The Growlers have been making a serious commotion with their third album Hung at Heart, released earlier this year. The brain worming tracks tell the tripped out tale of heart break and other adventures.
The Californian residents impending venture to our rainy city this September will presumably be in drag, as women’s apparel is a staple in their vivacious live performance. Fans can also look forward to hearing tracks from their upcoming fourth LP, something Brooks Nielsen, lead singer and Growler mastermind is calling “Hung at Heart’s little brother.”
Our phone call begins with a bright and cheery hello from Nielsen’s California end. His bubbly demeanour may be due to the fact that he is still drunk, as he tells me with glowing pride. He continues, “just wait until my hangover kicks in.”
A scuffle and defeated sigh are overheard from a third-party conversation as Nielsen is denied entrance to a local bar after forgetting his ID and now the hangover is coming more quickly then expected.
The band has just returned from a positive performance at San Francisco music festival Outside Lands and appear to be keeping the party going, a feeling driven into each of their infectious melodies. This feeling is something they intend to keep close.
Hung at Heart was first produced by Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach. “We had about two weeks, writing and recording a song in the same day,” says Nielsen of the experience.
However when all was said and done it just didn’t sound the way the band had hoped. “It was my baby, so I took it back.” He continues, “no hard feelings but I had to take my baby back.” The release date was then pushed and the album was then re-recorded by the band. When Hung at Heart finally made its debut in early 2013, it was 100% The Growlers.
Their unique blend of surf, folk and reverb drenched psychedelia are truly their own, a sound they call Beach Goth. The genre stems from Nielsen’s only musical influence; his old country records. “It’s weird,” he says “I actually don’t really listen to music, I don’t even have an iPod or anything, I would rather make music then listen to it.”
The latest album in particular exemplifies the song writing ability between Nielsen and lead guitarist Matt Taylor. The cross dressing Lennon and McCartney dynamic they have established is gut grabbing to say the least.
“Matt will come up with this great guitar riff and I’ll come back with what it made me feel,” says Nielsen of the process. “Sometimes he’ll be like, ‘That’s so depressing, how did you get that?’ And I’m like, ‘Dude, did you hear what you wrote?’ It works though.”
Nielsen’s lyrics are about love; a theme on the latest album that is anything but contrived. An ever-challenging theme to write about, as it sometimes seems everything has been said and sung before. His earnest ingenuity glides gracefully across Taylor’s inexplicably fresh guitar riffs and tastefully placed effects.
Through their psychotropic chaos and wall of reverb the listener still has a firm grasp on their organic song writing ability, not to mention the vigorous excitement when it comes to their true gift for showmanship.
“I’ve gone onstage before and been a grump,” Nielsen says of performing live. “I still regret it. Now I just want to go out and have fun and I always feel great after a few songs. We love our fans and are so thankful. They deserve it!”
Watch the Growlers get weird at the Electric Owl on Sept. 19.
By Meighan DonaldsonBC, British Columbia