Never Underestimate Grand-Paps
Chronicles of Chaos chats with Old Grandad
by: Adrian Bromley
It would be a lie if I said San Francisco trio Old Grandad didn't take their music seriously. I would also be lying to you -- big time -- if I said the band lacked humor and creativity in what they do. Old Grandad is a heavy slab of Satan loving, pot smoking, free for all thrash/rock/metal that radiates an electric feel of heaviness with each listen. Heaps of gritty guitar work and demonic vocals fuse together monstrous waves of psychedelic dirge-driven tunage reminiscent of great bands like Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet and the real metal masters -- Black Sabbath. Led by bassist/vocalist Max Barnett, Old Grandad -- rounded out by drummer Will Carroll (who had a short, fill-in stint with Machine Head) and guitarist Erik Moggridge -- have the goods to take them far. Their latest effort and follow-up to last year's _Vol. 666_ is called _OGD Ep / _San Fran666co Bootleg_, and like their previous outing, Old Grandad play strong metal music with a real knack at fucking things up. Whether it be Lucifer having his way with the band and/or lots of pot/drugs (I'm voting on the latter excuse), Old Grandad let loose a frenzied assault of demented ideas that stick to you like glue. Each song makes you want to pump your fist and just head bang all the freakin' day. I love this shit. By e-mail, the zany metallic frontman Max Barnett responded to several questions that CoC had forwarded him. His answers, a little weird (drugs, I say!) at times, but an insightful and interesting look into the band. Hail Satan, smoke dope and read on.

CoC: In terms of musical style, how would you describe the music of Old Grandad? What were the influences and are you affected by outside music nowadays?

Max Barnett: In terms of style, we describe ourselves as "the new sophistication." A perfect mix of sequined skirts and sleeveless sweaters, rhinestone-studded bikinis (it's all about hipbones), armies of Sicilian seamstresses and innovative knitters, golden goassamer threads, the pretentious eccentricity of it all, blouson jackets, a devoutly rich mix of fabrics, in a nutshell: effortless glamour. We are the silk wedding dress at Satan's wedding! Our primary musical goal is to convince listeners that we are promoting, and developing, the use of brass polishing cream in the process of brewing beer. Although we stumbled upon the discovery by accident, we feel that it is important to inform others of what we have learned. Man, what a buzz! As for our musical influences: death, suffering, the slaughtering of cute fury animals, um, death -- oh yeah, I already said that one -- blasphemy, lots of blasphemy, cannibalism, violence, heavy drug and alcohol consumption, comedians inspired by all of the above, especially violent comedians inspired by all of the above, way too many bands to mention (Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath, to name a few, not to mention Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Voivod, Black Sabbath, Korpse, Black Sabbath, GWAR, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Entombed, Metallica, Van Halen, ... ).

CoC: There seems to be a lot of humor and fun permeating throughout the music of Old Grandad -- aside from the metal and satanic images/sounds -- why is that? Do you think that sets your band apart from others?

MB: Well, we definitely take our Satanism seriously. And Satan takes good care of us. Humans, however, are a consistent and invaluable source of humor.

CoC: How often do you guys play out or write material? Do you tour much? Are tour plans in the work?

MB: Often. No. Yes.

CoC: Working from a small independent label, other than their work, how do you get the name of the band out? Do you have an active hand in spreading the word or just let label/PR person do the work?

MB: Besides watching daytime TV game shows, wandering the streets aimlessly, predicting the apocalypse and bothering tourists, I spend all of my free time promoting Old Grandad. College radio promotion, in-store appearances, media attention, multimedia events, Internet on-line publicity are all potential methods of promoting Old Grandad, none of which I have ever really tried.

CoC: Tell me about the San Francisco music scene. At one time it used to be a huge metal market (Testament, Metallica, Machine Head) -- is it still bubbling with metal enthusiasm? How do you view today's music scene?

MB: Bubbling sounds can still be heard. But, as far as anyone with the ability of speech can say, San Francisco's music scene is an undeniable reflection of the increasingly complex diversification of modern society. Whereas in the good ol' days there was simply, "Joe-Blow's Record Store", now you find "Fred Head's Industrial Plumbing Supply and Record Store" (where, in addition to 9,000 miles of two-inch PVC pipe, you can also purchase Fred's latest release, _Sounds of the Sewer, High-Fidelity Recordings of America's Worst Plumbing Disasters_), "Humberto's Taqueria and Disc" (Humberto has three CD's out, all of which are featured on _Sounds of the Sewer_), "Martha's Colorful Hair Salon and Albums Cut by Musicians with Colorfully Cut Hair at Martha's Colorful Hair Salon" (currently on sale here are releases from the following bands: High From The Hairspray, The Barbershop and Clinically Trained Hair Highlighting Quartet, You Gonna Bitch While I Have This Sharp Object in my Hand?, and, I Said An Inch Off the Back Not a Foot). Indeed, the Bay Area music scene ain't what it used to be.

