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an end of 2009 interview w/ Travis Johnson of Grooms

by Bill Pearis


More than a few bands changed their names in 2009: The Muslims (now The Soft Pack), Starfucker (now Pyramid Pyramiddd) and Brooklyn’s Muggabears who are now known as Grooms. The new moniker definitely fits their loud, droney sound better — which you can hear on Grooms terrific debut album, Rejoicer.

Singer and guitarist Travis Johnson filled out our year-end questionnaire…

Grooms released their debut album this year. How’d that go?
It’s been awesome and exciting. We’re just finishing up our first tour. 4 out of 5 weeks down. I can’t wait to get around actual shampoo again.

editor’s note: the tour has since finished.

You also changed your name, which can prove difficult. How’d that go?
I’m so glad I’m not in a band called The Muggabears anymore. Once we decided to change the name and basically start a new band, it just felt super natural (and necessary).

What was your most memorable musical moment of 2009?
Playing with Jim (on drums) for the first time. Emily and I had to go turn our amps up by about 100% immediately. He’s crazy loud.

What about non-musical moment?
Hmmm… how about getting back into the dating world again?

Favorite place to play in NYC?
We played this show underneath the Highline park in Manhattan. It was beyond zany. I hope we can play a place like that again. I’m pretty sure that actual place won’t be played again though.

Best new NYC-area band?
Talk Normal. Deradoorian.

What’s the best and worst thing about being in a band in NYC in 2009?
Best – being around friends all the time who are also playing in bands and doing really really creative things. Worst – Having no money to replace broken equipment.

What were your favorite albums of 2009?
Wye Oak – The Knot
A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Ashes Grammar
Atlas Sound – Logos
Talk Normal – Sugarland

Favorite Singles/Songs?
“High Road” by Deradoorian. A song on Wye Oak’s album that I can’t remember the name of (I listen to it straight through in the store I work in).

What was the best show you saw in 2009?
Hank IV at SXSW. Amazing band from San Francisco.

Favorite Michael Jackson song?
“The Way You Make Me Feel” or “Smooth Criminal”

What is the proper way to incorporate “Meh” into your band name?

Shitgaze, Glo-fi or Dark Wave?
I really despise trends. But I’ll say glo-fi.

Plans/predictions for 2010?
New album coming out!

Grooms also recently listed the ten best albums of the 80’s on their blog. This is what they chose:

REM – Murmurs
Mission of Burma – Vs.
Joy Division – Closer
Tom Waits – Swordfish Trombones
The Smiths – Strangeways, Here We Come
This Heat – Deceit
Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
Public Image Ltd. – Second Edition
The Cure – Pornography

You’ll notice there are only 9. I never make it there without falling asleep.

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