I don’t really hear of a lot of local Scottish musicians doing country music, and when I saw that Steve Grozier’s fit his music into that genre, I thought it was a little bit…different? But on listening to him, well, it’s a brilliant and welcome change.
Grozier’s music is refreshing, and this month he released his EP, Take My Leave. Curious, I decided to have a chat with him and find out how he got onto the music scene, and where he plans to go.
When did you first know you wanted to be a musician? How did you come to that realisation?
I think it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve thought about doing it professionally. I’m not sure I ever thought about it in those terms when I was growing up. I found my dad’s old guitar when I was around 15 maybe, and one of those song books with basic chords and songs, like Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind or something.
I think I was looking for a creative outlet, I was writing a lot of bad poetry – teenage angst stuff, and the guitar seemed like a good conduit for that writing. So, hearing songwriters like Dylan and early Springsteen and their songs that were like stories or sounded like poems inspired me to give the singer/songwriter thing a shot.
What was the first step, for you, for getting out and onto the music scene?
Well, I wasn’t the most confident kid, so playing open mics was kinda out of the question. I used to just sit in my room and write these little sad songs over three chords (somethings don’t change). Finally, once my brother was old enough to learn a little guitar we’d go out to local open mics together and play a few of our songs, badly. I became pretty disillusioned with the whole scene after a few years and retreated to playing at home.
Apart from vocals and the guitar, do you play any other instruments?
I can barely play the guitar. I’m not well versed in music theory. My friends in my band are the actual musicians; when they start talking about semi-tones and key changes and all that stuff I get a bit lost.
Luckily they’re patient with me, and when I start playing in some weird key or time signature they’re talented enough to just go with it and figure out what I’m doing. I do have plans to get caught up on the theory side of things and give the piano another shot.
Who inspires your music?
So many things inspire what I write. There’re songs lurking everywhere. Like Pokémon. You know, I could hear a snippet of a conversation between two strangers or friends and something might resonate and spark an idea – always carry a notebook.
Travelling inspires a lot of what I write. There’s something about the physicality of moving that seems to shake loose the ideas. In terms of other artists or musicians; I’ve mentioned Dylan and Springsteen. They’re both just master songwriters.
Most of the music I listen to is narrative driven. I mean I love a big riff or trippy bass line or whatever but if the song writing isn’t there, then I’m going to lose interest.
Of your songs, which is your favourite?
I honestly don’t know. Songs are like your children. I don’t think you’re supposed to have a favourite.
What, or who, inspired your new EP, coming out this month?
Toronto. As I say in the linear notes, all the songs on this EP were written while I lived in Toronto, Canada or as I travelled around the East Coast of the US. The artwork for both the single and the EP are pictures from Toronto.
As I mentioned, I think the act of moving and spending time in different places helps to get the creative juices flowing. The places I visited, the people I met, the relationships we built and the time we spend together are all, in one way or another, in the songs on this EP.
What are your next steps after you release your new ep?
Record the next one. I’ve a small number of shows booked in September/October following the release of the EP at the Hug and Pint on September 1st. Other than that, I’d like to spend some time writing some new songs and rehearsing them with the band.
I kinda see this EP as side one of a longer album. I’d like to get back into the studio to cut the second side. Hopefully we can get the second EP out in spring 2017.
For you, what is the dream venue? If you could play any stage in the world, which one would it be?
Good question. If it’s a band show, then I’d actually love to play the Barrowlands. Glasgow crowds, best crowds. I’ve seen some mind-blowing shows at that place over the years – Counting Crows and Bob Dylan were particular highlights.
If I was solo then an intimate theatre show. Maybe Massey Hall in Toronto; it’s pretty big actually but the sound is wonderful and it’s a beautiful venue. It’d be amazing to have the chance to return to Toronto to play the songs in the city of their birth.
And if you could collaborate with any musician in the world, living or dead, who would they be?
Tough one. Can I only have one? At the moment I get to play with my oldest friend, who happens to be one of the best musicians, so I’m pretty lucky.
Music should be about having fun right, so you could be playing with the best musicians’ in the world, but if they’re assholes, or you don’t get on, then where’s the enjoyment?
If I could’ve been around to play with The Band on the Last Waltz, that would‘ve been pretty great.