Talk Thursday to Me – Jeff Grant

Today we catch up with Jeff Grant to talk about the new release from Full Sun, his visual art and Spice World.

(Editor’s note: Jeff is co-owner of Hopscotch Coffee and married to fellow musician Erin Tobey, both things that are alluded to but not explicitly discussed in the interview)

Postcard Editor: Hey Jeff, you ready to do this thing?

Jeff Grant: I really hope so. I’ll try to mitigate my self-editing.

PE: Yeah man, just let it fly. Clear eyes, full hearts, no take backs.

JG: Ok, I’m ready.

PE: Before we get into music and art let me first say thank you for the free coffee for voters thing you do at Hopscotch. Very cool and it was very appreciated on this damp rainy day while we waited in line.

JG: Oh great! Glad you took advantage. I still need to go over there and do it too before I meet with a freak accident or something. And thank you for wanting to talk about stuff besides business.

PE: Yes, please do! The first part, not the freak accident part. Has anyone given you guys grief for putting a big H on the cups? An obvious pro Kamala Harris move on your part.

JG: Ha, not yet but I’m sure it’ll come.

PE: There was a guy in front of us quoting Ben Shapiro to someone else, so yeah, it’s probably coming. Ok, enough coffee business talk, let’s talk the business of rock. The new release is great! Such a fun fuzzed out rock EP. When did you start working on that and was the process affected by the current pandemic any?

JG: Thanks Mat. I think I started recording those in very short bursts around May, although some of the songs had been written a long time ago, or at least pieces of them had been. It was definitely affected by the pandemic in that I would’ve otherwise worked on it with my bandmates, but when that got complicated I started doing it all myself.
I really didn’t want to sit on those songs for another year and was just itching to get something done. 

PE: It has a much more lo-fi vibe than your last proper release, which I’m assuming is partially due to recording it yourself versus going into a studio, but was that also a conscious decision? To run with that aesthetic?

JG: Yeah, it’s a combination of liking that aesthetic and just the means I have while doing it at home. I don’t have a lot of gear or recording knowledge. I basically put one crappy mic on everything and then EQ the heck out of everything til it sounds like something. If I wasn’t recording punk music I’m not sure it would work conceptually. Burying stuff in distortion is a handy crutch for anyone, but it works in punk/guitar rock.

PE: Also I don’t know why I said proper release – just meant full length. This EP is proper.

JG: Well “proper” is fitting. This is the first digital-only thing I’ve ever released.

PE: It’s the wave of the future! Only singles! Only digital! Only on tik-tok! (barf emoji).

JG: Yeah, with digital-only I definitely enjoy the immediacy and not having copies of the release sitting around forever. 

PE: Oh man, I feel that. Beltalowda is thinking of doing vinyl for our next release because I guess JD and I need new cardboard footstools.

JG: Ha yeah, I love releasing vinyl. But I also kinda hate it. I don’t like waiting that long, and I sometimes eventually have this feeling of like “was this really worth the resources?”

PE: There is definitely something to be said about the ease and immediacy of releasing digitally. Very practical for releasing an EP or a single, where the cost of physical manufacturing maybe doesn’t make sense for just a few songs. 

You said some of these songs had been around a while and some were in a burst of writing in May. Did you have some songs already for the next full length that you’re sitting on because they didn’t really fit this buried in distortion aesthetic?

JG: The songs that I had, I wasn’t really sure what they’d be for. They probably would’ve ended up on a full length in normal times, but this is just what I had to work with when I started working. That is to say, they probably would’ve otherwise just been recorded in a studio were it not for quarantine.

PE: As a fan, how do you consume music these days? I’m still buying physical copies of artists I want to support as much as I can, but it’s hard to argue against the convenience of streaming services..

JG: I do both. I buy records if it’s something I want to support or I know I want to have forever, or if the release just seems really cool, or if I think my son might like it someday. I’ve always been that way though. I’ve never been able to afford all the music I want to have and hear in my lifetime, so I’m not sure that streaming has changed that. It was hard to argue against taping each others record collections onto blank cassettes throughout the 80’s and 90’s, but that’s what we did back then. 

