Photos by Noel Buckley/GRTR!
The Gracious Few were formed by the coming together of guitarist
Chad Taylor, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer and drummer Chad Gracey
of LIVE with vocalist Kevin Martin and guitarist Sean Hennesy of
Between them LIVE and Candlebox sold over 40 million records
GRTR!'s Andy Nathan caught up with Chad and Kevin prior to their
showcase gig in London on 18 February 2011.
GRTR! Welcome to England! You're a new name, but with some
history behind you, so tell us a little about how you guys got
together and how The Gracious Few came about?
Chad Taylor Going way back 19 years back, Live and Candlebox
would do shows together. One memorable night before we had
played together, Live was on MTV's 120 minutes tour with
England's own Johnny Rotten in PIL and Mick Jones in Big Audio
Dynamite, and we were the third act and the opening band was a
then unsigned band called Blind Melon. We played Seattle and
Kevin came out: he knew the guys in Blind Melon who were a bunch
of young guys like us, and we were hanging around with them.
It was an insane gang - we were these young kids from
Pennsylvania, with all these Seattle guys. The Seattle scene had
already broken though it hadn't gone mainstream and I was
impressed guys from Candlebox and Nirvana came out. Kevin and I
hit it off right away - we always had interests in common like
cars, and as the years went by Candlebox and Live played
together. The most memorable was when we showed up and played at
a New Years Eve Party of Dennis Rodman's.
A mutual friend of ours was in a band I was producing, and we
had to fire drummer and she suggested we get to Kevin to play
drums and he said he'd d do it even though I only knew Kevin as
singer and didn't know he could play the drums. Before you know
it I called Kevin and brought him into the fold and during time
working on that band, about six years ago, he was the only
person I could relate to in the room.
He was pushing me back as producer with the bigger picture
things that had to happen on a record. We hit it off, drinking
lots of beer, hanging out more than working and we said we ought
to make a record together, but Candlebox were just about to
reunite and Live were still touring.
Very fast six years go by and Chad, Pat and I are in a room
making noise and music and asking who's going to sing on these
six songs we've done. I asked another close friend in John
Slovak and said you should use Kevin Martin.
So I called the guys, though I had already sent text asking if
he wanted to do it before getting the ok from the other guys. He
called me back within minutes to figure out his plane flights
and the first day we got together we wrote three songs, all from
The chemistry was amazingly simple and Kevin fitted in with my
guys. His skills as singer were well represented, but they were
sold on how he was as a human being and where he could fit in.
GRTR! When you got together and started recording was there a
specific sound you had in mind and particular influences you
were bringing together ?
Kevin Martin We were all looking at the kind of record we
hoped we could always make, thats not to discount Throwing
Copper or Candlebox's self-titled album, but there comes a point
as a musician where you say I have not made record I want to
make. He is known for his tone, (Chad) Gracey is known for his
style of drumming and Patrick is known for his incredible
finesse of music as well as incredible bass playing but didn't
come into play.
We opened ourselves up to whatever is going to happen will
happen: I picked up one of Patrick's 335 Gibson guitars, plugged
into fender amp and started jamming, these guys said whats that
and quite honestly that was how that side of band unfolded -
what they had done before Appetite, Honest Man, Try to See, the
very hard dark stuff.
I sing rock n roll - I come from a pop punk background and from
the lighter side, musically writing and those combinations of
the freedom to make any record we could make with no inhibitions
and fears, just the desire to make music is what allowed is to
make this record , and that was the freedom we were looking for.
Chad Taylor When we finally wrote songs and amassed
them, without discussion of it will be like band A or B we
called Jerry Harrison. He didn't ask what the record would sound
like, he asked if you could pick any, what fan base we would
make a record for, which was a very interesting question, and I
said Guns n Roses. He said but do you have songs like G n R? I
said they are as heavy, though he hadn't heard any music. But
this has a big arena rock sound, maybe a bit more blues.
GRTR! Did he steer you in direction of writing songs in that
Kevin Martin Jerry as a producer is like the famous
basketball coach Phil Jackson who is known as the Zen Master -
he lets the team suffer so they find their own way.
He was there reading the New York Times, and there were only two
occasions where he stepped outside the studio, stopped us and
said where are you going and you need to do this, with Appetite
and Crying Time. Otherwise he didn't steer.
He comes from that pop punk background and knew what we were
capable of and we were doing it anyway and he was happy with how
we evolved as a band. We wrote 17 songs in 39 days in total in
writing rehearsal sessions, a lot of material in a very short
space of time. Sean and I met in Southern California and Chad
and Patrick flew in, and we wrote song after song and Jerry was
pleased with that.
It was important the songs propel themselves without a
melody in place - so that just the band jamming or
playing together was entertaining, and then add in the
melody and lyric that draws it together.
Chad Taylor We also did something different in the writing
from our previous bands. It was important the songs propel
themselves without a melody in place - so that just the band
jamming or playing together was entertaining, and then add in
the melody and lyric that draws it together.
