Monday, November 25, 2013

Pheaturing Will Thomas From Grand Old Grizzly

Hello, and welcome to the Phile for a Monday, how are you?  Anyone see the AMAs last night? I didn't, I was at at Epcot. Anyway, Taylor Swift was voted artist of the year at the American Music Awards for the third time time last year. However, her victory likely felt a bit hollow considering how at no point during the evening did she don a two-piece cat-print leotard and sing "Wrecking Ball" along with a giant animated lip-synching tearful kitty cat as Miley Cyrus did. So, better luck next year, Taylor Swift. Miley Cyrus has become a human Tumblr.  Linguists are beginning to officially accept the word "because" as a standalone preposition, meaning that the common Internet usage which excludes the word "of" after it... "because grapefruit," "because philology" "because 13th Century masonry", can be considered proper grammar. So, clearly Internet need new grammar to ignore if stay cool.  A powerful and dangerous storm that weather science people are saying just got done fucking shit up on the west coast is gonna be heading east now on account of winds and shit to start screwing up people's Thanksgiving plans and such. More than 300 flights got themselves canceled yesterday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, which is like a ton shit ton of flights. According to meteorologist, this shit is some serious shit.  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire pulled in a record-breaking $161 million for its opening weekend, absolutely demolishing Thor: The Dark World, which only made a meager $14 million. The massively-hyped superhero sci-fi action sequel can take some comfort in the knowledge that it made 28 times as much as Nebraska, a black-and-white indie about a sad old man on the verge of death. I didn't see Catching Fire yet, but I heard there's a blooper reel of children murdering each other. Pope Francis and officials from the Vatican yesterday publicly revealed nine fragments of really old bone that they say belonged to St. Peter, apostle of Jesus and first pope of the Catholic Church. Ugh! I was afraid something like this would happene eventually. I'm not sure where they got it from, but I'm guessing it was from some email from an apostle bone foundation or something. Can somebody please sit them down and explain how the Internet works? Or maybe just shut down their connection before they throw all their money away. Even today, the Vatican refuses to talk about the time Galileo went blind after repeatedly pointing his nose-telescope up the Pope's robe.  Iran made an agreement with six world powers, including the U.S., to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for less severe sanctions on some exports, such as gold and petrochemical, which could result in billions of dollars for the Middle Eastern country. So, it appears that total Armageddon will have to be put off for at least a little while. Hopefully at least long enough for the next season of "Doctor Who" to play out.  J.C. Penney was dumped from the S&P 500 index after policy changes ushered in by former CEO Ron Johnson caused the department store's market value to decrease by more than half. Johnson was fired in April after his plan to make the store into a nice place with decent-quality merchandise was met by universal derision from its loyal customers.  San Rafael, California has passed a law which bans the smoking of cigarettes in private residences which share a wall with another residence, creating in effect most stringent restriction on smoking in the country. City residents for the time being retain the right to use the word "cigarette" within earshot of other people.  This Thursday it's Thanksgiving and also the first day of Hanukkah, which means it's...

Da-da-da!  The folks who make those Peanuts books and TV shows are right on this Thanksgivukkah bandwagon.

That is so stupid.  You know, I am wearing one of my favorite Iron Man t-shirts and I cannot help but to think about my favorite scene from Iron Man 3. Here's a screenshot of it...

Do you ever think I run out of ideas or stupid things to put on the Phile? Haha.  Well, Thanksgiving is just few days away, and I was thinking, if you run out of ideas what to talk about around the dining table, I thought I'd give you a Thanksgiving phact. The first Thanksgiving was a 3-day harvest feast in 1621 attended by the English Protestant settlers (we call them Pilgrims, though they didn't refer to themselves that way) and the native tribe of the Wampanoag near Plymouth, MA. The first feast didn't resemble our modern Thanksgiving dinner at all; it was comprised of venison (deer meat), shellfish, and corn. Though there were plenty of wild turkeys in the area, reports vary about whether or not they were actually consumed at the feast, and most scholars agree that venison was the main course. And now you know. You're welcome.  So, there's a billion blogs out there, and a lot for you top choose from. Not all have almost 700 entries and are this entertaining, but there's a lot to choose from. So, once again, I thought I would honor one of those other blogs in a pheature I call...

Today's award goes to is Let's take a look at it, shall we?

I say go check it out, but not before you finish this entry of the Phile.

Haha. That's so stupid. If you figure out the Mindphuck email me at Alright, Thanksgiving is around the corner and a phriend of the Phile wants to say something about it. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is...

Good morning, humans... time to give Monday the beatdown it so richly deserves. Random thought of the day... Do you think turkeys fill out their last will and testament in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving?

Good question, Laird. Okay, the 37th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery is Tabitha Lyons who works for a company called Artyfakes. This is her and some of the stuff she worked on...

Tabitha will be a guest on the Phile this Saturday.

Okay, today's pheatured guest is the lead singer and guitarist for the great band Grand Old Grizzly whose self-titled album is on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Will Thomas.

Me: Hello, Will, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Will: I’m great. Thanks for asking.

Me: You guys started out as the backing band for singer Kate Stuckey, am I right? She's rather cute, what made you guys leave her? Or did you leave her?

Will: Ha! Actually I was just a rhythm guitarist, way too self conscious to sing back then. Nobody really left anybody, the group just kind of ran it’s course, we still play together on occasion.

Me: I looked up Katie and she had a bear mascot, which was a little toy. I laughed when I saw this picture of the bear and Katie...

Me: Is that how you guys started calling yourselves Grand Old Grizzly?

