To date Ash Grunwald is a bloke who’s made music on his own and on his own terms. But there’s been a thought tapping on the creative mind of Mr Grunwald who thought perhaps that two-thirds of the Living End could be his band on more than just a single. Well the planets aligned and the guys bashed out an album. And herein lies the story of Gargantua!
‘The whole thing of being the king of your own musical fiefdom is that you can do what you want, it’s been part of my schtick. I have always rolled onto stage and not known what I was going to play first. I’ve taken that approach to who I’m going to play with, I think the stronger sense of musical self you have the more you can do that. This time I’ve gone electric. It’s rocky. I wasn’t expecting that.’
‘I am playing with a character drummer, Andy (Strachan) is the biggest drummer in the biggest band in the country, I don’t have to tell him what to do. I am into it because I have asked for their flavour, it’s not a session with paid musicians – we are in each others’ band, and it’s gone really well. We did a cover of Crazy to promote the tour and it got picked up on commercial radio and I’ve never had that before. We basically went straight to a recording studio and recorded this album!’
‘I am really proud of it.’ Grunwald admits that it’s not in his usual style, that he’d always opted for restraint, and the less-is-more approach.
‘I really loved the old black blues players and I loved Albert King, BB King, and I have been concentrating on playing less notes for my solo show for a decade so I played without bass players, if I did impro, it would be short, or using rhythmic patterns. So doing this album was like getting back to mega younger and playing with little three-pieces and doing guitar riffage…’
‘The words they used to used were power trio, Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn. I guess it all went wrong after that, there were guys riffing for far too long, I have always been restrained, I am not going to go for the 10 minute solo and subsequently that part of me atrophied, whereas that was the nature of what happened so I have allowed myself to indulge a little! I don’t think I have over-indulged!’
One of Grunwald’s most powerful tracks is Last Stand, a song about what he has witnessed first hand in the outskirts of Tara in South Western Qld, where CSG mining has given rise to health problems, and environmental impacts.
Ash believes that not enough people are getting behind the message, nor do they really understand the longterm impacts of CSG on communities.
‘I have really good friends who are intelligent nice people – very compassionate, who tick all the boxes but they are not really interested in the CSG issue at all. People, I guess as humans we are pretty selfish, and just interested in ourselves. In my last album I wrote a song with a chorus like that, asking where are people when you need them, but I’ve been as guilty as anyone. I have always paid lip-service, I have done charity gigs and all those things that have cleansed my conscience, but I am going out on the campaign trail. I am making a film so I can show people what is happening first hand.’
Grunwald is joined by Scott Owen and Andy Strachan of the Living End at the Hotel Great Northern on Thursday.
Tickets $25 + bf from http://thenorthern.oztix.com.au/
Doors open 8.30pm