Friday, April 29, 2011

BIG DAY IN Interview: Woe (Chris Grigg)

Woe began in 2007 as little more than a casual experiment of multi-instrumentalist Chris Grigg. Inspired by both the classics and contemporary raw, underground black metal, the first demo, Absinthe Invocation: Five Spells Against God, was widely received as a worthy addition to the American scene. Fast forward to 2010-2011 and you'll find Woe breaking best-off year-end lists with their latest, Quietly; Undramatically, destroying stages across the states (including sharing the Scion Rock Fest bill with the likes of Morbid Angel, Fuck The Facts, and Bastard Noise), and generally taking the US blackmetal community by storm. Bubba Crumrine takes a moment with Grigg to learn more about Woe and what's coming next. Oh, and they just so happen to be one of the top acts for this May's BIG DAY IN.

IU: When you first started Woe as a one-man project, did you aim to bring it into a live setting with multiple members?

Not at all. The goal was to keep it simple and low-key. My nature is to always push for more so the live experience was the natural next step.

IU: What first brought your interests into the realm interest of black metal and extreme music?

Kind of like playing live, I guess, it was just the natural progression of things. I was always looking for something faster and more intense, more powerful, and I just ended up with black metal and grindcore. I've spent some time trying to write other music and get into other things but I always come right back.

IU: On your debut, you performed all of the instruments - an impressive feat to say the least. What is your musical background and how did you come to be so well versed?

I started playing guitar when I was about 12 or 13, maybe younger. Having to rely on other people really frustrated me because I was writing songs but couldn't get anyone to drum so the idea of getting a kit always appealed to me. I grew up living in apartments, basically, so I never had space for one but when I was a freshman in high school, I convinced my parents to let me get a kit and leave it in our living room. Neighbors were pissed but whatever. I started drumming for a band with some friends and eventually gave up guitar; when I started Woe, I had just started playing guitar again. My playing on the first demo is really, really rough -- I could barely pull it off. Necessity forced me to get better, though, and here I am.

IU: Woe's latest, 'Quietly, Undramatically' still holds to a very raw bm sound, was this your goal going in? Will Woe's sound continue in this direction for future recordings?

I'm not sure if you're talking about the production or the songs themselves so I'll answer both. The production, as far as I'm concerned, is pretty clean. A little too natural, if you ask me. The next one will either sound very big and professional or really raw and nasty. In terms of our stylistic sound, I can't really say what will happen. I know what I want but I don't know if it will still be there when it actually comes to recording. The other band members also have a lot of say in things so what I want might not be what wins.

IU: 'Quietly, Undramatically' boasts a wide array of artists from other projects, how did that line-up coalesce?

Just sort of happened. We all try to keep busy and don't like being limited to one project. I had known everyone for years, they're all local.

IU: Woe recently toured west, highlighted by the Scion Rock Fest - how did the tour and the fest go? Highlights?

It was great. Couldn't have asked for more. The best parts were probably the time spent between shows, van rides and just hanging out. I was in a bit of a mood for a lot of the trip but that's kind of normal with me, I did my best to still be at least kind of cool and looking back, I think more about the good times than the bad. I consumed a lot of basically-legal weed. California is amazing.

IU: Earlier in the year, Evan and Shane left Woe, whom did you recruit as their replacements and what are their backgrounds?

The new members are Shawn Riley on bass and Grzesiek Czapla on drums. Both Shawn and G were Woe alumni. Shawn played guitar for a show and G also played guitar at a number of shows, he's also on a few tracks on the most recent album. When everything went down, there was no question of how things would go. I was not interested in bringing people in to "replace" Evan and Shane cause people can't be replaced. Roles shifted but it was important to not bring fresh blood into the mix. Shawn is best known as the bassist and vocalist of Rumpelstiltskin Grinder; G drums for Philadelphia black metal band Infernal Stronghold.

IU: You've alluded to new material since the material on 'Quietly, Undramatically' to you is over a year old. What can you tell us about the new tracks and any in process releases?

I can't tell you much. We have a fair amount of new material and I think it will come together quickly since I am not the only one writing anymore. I have one complete song and about two in the works and I know of about three others that are in various states of assembly. I am confident that the next album will be Woe's best work and I do not think that anyone who liked either of the past two albums will be disappointed.

IU: What else does the rest of 2011 hold for Woe?

Writing, smoking, thrashing, try to not break down.

IU: Have you ever been to Ithaca before (in a band or otherwise)?

No, I haven't! This will be a first and I am looking forward to it.

IU: Any final words for those coming out to see you at this May's BIG DAY IN?

Abandon hope.