Will: Well, as best I can remember, Craig gave us the bears when we were recording "Old States", I think I had already adopted the Grizzly moniker by then. We were just kind of having fun taking that bear around with us. Grand Old Grizzly comes from the self-given nickname of “grizzly”. I think Chris told me that I couldn’t give myself the nickname “Grizzly” and that’s what made me force it on everybody one night…

Me: Isn't there a band called Grizzly Bear? You guys should tour with them.

Will: They haven’t returned any of my phone calls.

Me: Where are you guys based? I wanna say Texas, am I right? What part?

Will: Houston, Texas, which as everybody knows is the musical center of Texas.

Me: Tell the readers who is in the band and whose idea was it to record an album without Katie?

Will: Well, we were kinda not playing many shows with Katie, and there was no album or new songs in the works. I had a whole backlog of material so I snatched everybody up when Katie wasn’t looking. Actually, It just started out as a solo album, then we played a couple live shows, it was a lot of fun, so we made a band out of it and kept going. Paul Beebe on guitar, he is a Houston live-music vet. Mark Riddell on bass, we actually use a lot of different bassist, but Mark is on the record and co-wrote one of the songs. There’s also Chris Lewis on the drums, although Paul played drums for the recording. That was mainly because we recorded drums before it was really a band.

Me: Does Katie appear on the album at least?

Will: In spirit… She will be on the next album, which is actually very nearly done. And we are re-recording a song we did with her on “Old States”, actually two songs. We decided that these songs deserved to be performed by a significantly less talented vocalist.

Me: So, I have to say I downloaded the self-titled album from iTunes and really enjoyed it. Who does most of the songwriting?

Will: Me. On the first album I wrote all but one song, which I co-wrote with Mark. I wrote the actual words in that song, but Mark arranged them and wrote the melody. On the second album I wrote all the songs, of course with Paul having a lot of input with structural and stylistic choices. Paul really helped flesh things out on this second album.

Me: I have to ask you about the song "Sundowners". What is a sundowner?

Will: A drink. It has rum, pineapple, and bitters. Its also people who ruin happy hours. Both of these meanings apply in this song.

Me: And there is another song called "Tallahassee" which is the capital of this great state Florida. What is that song about? Did you spend time there? Did you go to FSU?

Will: Didn’t go to FSU. It’s about Wisconsin, obviously.

Me: Okay... I'm confused. Back to Katie... LOL. Were you a band before Katie met you?

Will: Ha, no. I played some solo stuff, Paul was in a Beatles cover band (still is when possible), Mark and Chris were playing with a Texas-country act. There were some other bands mixed in their with some of the same players, like The Small Sounds. I would recommend checking them out. Every member of them has played with Grand Old Grizzly for at least a show at one time or another, and most were on the first album.

Me: She has a great album out called "The Old States" which you guys play on and you mentioned. How was it different with you guys putting out your own album and being on Katie's?

Will: Well, the biggest difference was Katie is a trained vocalist, I am clearly not. With her stuff I would say the obvious focal point is her singing. She has an amazing voice. It should be the focal point. We did “Old States” in a week. We had been playing those songs for a couple years. With Grand Old Grizzly it’s more of a process of trying to bring these songs that I wrote to life. The first album was mostly made before we had hammered the songs out on stage. The second album is different in that regard, we’ve been playing the songs for a year or so. Another main difference is Katie was clearly the head of her band, with Grand Old Grizzly that is my job, it’s taken me a while to adapt to that. We probably drink in the studio more with Grizzly, although not by much.

Me: On Katie's album did you have any creative control?

Will: I had all the creative input I was willing to offer, we all did. Katie obviously had the final say. I did write two of the songs we recorded for “Old States”

Me: Did you produce the album yourselves, guys?

Will: Absolutely.

Me: I am guessing you guys are Jayhawks and Wilco fans, am I right? What music do you guys listen to?

Will: Yes to that first question. My most recent road playlist has Bill Evans, Uncle Tupelo, Lighnin’ Hopkins, Helmet, The Small Sounds, Thunderado, Horseshoe, Afro Cuban All-stars, Doug Sahm…

Me: I read that you guys opened up for Leon Russell... how was that? Did you get to hang out and talk to him?

Will: It was amazing, huge fan of his. He is pretty up there in age and didn’t seem to be in to hanging out very much. He was super nice and put on a really cool show.

Me: Was that the highlight of the band's career so far?

Will: I just dig it when I see people I don’t know singing along, that’ll never get old. Playing some sold out shows at the House of Blues are probably the highlights of this bands young career.

Me: I'd love to interview Leon on the Phile but wouldn't know what to ask him. What would you ask him?

Will: Guy’s like him have done so much I’d be curious to see what he would consider a career highlight, then I’d ask if I could touch his beard.

Me: I have to say, when I saw that publicity photo of you outside the taco restaurant... Taco A Go-Go I think is the name, it made me rather hungry. How did you choose that place to have your pics taken at? And is the food any good?

Will: The food is groin-grabbingly good. It was next door to where we played that night, just kind of happened.

Me: I take it is in Houston, am I right?

Will: Yep, on Main Street next door to the Continental Club.

Me: Okay, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Are you ready? Man, this is a lame one... What's the best and worst thing about being a man or a woman?

Will: Man: beards. Woman: never paying for drinks.

Me: Good answer. Thanks, Will, for being on the Phile. Go ahead and plug your website and ask Katie next time you see her if she'd like to be interviewed here. Continued success, take care.

Will: Check us out at Facebook, Twitter… And for some reason we have a Myspace page. Ha! Thanks, it’s been fun. Take care.

Me: Good job, Will.

That about does it for this entry. Thanks to Laird Jim and of course Will Thomas. The Phile will be back next Saturday with artist Tabitha Lyons. On Sunday it's Phile Alum Kaz Simmons and Monday Philoe Alum Ben Talmi from Art Decade. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligatoes bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Happy Thanksgiving!!

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