Sunday, March 18, 2018

an interview with Greber

Ontario's Greber make a hell of a racket for two guys without guitars. Cemetery Preston, the duo's third album, makes the most of Steve Vargas' thunderous drums and Marc Bourgon's buzzsaw bass sound. Ever a fan of outliers and innovators, I reached out to the band to find out more about how they arrived at their unique doom metal/grindcore crossroads. Marc was kind enough to answer my questions.

Dreams of Consciousness: Who is Greber and how would you describe the music you make?

Greber is a band that Steve and I play in together. The music is a mish-mash of what we like. We only have bass and drums in the band so it tends to get weird sometimes to spice things up.

DoC: For those who aren't familiar with Greber, please give a brief history of your band - when did you form and what were your goals? How close are you are to those goals now?

When we started Greber, a band that we had played together in for many years had just split up. We took a good inventory of all we had been together and decided that making music and staying close friends was something that we both wanted to do. Our goal when we started the band was to make stupid heavy music that was fun to play live and have the most amount of fun in the process. I feel as though while those goals have been accomplished, we are constantly striving to hit new levels of heaviness and fun. Can’t wait.

DoC: Greber is a duo, consisting of a bassist and a drummer, with both members handling vocals. What led you down this route - was it out of choice or circumstance? What are the difficulties in just being a two-piece, and what are the benefits?

What started as circumstance has slowly evolved into something that we are really stoked on. Having just two instruments is a huge challenge in many aspects and a cake-walk in others. I find that a large difficulty in just having the two elements is the absence of being able to do anything really harmonic on the strings. It has to be effective with just the bass supplying the riff and I’ve always found that Steve’s drum style makes up for the lack of a guitar. We’re at a point now where we’re really finding what works for us and what doesn’t. All our new material is pretty punishing and I’m really excited to play it.

The benefit of being in a band with just one other person is that you don’t have to ask more than one person if he/she can play a show. One text. That’s it. Haha.

DoC: With both members handling vocals, who comes up with the lyrics, and how do you decide on who sings what?

For Cemetery Preston, I wrote the lyrics and split them up. It’s all trial and error really. I will usually demo all the vocals and then listen for parts where Steve’s vocals would be a stronger fit and vice-versa. Doubling is something we like to do as well so it tends to happen a lot. No real formula for it. Just see what works and go for it.

DoC: Your latest album is Cemetery Preston. What does the title signify? How would you describe the evolution from your previous releases til now?

The title comes from a suburb of the city we live in named Preston. It’s a random handle to our vision of a walking purgatory. On this record I feel like we came as close as we could to optimizing the bass/drum combo. Shit hits hard when it needs to and is noodly and fucked up where it works. It’s our best attempt at writing something truly gnarly and pissed, and we tried really hard to get it to that point. I couldn’t be happier with how the record turned out.

DoC: The new album sounds amazingly full and heavy. What was the recording process like? If you don't mind me asking, what is your gear set up, live and in the studio? How difficult is it to capture your bass sound live?

Thanks man! Steve tracked the drums in a day and a half at Boxcar Sound in Hamilton Ontario with a super fellow named Sean Pearson. Dude is a total pro and we will go back to him so long as his digits work. The bass I recorded at my little studio called MO/EX Audio (short for Most Expensive) over the span of a month or so. The vocals were also recorded by us at the studio. Steve did his and I did mine. After everything was tracked we AOL’ed it over to Scott Miller over at Ancient Temple Recordings to mix. He fucking crushed it and made us sound 1009203249% better than we actually do - so to you Scott, thanks.

Once that was all finished, it got sent over to Brad Boatright at Audiosiege for mastering and the rest is history.

It’s pretty hard to capture the bass sound I’m looking for live, but I think I’m as close to being as happy with it now as I’ve ever been. I run 2 main “sounds”. A “guitarish” sound and a bass sound. The “guitarish” chain is a Micro POG with a touch of octave up into a Walrus Audio Voyager then into a TC Mimiq that acts as an artificial doubler to fatten things up. I split the signal again out of the Mimiq and into a Boss HM-2. The HM-2 comes and goes but I’ve had it for some time in the chain and if run quietly enough to not be obnoxious, it sounds awesome (to me).

The bass sound is just an MXR MicroAmp dimed and run into a splitter.

For amps the “guitarish” sound is run through a 5150 through 2 Marshall 4x12’s and the two bass signals are run through an Ampeg SVT Classic and a Traynor MonoBlock into 2 Ampeg 8x10’s.

DoC: Back in 2012 you released a split with the Indonesian grindcore band Proletar. How did you decide to collaborate with them? What would you say the two bands have in common?

Proletar got in touch with us about that. No idea how they heard about us. Their music is fucking beautiful though. I guess we have very little in common other than our “no-bullshit” approach to most things musical.

Actually, someone was supposed to mail us some cassettes but we never got them. It’s hilarious because we get tagged in pictures of them sometimes and wonder where in the world they are. C’est la you know.

DoC: What's next for Greber?

Just playing some shows to support the new record mainly. Got lots of new material in the process of getting written and hopefully that will see the light of day faster than this did. Maybe we’ll do some more touring towards the end of the year but we’re both pretty committed to home stuff so we’ll see.

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