One out of three ain’t bad.
After a day spent out in the sun, watching and waiting we (“we” being about nine of us at the time of this interview) and not getting anywhere we were greeted by the presence of, Alkaline Trio drummer, Derek Grant. The plan had originally been to speak to all three of the guys (a plan that may still go ahead), but due to some last minute scheduling issues it wasn’t to be. Thankfully, Derek obliged and we have something special for you, dear reader.
Courtesy of, our friend, Jodie Weatherley’s new production company, Trust No One Productions, we have a video interview. That’s right, you don’t have to read a wall of text. Although, if you want to, it’s been transcribed anyway.
This was in Derek’s own time, hence why it’s only a quick one. Massive thanks to him.
Ian Critchley: On your new album you’ve returned to your roots. Was that a conscious decision, or did you just start jamming out and it just kind of happened?
Derek Grant: It just happened, it was more coincidental. We knew that we wanted to work with the producer that the band used to work with and record at the studio, do something in Chicago, and I think it was just a matter of those elements and where we were at as people and, like, the songs that we were writing. So it just came out that way.
IC: On the Heart & Skull Records front, it’s a partnership with Epitaph, what was the decision behind that entire thing?
DG: Well, we were gonna self release the record, so we started our own label, and then Epitaph, basically, we’ve been friends with them for a long time and they said: ‘we know a lot about the business, we can help you out with some of the details’, so we licensed the record to Epitaph.
IC: Good for that, Epitaph, aren’t they? Do you think there’ll ever be a Dan-fronted single?
DG: You never know.
IC: There never has been though.
DG: Yeah, I mean, there hasn’t been and it’s a mystery to me why that hasn’t happened. A lot of times, the singles are picked by the record label.
Anthony Barlow: I really like the horn section in ‘Lead Poisoning’, but it’s somewhat of a point of contention with fans.
AB: What do you personally think of it?
DG: I think it suits the song just fine. When I first heard the idea, I was a little surprised but…
IC: Did you not write the horn section?
DG: No. It was all Matt.
IC: I thought you did, because you did the orchestral thing on ‘Sadie’
DG: Yeah, it was all Matt’s idea.
IC: No way.
DG: Blame Matt.
IC: You and Matt, apparently, bought each other Church Of Satan memberships and then, kinda, went back on it.
DG: A long time ago. I didn’t.
IC: Did Matt?
DG: Maybe a little bit, but I think he shy’s away from talking about it.
IC: It’s nothing like…
DG: It wasn’t the most serious decision to begin with. You know, in my opinion, being a part of any sort of organisation is kinda foolish.
IC: Yeah, yeah definitely.
DG: Especially an organisation that preaches free thought. To be part of a group mentality doesn’t make a lot of sense. So it was more of a, I don’t want to say it was a joke, but it was more of something that was a bonding experience for us. It was pretty early on, once I’d joined the band, and one of the first things Matt and I bonded over was Satanism. Like, I grew up, my mother was a follower of Anton LaVey and LaVey and Satanism, and Matt was into it from an early age as well. So, when we first started hanging out, we didn’t know each other that well and we were trying to find things in common and that was one of the the most outstanding things.
IC: On that same level, you have a pentagram on your nipple. Could you show that to the camera?
IC: No. Are you not gonna do that?
DG: That’s a tattoo for my mom.
IC: Oh right, ok.
AB: You’ve done some pretty surprising covers over the years you’ve been going, is there anything like that coming in the future? *
DG: Yeah, we’ve been talking about doing a covers album for some time so…
IC: Is that Those Crooked Vulva’s?
DG: No, that’s a totally different project, but maybe some of the same songs.
AB: You’ve been playing Ramones covers as well
DG: Yeah, we haven’t played any Ramones covers in a while. We’ve been doing some Misfits songs lately.
IC: Is any of that gonna be played tonight?
IC: Good stuff, yeah. What’s your favorite Trio album as a drummer? What album do you feel you’ve played best on as such?
DG: Well that’s interesting actually, because my favorite Trio records are the ones I didn’t play on. Which is, maybe, becuase I’m a fan of those records and it’s a little bit easier to be objective about things. As far as records I’ve played on, I’d have to say this one.
IC: Oh yeah, right. If Chuck Ragan, this is kind of a joke question, if Chuck Ragan, Henry Rollins and a shark had a fight, who do you think would win?
DG: Oh man, I would say Chuck. Chuck’s pretty tough.
IC: Everyone goes for Chuck.
AB: It’s four nil!
DG: I like Henry Rollins just fine, and he seems tough enough. To be honest, I’ve never seen Chuck in a fight, but I know what lies beneath. Henry Rollins seems like kind of a nice guy. As is Chuck, but Henry seems like, I don’t know, like he wouldn’t fare well in that situation.
IC: *laughs* he’d kinda separate himself.
AB: We talked a bit about the setlist, is there any songs you refuse to play?
IC: None that are boycotted, as such.
DG: No. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll play anything. The other guys might have different opinions.
IC: Do you find it hard choosing a setlist, because you’ve got seven albums out now and a load of other stuff as well?
DG: Yeah, it’s impossible. You can never please everybody.
IC: Finally, is there anything you’d like to recommend: music, film or literature? Because there’s a lot of stuff I’ve gotten into through Alkaline Trio.
DG: Oh man, so much stuff. House Of Leaves, the book is amazing. That was very influential for all of us actually. House Of Leaves is an amazing book. I’m trying to think of, as far as films are concerned. There’s a film called Martyrs that’s pretty interesting. We just watched that one. Bronson, you’ve probably seen, I think it did pretty good over here. Musically, I listen to, mainly, older stuff. I don’t listen to a whole lot of new music.
IC: Is there not any new bands you’re into at the moment?
DG: Not really. I mean, I’m always looking for new stuff, but I tend to be disappointed.
IC: Have you heard a band called Crazy Arm?
IC: They’re from round here, and they’re really good.
DG: Ok, I’ll check them out. I appreciate the suggestion.
IC: Right, thank you very much.
DG: Sorry it took me so long to get out here.