06/21 Grand Archives Show + Interview

The people at Stubb’s Austin were treated to an outstanding set by Seattle’s own Grand Archives on Saturday night. The band mostly stuck to songs from their self titled debut album Grand Archives, which came out earlier this year in February. The set list provided a good mix of upbeat songs along with some of the slower tracks from the album. One big highlight for me was the superb cover of Sam Cooke’s popular R&B song “Another Saturday Night”. Most members of the audience were cracking smiles and singing along to the huge ’60s hit from the late singer. I also enjoyed the slow jams “Swan Matches” & “George Kaminski” with 3 part harmonies in tow. In between songs, members of the band had some comments about the heat in Austin and our insane love of BBQ here in Texas. (see interview that follows) The night was wrapped up with the best rock ‘n roll jam on the album “The Crime Window” causing most in the venue to break out their dancing shoes and bob their heads. Don’t miss this band if they pass through your town and let the self described good times roll.

Before the show, ATH sat down with Mat Brooke, Thomas Wright, Ron Lewis, Curtis Hall, & Jeff Monatano of Grand Archives to ask them about various randomness:

ATH: You guys were here for SXSW, what have you been doing since?
GA: Came home, took a break, went back out on the road. A couple months later, here we are.

ATH: What did you think of SXSW?
GA: It was really fun, I mean we’ve all been in bands that have played it [SXSW] before. I just seemed a lot more managed this year. We were expecting it to be worse because this was actually the most shows, we did 4 or 5, we had done. Everything went really smooth, it was a lot of fun, & the crowds were good. The Sub Pop Showcase was a lot of fun.

ATH: Were kind of trying to tie things back into Austin, what do you think of the city?
GA: Yea, we love Austin.

ATH: Have you had any of the BBQ yet?
GA: Not yet, but we’re looking forward to it. Wait, last time we were here we ate at a place called Sam’s. I think it was over by the French Legation Museum. I don’t know, it was like in some dudes house but it was really good. We’re supposed to be getting Stubbs tonight so we’re looking forward to that.

ATH: For somebody who hasn’t heard your album, what can they expect or what does it sound like?
GA: Um, good times. Ya know, good times, a little bit more carefree or breezier. Not too challenging, just good times.

ATH: You guys all come from different bands, how did Grand Archives get together?
GA: I’m willing to bet that Austin is a lot like Seattle, in the sense that everyone is a musician.

ATH: For sure.
GA: Seattle is a small town, everybody knows everybody, and we could start a new band every week with different players. That’s kind of what we did. We knew each other from hanging out and everyone has practice space. So we got together and we just kind of gelled.

ATH: What was it like trying to come out of Seattle? Like here in Austin, there are so many bands and people have so many options and I know a lot of musicians get frustrated with that. Is it more difficult do you think?
GA: I think a lot of bands get frustrated with that sort of thing when they see other bands succeeding and they expect it to happen really quickly. We’ve all lived in Seattle for a long time so we have a lot of friends that are in bands. Like we got that Modest Mouse show because Mat has known Isaac [Brock] for 10 years. Everybody knows each other so from that, once you’ve lived there long enough, you start a band and it kind of spring boards onto the people who’ve been there the longest know about it and that helps a lot. New bands will start up and they think they are really good and are gonna make an instant impact. It’s also a frustrating to move to Seattle with the intention of starting a band and you don’t know anybody. Seattle has a natural progression when a new band starts. At their first couple of shows every other musician in town is gonna come. It’s a lot of fun because all the musicians come to find out what this new group is deciding to do. Then as it progresses you start playing bigger places and all the college kids come out. It’s a really supportive community.

ATH: So talking about Modest Mouse, what was it like touring with them? I know they sometime get the reputation of partying pretty hard.
GA: They were mellow. Not like any coke and hookers in the backstage area. I think Isaac has really taken it upon himself to be a little more adult about it. He still has his moments I’m sure, but he knows he has responsibilities. On the tour, he seemed like he was really taking good care of himself. It would kind of take a lot to offend us in the back stage area, or even out do us at some points.

ATH: You guys are playing the Sub Pop Festival later this summer, are you excited about seeing the reunited Vaselines?
GA: YES (every member of the band says in unison)

ATH: What else are you excited about for the festival?
GA: Beachwood Sparks. Green River, everyone’s really excited about that. Sub Pop’s got a ton of new signed acts like us and Fleet Foxes and No Age. The Ruby Suns. I imagine it will just end up being a lot like the Sub Pop showcase during SXSW.

ATH: What other new bands are you guys into? What bands are on heavy rotation in the tour bus?
GA: As far as new stuff goes, were mainly listening to old records that we put on our ipods. We are all in love with Sera Cahoone’s new record. Even though we hear it every single night on tour, played live, we’re still listening to the band. Right now, I think we could all collectively say that’s one of our favorites.

ATH: What about old stuff you guys are into?
Mat: I’m still trying to get everyone into the new Dennis Wilson reissue solo record. We kind of have themes with our days. Sometimes it’s country day or 80s punk rock day or reggae day. Reggae day is nice. Oh then there is Towns Van Zandt morning. Like a Texas day. Or we turn Towns Van Zandt into reggae day. We’ve got to listen to that Willie Nelson reggae record one of these days.
Thomas: I like that new Feist record. I know everybody says that, but it’s good.

ATH: What do you guys think about the way music is going? Like the argument about digital vs. hard copy. Do you guys prefer digital downloading or do you keep it old school?
Thomas: Me personally, I’m not super into the digital thing. I like having something that you can hold onto.
I like what Sup Pop is doing now where if you buy the vinyl, you get the free digital download so it’s kinda the best of both worlds. It might even resurface vinyl as a heavy hitter and that would be a really cool thing.

ATH: Whose winning Euro Cup 2008?
GA: Everyone points to Thomas…..
Thomas: The Netherlands
ATH: Uhhhh
Thomas: Did they lose today?
ATH: Yeah, they lost to Russia. Russia took ’em out.
Thomas: Oh shit, really?
ATH: They beat ’em 2-1 in the second over time.
Thomas: I can’t believe Russia beat them! It’s on when we’re driving. Mat was really happy when Sweden was eliminated cause that meant I wouldn’t be in a really bad mood all day.

ATH: R. Kelly, not guilty. How do you feel about that?
GA: He’s probably guilty. He’s gonna write a book like OJ. If I did it, this is how I would have done it. If I peed on her, this is how I did it.

The photos of Grand Archives were taken by our wonderful photographer Jonathon Edwards. Visit him on MySpace.


  • We drove up from San Antonio to see the show, God Bless Austin, San Antonio music scene sucks!!! I have to say I am a big Grand Archives fan thanks to being a huge Band of Horses fan and not taking anything away from Grand Archives because they were awesome but Sera Cahoone and her band were amazing!! I have heard a couple of songs on her myspace but I was not sold. Hearing her live made instant fans of my wife and I. I bought her new cd after the show from her and she seems like a truly nice person with a world of talent. Great show but I was surprised at the small crowd, they should be playing for huge crowds!!

  • I must agree. Sera Choone was a very pleasant surprise. Read my raving review of her show. I am a big fan after that bad ass show.

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