Garrison just finished their European tour, and hopefully lots of people got to see them. Their latest album ‘A mile in cold water’ came out on Revelation and it’s a really cool mixture of post-hardcore, indie rock and pop (or something like that), so I decided to do an interview with them. Their singer/guitaris Joesph Grillo answered my questions…

What’s your job in Garrison? Any introduction to start this interview off with?

Hello my name is Joseph Grillo and I am the premier dancer and singer/guitarist of the band known as Garrison. I am doing quite fine at the moment and am just starting on my 2nd pot of coffee for the day. Godamn!

You were just touring Europe, how was that tour? How many people showed up each night and which country did you like most playing in and why?

Europe was amazing. We were out for 5 weeks and right across the board we had incredible shows. I find it fascinating how open minded and politically aware most of the people who came out to the shows were. After almost every night we ended up chatting with some of the people who put it on or had come out until 3 in the morning. On average we had about 200 people come out to the shows depending on where we were. One of the best shows was  in Saarbrücken with Boy Sets Fire. Those guys are friends from back home and it was excellent to be able to not only play a good show but also hang out with them for the night (I wish I’d been there – Stefan).

Did you have the impression that most people knew your last record or did the majority come to the shows just because they were curious?

It’s funny, we would get on stage and I would feel like “Well, we have to impress some people because I’m sure no one around here knows who we are,” but then as we played I would always see people mouthing the words along with the songs. It was very encouraging.

During that tour you played some shows with As Friends Rust on that tour, did you get along good with these guys and what do you think about them and their music?

More friends from the States. We got the chance to hang out with those guys in their hometown of Gainesville, FL last May. Damn! They are some crazy boys! Actually, most of their tour was plagued with bad luck, car accidents and throat ailments and breakdowns, etc. But we managed to have a good time anyway. I like their music a lot. Damian’s voice is pretty unique and I really believe in a lot of the things they say on stage rather than the same tired rhetoric I tend to hear from a lot of bands.

When you look back upon this tour now, how did you like Europe and especially Germany (that's where I live) when it comes to the country and its inhabitants? What is the main difference between Europe/Germany and the US in your opinion?

The main difference is probably the open-mindedness. In the US there is a tendency for kids to really want to define themselves by what they listen to, so if someone is into metal then they are ONLY into metal and if someone is an emo-kid they look the part all the time, but I found that most people in Europe share my record collection, a little bit of everything as long as it is quality. I appreciated that aspect quite a bit.

So was that the first time for Garrison in Europe or have you been here before?

No, first time. I studied in London for 6 months through school and travelled around a bit by myself, but this was the first time touring.

Let's talk a little bit about the last record 'A mile in cold water.' Are you still satisfied with the way it turned out or would you change anything if you would record it now? How many copies did you sell until now?

Absolutely, I am very proud of that record and we spent about 3 weeks in the studio with our friend Kurt making sure things were how they should be. Of course, you always look back and think this and that but it is an excellent document of where we were at the time. Now it would be very different because we have a new rhythm section in the band and as we continue to play with those guys, I am getting more and more excited about the new direction the band will be headed in. And as far as copies sold, I think we have only moved about 12 units total. And I know for a fact my Mom bought at least half of those. So it has done quite well.

The layout for the album was done by Jeff Caudill (Gameface) who does a lot of work for Revelation bands. Are you content with the job he did and did Revelation ask you to use him for the layout? Do you have the possibility to decide which kind of cover/layout you wanna use for an album?

Yeah, Jeff’s great and extremely easy to work with except when it comes to fonts. I swear the guy is a nazi. You may want Bookman old style for example and if he’s not having it, then he is not having it. Pretty crazy. And of course, we have complete artistic control of how we do the covers (aside from fonts, like I said) but all of the photos on the record were taken by our old bass player, Andy, and Jeff put them together and showed it to us. It went back and forth a little bit but I think we are on the same page with a lot of our ideas so it went pretty quickly.

What does the title of the record mean, is there any special meaning behind it or did you just think it sounded pretty cool?

