Herb Grimaud (of the Sound Gallery)
by Jason and Brent
How did you get your start in music?
My Dad is a big fan of music. So as a child he played alot of Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Patsy Cline, Elton John, Pink Floyd, old blues, & so on. His love for music was very infectious, so I just kinda caught on.
When I was 7 years old, he took me to see the Rolling Stones on the Some Girls tour & that was it! To be so young at such a big event, really had a huge impact on me. I was forever in love with music.
After high school I moved out & a friend of a friend needed a bass player. I always wanted to play bass, but never had the money to buy one. So with my first tax refund check, I bought a Kamen Nickel(sp) bass. It was pretty crappy, but it was all mine. I had to learn how to play bass & enough songs to fill a set within a few weeks. My excitement pushed aside any nervousness I had for that first show.
Raspberry Jam’s Oceanic is an amazing CD that you were involved with. Can you describe for us the songwriting and recording process of this CD?
Thank you. It took me a long time to come to terms with that record. The mix was so different than what we were hearing on the play backs. Most of the band wasn’t able to be there (including myself) for the mixing, so it was already too late when the final mix was done to make any changes. Funny how much you trust people when you’re that young with something so important to you. Let that be a lesson. It’s your art, you’re responsible for it! Don’t let others take the driver’s seat.
We were a very eclectic group of people. Not to many of us were on the same page in our influences or even shared the same liking of other bands. So that made for a very odd & at times open songwriting experience. There wasn’t a main songwriter & we were all learning together. Someone would bring in a couple parts of an idea & we would all build around it until we were happy with it. Not the best way I’m sure, but it worked for awhile.
For the ideas I brought in, I usually had a couple parts & a certain sound I was going for. Usually, I had lyrics to go with the music & left the vocal melodies to the singer. I can’t sing & I rarely hear vocal parts in my head.
We worked really hard on that record. We definitely had a more focused sound. The producer that was brought in never did any pre-production (due to scheduling & lack of money from the label) so we had to be prepared when we went in. Not sure if we were ready, but we tried. It was recorded in Laguna Beach Ca. His studio was in his home which was located in the hills. So the vocal room overlooked the ocean & it was very quiet there. We took alot of breaks, & he would always want to B-B-Q. That’s where I was introduced to cooking corn on the cob on the B-B-Q. MMMMMM… So good!
We basically recorded the whole thing in under a month. The usual drums & bass first, then guitars, vocals, etc. Nothing to out of the ordinary. Of course, we ran out of time & needed to finish by the deadline. So there was some rushing going on.
You recently worked on The Violet Burning: This is the Moment. How was that experience?
It was a bit different than the last 3 records I was involved in. In the past we recorded @ Jabbz Studios in Long Beach, Ca. with Anthony Arvizu. He is a great engineer & an amazing drummer! This time most of the recording was done @ Michael’s home studio & Andy’s home studio. Sam’s drums were done @ Sonic Wire in Irvine (I believe). Other than my bass parts, I wasn’t really there or involved in the rest of the process.
You have recently recorded The Sound Gallary this last year hoping for a 2004 release. Why did you decide to create the Sound Gallery?
I’m hoping to have it out by late March, early April. I’m waiting for 2 tracks I sent to Jan & Sarah of Glorybox (www.glorybok.dk) & then I’ll start mixing.
I started doing the Sound-Gallery after I left the Violet Burning. I wanted to keep doing music. It’s something I just have to do, even if I’m just doing it in my room with my computer. I wanted to do music that I would listen to.
Describe for us the creative process behind the Sound Gallery.
I don’t really have a formula. I borrowed some keyboards, samplers, old effects from a friend. Taught myself a few chords on the guitar, keyboards & purposely didn’t pick up the mighty Thunderbird. I wanted to push myself out of an area in which I was comfortable with. Eventually the mighty Thunderbird did make it on a few tracks, but I kept it @ a minimum.
I would just start tweaking sounds until something caught my attention. From there I would just build until I had something that resembled a track or song. Usually I’ll start with some kind of drone or low sound, then add different guitar or keyboards sounds. Many times there was alot of crap, but there were moments that came alive for me that I hopefully caught on tape. I’d listen to the tracks on cd-r’s in my truck & then go back to working on the tracks with more solid ideas.
My goal was always to try & convey what I was feeling @ that time.
About half of the record was inspired by the movie Blade Runner. It’s one of my all time favorite movies & I wanted to try & capture my feelings about certain scenes in the movie. I’ve seen the movie about 30 times, so I kinda went off of memory & tried to create music off of those scenes.
A couple friends were very gracious to lend their talents. Eric Campuzano (Charity Empressa/The Lassie Foundation/Cush) plays guitar on 2 tracks, Leslie DuPre-Grimaud sings on 3 tracks, Lorri Myers sings on 2 tracks, Steve Elkins (the Autumns & Midsummer) played drums/hand claps/& back up vocals on 1 track, Steve R played lap steel/hand claps/& back up vocals on 1 track, Mike Brown played keyboards & guitar on 2 tracks, Danielle Mercado sang on 1 track, & like I mentioned Jan & Sarah are working on 2 tracks as we speak.
What do you think makes a great song?
A great melody, a great hook, lyrics with teeth & instrumentation that respects these things. The melody is king! Let it rule the song. Don’t hide it behind over playing.
Are there certain elements you go for or do things just come by feel?
I always go for feeling. I want the track to take you somewhere. Since I’m not a singer or songwriter I have to rely on what I know. Movement, atmosphere, textures. These are the things I’m a sucker for. I wanted this record to be one that you would listen to with headphones.
