Glasgow based singer/songwriter Steve Grozier released his latest songs on a double A side digital single last Friday. This Saturday he has a launch party to celebrate the release at The Old Hairdressers , a funky and wonderfully distressed venue in the city centre which is high on the list of the hippest places to play in these days. The release follows on from two well received EPs, Take My Leave, released in 2016, and A Place We Call Home which came out a year later. The discs were instrumental in getting Grozier prized slots at festivals in the UK and some regular rotation on roots based radio shows. The new release maintains Grozier’s reputation as a winsome and somewhat melancholic artist, his mellow voice supported by some very sympathetic players including his buddy, Roscoe Wilson, a Glasgow guitarist who has mastered the art of country rock licks and doleful lap steel.
Goodbye Rose is a lachrymose affair with some fine chunky and curling guitar licks over a sluggish rhythm, a thick as molasses southern affair. Jason Molina’s Blues is leaner with keening lap steel adding a valedictory sense as Grozier salutes one of his musical heroes. We’ve heard Grozier perform this live on a few occasions and it’s always been quite chilling to hear. Suffice to say that here he has captured that chill perfectly in the studio on what is a remarkable song. Both songs indicate that Grozier continues to grow in confidence as he plows on despite the difficulties encountered by a truly independent artist these days. In the run up to this weekend’s show Steve was kind enough to have a quick chat with Blabber’n’Smoke.
First off, congratulations on the new release. What can you tell us about the songs and why a double A side release?
Well, the first one is Goodbye Rose, which details the disintegration of a marriage following the loss of a child. The second, Jason Molina’s Blues, is inspired by and dedicated to the memory of the American singer-songwriter Jason Molina. I wrote the latter after reading Erin Osmon’s book Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost. I don’t know if the term ‘double A side’ still has meaning with a digital only release, but I liked the way The Hold Steady recently released a series of singles (two tracks) over the course of about a year. I thought it was an interesting way to release music. The costs involved in delivering hard copies such as CDs are so prohibitive these days, particularly for independent artists, and I lost money on both of the EPs I released. I do want to continue to release music, but I need to work out how to do that in a sustainable way. I did look into a small run of 7” vinyl for these two tracks. Unfortunately, without a tour to support the release I definitely wouldn’t make my money back. I would love to have something on vinyl in the future, finances and audience permitting.
One of the reviews of your first release, Take My Leave, stated, “Part Townes Van Zandt, part Jason Isbell, Grozier’s vocal style is a classic blend of old and new Americana,” which is fine praise. Which artists have influenced you and who do you rate today?
Fine praise indeed. I admire both of those artists. Personally, I’m not sure I sound like either of them, but no complaints here. I’ve always been drawn to songwriters that have something interesting to say about heartbreak and the darker aspects of life and death. Equally, I like something with twangy guitars. The alt-country scene was emerging at the time I really started exploring music, buying my own records and going to shows. I was interested in the way that bands like The Jayhawks, Wilco, Son Volt, Old 97’s, Drive by Truckers and Richmond Fontaine took that punk/DIY ethos and applied it to country songs. A few of the contemporary artists I admire include Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, Jenny Lewis and Big Thief and loads other that I can’t think of right now.
So was that when you started to write your own songs?
Like a lot of songwriters and musicians, I grew up in a house filled with music. I have my dad to thank for that. I don’t know if he ever played an instrument, but he was a singer in a band, briefly, and he loves music. I remember when I was growing up and he had this Pioneer record deck and he’d always have on a blues or rock ‘n’ roll record. I grew up listening to Springsteen and Dylan or The Stones and Rory Gallagher. I didn’t get into country music until later, when I heard The Flying Burrito Brothers. I started writing when I was in high school, probably when I was 15 or 16. It was just poetry at first. Then, I found my dad’s acoustic guitar. I’d never heard him play it. I started setting this awful poetry to the few chords I’d learned from a charity shop chord book. The first song I ever learned to play was Blowing in the Wind by Bob Dylan.
Going back to the EPs, they got some fine press and on the back of that you were selected to appear in the showcase events for last years’ AMAUK awards festival down in London. You’ve also played a couple of festival shows over the past two years so what have been the highlights?
It was great to have the opportunity to play the AMAUK showcase. Roscoe (Wilson) and I went down to London and we played completely unplugged in this little room above a pub and you could have heard a pin drop. It was a rad couple of days and it was also cool to have had our pals from James Edywn and The Borrowed Band there too. Other highlights from last year have to include Maverick Festival. I got to play in a barn and then record a couple of songs for Richard Leader’s radio show. Closer to home I did a rare full band show at King Tut’s with Blitzen Trapper back in April ’18 and it was fun too. The guys in that band are sweet people.
OK, it’s on to the launch show for the new release this weekend at The Old Hairdressers. What can we expect?
This show is going to be special. It’s an intimate (50 covers) all seated affair with cabaret tables, candles and fairy lights all those things. It’s with my band, the Wildcats – Roscoe Wilson on electric guitar and vocals, John Dunlop on bass and it will be our first show with Graham McDonald on drums. No spinal tap jokes please, but he’ll be our fourth drummer in just over two years! I’m also delighted to have Scottish Alternative Music Award winner Megan Airlie joining us on the bill.
Tickets for Steve’s launch show are going fast but you might be able to snag one here, a steal at only £6.
Goodbye Rose/Jason Molina’s Blues is available here.
Thanks to Ryan Buchanan and Graham McCusker for the pictures.