It is a reference to Alcatraz, an island prison located in San Francisco (I know, that’s where I wanted to go when I was in the US in 1996, but the ferry that should take me there was sold out for three days, pretty fucked… - Stefan). Supposedly inescapable, even if you could get past the security you would have to swim about a mile in cold water to get to any past of the shore that was possible to get up on. Most of the records lyrics deal with being able to overcome and get through certain things in life so we thought it would be an apt title.

Kurt Ballou from Converge recorded the first 7", right? He also did the new album, but the 'A bend before break' stuff was recorded with Brian McTernan. Why didn't you work together with Kurt for that release and why did you take him as a producer for the new album again?

Kurt lived down the street when we first started the band and has been a good friend for years so when we needed to do a demo we thought of him first. Then later it was Brian (another good friend) who was instrumental in getting Revelation to notice us. Some of us had worked with him in the past so it was a real treat to be able to make a record with him. Then when it came time to do the full length, Kurt had his studio up and running with 24 tracks and Brian had moved to D.C. I actually spoke with both of them about the project at length and they both regard each other very highly so in the end we made the decision to have a lot of time to work on a recording that was pretty close to home and with someone we trust. I think either way would have had it’s pros and cons. But  they are both excellent at what they do and I am sure that we will be recording with both Brian and Kurt in the future.

Kurt Ballou also did some guitar stuff on 'A mile...'. How did that come into reality, did you force him to do so, hehe?

He actually begged us for about one month to let him play something on the record. I think his exact words were, ”You guys are what I’ve always dreamed of with Converge, I will give you my soul if you let me play on this record.” How do you say “No” to that? (Well… - Stefan) So we let him put down tracks on every single song and when it came time to mix we just sort of pulled his tracks out. I don’t think he has noticed yet.

How would you describe the evolution Garrison has made since the days when you wrote the first own songs until the 'A mile...' record? What's the main difference between this album and the 'A bend before break' recordings in your opinion?

I love both of the records but I think we had more of a chance to expand upon what we do with the full length and I am sure we will with the next record and the next. Everyone in the band loves so many different kinds of music and I think we enjoy exploring different territories with each other. So the newest record is just an extension of the last on in my mind and so on and so on.

Are there any songs on your demo that weren't used on any record by Garrison? If so, will you use these songs in the future?

There was one song, a demo-version of ‘Untitled’ that we never released until recently on a comp. Out of Boston, on Iodine records. I believe it is called ‘Ghost in the Gears. But that’s it really. We don’t have many rare or unreleased tracks at the moment that are not already available in some form or another.

I heard that bands before Garrison were Stricken for Catherine and Iris. Why did these bands split up and how did Garrison form?

Well, they sort of sucked and Garrison was more fun. It made the decision pretty easy. Actually, both Ed and I had been in those bands for a number of years and felt the need to do something new and different. We’ve known each other since the 4th grade so it was really easy to be on the same page about music and work together. And when Garrison sort of presented itself we both dove head first into what we were doing so it’s been a pretty amazing two years.

On the 'A mile...' record one can find the words: "There's only so much coffee inspired by Iris (rip):" What does that mean? Are you referring to your old band and what that a song that this band wrote?

Yes, it is a very different version of piece of an old Iris song. It’s funny because we have shown it to the other ex-members of Iris and none of them has even recognized it as one of their old songs so we don’t feel too guilty for stealing and re-arranging it.

Do you think there's something like an emo hype at the moment and what do you think about emo in general?

Don’t’ get me started. Emo is a tired and pretty much useless word these days. Similar to what the term “alternative” was in the early 90’s. I have seen Jejune, Converge, the Rye Coalition, Cerebes Schoal, Garrison, Boy Sets Fire, the Gloria Record, Embrace, and Slint all called Emo. These bands sound nothing alike. How silly! Generally I find it a poor example of a journalistic crutch. A writer says ‘I don’t want to spend the time to decide what this music sounds like therefore I’ll say it’s “emo”’ Boring….. (Right, but I didn’t say you’re emo by the way… - Stefan).

Which bands on Revelation do you like and which band would you see reunite?

Engine Kid, Quicksand, and Gorilla Biscuits (obvious choice), Kill Holiday, the Beatles, and the God Machine.

Any final words to end this interview with?

Thanks for letting me go off on some stuff in your ‘zine. Rock! –Joseph Grillo

(Stefan Münch)