Ever since he joined the band 3 (Three) I got the vibe that bassist Daniel Grimsland was a pretty cool dude. I have always gotten along with the guy and found him to be very talented and a great addition to the long running Kingston, NY based pop/funk/metal/prog rock act. His confidence and talent came along at a crucial time for keeping the band going and Daniel has played a big role in making them who they are today.
I’ve known the rest of the band a long ass time and so since I had never interviewed Daniel directly, I wrote him and asked if he was down to talk to Metal Riot about Three’s latest Metal Blade release THE GHOST YOU GAVE TO ME, touring with Cynic, the spiritual side of playing music and life in general. Grimsland was down with it so here ya go, sports fans!
To read the interview click HERE.
Morgan Y. Evans: First off, how was the recent Cynic tour? That must have been really awesome. Can you talk about some of the highlights? What an honor for you guys!
Daniel Grimsland: The Cynic tour was great, thanks! We were also out with Scale The Summit on that run, and they are an amazingly talented group of guys. Everyone in that band is a step above on their instrument, and the same for Cynic. Getting to see those 2 bands every night was really inspiring. There was a funny moment in San Fran when the other 2 bass players were chop swopping, and showing each other these crazy finger techniques, mind blowing stuff, and knowing I didn’t have anything to offer in that area I asked, “Any of you guys wanna learn how to play with a pick?”. It felt great to be back out on the road. It had been a few years since we had been out for more then a week, so I was pumped! For me, playing The Key Club in West HollyWood was a highlight. I love the West Coast, and I’m kind of a movie nerd, so going to Hollywood is always so much fun for me. We got lost after the show, and wound up driving through the tunnel in Back To The Future 2! I was asleep, and woke up as we were going through, and I started bugging when I realized were we were. Plus, The Key Club is right where it all went down! Such a cool area. I can imagine that must have been a crazy place during the “Hair Band” era. It’s right next to the Rainbow Room, so we went there for an end of tour drink, and Ron Jeremy was sitting at a table. I love shit like that! All and all a really great run of shows with 2 great bands.
MYE: Is there a spiritual side to playing music for you? It is such an emotional experience sometimes that can connect a player to the crowd and higher feelings, just the rush of being alive or even much more. Care to discuss?
DG: Yeah totally! Nothing makes me feel like music does. Being on stage, and really anytime I play music, it’s like the only time I feel truly comfortable and confident. It’s the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do, and nothing makes me happier.
MYE: “React” is elaborate but poppy, a quintessential balance in the Three songs that I think work best. It must feel great being in a band where you can play in different expressive modes and show sides of yourself and different stylistic tastes but have the sound of the band still “make sense” as a whole.
DG: Thanks! Yeah, there is something really special about this band. I’m not really sure how we pull that off, but it’s one thing that I really love about 3. I guess it’s because we all come from different worlds musically, that we kinda just do what we do. Ha, I wish I could explain! It just kinda happens! Also, everyone in the band is really an “individual” on our instruments, and as people, so I think that has a lot to do with it, plus Joey’s songwriting is so great. It’s surprising, and I’m always kept on my toes in a way, so you have to have a wide variety of musical influence just to keep up in this band! It’s great to be challenged like that.
MYE: What were the biggest challenges tracking and writing the new record? How was the band getting along and what were your goals. It sounds amazing. I know it was a very important release for moving Three’s career forward.
DG: Well, right before all of this, we had some label troubles. We had signed to RoadRunner, but we were recording REVISIONS for MetalBlade, and had to put our writing on hold to do that. We had this idea, ya know, that RoadRunner was really gonna take us to “the next level”, but then they dropped us before we even started to record. So, that set us back about a year, and we had already been writing and recording for the last year, so it had been a long time. By the time we were back with MetalBlade and began recording “TGYGTM” I was feeling pretty low. We hadn’t been on the road in quite some time, and I’ve been spending 80% of my life on the road since I was 17, so being home for such a long period of time, and working as a bartender, and just a general feeling of uncertainty, and almost failure was really the biggest challenge for me, so, it was really tracking and writing that record that kept me from going nuts I think! It was such a fun experience working with Chris and Mike at AppleHead too. Really cool for me especially to work with Chris Bitner, who of course was the original bass player in 3. But, through all this, as a group I think we held it together pretty well. I mean, we’re still going right? Something like loosing our record deal could pretty easily break a band up. We’re a family now at this point, and oddly enough there really weren’t any fights during all this, and our goals were just to make the best record we could. Our manager at the time said “Give me Dark Side Of The Moon!” so we gave it our best shot!
MYE: Can you talk about your new solo project? I like the subdued funk vibe of what I have heard so far. Early Three was very funk influenced before you joined, way back in the day. What influences are you drawing on for it?
DG: Yeah man! The Grape And The Grain, is a project I started a few months back. Basically, I bought the GarageBand app for my iPhone just to kinda goof around, and the next thing I knew I had a bunch of songs written! That app is awesome by the way! A lot of the finished product was played on my phone, keyboards mostly, but it’s really amazing what you can do these days with a phone! I’m still in the recording process right now, which I love, recording in some ways is really my favorite part of being a musician. It’s the creative process, and having something at the end, is really rewarding to me. I’m playing all the instruments and doing all the vocals too! I’ve always wanted to do that, really just to see if I could pull it off. It’s been a lot of fun. Some of it is funky, I’m totally influenced by funk and R&B, but a lot of the album is more in the blues/country/rock vibe. I listen to so much music, and so many different styles I tried to pull from all it while doing this project, but lately I’ve really been digging on stuff like The Black Keys, and various Jack White projects, and that style was a really big influence on this project, and of course Zeppelin, and The Beatles, and all the classic greats are always in my head somewhere. Joey Eppard has been working with me on this too, he engineered the drum tracks for me and he’s also going to mix it. No release date yet but hopefully soon. I gotta get back to work!
