:
www.facebook.com/grifterrock
http://grifterrock.bandcamp.com
http://grifter.bigcartel.com


8.8.14




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mikkey dee BREAKING NEWS: SAXON WITH PHIL CAMPBELL AND MIKKEY DEE TO PAY TRIBUTE TO LEMMY AT GOLDEN GODS, HAMMERSMITH ODEON
Ticket price is a very reasonable £6.66 with all proceeds going to Nordoff Robbins, Teenage Cancer Trust, and Childline...

mikkey dee BREAKING NEWS: MOTÖRHEAD'S MIKKEY DEE ANNOUNCED AS SCORPIONS DRUMMER
"We would like to continue our Return to Forever tour with James, but we have to realize that his health is priority..."

alex dickson gun BREAKING NEWS: ALEX DICKSON REJOINS GUN
As exclusively predicted by MetalTalk last week, guitarist Alex Dickson has re-joined Scottish rockers Gun...

cockney rejects WEST HAM UNITED TRIBUTE 'GOODBYE UPTON PARK' TO BE RELEASED BY COCKNEY REJECTS
"We were all born within a mile or so from the hallowed Boleyn ground and have all stood on the terraces through snow, rain and sunshine from a very early age."

ac/dc AC/DC RELEASE TICKET REFUND DETAILS FOR MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
If you don't want a refund, then we'll see you at The Olympic Stadium in London as we think we're about to witness a major piece of rock history...

deep purple IAN PAICE AND DON AIREY SCHEDULE SOLO EUROPEAN DATES AS 2016 DEEP PURPLE TOUR APPROACHES
Deep Purple are kicking off their 2016 tour next month in Japan, before heading to Israel, Russia and Europe in June and July.

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT TO RELEASE 'THE TOTAL EXPERIENCE LIVE IN LIVERPOOL', HIS ACOLYTE TO 'WOLFLIGHT' WITH GENESIS REVISITED TOUR
"Besides, it's not as if Liverpool is known for having any good music – there's never been a good band from there. Ha!"

lacuna coil LACUNA COIL LAUNCH NEW ALBUM TITLE TRACK 'DELIRIUM'
Lacuna Coil will be making their much-anticipated return to North America as part of the 'Delirium Worldwide' tour starting in San Francisco on May 7th

bibeau YOUNG, PROGRESSIVE BAND BIBEAU OFFER THEIR FIRST SINGLE/VIDEO, 'MARK THIS'
"We were also hoping to convey the look, feel and flow of some of the classic, timeless rock and metal videos from the height of MTV's popularity..."

virginmarys THE VIRGINMARYS ANNOUNCE HEADLINE UK TOUR FOR JUNE 2016
"It's going to be so great to get back in front of our home fans again, and really important to us to play some of the towns we've been wanting to come back to..."

weapon uk WEAPON UK TO HEADLINE THE RETRIBUTION ALIVE ROAD TRIP IN MAY
"They toured with Motörhead in the 80s, including four sold out shows at the Hammersmith Odean and I have to say, we're pretty excited about this!"

headbangers ball ICED EARTH AND ENSIFERUM TO HEADLINE MTV HEADBANGERS BALL TOUR 2016: FULL DATES HERE
"So brace yourselves for the ultimate Metal experience of a lifetime! See you in front row!"

bloodstock BLOODSTOCK ADDS MORE BANDS, DETAILS METAL 2 THE MASSES FINALS AND ANNOUNCES FIRST NEW BLOOD STAGE WINNERS
Bloodstock HQ is readying to send Team M2TM out on the road for the finals, but in the meantime, there's a few more band additions to the August bill

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPEAN DATES FOR JULY/AUGUST IN SUPPORT OF NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'MAKE SOME NOISE'
The Dead Daisies, the biggest new name in Rock, have just recently announced the addition of Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio) as their new lead guitar player

wolf hoffmann WOLF HOFFMANN TO RELEASE SOLO ALBUM 'HEADBANGERS SYMPHONY' ON JULY 1st
"I have always incorporated classical music in my song writing with Accept, especially with 'Metal Heart', but I constantly felt there was so much more that I could do..."

jaegermeister JÄGERMEISTER RELEASE FULL DOCUMENTARY OF WORLD'S FIRST MUSIC GIG ON AIR, SEA AND LAND
"We go bigger every year and because of the nature of this world first this gig was not only a test of friendship but one of supporting each other too..."

john otway JOHN OTWAY PLANNING ON BEING FIRST ARTIST SINCE THE ROLLING STONES TO RECORD IN MONTSERRAT
"Although the old Air Studios are now derelict the studio in the basement of Sir George Martin's house is sound – it just needs rebuilding..."

