New groove for Ash and friends..............

Ash Grun­wald’s mu­si­cal jour­ney takes an­other un­ex­pected turn, writes Rose Sadleir

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS -

ASH Grun­wald al­ways en­ter­tained the idea that rock bands were ‘‘a done thing’’. Grun­wald forged a name for him­self as a solo mu­si­cian, get­ting crowds around Aus­tralia groov­ing harder than ever to his foot-stomp­ing, blues-gui­tar­soaked, en­er­getic live shows.

When he re­lo­cated from Melbourne to By­ron Bay, Grun­wald found him­self hang­ing out at the La Casa artist res­i­dency, jam­ming with The Liv­ing End bassist Scott Owen.

‘‘We hit it off from there and our wives ac­tu­ally formed a band – Mr Cassidy,’’ he says.

Owen, Grun­wald and The Liv­ing End’s Andy Stra­chan be­gan giv­ing ‘‘the rock band treat­ment’’ to some of Grun­wald’s older tunes.

The trio even recorded a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy, which gar­nered at­ten­tion from national com­mer­cial ra­dio sta­tions.

‘‘I never thought I would be on com­mer­cial ra­dio,’’ Grun­wald says.

‘‘Do­ing the bluesy stuff made me think I was al­ways go­ing to be a fringe-dweller – never main­stream.’’

Grun­wald also never imag­ined he’d en­joy play­ing in a rock band. He was wrong about that as well.

‘‘I al­ways thought hav­ing a drum­mer and bassist was such a done thing. Th­ese boys have changed my mind – I’ve learnt it can be very good,’’ he says.

Once Grun­wald tasted the ‘‘beats and grooves’’ he could cre­ate with Owen and Stra­chan, he craved more.

‘‘Scotty and I went down to Melbourne to see Tena­cious D and while we were there I was like, ‘let’s get some stu­dio time’,’’ Grun­wald says.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing (we played) sounded so good. I rang my misses and said, ‘I have to stay here and fin­ish this’.’’

The fin­ished prod­uct of that jam time is ‘‘bluesy, party and very en­er­getic’’ record Gar­gan­tua.

The al­bum is com­prised of two new orig­i­nals, two cov­ers and a hand­ful of re­worked Grun­wald hits.

‘‘I never thought there would be an al­bum on the hori­zon – that’s the thing I love about mu­sic. You can just keep ex­plor­ing,’’ Grun­wald says.

‘‘The whole al­bum makes you want to dance. That’s very im­por­tant to me. I was scared some­times be­cause iron­i­cally, the solo thing can re­ally make peo­ple dance and party and I never wanted to lose that. But I’m worlds away from los­ing that with th­ese guys.’’

The Last Stand is Gar­gan­tua’s open­ing track and first sin­gle. Grun­wald says the song is the first time he’s used mu­sic for ac­tivist pur­poses.

‘‘ The Last Stand is a song I wrote about coal seam gas min­ing. It’s a big is­sue and I en­cour­age peo­ple to type it in (to an on­line search engine) and find out more,’’ he says.

‘‘It will be­come one of the most cat­a­strophic things in Aus­tralian his­tory. It’s very danger­ous and very dodgy. It’s stopped for the time be­ing but I’m sure it will be back.’’

To ed­u­cate him­self fur­ther on the is­sue, Grun­wald packed his bags and headed to Tara, a town in the Dar­ling Downs re­gion of Queens­land.

‘‘I wanted to see for my­self what was go­ing on so I was not talk­ing opin­ions but real facts,’’ he says.

‘‘It was a mega eye-opener to see how the Queens­land Govern­ment had turned on its own peo­ple and sold out for an English com­pany to sell our gas to China. There was a woman with six kids who all had mas­sive heath prob­lems and they don’t have a voice.

‘‘The govern­ment told them to for­get about it. So I filmed that stuff and I am show­ing it at the gigs.’’

Grun­wald says the five-minute doc­u­men­tary is ‘‘my slight con­scious cleanse about the whole thing’’.

‘‘My gigs are real party gigs. I tell the crowd ‘we are not here for a preach­ing ses­sion but this is some­thing very im­por­tant and I need to show you this’,’’ he says.

‘‘Peo­ple check me out be­cause they want to hear my mu­sic. But I re­gard this as some­thing dif­fer­ent. It’s more im­por­tant and I know that his­tory will judge me bet­ter for try­ing to draw at­ten­tion to it.’’

Ash Grun­wald, Scott Owen and Andy Stra­chan play Rab­bit + Co­coon, in Mi­ami on Sun­day from 4pm. Tick­ets are $25.

The Liv­ing End’s Scott Owen (left) and Andy Stra­chan (right) are tour­ing with Ash Grun­wald.

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