Mining a sound that fuses the catchiest elements of hardcore and crossover thrash, Grove Street is ready for their close-up.
Formerly known as Grove Street Families, the English quintet has been around for a minute, they've toured with the likes of Agnostic Front and Sick of It All, and shared bills with Knocked Loose, Terror, and Madball along the way.
With Grove Street gearing up to release their debut album, The Path to Righteousness, I spoke with guitarist Chris “Sandy” Sanderson to get the lowdown on their history together so far, why it took over a decade for them to record a full-length, and why he calls becoming their producer both a "blessing and a curse."
How tough was it altering the band name? I remember seeing the band name before hearing you guys and it seemed like the word was spreading well for you before that happened.
To be honest with you, we shortened the name due to wanting to move in a different direction as a band. It felt like the natural thing to do and made sense to us at the point we did it, seeing as we were taking things more seriously and moving away from our original, tongue-in-cheek vibe as the band was just a joke between us as mates originally.
The band has been together for over a decade, so that begs the question: why has it taken so long to record your first album?
As mentioned, in the early years we never really had a plan or agenda for the band other than having a laugh and seeing some new places as a bunch of mates together (which hasn’t changed, to be fair). We never really put much thought into wanting to do an album because it was easy enough to throw together EPs which kept us going and kept opportunities coming our way.
It wasn’t really until we realized that we could potentially do more with the band, if we had an LP out, that we decided we needed to get a full-length record down. We’re stoked to see what doors it will open for us!
How would you say Grove Street’s sound has progressed throughout the years? I’m hearing more of a crossover thrash sound coming through on the album, but the groove-driven hardcore is certainly still there.
I think when we started we just wanted to play shows and have as many people moshing as possible, so a lot of the parts were just written for the pit without really being conscious of whether they worked well together in terms of a song. We’ve definitely learned what works for us as a band and what pleases our personal tastes along the way, and essentially found our sound over the years.
For example, we’ve leaned into the crossover thrash vibe way more than what we did on our previous EP, The Mixtape. As I think at that time we were trying to introduce something new to what we had going on before musically on The LV EP, but looking back, it wasn’t us.
I think especially when writing the new material we were very picky about it being sonically cohesive, but without each song sounding the same. Every track has its own unique flavour and twist on the overruling sound of the record, which admittedly is fucking hard to pull off but I’m stoked on what we’ve all managed to achieve with it!
Since you also handle the recording/production for the band, how tough is that to navigate? I mean that both in being the “Director” and also being able to check yourself as a player/songwriter in a truly objective way.
Oh man, I feel like it’s a blessing and a curse, to be honest. It’s tricky for sure because it’s hard to know when to step away. I feel like you get so much more attached to it because you’ve had a hand in every part of making it, which can lead to making decisions based on what you’re feeling as a performer rather than a listener.
It’s also easy to keep tweaking and tweaking trying to perfect something which can then just overcook the mix completely.
On the other hand, it’s super advantageous in that you know the songs better than anyone. You know the sonic vision for each track better than anyone, and you know exactly how it was recorded. It’s like that old saying, "if you want something done right, do it yourself," and it couldn’t be truer in this instance.
Originally, we hired someone else to mix the record so that we had a fresh second pair of ears on her, but it just didn’t work out. We didn’t share the same vision and they didn’t have a hand in the recording process, which is sometimes hard to understand what’s going on with channels and mic setups etc.
In the end, the time I spent trying to explain what we wanted/needed changed could have just been put into me doing it myself, so we reached an agreement with them and went on our own with it.
Lost time aside, looking back I think it was the right decision. It worked out really well and it was a massive confidence boost for me with my skills, as I really struggle with imposter syndrome. Especially with mixing being such a subjective thing, there’s no right or wrong, it’s just what sounds good to you, y’know?
How committed is the band to working The Path to Righteousness in terms of touring? Do you see a future where Grove Street is a full-time touring machine?
We wanna be as busy as we possibly can be, playing as many new countries and territories as we can. That’s one of the main reasons we do this band; to see as many places as possible and make new friends along the way!
A big goal of ours would be to hit the US, Australia and Asia off the back of the record, and of course, grow the level of the opportunities here in the UK and Europe.
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