On the early morning sessions Kevin would pick up a guitar when
he didn't want to sing right away and start playing with us, the
chorus rhythm in All I Hear is all Kevin and I still can't
really play that on stage . And I would go, ‘thats awesome how
are you playing that'?. We became dependent on each other in a
Kevin relates to music in a different way to me. I'm the guy who
has to dredge it up out of my soul, and Kevin says ‘oh no, thats
like so and so'. He'd have it on his ipod and call it up and
play, which was having an amazing music collection in room with
us. That had a large part to do in the writing feel of the
GRTR! What have people's reactions been so far?
Kevin Martin It's funny, we made a collective decision
not to do Candlebox and Live stuff, and also decided that prices
are too high, and it has to be 10 dollar ticket. We have a song,
Honest Man, about the difficulties of the blue collar worker
trying to put food on table - why is it 25 dollars, we don't
need that. The reaction from that decision and ticket sales
increasing 200% was amazing.
We only market the band as ‘this is The Gracious Few', so you
don't play to 3000, but to 300. We are seeing sales increase and
radio play slowly build and coming to Europe is instrumental to
our future as band Tonight there will be 200, tomorrow in
Holland 600 and its all good, we're going back to how we
We met a bunch of musicians in opening bands who are kids, have
no idea who Candlebox and Live are, and were thinking how young
and nascent they are, in this bubble of innocence - they don't
care about the headliner. I was that kid forever and ever and
now 22 years on, thats a totally different feel and I'm saying
to them ‘good luck, and have fun'.
GRTR! Would you hanker after playing stadiums again or is this
the true spirit of rock n roll?
Kevin Martin The first time Candlebox played , we played at
the Underworld and I just walked by there last night.
Chad Taylor I remember turning 21 in London and won't tell
you what I did but it was definitely an illegal birthday -
somehow I ended up in Harrods.
We don't claim to be doing anything original - our take
is its all been done, so do it like the guys who did it
very well. The Stones are there, and Zeppelin, and
though they were influenced by US blues, there is a big
British influence you hear in the songs.
GRTR! And they let you in?
Chad Taylor I think they chased us out - they knew we
were up to no good. London has always been a special place for
me musically because of my love for, in particular, the Rolling
Stones and their coming of age here - they were a cover band
playing blues all around the city and we are carrying on that
lineage, basically playing blues .
We don't claim to be doing anything original - our take is its
all been done, so do it like the guys who did it very well. The
Stones are there, and Zeppelin, and though they were influenced
by US blues, there is a big British influence you hear in the
Kevin Martin The Clash had a big influence - in fact I was
meant to invite Mick Jones to this show but forgot.
Chad Taylor Mick was a huge champion of Live and loved what
we did. He heard the pop power thing - conversely if you listen
to Candlebox there was a blues band there. There was always some
commonality with us.
GRTR! Fashions and musical trends come and go but blues based
heavy rock is timeless.
Chad Taylor Another influence on me is ACDC. It's hard not
to think of bands who use the higher vocal register and not
think of that band.
We're playing much heavier in places and doing totally new
things to what we've done before. It's insane on stage - it's a
really hard show to play. We were doing 75 -90 minutes in the
USA and I was coming off stage thinking it's not just us getting
older, its that this music is really hard to play.
GRTR! Do you improvise a lot in the live show?
Chad Taylor You will hear tonight we're not afraid to
stray off the beaten path and luckily we have the musicians to
do it. That's where some bands get caught out.
GRTR! Where next after the European tour - touring plans, or
Kevin Martin We go back to the States and would like
to make a new record in April/May for release in late summer
- we've got some material and other songs to write.
We have dates booked around May and hoping to get back to
festivals in Europe early and late summer. We're not planning to
tour unless someone asks us. If we got those May/June dates we'd
come just for those.
Chad Taylor I personally plan on attending Glastonbury!
Candlebox are still around doing records, but its not
the love of my life, it's the ex-wife I keep paying
Child Support to, and I am loving the mistress I have -
who is sexy and doing whatever she wants - so why go
Kevin Martin We'll take whatever we can as we're trying to
break the band. This is our project.
Candlebox are still around doing records, but its not the love
of my life, it's the ex-wife I keep paying Child Support to, and
I am loving the mistress I have - who is sexy and doing whatever
she wants - so why go backwards?
No-one goes back to their ex-wife and if they do they're just a
shell of a man, and I don't want to be like that. I'm still
making records with Candlebox but this is my love and focus.
GRTR! How would you sum yourselves up for people who don't know
The Gracious Few and want to check you out - what can people
Kevin Martin It's called rock n roll - look it up! Whether
you call it alternative mainstream, it's just rock n roll, and
people have forgotten that terminology. Its what drives dance
music and electronic and drum n bass, its rock n roll music, it
all came from the blues and that's what's called rock n roll -
look it up!
GRTR! Thanks Chad and Kevin, and good luck for your debut UK
Interview © February
2011 Andy Nathan
Photos by Noel Buckley
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