Cali band The Gromble on their new album, facing fear and making music

California band, The Gromble. Via:
California band, The Gromble. Via:

I had the chance to listen to a sneak peak of up-and-coming California band The Gromble‘s new release album, Jayus.

Shortly thereafter, I chatted with the band’s singer and guitarist, Spencer Askin, to learn more about what the experience-rich melodies and lyrics mean and how other musicians can continue to find motivation and follow their dreams, sharing their stories with the world around them.

See below for more:

1. How did The Gromble come to be?

Trevin, Stefan and I met in high school where, after playing in a few hair metal bands, started the band The Wonderment. You can probably still find us on MySpace. I met Spencer in a jazz combo in college, but he joined the band after I emailed my theory teacher asking if he had any students that may be good to write string arrangements for an album. That led to him tracking some of his vintage synths on our songs, and he joined full time shortly thereafter. Although the first incarnation of the band started in 2009, we went through a few lineup changes and a dramatic sound change to land where we are now, in early 2012 with the start of Jayus tracking.

2.What is the meaning behind your band name and the title of this new upcoming album Jayus?

The Gromble is from a TV show we liked as kids, it was voted by our friends as the “least worst” band name on a short list of potential ones. Jayus is an Indonesian word that doesn’t have a direct English translation. It basically means a joke that is so unfunny, you can’t help but laugh. We felt like that summed up our process with making this album. Just constant setbacks, a lot of learning and figuring things out on our own. Anything that could go wrong essentially did, but we’re really happy with the product so we can’t complain!

3. Tell me about you, Spencer, Stefan and Trevin – what are your roles within The Gromble…

We’re all from southern California and have gone to school together in some way or another. Throughout the process of recording and mixing Jayus, we’ve kind of developed our roles within the group which has helped productivity. Strictly in regards to our music, I usually start the idea for a song with a chord progression, melody and a section of lyrics. Then I’ll sit with Spencer, who reharmonizes everything and makes sure all the chords and voicing are as good as they can be, as well as arrangements. Stefan handles most of the production, some pre-pro stuff and making sure every sonic has the appropriate sonic palette. Trevin does a good job of kind of keeping us in line if we try to veer too far left field, he has a great idea of what will translate to an audience. Our whole process is pretty collaborative and democratic, but we try to play to our individual strengths to make more than the sum of our parts.

4. What stories do you hope to share with your listeners through Jayus?

Most of the stories are little anecdotes from my life, either snapshots of moments or profiles of people I know or used to know. It’s hard for me to get out of my own head so everything on this album is told from my perspective.

5. What made each one of you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?

I usually attribute this to seeing my cousin’s band October Era play at this local dump “Hogue Barmichaels” in 2002, as well as seeing a re-run of Skid Row playing Monkey Business on Saturday Night Live. Must’ve been from ’91 or ’92? Coolest things ever. Both of those.

California band, The Gromble. Via:
California band, The Gromble. Via:

6. Who are your musical influences – past and present?

I can’t speak for the other guys in the group, but some of my favourite/most influential artists would be Randy Newman, Weezer, Pavement, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cardigans and Harry Nilsson to name a few!

7. You have a very similar sound to Death Cab For Cutie and Bright Eyes. Are they bands that you look up to for musical influence?

Those aren’t necessarily artists that we listen to regularly or are directly influenced by sound-wise, but Ben Gibbered and Connor Oberst are both lyricists I really, really admire so I’ll take any relation to them as a complement.

8. If you had to describe your music in three or four words, what would you call it?

Thoughtful synthy rock + roll?

9. How long does it take to write/ensemble a song?

We’re still developing the process, the hardest part is finding the time to shut everything else out and focus on writing. We did a single last Christmas as kind of an experiment to see how fast we could do something and still be happy with it, given that our album took over four years to record. That took about two-and-a-half weeks, after we had the original idea, so that’s maybe a fair estimate that every song is different.

10. What do you think makes your music different from other artists?

We really like to take our time and make sure everything in our music is purposeful and thoughtful. I’m sure every band says this but we all have relatively different influences, and its the commingling of these different styles that make for a unique final product.

11. How would you define the word “success?”

For me, it’s being able to support myself just from playing our original music. Getting to play in a new city every night and share our music with everybody.

12. What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career in music?

Don’t let fear or frustration stop you.

13. What have been the biggest challenges of the group?

Probably the biggest challenge for the group was maintaining interest and focus through all the setbacks while making Jayus. We were stalled for a while for legal reasons.

14. What’s next for The Gromble?

We’ve got a lot of big things in store. We’ll be writing and releasing a lot more in the near future, we’ve already got plans for some singles and a new EP that we’ll begin tracking this week. We just want to keep a steady stream of music and video content flowing.

15. Where do you see The Gromble in 10 years?

In a gigantic bus! With bunk beds!

Thank you to Spencer for taking some time to chat with me and share his story, as well as The Gromble’s! Check out the band’s SoundCloud for more information and jammin’ tunes. Some of my favourites are “Real Sympathy,” “Gold and Silver” and “Don’t Stand a Chance.”

California band, The Gromble. Via:

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