Grace Solero Band – 20 Questions
The Grace Solero Band are making an impact on audiences everywhere – we thought they might like to undergo one of Pete’s (customised) 20 Question sessions and in true democratic mode, each band member gets a say…..
Dan (Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals)
- What are your favoured stage guitars and why?
Well, there are a whole lotta guitars that I love to play but my main stage guitar is my Telecaster. I’ve had it since I was 15 so we’ve been through a lot together. My backup guitar is a 1962 reissue Jazzmaster that I got a couple of years ago. They both play like dreams. Acoustically, I’m usually playing my 1979 Guild D25, a real workhorse of a guitar. Built like a tank!
- What is your aim when performing as a band?
As a band, I want the audience to connect with us and feel like part of the experience. Grace is a really dynamic frontwoman, to put it mildly, so I don’t feel the need to go too crazy, but I’m right there in a constant circle of communication with the audience. I want them to feel something powerful and I think our live show is powerful.
- Steve Vai or Adrian Belew?
Both really talented guys but I would have a hard time picking one over the other. I’ve never been a shredder myself so maybe I’d say Adrian since I like his atmospheric sounds and textures.
- What music would you run across the room to turn up if it came on the radio? (Artist /title ) – and what to turn OFF?
I’m all over the shop as far as music tastes. I love the early psychedelic Neil Young/Jack Nitzsche stuff like “Broken Arrow” and “Expecting To Fly” and then pretty into soul stuff like The Isley Brothers, The Whispers, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. Rock stuff like Smashing Pumpkins, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Nirvana, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. Also the Sun Studio stuff from the ‘50s. You can’t go wrong there.
I’m not a big Abba fan. I know lots of people say they’re pop music geniuses but it’s just not my thing. There are some tunes of theirs that I can take but there are a few that do my head in as soon as I hear them!
- Name a great live album and outline its appeal to you plus any favourite inclusions
It might seem obvious or cliché but I’d have to say the Woodstock film/album. Just to see music bring people together on such a gigantic scale is pretty incredible. Of course, the lineup was pretty great but there was also this deep freedom that was being discovered at that time. The music was soulful, innovative and uplifting and totally resonated with so many people that valued self-expression over conformity. What an event!
Grace (Vocals & Rhythm Guitar)
- Which makes of microphone do you favour and why?
Live I’ve been using a Shure Beta 58 A for many years and I’m still happy with the dynamic response of this microphone. The Beta version has the extra humph compared to the normal SM 58. ln studio I’ve had a chance to record with different mics and Neumann is one of my old time favorites for its warmth. I’ve also used an Audio Technica valve microphone and was very happy with that. Overall I’m not fanatical of tech stuff and I think the sound engineer can make the real difference rather than the makes of the mic.
- Rammstein, Ruts DC or Rage Against The Machine? (I am friends with one of these bands! – PS)
I’m not a big fan of any of them, but I love the energy and raw sound of Rage Against The Machine, there’s something very true in what they play and say. Their groove is infectious and I can relate the rapper’s rage. Rammstein have some epic sounding tracks which I can appreciate but can’t relate to the singer’s way of expressing himself vocally.
- Is there a book that you would like to score the music for and why?
I never thought about it… top of my head ‘Eleven minutes’ by Paulo Coelho. It’s a very sensual story and I like the way this young woman (the main character) cruises through intense life experiences with a whole array of emotions spanning from courage to self-doubt and despair, all leading to a positive awakening. Her rebirth sees her with a new and renewed faith in life and love where the beauty of love and sex ties in with spirituality.
- Name a track ( artist /title) that you find really relaxing
That for me changes all the time, depending on my emotional state. Lately I discovered Winter Birds by Ray Lamontagne. This track is relaxing but also has a bit of melancholy in the melody… it goes well with the current winter season.
- Your lyrics are very down to Earth and original – do they come to you first when creating songs for the group? Which of your songs do you find yourself explaining most often?
I usually write all the lyrics after I have a defined melody. Having said that, I often come up spontaneously with some of the words or a whole sentence at the same time while creating a melody. Most of the time that initial lyric seed is very powerful as it already contains the spirit of the song to be. Of course then I have multiple choices and lyrics can always expand into different directions, according to the story I wanna tell.
I don’t usually explain lyrics, I think we all can give our personal interpretation to someone else’s lyrics and poetry. Live, sometimes I give a quick introduction to Far Away.
