The Griswolds are an honest band. Sometimes, brutally so. You just have to listen to the lyrics of songs like 'Beware The Dog' ("We used to walk where the wild things grow / But now you're fucking crazy") or 'The Courtship Of Summer Preasley' ("She had the saddest fucking story / And it was bumming me out / Poor little rich girl"). They may be a little older and wiser - and have a bigger international following - but nothing changed when it came to putting together their new album, 'High Times For Low Lives'.
Speaking to guitarist Daniel Duque-Perez, he was fairly certain of the reason. "I think it’s because we don’t give a fuck," he bluntly explained. "So many artists – and I use the term “artists” loosely – so many artists and record labels are scared to take a leap of faith and to bring edge into their music. If you turn on top 40 music, you can’t differentiate one song from the next. They’re all the same, and they’re all saying the same shit. It’s Friday night, we’re gonna dance, we’re gonna make money, this girl, I love you… it’s all the same watered-down crap. When we wrote this record, we didn’t care. We didn’t want fame, we weren’t expecting to get rich off it, we were really just getting back into the art form of music and how much we love music, and how much of an incredible experience it can be when you do it for yourself and not worrying about what the record label thinks."
'HIGH TIMES FOR LOW LIVES' (LYRIC VIDEO) - THE GRISWOLDS
To ensure 'High Times For Low Lives' remained as pure as possible, Dan and singer Chris Whitehall disappeared into the New South Wales wilderness to write it. "There was no phone reception, there was no television reception, there was no internet reception," Dan recalls. "It was kind of perfect, it was just me and Chris, we didn’t have to show our record label. We didn’t have to do anything really, we just had to jam and work on music, swim in the pool, make nice food, play Xbox when we felt like it, and not have heaps of opinions spilling into the music. When we finally got the music all put together, and we had a few songs and the record label finally heard it, they’re like, 'Wow, this is actually really awesome.'"
What eventuated was a mutation of the Griswolds' sound into something new and different. It was a little bit pop, a little bit 90s, and a lot personal. "I didn’t want to write another record people had heard before," Dan told me. "Neither did Chris. We wanted to write something that was more meaningful. The world is in such a chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out phase, and people are just writing songs on the radio, but they’re not talking about anything of any substance. We wanted to bring back albums and bring back messages in music, and get raw and get really honest. Like, really honest. There’s a lot of songs on the record that paint really bad pictures of us as people, but they’re real stories and they’re real lives. You think being a rockstar and travelling the world would be this really great thing and there could never be anything better in the world, but it really comes with quite a toll. You’re away from everyone that you love a lot of the time, you’re never in a city for more than a day, and it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. It is really hard and it does end relationships, and it does lead to drug-taking and it does lead to making mistakes."
We wanted to ... get raw and get really honest. There’s a lot of songs on the record that paint really bad pictures of us.
He wasn't kidding about the touring, either. Having seen their fanbase outside of Australia explode, The Griswolds have essentially spent the past two years touring the world. "It never doesn’t blow our minds to walk out on stage in front of a few thousand people and everyone’s singing along and everyone’s going crazy," Dan explains. "You get to the venue by 2pm, there’s already a line of kids down the street, like 500 kids strong. It’s a trip. You just really don’t focus on it, you just focus on the show and keep your head in the creative stuff."
Still, life on tour has its ups and downs, and The Griswolds' roadtrips aren't entirely dissimilar to that of their namesake family. "I have lost my passport, my wallet, my phone, my watch, so many times," Dan laughs. "On the last tour, I lost my passport two days before we had to go to Canada. I literally couldn’t go to Canada because they wouldn’t let me back into America. So many things went wrong. Our bus was breaking down non-stop. We had to drive from California to Austin, Texas – which is a 23-hour drive basically through the desert in the middle of summer – with no power and no air conditioning. It was 40 degrees Celsius. We left the bus on the side of the road in Austin, and just rented a van for the rest of the tour."
With all this talk of touring, will Australian fans be likely to see the band again any time in the near future? "Oh shit yeah, that’s our highest priority right now. We’re trying to work one out at the moment," Dan reveals. "We’re just trying to figure out how to do Europe, Australia, Asia and America as well. Australia for us is 100% our number one priority. It’s been too long. Things are going well in America, so it’s definitely time to spend more time at home."
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