Releasing the Reek
An Interview with Montreal's Grim Skunk
by: Adrian Bromley
Montreal quintet Grim Skunk are in their own little world of creative music and songwriting. The band - comprised of singer Joe Evil, guitarists Franz and Peter, drummer Ulf and bassist Borris - manage to incorporate reggae, metal, punk and hardcore into their music with the greatest of ease and still make the music sound heavy and chaotic. Multiple adjectives could be used to describe the music of Grim Skunk. My choice: fucked up.

Ever since the release of their two debut albums, _Sonic Blend_ and _Autumn Flowers_ (released independently) a few years back, the band's fanbase has grown in Montreal and the province of Quebec, as well as the rest of Canada. The band really managed to get noticed and have been fortunate enough to be able to tour Europe and across Canada several times thanks in part to a somewhat successful hit single and video for "Silverhead", a single found on their 1994 self-titled debut for Cargo Records.

Since then, the road has strengthened the band's live show and musically the band still has that anarchistic feel to it though more focused now. Loud and brash, Grim Skunk sticks it to us quite hard with their latest sophomore effort _Meltdown_. "In terms of style on this record we wanted to have more of a reggae feel to the record," reveals guitarist Franz, "We are able to do that live but have never been able to get that on record. The big thing was also to get the hardcore punk rock feel flowing throughout the record, something I felt was lacking on our last outing. The last record was more psychedelic and drug oriented music. While putting together material for this record we were on the road and didn't have time to put long songs together so instead we went straight to the point. We simplified all of our tunes and made them as powerful as possible. We made them direct, moving from one end to another quite harshly. We are at our best in the live environment and I'm proud that we were able to capture that with _Meltdown_."

With a somewhat wise man mentality the guitarist mutters, "This is just the beginning for us with this record. We have always had this 'no-limits' philosophy with this band and with this record I think you start to see the maturity in the songwriting area. We have always had longwinded songs that were drawn out a bit and we have managed to connect them a little closer and cut the fat a little more so that not every song is a long adventure for people to try and follow."

As mentioned before, Grim Skunk puts on a strong show and in order to capture that 'live rush' the band opted to record a bit differently than last time out. "We just recorded everything all at the same time. I think this record sounds like you put your head in between all of our amps and the drum kit. This is not a very refined record at all, I think it is very raw. To my ears it is very much in your face." As well, Montreal has always been known for its 'harder' take on the music scene with numerous bands flowing from a death metal scene, hardcore scene and a punk movement. Over the last few years the scene has managed to prosper says Franz. "For us it has blossomed. We have grown steadily over the last little while. The scene has grown and as it has gotten better and better for us it has done the same for the scene too. Younger bands are touring, putting out CDs on small labels or by themselves or even making their own videos. That was something that wasn't happening five years ago."

When asked about how Franz and the band manage to work out of a very multi-styled scene (most notably the death metal scene) he responds, "Some of the death metal people like us because we are heavy and are really aggressive at our shows. Some people don't like us because they say we aren't heavy enough. As far as us getting along with death metal bands, we don't play with them often but when we do it is fun. I respect the death metal scene and a lot of kids in Quebec love it. I can't handle the voices of death metal bands all the time 'cause they get on my nerves. But some are okay I guess." <laughs> He continues, "The scene in Quebec is so open and not divided. You can go to a show and have hippies, metal heads and punks at the same show and see them all up in the pit, especially at one of our shows."

Will success grow for this band with _Meltdown_? "I think if we tour and get visibility I think people will catch on and hopefully things will happen," explains Franz, "but also you can bang your head against the wall for ten years and nothing will happen. We'd rather have people take notice than bang our heads." (no pun intended)

(article submitted 17/7/1996)


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