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Interview: The Griswolds

Words by Georgia Gifford - Published on January 8, 2013

After releasing their debut EP Heart of a Lion in September last year, Sydney locals The Griswolds have launched themselves into the spotlight of Australian music. After scoring a sought-after spot in the Parklife lineup last year the band has been performing at numerous other festivals, touring the country and gaining an ever-increasing Aussie following on the way. We caught up with lead singer Chris to discuss playing with Django Django, upcoming festival gigs and their love of the 80s.

How pumped are you to be supporting Django Django for your upcoming gig at the Zoo?

We’re incredibly excited for it! Apart from all the festivals we’ve done so far it’s probably the biggest support act we’ve scored yet. It’s also our first international support act, so for a band as young as us it’s pretty amazing to have come this far.

Have you played at the Zoo before?

We have once before, but I’m sure this time will be a lot better. We were on a smaller tour last time and we really have come a long way. We’ve been moving leaps and bounds and have definitely learned a lot since then so we’ll hopefully put on a way better show.

What were your goals as a band starting out? Playing at festivals like Big Day Out and Parklife – did you ever expect this to happen?

No we didn’t expect it to happen so fast, it’s been ridiculous! We just can’t keep up with how fast everything’s happened. After launching the band in April 2012 we obviously started out with that hope in the back of our mind that we might do all these amazing things, like play at festivals and get record deals, but nothing really prepares you for when it happens. We all do it because we simply love the band and love music. So just being hit with good news every week was completely unexpected!

We absolutely froth over Foals, Band of Horses and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs at scenewave. Who are you most looking forward to seeing on the BDO bill? 

We’re really looking forward to a band called toucan, they’re a really great Sydney band. In terms of the big acts, we would absolutely love to see the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Vampire Weekend, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Band of Horses. But we’ll hopefully be sticking around to catch them all.

How did you come up with the name ‘The Griswolds’? You wouldn’t happen to be a Clark Griswold fan by any chance from National Lampoon’s ‘Vacation’ movies?

The name did come about from that movie actually. We knew we wanted something nostalgic in some way, something that brought people back to eighties culture. We actually had a name ‘Weekend at Bernies’ before we had The Griswolds. We wanted something fun and cheeky to go with the sort of music we write, so we just found that name drinking Tequila one night.

What did it mean to be selected as the Parklife unearthed winner?

We were just so stoked! We were all at rehearsal one night and my phone rang and it was Triple J unearthed asking us to play a festival coming up. I didn’t click to it until they said you’ve just won TripleJ unearthed. We were beside ourselves; we couldn’t believe it being such a fresh act. We’re still really trying to find our way and learning to walk as band. So winning unearthed so early in the peace was just a massive shock.

How do you guys all know each other? 

Daniel and me have been really good friends for a long time and we met through musical friends and various bands we’ve played in since we were 15. We were songwriting and producing for various different bands and one day Dan just brought me this 30 second riff (which ended up being our song ‘Mississippi”) and that was it with the rest of the boys who were all also friends of ours through music.

What would it mean for you guys to have “Heart Of A Lion” or any of your other singles make the Triple J Hottest 100 this year?

I would kill for that opportunity! That would just be the ultimate end to an already amazing year. I personally don’t think it’s even possible and I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve got older brothers who used to show me Hottest 100 CDs back in 1993. So to me it would be achieving something ridiculous and untouchable. It’s something I never even dreamed about.

What do you think will get #1 and what do you think deserves to get #1? Is there a difference for you?

There is definitely a difference, but I suppose it’s more of a personal thing. What I think is and what the rest of Australia thinks is probably different. I would hope it’s something by Frank Ocean, that album is one of my favourites this year. Other artists I would love to see in the hundred are Flume, Strangetalk, Sancisco and Django Django. It would also be cool for some little bands to get in there.

It seems like being in a band these days is a free pass to wear whatever you want. You would no doubt be aware of this playing with Django Django in their matching outfits, how would you normally dress on stage and do you feel there’s an expectation to match them with something crazy? 

We haven’t got anything special like that, that’s for sure. We do sometimes dress a little crazy if it’s an occasion. If it’s Halloween or a Christmas party we’ll tend to get right into makeup, crazy top hats and tight and ridiculous clothing. But normally we all dress pretty tame. Except for Dan who has this pair of floral tights that are pretty notorious in the band. They’re even making their way into some blogs so you never know they might become a new trend.

What’s the weirdest/craziest thing a fan has ever done to you?

Wow, that’s an easy one. I was just about to start singing at a gig in Queensland when a girl grabbed me by the shirt, ripped me off stage and literally rammed her tongue down my throat. When I got back on stage my face was completely white; the boys said I looked like I’d seen a ghost. I ended up screwing up the entire song because she threw me completely off my game. I guess it was quite flattering but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the front row from now on.

If you could play a song on the Moon looking back at Earth, what would it be?

“Walking on the Moon” by The Police

Favourite alcoholic drink?

Tequila

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

The Beatles

First album you bought?

Ten by Pearl Jam

Which musical decade would you have most wanted to live in?

The 80s

Do you like the Office? If so, UK or US?

Love both equally

Favourite song of all time?

Way too hard a question, I’m a bit of a slut with music I have a new favourite song each week so no favourite of all time.

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