A rock quartet that’s hard to quit – and appearing soon at Big Sur’s Fernwood.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
In the songs that the Portland rock quartet Grails puts together, riffs often lift themselves slowly out of a pit of chaos. The band’s eight-minute epic “Acid Rain” starts off as hazy atmospheric music before building to a lush, Pink Floyd-inspired psych-rock sound. At the start of “Reincarnation Blues,” Eastern-tinged fiddle becomes buried under a monster onslaught.
The band’s history seems to mirror the seemingly organic, slow-building melody of their songs. By e-mail, bandmember Emil Amos says the quartet came together nine years ago to perform a one-off show at a Portland experimental film-and-music event.
“Because of the positive reception, we decided to keep playing if anyone wanted to have us,” he writes. “But it was a pretty lackadaisical and local frame of mind.”
Eventually, Amos, who also plays in the San Francisco psych rock band Om, says Grails decided to make their lack of direction a defining element of the band.
“As time went on and we put more work into recordings and shows, we inevitably developed a ‘band-minded direction,’ but we never ceased being a totally nebulous collective that didn’t quite understand our own identity. Around the time of our record Black Tar Prophecies, we decided to turn it into a more deliberate form of sonic confusion and hybridization.”
Conventional markers of success signal that the Grails’ “directionless” approach is working: The band just got signed to perform at an upcoming All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England featuring music heavyweights The Jesus Lizard, Devo and Spiritualized.
GRAILS play 9pm Friday, Feb 20, at Fernwood, 24 miles south of Carmel on Highway One, Big Sur. $12. 667-2422.