As a kid I would lay on the floor looking @ the ceiling listening to the music I loved. Hours would go by & I wouldn’t even notice. I would get lost in the music. That’s the element I want in my music.
I’m not concerned with writing the perfect pop song that’s under 3 minutes. It doesn’t interest me. Never has. I’ll listen to the Ramones or Phil Spector records for that.
What are some of your favorite CD’s?
l think that’s a big question for me. I could never narrow it down to a top 10 or top 20 list. But here’s some that I think are perfect records. In no particular order: (takes a deep breath)
Kate Bush: Hounds of Love
Love & Rockets: Express
This Mortal Coil: Filigree & Shadow
The Cure: Disintegration, Pornography, & Japanese Whispers
Blind Mr. Jones: Stereo Musicale
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Henry’s Dream, Let Love In, Kicking Against the Pricks
Maria McKee: (1st solo record)
Peter Gabriel: Passion
Tears for Fears: The Hurting
The Ramones: Hey! Ho! Let’s Go
Brian Eno: Atmosphere & Soundtracks
Angelo Badalamenti: (Anything by this man with David Lynch. He’s a genius)
Joy Division: Closer
New Order: Get Ready & Retro Box Set
The Cramps: Bad Music for Bad People
Pink Floyd: The Final Cut
The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers
My Bloody Valentine: Loveless
Dead Can Dance: Aion
AC/DC: Highway to Hell
Charity Empressa: (Self-Titled)
Bauhaus: Swing The Heartache
Coctaeu Twins: Victorialand, Treasure, & Heaven or Las Vegas
Curve: Pubic Fruit & Come Clean
Sky Cries Mary: This Timeless Turning
Miranda Sex Garden: Fairytales of Slavery
The Jesus & Mary Chain: Psycho Candy & Darklands
The Replacements: Don’t Tell a Soul
The Icicle Works: (Their 1st c.d. ONLY)
Catherine Wheel: Ferment
DI: Horse Bite Dog Cries
Minor Threat: Out of Step
The Sisters of Mercy: Floodland
Death Cult: Dreamtime
Spiritualized: Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
Sonic Youth: Goo
7 Seconds: Walk Together, Rock Together
David Bowie: Heroes
Alien Sex Fiend: Mission Impossible EP
Xymox: Twist of Shadows
The Smiths: Hateful of Hallow
New Model Army: Thunder & Consolation & Ghost of Cain
Boards of Canada: Geoaddi
Not Breathing: Time Music for Quasars
Skinny Puppy: Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse & Last Rights
Social Distortion: Mommy’s Little Monster
All the early 4-AD Bands
Who would you say are the artists that have most influenced you over the years?
Besides the long list above.:-) Anything that has a soul, teeth, love, hate, sex, heaven, hell, happiness, balls, pain. Music that stays with you & becomes apart of you.
While writing this record I limited myself to what I was listening to. I wanted to stay in a certain mind frame. I mostly listened to anything by Angelo Badalamenti/David Lynch, The Hope Blister, This Mortal Coil, Glorybox, Charity Empressa, Brian Eno, Mogwai, Joy Division, Dead Can Dance, Lisa Gerrard & Hector Zazou’s Songs From the Cold Sea. As a result I wrote a song about Ian Curtis.
Will your wife (Singer Leslie Dupre-Grimaud) ever release more music?
Hopefully by the end of this year. Leslie is always writing. She has alot of song books with so many amazing songs, beautiful melodies, & stirring chord changes. We’re getting ready to start working on her music again. Now that I know how to record through my computer, it will make it easier to lay down some of her songs.
I wish I could put together artists that would interpret her stuff with the respect it deserves. The sound it requires. I never feel like I can be apart of that. I highly respect her material & always feel it requires someone more mature & talented than I am capable of. I always feel like someone will discover what a big fraud I am & ask me to quit faking it. Kinda like the Wizard, in The Wizard of OZ. I’m behind the curtian faking my way through all this music.
She works on her stuff every day. Singing, writing music, working on amazing lyrics. Where I just work a couple days & then sit in front of the t.v. playing X-box. She’s more disciplined than I’ll ever be. That’s why her music is leaps & bounds beyond what I do.
What is in the musical future of Herb Grimaud jr?
After The Sound-Gallery is done, I’ll start on Leslie’s material. There’s a good chance I might be involved with a friend Mike Brown, doing some material for a project he’s in charge of. They’re taking some Cafe Noire tracks (Leslie & Mike’s old band) & having different artists adding to the songs. Friends of his, who live in Japan, Germany, England, etc.. taking a track & adding to it. Then Mike will be the producer & sort through it. There will be other people writing new material of their own, but alot of it will be Cafe Noire songs. They are going for a This Mortal Coil kind of feel. Everyone seems to be very likeminded with the direction of the sound.
After that I’d like to pick up the mighty Thunderbird & start playing it again. I would love to play with some people. If Glorybox was in California, I’d ask them if I could haul their gear around until they let me play bass for them.:-)
Any other comments or contact information?
Thank you for letting me ramble on.
Create art that you’re proud of. You should be able to look @ yourself in the mirror & know you made something that moves you & not be concerned of others in the process. If others like it too, then that’s the icing on the cake (sorry to use a cliché). But you have to satisfy your creative pull.
The beauty of art is using the gift God has given you, to its fullest potential without any restrictions.
As far as contact info. www.thesoundgallery.net should be up by the end of February (he says with his fingers crossed).
Until then, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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