UTG INTERVIEW: Grown Up Avenger Stuff

Grown Up Avenger Stuff

Just about a month ago, we reviewed Sparkleton, the newest release from Charlotte, North Carolina’s Grown Up Avenger Stuff, and now to expand on our coverage of said album, we’re pleased to bring you this exclusive interview with the rock quartet.

The band took some time to speak us as we discussed Sparkleton more in depth as well as their most recent tour and what it means to be a grass roots band, so read through the break and get the scoop from Grown Up Avenger Stuff!

How did the band originally form and what inspired the name that you landed on?
John, related to Hunter and Tyler, found Deirdre through some songs she had posted on the internet. Fast becoming friends, they immediately found great respect for each other’s musical capabilities. Before Hunter and Tyler, some other musicians had parts in the band for a while, but in the end the lineup became what it is today because musically the chemistry is as strong as it is natural. There’s an energy and trust that we have together that comes through in the sound. The name “Grown Up Avenger Stuff” was the very first name used and also came from the internet. There are stories, some of which are partly true. We love the name because it echoes the need for something serious and honest, yet that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

For those unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe your band’s sound?
High energy! Our music is definitely rooted in all types of rock and roll. We follow where a song takes us, and we don’t shy away from any sound or genre; be it dance, grunge, pop – if that’s what we see in a song, that’s where we go. Of course, we do things the way we do them, so it still will have our unique stamp on it (and that usually means an energetic approach).

Sparkleton just released and is getting great reviews thus far. How would you compare the album to your previous efforts?
It’s definitely happier. A lot of our previous music, though delivered with a friendly smile, is sort of dark and intense. The music on Sparkleton has a much bigger smile in it. We’ve also really cemented who we are musically because the current band lineup is so strongly musically intertwined. It’s one of those hard to define things, but still a powerful part of the sound and very palpable on the CD.

What themes are prevalent throughout Sparkleton and what influences led to its components and final form?
Without getting too sappy, it’s very important to us to share something in all of our music that makes whoever is listening happy to be who they are and happy to be alive. The same way a good friend enhances your life, or a great experience makes you truly value all the positive things you have, and hopefully you infect those around you with that good stuff. As a component, it’s not so much a message of hope as it is reinforcement of the knowledge that it is always our right to create hope.

When you listen to the album yourself, how does it make you feel? Is there anything you would change now in hindsight? I know this has a very psychiatrist couch vibe [laughs].
We all really love it – we had a few different awesome people involved in putting it together and we have been just thrilled with the final result. Changes? Well, we do have some other songs that are in the same “happier” category that would have been nice to put on there too. We’ve also talked about doing a total dance version of “The Beat” – going electronica at the change in the middle. We’ve played it live that way, with bass drops, a DJ spinning and samples and it was a blast. But if we’d done that, then we would now be saying we wanted to put the poignant heartfelt shoegazer ending on there that we have now.

Can you explain any reasoning as to why it’s 7 tracks in length? It doesn’t feel like an EP.
It’s an A.D.D. world. We wanted to have a nice wrapped up package that would fit inside the attention span of the normal busy music lover. On the other hand, we wanted to have a full musical experience when listening to the CD all the way through, so every song on there is something that we feel very happy about and that we feel could stand on its own.

It looks like you guys are wrapping up your National tour right now. How did the shows go? Any specific memorable moments?
The shows have been just fantastic. Of course we love to play for established fans, but we are new to touring far from home. When we play to people that have never heard of us or our music before, we really put our hearts out there. We are a high energy band with scary volume, palpable darkness, nerve biting intensity and we don’t hold back on being ourselves no matter what type of venue or audience we are playing to. If people like us, it’s because they musically like who we really are and what we do, not because we changed to try to fit what we expect them to like. So when they do like us, it’s so much more powerful because we know they really do feel it and understand. SXSW week was definitely memorable – it’s a concentration of some of the best bands and music lovers, and we had 9 shows during that week. It’s fantastic music all day every day and if you are in a band like ours you get to play and meet a whole bunch of new people that just discovered you and became fans. That’s pretty awesome – it would be like heaven to be able to do that every day.

What do you enjoy the most about being on the road with the band?
So much! We are basically family. We have big talks about things ranging from The Beatles, to science, to politics, to saving the world, to Sunny in Philadelphia. The time together is awesome. Then you add on that we get to see (and play with) original bands from all over, and we get to play for people and make new friends and fans everywhere we go. It’s silly, but we really love the musical material that we have in Sparkleton, and getting to perform it to a first time audience is always a great time for us.

You guys have gained a rather significant following in such a short amount of time. What do you think has contributed to this being possible? Do you notice the fanbase growth in way of sales or crowds at your shows?
It’s hard to say that it’s one specific thing. We’d like to think it’s because we believe that great music built on a positive foundation can truly make it possible for people have better lives – one person at a time, and that each of those people can positively have an impact on those around them, and thus make a huge change. So it’s important stuff. But the real reason is probably that people have fun at our shows and listening to the music. We certainly do.

What bands have you guys been listening to the most lately?
We love so much. A recent sampling would be The Beatles, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (new CD release finally!!!), Silversun Pickups, Foo Fighters, Dead Sara, Metric, Panic! at the Disco, Hush Sound, Queen, The Police, Avett Brothers, Manchester Orchestra, Pink Floyd, Boston, MGMT, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Black Keys, Incubus, Goldfrapp, Vampire Weekend, The Who, Deftones, Otis Redding, Queens of the Stone Age, Regina Spektor, etc. There are also countless regional/national indie bands like Cusses, Chasing Pedestrians, HRVRD, Gnarly Charlies, Today The Moon Tomorrow The Sun, Shovels and Rope, Sugar Glyder, Marquis of Vaudeville, Bite the Buffalo, Black Mark Et, Megan Jean & KFB, The Cloers, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, The Go Devils, Cement Stars, on and on.

Who are some headliners you would love to open for?
For bands touring now (or soon), we’d love to join Queens of the Stone Age, Dead Sara, Deftones, The Joy Formidable, Foxy Shazam, Arctic Monkeys – it’s actually a pretty long list. Beyond that, there’s the dream list of bands that are tough/expensive to see: Foo Fighters, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Incubus, The Police, etc. If they call, we are so there.

What has been the biggest obstacle for Grown Up Avenger Stuff in your career thus far?
Being indie, we are very grass roots, and that means that often progress in any certain place means very little elsewhere. Every time we go to a new city/region/etc, we have to start from the beginning and prove ourselves by showing people that our music is worth their attention and time. It means getting out on the road, meeting real people, and performing for them. Fortunately for us, we love to do that.

What’s the next focused goal for you guys?
More touring! We’ve got another tour to places we haven’t been in California and Seattle (Deirdre’s homeland). Then we want to go back and hit where we toured this last time because we miss those people and places already. Along those lines, we have a goal of finding the dream booking agent. Oh! And we want to play some shows overseas.


Written and conducted by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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