Pop Vulture: Grievous Bodily Calm
We sat down and had a chat to Alex (and Josiah) of local ambient/experimental/jazzy act, Grievous Bodily Calm.
IN: I love your band name, what’s the story (or was it just divine inspiration)?
A: The name comes from a few years back when I was living in a share house. My housemates and I would talk shit and come up with dumb band names. There were a few that ended up being pretty great, GBC being one of them. I had been sitting on a couple of potentially useable ones from that time for a while and I thought the name suited this music.
IN: Follow up, were you aware that this exists?:
A: Nope! Mr Vast has a strong vibe though, perhaps a collab is in order….
IN: You all look quite seasoned behind your instruments, what’s your level of formal musical training?
A: We've all studied music in some form. Matt, Zac and I went through Waapa together playing jazz music. I met Edo there as he was studying contemporary music and Josiah has studied composition.
IN: I’ve seen you guys play at Mojos and El Grotto, do you have an all-time favourite local venue?
A: Yeah! We love playing at most of the venues around Perth. So far The Bird and El Grotto have been standouts. The smaller stages fit our vibe a little better. El Grotto’s also a bit of a home for us as we have a fortnightly residency there.
IN: It wouldn’t be a Pop Vulture unless I asked you about TV! What was the TV last show that gave you binge-withdrawal?
A: I think the last show I watched in a couple of sittings was West World. Non-linear storylines get me good.
IN: I can hear Badbadnotgood influences in your music or maybe just a parallel in that you’re making jazz accessible for the faded cut-off jean-wearing hipsters of Perth. Is that a conscious decision?
A: Thanks for the comparison. Badbadnotgood are doing some cool stuff but they aren’t a particular influence on our sound. Jazz is a pretty large umbrella term and I suppose the instrumentation and the fact that we improvise pushes us towards that realm. We think of our music more as improvisation based beat music. Our influences are bands like Butcher Brown, D’Angelo, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Christian Scott, Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music as well as producers like J Dilla and Karriem Riggins. J Dilla is a huge inspiration on my writing, not just the rhythmic stuff he pioneered but also the beautiful melodic content in his tunes.
IN: Can we expect any recorded + mastered material from you guys anytime soon?
A: We have plans to record quite soon. As the band is still fresh, we're taking our time with the writing process to find the exact sound and aesthetic we want to express. Anyone that has seen us live from when we first started til now will notice a big difference in our sound and overall approach. We're definitely getting close though. Once we've recorded whatever this thing will be we'll definitely be pressing it on vinyl. In the meantime we will be doing a live recording and video at El Grotto on May 9th, so this will hopefully help tide over listeners until we've got a studio release ready to go.
IN: How do you craft a typical song? Everything sounds like it takes on a very organic and beat-driven path, is songwriting mainly an exercise in improvisation for you?
A: Our songs usually start from a produced beat/melodic idea that one of us has demoed at home. We’ll bring this into rehearsals, workshop parts, add to it and take stuff out and try it out at live shows. It takes a while to refine it into a 100% finished product.
IN: Seeing you play keys Josiah makes for a very soulful spectacle, how hard is it to solo like a madman on a midi-keyboard that small?
Josiah: Thanks for the kind words, that’s real sweet of you. I love using limitations for an advantage. I find working on small keyboards both soothing in the reduction of choices, and exciting to manipulate on a physical level.
IN: Do you have a favourite local act?
A: Perth has so many sick bands and players in the jazz, experimental and heavier scenes it’s hard to name just one. We played with Shit Narnia the other day and that was my first time seeing them, I thought they were really great.
IN: What are you guys listening to/taking inspiration from at the moment?
A: Each of us is constantly checking out different and new music but I’d say Solange’s latest record has probably been the latest influence on everyone in the band. The crafting of the beats and song writing on that album is incredible.
IN: If you had to pick a DJ Pseudonym, what would it be?
A: We have a new tune called Milk Crate (at least for now…), lets go with DJ Milk Crate.
IN: Where and when can we next catch you live?
A: We have a bunch of shows booked in the coming months that haven’t been announced. You can catch us next at:
May 9th at El Grotto (Live Recording!)
May 18th at The Bird - Fat Sparrow EP Launch
May 26th at The Bird - Group Therapy Records Launch