fates warning FATES WARNING - NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'THEORIES OF FLIGHT' ANNOUNCED, ARTWORK UNVEILED
"There's a loose theme running through a lot of the lyrics, and this developed organically and separately..."

amon amarth RAISE YOUR HORNS AND BE IN AMON AMARTH'S NEW MUSIC VIDEO
Swedish Heavy Metal goliaths Amon Amarth are inviting their fans around the globe to be a part of their forthcoming video...

sixx am SIXX:A.M. ANNOUNCE THE "#REASONTORISE" CAMPAIGN, TOUR DATES AND 'VOL.1 PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED' DETAILS
"It is our duty as citizens of this world to come together, communicate with one another and rise up to demand more of ourselves and our leaders."

armored saint ARMORED SAINT ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN FESTIVAL AND CLUB APPEARANCES
"For our first time in Spain, it's gonna be sick! And as if this wasn't enough - Saint is playing for the first time ever in Japan..."

black country communion BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION TO REFORM IN 2017
"Preparing BCC Rocket Ship Re-launch for 2017 - all systems go."

tarja TARJA PREMIERES OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO OF HER NEW SINGLE 'NO BITTER END'
'No Bitter End', the opening track of the prequel album 'The Brightest Void', is the first glimpse of Tarja's new work – her heaviest to date...

stratovarius STRATOVARIUS RELEASE LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'UNTIL THE END OF DAYS'
"To me it's a testament to the fact that paying attention to song writing and production was expensive, but so worth it..."

brian johnson EXCLUSIVE: PROMINENT AC/DC CREW MEMBER GIVES REMARKABLE INSIGHT INTO AXL ROSE APPOINTMENT
AC/DC are covering themselves in case Axl's poor reputation for unprofessionalism manifests itself...

brian johnson THE DARKEST DAY OF MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE: BRIAN JOHNSON ISSUES PERSONAL STATEMENT ON AC/DC DEPARTURE
"I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that..."

thin lizzy THIN LIZZY ANNOUNCE BASS PLAYER AND NEW DRUMMER FOR 2016/17 ANNIVERSARY SHOWS
Thin Lizzy are undisputed legends and to be a small part of their lineage is a humble honor for me...

ian gillan IAN GILLAN TO PERFORM UNIQUE SOLO SHOW OF DEEP PURPLE CLASSICS IN BULGARIA
There is a possibility that Ian will also play some material from his catalogue outside of Deep Purple...

don airey DEEP PURPLE'S DON AIREY AND FRIENDS ADDED TO CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL PLUS ATOMIC ROOSTER
Expect to hear many classics from Airey's illustrious past which includes time spent with Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne as well as his current job with Deep Purple...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2016 ANNOUNCE SUNDAY NIGHT HEADLINERS AND FIVE MORE ACTS
With June creeping ever closer, Wildfire Festival's impressive main stages line-up is all but finalised...

whitesnake THE END OF WHITESNAKE: DAVID COVERDALE TO RETIRE IN 2017
Whitesnake headline the UK's Ramblin Man Festival in July in what could be their final ever UK appearance...

axl rose AXL ROSE CONFIRMED AS AC/DC SINGER FOR THE REMAINING ROCK OR BUST DATES
The worst kept secret in rock is now official...

aerosmith THE END OF AEROSMITH?: NO FAREWELL TOUR CONFIRMED AT THE MOMENT
"A farewell tour is something we've talked about doing for years, let's say roughly in the last five years..."

hrh united ALESTORM, HAMMERFALL, FINSTERFORST, NAPALM DEATH, ARMORED SAINT, VENOM INC. AND EVIL SCARECROW ANNOUNCED FOR HRH UNITED
HRH United 3 will be an exclusive upgraded Metal Edition taking over the entire site @ Camp HRH, Pwllheli, North Wales...

rolling stones PROUD GALLERIES PLAYING HOST TO FABULOUS ROLLING STONES PHOTO EXHIBITION: TERRY O'NEILL TO ATTEND SIGNING SESSION
It's a wonderful book by photographer Terry O'Neill of Rolling Stones images from 1963 to 1965, an era when the Stones were just "breaking through"...

between the buried and me BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN SUMMER DATES
As well as the European tour dates, BTBAM have launched a live video for 'The Ectopic Stroll' whih you can see here...

jade vine LONDON BASED ALTERNATIVE PROG ROCKERS JADE VINE ANNOUNCE ALBUM LAUNCH SHOW
Jade Vine's music has been influenced by artists such as Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Anathema and Pain Of Salvation...
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