Be Impressive, The Griswolds’ debut album was released in 2014. Since then, they’ve been touring all around the world and working on their next record. I spent some time interviewing Tim John and Lachlan West of The Griswolds after their set at the House of Blues on 11/20. Hungover but excited, they obliged us in the House of Blues kitchen.
We chatted with Lachlan for a couple of minutes, who said The Griswolds were already great friends with the other bands on the tour (Lolo, New Politics, and Andrew McMahon) which came as no surprise, considering The Griswolds ran on stage during New Politics’ set.
Tim John joined the interview at this point, offering us soda, milk, hot sauce, blue cheese dressing, and anything else stocked in the fridge.
TB: My big question that I really don’t know is about one of your first songs: Mississippi. Had you been to the US beforehand or did you just like Mississippi?
L: That was before the band had ever been to the states,
T: I think it was the, maybe second song written? But I think it was one of those things that worked phonetically. And then you try and rhyme Mississippi with something and it’s pretty impossible.
L: Yeah it doesn’t work. You can’t replace it. Mississippi is a fun word to say, so you can’t really replace it.
T: But since then we have been and seen the Mississippi.
L: Yeah! It’s really brown.
T: It is really brown.
TB: It’s kind of a dirty river.
L: It’s a filthy river.
TB: You guys toured with Passion Pit, right?
L: Well, funny enough, we had the Passion Pit tour booked in Australia and then like a week out, the singer got really sick, from Passion Pit. Whole tour was pulled.
TB: Oh, really? All of it?
L: Yeah, like all the Australian and Asian dates. We were really looking forward to doing that though. We love Passion Pit.
T: Maybe if they come back, hopefully that works out.
TB: If you guys could tour with anyone, other than Passion Pit I guess, who would you tour with?
T: Collectively within the whole band we’ve all got pretty different tastes.
L: Number one, I don’t know… Metallica?
T: I think we’d all say Metallica even though we’d get booed and bottled off the stage. Yeah, we’ll say Metallica.
TB: So you guys all have different tastes then?
L: Yeah, we are all pretty eclectic, like ourselves personally. In the band, it’ll go from listening to Drake to …
L: A lot of metal.
T: A lot of hip hop, then we’ll put on some 80’s pop, something like that.
L: Some bullshit, we’ll do anything.
T: There’s no consistency whatsoever.
TB: Does that come through when you guys are writing?
L: Yeah I guess so, there are some weird elements from different styles of music I guess. A lot of Korn. We’re big Korn fans.
T: You can’t hear it, but that influenced a lot of music. Just the aggression you know, we want to get that into the music through pop.
TB: One of the questions we always ask is to describe your music without genre names. What would yours be?
L: I’m going to use food.
T: I’m going to say alcohol, that’s a go to.
L: Something cheap, like Fireball.
T: Fireball of course, we’ll knock it down from alcohol to Fireball.
L: Cheap and shitty, just like Fireball.
TB: That’s a good way to look at yourselves? I don’t know?
T: It’s sugary, pretty alcoholic. But, sugary.
L: Tastes like heaven and it burns like hell.
T: You can hear the sugar in the music.
TB: When you guys write, who’s doing the writing? Is it a group process?
L: It changes every time, there’s no real consistency to how it happens. But, Chris and Dan are the predominant two writers and Tim and I come in more towards the end and finish off stuff, which is how it’s working at the moment, but next week it could change. It’s always different i guess.
T: They usually start off the idea and we’ll try to clean it up. Structure it. Make a ten minute song with fifty changes into a three minute pop song.
TB: So you guys cull it?
T: We cull it, we do the dirty work.
TB: How has this tour been? You said you’re friends with everyone, mostly hungover…
L: It’s been good.
T: That was New York’s fault, still reeling.
L: Pawtucket turned it on though.
T: Pawtucket was fun, am I saying that right? Pawtucket? It’s been great, we love all the bands, everyone’s nice. There’s been no fist fights and we’re late into the tour, so that’s a good start. We’re Australian, we haven’t needed to start a fistfight yet, which is good.
L: You guys are from Boston, so you know. That’s what we do best. Someone almost fought us when we were loading out tonight. I was wearing a Miami Dolphins jacket so I was kinda asking for it. It was pretty funny. Good times.
