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Interview: Grandma's Ashes

Photo by Angie Blackson.

Grandma’s Ashes are a three piece Stoner Prog band from Paris, France. Their music is a blend of heavy face melting riffs, dark melodies and complex rhythms. Last month they released their debut EP ‘The Fates’ and we were able to have a chat with them about the EP, the band and their influences.

Let’s start with the basics! Tell us about the formation of the band, how did it all come together?

We met four years ago on the internet. Myriam and Eva knew each other for a year or so and were looking for a drummer so Edith came along and Grandma’s Ashes started this way. When we first met we jammed and it felt obvious that we had to play together.

Your sound is colourful and eclectic, you can hear the math rock influences with your use of odd time signatures, along with the filthy desert/stoner rock riffs mixed with some psychedelia. What are your individual influences and musical backgrounds? Myriam: I began the guitar when I was 13, playing in different rock bands. We were mostly influenced by classic 70s rock such as Led Zeppelin, Sabbath, The Beatles, Bowie etc. I discovered the desert rock scene when I arrived in Paris, by mixing live local bands in underground venues. I was totally fascinated by the heaviness of their sound. Since I grew up in Morocco, I’ve also listened a lot to traditional african music which made me more open to odd time signatures, and I studied jazz for a year at school.

Edith: I’m really influenced by math-rock bands such as Toe, Don Caballero, Battles for their structures and creativity. Also modern progressive metal bands as Leprous, Night Verses, Cult of Luna for their massive sound and crazy technique. I’ve been a drummer for 11 years in different bands and I’ve attended different schools including the same jazz school as Myriam.

Eva: I discovered stoner rock with qotsa and Kyuss at the age of 15. It totally blew my mind as I was mostly influenced at the time by 70’s english punk bands (The Strangers, The Damned) with rich, high sound and sharp bass lines. This discovery was a revolution in my way to play bass, more encompassing, more massive (Then, late, I heard about black sabbath, type O negative… and I totally loved it!) Later I discovered progressive bands such as Yes, and I switched again for more complex bass lines, keeping the heaviness I learned from stoner rock! This prog band also taught me the way to sing some psychedelics voices while keeping complex rhythms in the background. I was amazed it was possible to do both at the same time, and create such a strange, and poetic universe with dark tones!

I read somewhere that you recorded ‘The Fates’ EP live, which is super refreshing to hear and it gives a real human feel to the way it sounds. Tell us about your experience recording with this approach?

Thank you ! It was quite impressive to record live in the beautiful Ferber’s A studio, we felt honored. Playing live together is what we prefer to do, we’re used to work this way, feeling each other's energy in order to create and give the best of ourselves. We tried to do what we do best except that we had amazing gear and a crazy crew guiding us toward the best results … It was a bit stressful but very exciting above all.

The guitar and bass tones are one of the defining characteristics of your music, talk us through your rigs and how you achieve such a massive sound?

Our first idea to sound massive was to tune ourselves a whole tone down and use the heaviest strings gauge we could find. It really adds texture because our strings aren’t flexible at all ! Then, Myriam began to play on two Orange amps in a sort of stereo or Dry/wet setup which opens up the sound and lets more room for the bass. We are still trying to sound heavier by combining Fuzz pedals and splitting signals on amps, but the main idea is to play loud and low.

The lyrics to your single ‘Daddy Issues’ casts an interesting narrative and complements the theatrics of the heavy and menacing instrumental. What is the meaning behind the song?

This song is about the separation of Eva’s parents. It was a dark theme she wanted to keep powerful.

There’s a lot of musical references in it for her, such as a famous baroque bass line during the bridge (“Music for a while” by Henry Purcell) sang by her parents a few month before their separation.

It’s all emotional and we decided to name it by a ridiculous title to decrease the pathetic side of the song, and minimise what was a traumatic event to a reductive expression, to stay prude and make fun of it instead of making everyone cry *laugh*

The cover for the EP is distinctive and has a mythological quality to it, what inspired the artwork? The artwork was inspired by a guy who came talk to us after a gig in Montreuil a few years ago. He compared us to the Parcae, the female personifications of destiny who directed the lives and death of humans and gods. He said that each other had a role on stage: Eva spun the thread with her melody and rhythm foundation, Myriam unwind it with her riff and atmospheric effect, at last Edith cut it with convoluted rhythms. We liked this metaphor a lot because we were already inspired by classical art but suddenly it took a musical dimension and it felt interesting to include it in our visual universe.

Are there any bands in the local Parisian scene that you would recommend?

We would definitely recommend to listen to The Psychotic Monks, Cosse and Liquid Bear!

Finally, what have you got planned next for Grandma’s Ashes?

We’re focusing on our first album since we don’t have gigs coming, but we hope to play live this summer or at least at the end of 2021. We plan to shoot a new videoclip and a new live session also.

Follow Grandma's Ashes on Instagram.

Follow Grandma's Ashes on Spotify.

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