MYE: “Sparrow” is a great song, probably my favorite from you guys in years. Covers a lot of territory and has a big emotional impact. Can you talk about what it was like writing that one. Was it all Joey or a collaboration?
DG: Thanks! That’s one of my favorites as well! Really a bad ass rock song. I believe that song started out as a Joey and Chris Jam. I remember they had given me a cd with the 2 of them kinda jamming on that riff, and then one day at practice we realized that was an old song we had never finished, and this new riff we had, actually fit perfectly together, and thats how “Sparrow” was born! A melding of 2 songs. Vocally that’s a great one, that was one Joey and I did together. We had set up a mic in the hallway for “gang vocals”. It was really funny, him and I yelling “I’m not your enemy” at the top of our lungs in a hallway! I kept saying “We gotta Four Year Strong this shit dude!” The vocal arrangement on that song is really great, not always easy for me to always pull off live though! Everyone really stepped up on that song I feel. Great drumming, and an awesome Billy Riker solo in that one!
MYE: When you were young, what do you think made music attractive for you?
DG: I wanted to be just like my Dad. My Father is an amazing guitar player/songwriter, and my earliest memories of music are of him playing in the house, or seeing him play with his band Contender in the late 80’s early 90’s was really the reason I started playing in the first place. He had given me a guitar at a very early age. I wanna say I was like 4 or 5, but I switched to bass because I didn’t know there was a difference as a kid and the bass my Father had was a blue Fender Mustang with a pearl pick guard. My guitar was just black, so I thought that bass was way cooler looking so I said ,”I wanna play that one. It’s cooler looking” so he gave it to me and taught me to play it. I have that bass tattooed on my left arm now! I wish I still had it for real though!
MYE: Levon Helm, one of the greatest figures in rock history, just passed away. Being from the Hudson Valley, New York area I am sure you are aware of the heritage of The Band. Levon was also a big part of the musical community. This is less about him directly then I wanted to ask, how much does community and your role as a musician in your area and the people around you affect you? Woodstock has a long tradition and I have always personally felt as a singer (even when playing really heavy music or any style) good to be part of upholding a quest for creativity and opening minds through pushing musical boundaries.
DG: Levon will certainly be missed. He was one of my favorite drummers, and I love The Band. I had the honor of playing with, Jim Weider and Randy Cirlante who were members of the Band when they reformed, in The Jim Weider Band II. I feel like the Hudson Valley music community has always been very welcoming to me. I started playing in bands locally when I was 12, and I’ve always felt encouraged by the musicians here. Because I started so young in a lot of ways it feels like a Family to me, and I feel very lucky to have some of the greatest musicians in the world living right down the street!
MYE: Do you think in some ways it was a blessing the Roadrunner deal fell through?
DG: I don’t know that’s a tough one. It’s hard to tell really. I do think about that, ya know? Kinda like “what if?” but I guess we’ll never know. The deal wasn’t a very good one. They were going to be taking a pretty big percentage of our money, so I guess that’s a blessing that we get to keep more money, but at the same time who knows what would be going on now if we were still with them….
MYE: I have heard you are a Paul McCartney fan. That makes sense since he is a tasteful yet technically capable player, like yourself. Any first memories of the Beatles? Any new bands you feel are also good at blending pop and harmony with complex arrangements? I am loving the band Lemuria. I think you’d love them. Check them out!
DG: I certainly am a huge McCartney fan. He’s my favorite bass player, followed by Tony Levin at a very close 2nd, who of course we are super lucky to have in our area. The Beatles have always been a huge influence on me. I have this memory of being very young, I wanna say 4 or 5, and my Dad taking my hand and singing “I Want To Hold Your Hand” as we crossed parking lot, also “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey” was one of the songs that made me really wanna play bass. There’s that little bass fill he does in that song that I thought was the coolest thing I’d ever heard! I haven’t heard that band Lemuria. I’ll have to check them out. The Dear Hunter is a band I feel is really taking that whole thing to the next level. Great complex arrangements and a ton of harmony. There are many other bands I’m sure. I feel like there’s a lot of good indie rock these days, bands that are doing the whole “Beatley” thing really well. Every time I put on indie rock Pandora I’m always pleasantly surprised!
MYE: I remember when you first joined Three. Was it hard stepping into an established band with a long history and following up some really great past former bassists? I think you have early made your own mark now with the group.
DG: Well thanks Morgan. I’m glad to hear you say that. It wasn’t hard, but I did have to find my own voice. 3 has had two amazing bass players before me, and when I was first learning the songs, it wasn’t that I had a hard time, but those two each have a voice and a style that can’t be replicated, and I realized I just have to be myself. I’m never gonna be able to play those songs like they did so I have to find my own way, and I think it wound up working. Really I just think of my job in the band is to make sure the other guys shine. My band members are amazing musicians and I wanna be the guy to hold it down so they can branch out. It’s been 7 years and I hope it’s many more.
Thanks again Morgan.