TB: You guys have been playing some festivals, right? Do you prefer that or do you prefer the small shows.
L: It’s a different beast altogether. It’s not that I prefer one or the other. I like that we do both because I’d get bored of one. Playing shows like this, everything’s controlled and consistent. When you do festivals it’s the complete opposite. Sometimes you get crazy crowds, which is cool.
T: Playing in front of people who probably just saw the band name and want to check it out, you have to sort of win them over as opposed to people might come see specifically you. You work a bit harder.
L: Yeah, totally. It’s not like they’ve paid money to see you, they’re just there.
TB: What are your guys favorite tracks that don’t get as much light as you’d like them to? What are your favorite deep cuts?
T: We’ve got songs that we don’t play live from the album probably because we can’t play them anymore, which is a sad thought.
TB: Why not?
T: Well, we played them a year ago.
L: This tour’s a shortened set, so there’s a lot of songs we can’t play. Live This Nightmare, I really like that one.
T: There’s an epic one with strings and stuff that we probably can’t play live. I mean that’d be cool, the song’s called Thread the Needle. Maybe when we get an orchestra.
L: We’ll go full Aerosmith.
T: Actually, Aerosmith are Boston.
L: Oh shit! We’ll gotta listen to it later. We do a thing where when we drive into a new city, we try and listen to an artist from that city
T: You just need to know where the roots are from. You feel it. I can feel Aerosmith in the room. The smell on the air.
TB: So you guys are from Australia, it seems like there’s kind of an influx of Australian bands. You have Tame Impala…
L: Yeah there’s a bunch of good Australian bands coming out. It’s kind of weird, I don’t know why. I guess the last few years it’s become a thing, because you know, the internet is around and that wasn’t the case fifteen or twenty years ago. So it’s just like easier—that’s how we got found over here. We got signed to a label here because we uploaded a song to Bandcamp. The Internet! A beautiful thing. Lots of porn.
T: A lot of porn on there, weird stuff. But yeah, it kind of comes in little bouts, the Australian thing. It’s cool. A lot of bands are trying over here now as opposed to, I guess, a while ago you tried your luck. If you didn’t get played on radio, it probably would’ve been a hard thing to do. It’s cool.
TB: Do you guys prefer playing here or in Australia?
T: We haven’t played there in a long time.
L: Yeah, we’ve spent so much time over here.
TB: You’re going to be there soon though?
T: Yeah we’re doing one show there. One festival, yeah.
L: We’ve got to write a record.
T: But even when you do tour, over here you can tour for the whole year and then start again back where you first toured. But, Australia it’s like two weeks, at that? It’s like shorter. It’s like four, maybe five cities if you like and then that’s your tour over. This is kind of better.
TB: So you guys are writing a new album, are you guys tired of being asked how it’s going?
T: No, not at all! We definitely like talking about it. It’s exciting. It’s hard to tell, very early days in the writing stages now, but all the songs sound great.
L: The songs always start out one way, like one style, whether it’s up beat and then takes a whole different direction half way through the writing. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out but I’m happy with a lot of the songs.
TB: A lot of your songs are upbeat like that but deceptively dark.
T: Yeah, lyrically dark. It’ll probably be dark again.
T: We’ve lost everything touring over here.
L: We don’t have any friends anymore.
T: Our only friends are each other, so it’ll be a lot of that. But we’ll write some pop music as well, just to make people dance to the depressing music.
TB: I was interested that you guys were touring with Passion Pit because they do the same thing.
L: Yeah totally, they’re like kings of that.
T: Yeah it’s really up beat, a lot of hooks, but lyrically very dark.
TB: I saw you guys had a song in FIFA.
L: Yeah that was rad.
T: I think it meant more to our friends than us. I hadn’t played the game. Actually this tour we started playing because it’s in our Sprinter, but before that I hadn’t really played at all. But my friends were so stoked. It’s the only thing they’ve ever been impressed by. They don’t see us over here so they don’t know how it’s going.
L: That was a fun email to get, getting asked if we wanted to be on that. It was like “Fuck yeah!” Fuckin’ awesome.
T: Pretty prestigious.