LOST IN THE DAYDREAM:
A Quick Conversation with Grace Vonderkuhn
by Chris Wolford
CHRISTOPHER WOLFORD: Before we dive into the new album, I’d like to talk about guitars. When did you first start playing?
GRACE VONDERKUHN: I first started playing the guitar at 11 or 12. I was really inspired by the movie "Josie and the Pussycats" to start a band and guitar just clicked. My dad plays so there was an extra Silvertone laying around in a closet that I made my own. I never had a formal lesson and just started playing by ear.
CW: Aside from Josie and the Pussycats, what artists/songs/etc. have shaped your guitar technique and tone the most?
GV: Other artists that have shaped my technique and tone... Indie Rock, especially the early 2000's NY scene with The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeah's. Also The White Stripes, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Pavement. Lots and lots of classic rock--Led Zeppelin, Golden Earring, The Beatles, Robert Fripp, Mick Ronson, Ron Wood, Marc Bolan, Peter Hook and Kim Deal for bass. Also love U.K. Punk, The Buzzcocks, Generation X, the Clash.
CW: There's certainly a healthy dash of fuzz, glam, and psychedelia in the first single "Worry." What made you decide that was going to be the first song listeners heard from your upcoming album Reveries?
GV: I wanted "Worry" to be the first single because it demands attention right out of the gate. A lot of people have come up to me after shows to tell me how much they love the song and how it actually encouraged or inspired them in some way. I figured I would take input from the people who are listening and supporting my music. Plus it seemed like a good way to spread some positivity.
CW: Had you written most of the songs that make up Reveries before entering the studio? How did they change throughout the recording process?
GV: All the songs were written before going into the studio. We recorded everything at my and producer/partner Matt Morrissette's house on an 8 track. We recorded live with my band (drummer Dave Mcgrory and bassist Brian Bartling) and added vocals and layered guitar tracks, etc. So honestly the way we worked it out, the record sounds like us. It's really a representation of how the songs sound when we play them (plus some layers for depth). I had an idea of what I wanted the songs to sound like from the jump, so they really didn't change much aside from a few additions here or there that we wouldn't play as a three piece.
CW: You and your band have played with Titus Andronicus and Sheer Mag, among others. What's been some of the biggest takeaways for you personally from sharing a stage with those bands?
GV: I usually just stand awkwardly by the snacks in the green room until I'm in someone's way. My take away is that it's the same as playing with any other band that I love, whether they're famous or not. I have immense respect for musicians who work day jobs and lots of admiration for people who can make a living playing. I would like to be the latter, so it's always nice playing with and being inspired by people who are "making it."
CW: What experiences, stories, etc. from your day job(s) have found their way into your writing?
GV: Music is kind of an escape from my job. I work in the service industry and deal with a lot of people. At times I find myself listless from the drudgery and the only thing to do is channel my ennui into something entirely different through songwriting. So I guess in an abstract way, my day job forces me to work on music because it's a way out from the mundane.