CoC: How did the band get together? Does the band still have the same ideas and standards since the inception? If not, what has changed in terms of what you are doing with the band?

MB: Hell yes, we have the same ideas and standards that we had when we first formed. One of our first ideas was that the theory of gravity was nothing but a myth propagated by shoe and tire salesmen. To this day we still adhere to this belief; not because we are particularly dogmatic, but more because we've put the theory of gravity to the test, and, with enormous quantities of banned drugs, we've found that gravity doesn't actually exist. As for "standards", you can stand on a lot of things, but, to this day I've never heard of anything to stand on called an "ard". No one has ever said to me, "Hey, would you mind standing on that ARD and grabbing that other ARD up there?" So, what do standards really mean if you can neither make sense of "stand" nor "ard"? I guess what I'm trying to say is that, although you can use the word "stand" in a completely grammatically correct sentence, the word "ard" simply does not make a bit of sense. We met each other the same way most band members meet each other: drunken debauchery. We'd been hanging out together for a while and we were all in other bands at the time. Erik and Will had known each other from being native to the Bay Area metal scene. I think I first met Erik shortly after leaving a party while I had nothing but a T-shirt on in the blistering cold. I asked him if I could buy an Epidemic shirt and borrow a flannel so that I wouldn't freeze. He let me buy an Epidemic shirt, but insisted that I rent his flannel for a quart of whiskey a day. I was young, I was freezing; I agreed. Since that moment, I have never rented another piece of clothing. Before Old Grandad was formed, all three of us first met when, if I remember correctly, at least one of us, or, maybe all three of us, were puking off of one of our porches. Old Grandad's inception musically came about when Erik Moggridge and I were living together and decided that we needed to pool our creativity in some extremely blasphemous way. We came up with a couple of songs and brought them to our drummer, Will Carroll. All of us gave up our previous projects and have since been working at promoting our two albums; Old Grandad's debut CD, _Vol. 666_, and, our brand new Hectic Records release, _OGD EP / San Fran666co Bootleg_. Well, "working" might be a bit of an exaggeration.

CoC: Since you cater quite a bit to the world of 'Satanism' in the lyrics and in your music, what is your take on those ideals of Satanism? Is it just playing on images or are you really into practicing it?

MB: First of all, Satanists have the ideals of a box of hair. Second, we couldn't possibly be bothered by practicing anything, let alone Satanism. That's like saying, "OK children, I've got something here for you to practice really hard at after school. Now, when you go home, I want you to practice, for three hours every night, hedonism and anarchy, and then I want you to have sex constantly. Understand?" I speak from experience here. I played both baritone and bass flutes for my high school's band, The Blood Red Moon of Our Dark Lord Lucifer's Unholy Marching Band. But, for the life of me, I didn't see why I needed additional practice at the arts of hedonism, anarchy, and sex. Nor did I understand the difference at the time. Nor did I successfully convince anybody that what I was playing in the marching band was either the baritone or bass flute.

CoC: What gets you to play music? Does it move you? Is it the creativity of making music that keeps you interested? What?

MB: Does playing music move us? Well, I think "drooling" is the appropriate description. The drugs are all fun and nice, but, man, a good bass riff, with guitars going "chang-allee-chang, wwwoooeeoweeeeee," while a drummer pounds on a snare like it was the IRS? Yeah, I'd say that we're slaves to metal.

CoC: You have played quite a few shows with some pretty big metal and hard rock bands (looking at your show list) -- what has been the most memorable moment with any one of those bands? Any bad situations/shows?

MB: Clearly explained in our best-seller, Old Grandad's Scientifically Mathematical Book of Knowledge, good shows do not necessarily result in good memory. Some of our favorite bands that we've had the privilege of sharing stages with include Voivod, Obituary, Skinlab, Fu Manchu, Grave; locals, Lost Goat, Fifty-Lashes (now Flush), Acid King and Altamont, Thunderchimp (now Terror Bat UK). But, to be honest, we don't remember much of what transpired at any of these shows.

MB: If the readers of Chronicles of Chaos had any ability to absorb, process and/or remember information, what would it be? Contact us and we can help you with your condition.

Contact: OLD GRANDAD, c/o Hectic Productions PO Box 401122, San Francisco, CA, 94140-1122, USA mailto:hechtic@hectic.com WWW: http://www.hectic.com

(article submitted 5/2/1997)


ALBUMS
12/9/1999 A Bromley 7 Old Grandad - The Last Upper
8/12/1996 A Wasylyk 6 Old Grandad - Vol. 666
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