Grand Head

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by Julie Eaton

Sometimes I agonize over the subject of my articles; other times it’s the article itself that’s tough. This time, it’s the latter. I’ll explain later. Last week, I saw that Grand Head, a Portland/Salem based band would be putting on their debut record release show at The Fifty. They sounded familiar, but I hadn’t  given them a listen yet. I went to their page and listened. I dug it, first listen – which isn’t common for me. That very same day, I randomly met their drummer, Tim Ward, at a show here in Salem. He said he was from Grand Head, and the universe had spoken.

We set up an interview around their practice time, which was amazeballz and something I’d like to do more often when covering bands. I sat down and talked to Tim and his brother Barry Brusseau, (guitarist/vocalist) at their practice spot. I was engrossed by their story. They’re from Longview, Washington and started out in a pop/punk band called The Jimmies. They had serious intentions of getting on a label and realizing success. Barry sent out tapes to every label he could find, and were picked up by Salem’s own Schizophonic Records (remember I-5 Killers albums back in the ‘90s?) Their story was intriguing for me, because I was also a musician in Salem in the ‘90s and I identified with all their references. It was wonderfully nostalgic. I also realized that these guys are seasoned Northwest Music veterans, which is where my agony over this article comes in. I gained a quick respect for them and I want to do them justice.

Grand Head, Right Hand of Doom, and

Moon of The Wolf

January 30th at 9pm

Fifty Pub & Grub – Free Show

We went down to their basement practice space and they played their full set. I really liked their record, but hearing them live in this intimate setting was mind-blowing. They self-describe as doom metal, but there is so much more to this duo. Yes – heavy, droning distorted doom, but they don’t leave you to languish there. It is also riff-heavy and almost danceable at times. And Barry’s guitar tone is so meaty and delicious. Distortion can be a tricky beast if you don’t do it right. You could end up sounding like you’re playing a tin can full of angry bees. Not so here. He doesn’t over-process or over-compress, and what’s left is a fully-rounded, heavy distortion that doesn’t lose it’s low end and sounds just the way it should.  Riff-heavy and lyrically light by design. I am in total agreement with Barry that metal vocals are tricky. He punctuates each song with sparse punk style vocals that do nothing but accentuate the pounding, droning riffs.

All this is held expertly together by Tim’s tasteful and experimental drumming. Good drummers are hard to find and can absolutely overpower anything a song is trying to convey. Tim knows when to be quiet and he knows when to bombast. His rhythms are the perfect compliment to Barry’s punishing guitar work. They also dabble in noise. In fact, rumor has it that Portland noise artist Matt Jenkins from Drunk Dad and REDNECK will be helping out at this show.

Can you tell I really like this band? Recently, I was contemplating being a little more critical in my articles, but I truly have nothing to be critical about here. They have put together a masterful album and a captivating set. Congratulations, guys. I will be at your show with bells on.

Also on the bill is Salem’s own Right Hand of Doom. Metal for sure, but more on the stoner/grunge side. Shane Theis on bass, Bryan Smart and Sean Hollenhors on guitars and vocals, and Josh on drums. Nice match.

Rounding things out is Moon and the Wolf, also from Salem. Tye Patterson and Brent Patterson on guitars, Tyler Korslund on bass and Chad Davis on drums will melt your face with their droning doom. If you like it heavy, you will be at this show.