PE: Good point. I find that I use streaming as a resource tool to catch up on bands that I missed the first time around. I think the idea of buying vinyl with the mindset of passing it down to your son is a pretty great way to think about it as far as what makes the cut and what doesn’t. What are three albums you want your son to hear when he’s older and why those albums?

JG: He just turned 3 and is a total sponge for everything. He’s currently really into “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard.” He’s made a point to tell me he “really loves that song” and he could fudge his way through the lyrics after just a few listens. Paul Simon was something my parents played all the time, so it’s cool to see that get passed on so quickly. I don’t know what I think it’s important for him to hear, because with streaming, it seems like at this rate he’s just gonna hear it all eventually. He also likes “Beat on the Brat” a whole lot. I think the last record I bought was this really great sorta post-punk album by Sweeping Promises. If I put that on he’ll dance to it. I just hope he learns to appreciate all kinds of music really.
I’d like to find more hip hop stuff that he’ll enjoy. He likes “Can I Kick it” by A Tribe Called Quest.

PE: Sounds like he’s off to a well rounded musical education. Does he play any instruments or show any interest in following in you and Erin’s footsteps in that direction?

JG: I think so, but we’ve tried not to force it. He definitely likes to make up funny little ditties around the house, which is something Erin and I do, and something my mom would do. Just turning every mundane thing into a tune. He likes to bang on my drums and strum our guitars, but I’m not sure he sees it as something to focus on yet

PE: Well I think I speak for all the readers when I say we would love to know what some of the lyrics were to your latest mundane thing tune.

JG: Ha, I’m not sure they’d be interesting out of context and I’m struggling for examples. But just like changing the lyrics of a song to fit what you’re doing – do you ever do that? 

PE: Oh yeah, all the time. I’ve been learning how to do html recently so you can often hear me singing to myself “I feel stupid…and code breaking” which is me as Kurt Cobain as a computer programmer.

JG: Ha ha, that’s exactly what i mean

PE: Ok, I know you have to get back to your day and go vote, but before I let you go, let’s talk about your visual art for a minute. It seems like that has been a growing thing for you the last year or two, yeah?

JG: Yes, thanks for asking. It’s something I started doing a couple years ago. Erin was booking art shows at Rainbow Bakery and there was an open month to fill, so I said I’d do it. I’d just made the cover art for that last Full Sun album and had stumbled into a collage process that felt kinda limitless, so I just really fell in love with doing it and couldn’t stop. 

PE: It’s a very defined style and something pretty unique. There’s a strong abstract minimalist art meets graphic design thing going on. Did you have some favorite visual artists that influenced you or is this just what came out as you sat down to fill that month’s art show?

JG: Thanks. I like colorful, abstract stuff. If it’s figurative art, I’ve always gravitated to the classic pop artists. I like stuff that is eye-catching but doesn’t take itself too seriously. When I lived in Richmond, I used to watch my good friend Adam Juresko work on collage stuff and was inspired by the frenetic energy of the process, sorta like order out of chaos, but still chaos. I’ve felt like I’ve developed a discerning eye over the years, but never quite known what to do with my hands. This sort of combines things I like: scouring thrift stores for content, playing with photocopiers (I’ve always made flyers and used to make zines), and ultimately sitting alone at home and focusing on something. When our son was born, it was hard to do my usual creative things at night (like make noise) so this filled the void nicely.

PE: Right on man, as the saying goes: “Creative life, uh, finds a way.” – me, co-opting a movie quote. Thanks for taking the time to talk today. Before we go, what’s next for Full Sun?

JG: For sure. Well, there are 3-4 more songs nearly done that I want to add to that “2020 Singles” release in the next month, including some appearances from bandmates. We did some face-masked tracking in separate rooms in my house. Also look out for the album from The ShackUps, a band I play guitar in. It was tracked before the pandemic and should be released maybe on Halloween? I’ll leave you with my fav quote from my fav movie “For me, the action is the juice.”

PE: Always welcome a quote from….Spice World?

JG: HEAT (1995). I saw Spice World in the theater though.

PE: ME TOO. Went ironically, left a non-ironic fan.

JG: Still trying to figure out how I feel about it. It’s complex.

Full Sun’s new EP “2020 Singles” is available now at bandcamp, as is their entire discography. Get your copies here.

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