- Can you dance? Do you dance?
Yes if I’ve had enough to drink! I don’t go out for the purpose of dancing, but sometimes it happens.
- Name your favourite James Brown track and explain its appeal to you…and the same for Primus, please
James Brown would have to be “Cold Sweat”. I love that slow groove, the syncopation and the sense of space it creates. It has this great push/pull thing going on. I’m afraid I don’t know any Primus.
- What basses do you prefer to take out to gigs? What strings do you generally use?
I play a musician stingray 4 string almost exclusively these days. It’s not a special vintage or anything, just a very well-made bass. I always use a custom rotosound set; 135,100,80,50. Heavier gauge strings make for a more tight and solid low end in my opinion
- Jack Bruce or Les Claypool? Any favourite tracks of theirs or that they appear on?
I’m afraid I never studied either of them. My main influences have been Billy Sheehan, James Jamerson, Anthony Jackson, Marcus Miller, Dave La Rue, and most recently Rocco Prestia of Tower of Power.
- Name two recordings that are fine to drive to (artist/title/source album)
David Lee Roth “Eat Them and Smile”. A great rock album with some of the best rock musician around, before they got too self indulgent. Great variety and a very creative album. The Refreshments “fizzy fuzzy big and buzzy” is an album I really like, most songs are about driving to Mexico!
- Your playing has great definition. Are you a fan of Terry Bozzio or Chad Wackerman?
I would consider myself to be more a solid than flash player and as a result most of my favourite drummers tend to be more groove orientated than super technical. I love listening to guys like Mike Bordin, Chad Smith and Brain. They’re not afraid to sit on a really solid groove but can let loose when the song needs it. Out of the two drummers you mentioned, I’m more familiar with Terry Bozzio. I’ve got huge amounts of respect for what he can do (seeing him play a drum kit made completely of cymbals was pretty out there) but he’s not really been a massive influence for me.
- Three tips for a novice drummer, please
I’m probably the worst person to ask this question to, being self taught I wouldn’t want to pass on my bad habits! I guess I’d recommend lessons (ironic from someone who didn’t have any), at least initial ones to learn proper technique. Listen to as much music as you can, not just useful for drummers. There is inspiration to be found in every genre that can help add some individuality to your playing. Lastly, take any opportunity to play with different people. In the same way as expanding your listening habits it will really let you grow as both a drummer and musician.
- Name a recording (artist/title/source album) that fades or ends too soon for you
I love the groove at the end of Mastodon’s ‘Hearts Alive’. A real head nodder! I could listen to that for ages…
- Which are the best sticks you have used and why?
I’m using Vic Firth 5B’s at the moment, they’re pretty much the thinnest stick I can use without breaking them every rehearsal. I’ve found they’re the best compromise between speed and accuracy but also durability. I had a period where I was using Ahead sticks but it proved to be a bit of a false economy, I still broke the sticks and found that they were pretty unforgiving on cymbals! Definitely happier with the switch back to wood.
- What’s your favourite film soundtrack and why?
Difficult question… I guess in terms of soundtracks made up of pre existing music I’d have to go with Singles, the film by Cameron Crowe. The bands on there are pretty much the soundtrack to my teens! Pearl Jam, Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, what’s not to love?! In terms of original soundtracks I’d probably have to go with Star Wars, again for it’s nostalgia value. John Williams may have taken a large amount of inspiration from Holst but he did it well. Most recently I really enjoyed the Oblivion soundtrack by M83. It’s very lush and atmospheric. Sorry, that was three!
Bonus Question: Which is your favourite track on the current album and why?
Bjorn – The Woman by the River. I just find that there is something very special about that song, a certain purity.
Dave – Probably Eternal Love. It’s a lot of fun to play live as it incorporates the whole kit and utilises a lot of dynamics.
Dan & Grace – We don’t pick favorites, but one of the favorites would have to be Far Away. In fact a line from that song has given the title to the album “Hundred Years Apart”:
“And I will recognize you amongst a million eyes
Amongst a million people I’ll see you walking by
A stellar combination a hundred years apart
The streets where you were walking will bring you back to life”
For more information on Grace Solero Band visit their official website here: http://bit.ly/1U90VLG
(Thanks to Grace Solero Band for taking part in our ’20 Questions With’series and to Kieran White at KW Media for the feature image design work)