The Punk Tank #02: Grump
Grump makes freak music. Their approach is jarring and inconsistent, but not in a way that implies ineptitude. Off-kilter enough not to let you settle into any sort of reliable expectation of whats next, yet they never stray off into pan-genre self-mockery. They know the borders of their own sound and play on the very fringe of them.
Grump are distinctive even when they’re taking sharp turns in and between songs: they play a weirdo brand of punk rock that amplifies real-world anxiety; an enthusiastic soundtrack to nail-biting and hair-pulling.
Grump’s releases are all notable drops. I listened to the 2013 Demo regularly the summer it came out; “Devil’s Agenda” and “SPQR” were standouts, pulsating punk rippers on vastly different levels. I listened to the next two releases sporadically but revisited them after their contribution to the Atlantic Canadian punk comp, put out by Weak Link Records, became my favourite on the tape.
Love Punk Hate Punks is a sick title for the EP that followed the initial no-frills punk demo. It starts pissed, it ends pissed, and its filled with totally pissed the whole way through.
Vocalist Marshall Brush carries the energy of the band through most of their embraced unevenness with a pained gripe. Cody Googoo (Life Chain, Word On The Street, Negative Rage) and Luke Mumford (Genetic Angry, Negative Rage) play fuzzy, chorus-drenched guitar and bass respectively.
When the songs start to freak out, neither set of strings can keep themselves from carving out their own sense of where the riffs should go… only to effortlessly return to unison before wrapping up.
Last year’s Back To Being Normal is the craziest, though. It opens with “Supplication”, a song that swells and erupts into the meanest fucking beat ever played that carries the song to its finish. A new riff begins thereafter, building up to a set of cymbal stabs before falling back into a familiar tonal atrophy emblematic of the bands approach. “Texas Sharpshooter” and “Coherence” are examples of how Grump is held together through the drummer, Ian Langille (Last Laugh, Bricks) and his grasp on angular, manic punk beats. “Talking Property Blues” is a bizarre tack-on to the end of the EP but somehow ends up being one of the best songs on the release.
Now they have a promo release out featuring songs that are gonna be heard on a 7” through Various Records in Halifax. The two revealed songs, “Recurrent” and “Flatline” are promising: the first is a staple hardcore song that climaxes with an ugly riff while the second is maybe the weirdest and most interesting song the band has released yet: simultaneously moody, airy and melodic while characteristically embodying the spirit of snotty punk-rock.
I asked Marshall some questions about the upcoming 7”, chorus pedals and the east coast condition for hardcore:
“Love Punk, Hate Punks”… think the inverse is possible? “Hate Punk, Love Punks”?
Interesting. In the end anything is possible – sometimes there’s no accounting for taste. I guess depending on your interpretation they could be very similar sentiments.
Maybe “Hate Punk, Love Punks” could serve as an anti-exclusionary ideal for the subculture as a whole to strive towards.
The 2015 promo tracks rip. Flatline sticks out as one of the best Grump tracks. Whats up with the 7”?
Yeah, the 7″ is coming out through Various Records. Should be out sometime in the next couple months, along with the Surveillance 7″, which is going to be awesome. Right now we’ve got the mastered tracks sent off to be pressed; we should be getting test presses back shortly.
How do you approach songwriting? Does one of you do most of the writing or do you build riffs together?
Most of the songs are written by jamming out riffs together and building on things that way. Usually Cody or Luke will have one or two riffs that they bring to the table, and the final song will get hashed out over a couple of jams. As for the chorus pedal, I had to take a hearing test recently, and if nothing else it has probably been integral in the loss of some of my high frequencies.
Is now a good time to pack up my shit here and move to Halifax with to start a hardcore band?
Well St. John’s always struck me as more of a hardcore town than Halifax actually. Arguably I haven’t been to a hardcore show there in years, but I’ve always gotten that impression. Either way I wouldn’t quit my day job…
Where is Grump headed in the future? Are there tours in the works?
No tours in the works at the moment. We’re vaguely planning a 7″ release show for when that comes out. Other than that we don’t have much on the go these days.