New groove for Ash and friends..............
Ash Grunwald’s musical journey takes another unexpected turn, writes Rose Sadleir
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.