Greys talk the music that inspired ‘Age Hasn’t Spoiled You’ (which is streaming)
Greys' new album Age Hasn't Spoiled You comes out this Friday (5/10) via Carpark (pre-order), and the whole thing is now streaming ahead of its release. As on their last couple albums, Age Hasn't Spoiled You sees Greys looking far beyond their noise-punk roots without losing the sheer intensity of their earlier material. It's good stuff, and you can stream the whole thing via Hype Machine below.
Ahead of the album's release, we spoke to frontman Shehzaad Jiwani about the music that inspired the making of the new LP. It's a diverse list, including everything from Earl Sweatshirt to The Chemical Brothers to Japanese ambient music. Shehzaad is a music expert and a great writer too, so it's no surprise that his commentary on the songs he picked is so compelling. Read what he had to say and listen to the songs below...
WHAT SHEHZAAD JIWANI (GREYS) IS LISTENING TO
Earl Sweatshirt - "Hive"
Some time in 2017, before we even started writing this record, I heard "Really Doe" off the last Danny Brown album and immediately became obsessed with Earl. I grew up listening to hip hop in the golden era and some of the first music I ever made was some choppy beats on my brother's computer, but haven't kept up with it in recent years except a few artists, and admittedly slept on the Odd Future stuff for a while. That song took me right back and rekindled my love for rap music, and also coincided with me learning how to use samplers and drum machine to greater effect in my writing. As a result, a lot of what I was coming up with for the Greys record was influenced by the production styles of guys like DJ Premier, RZA, or the Bomb Squad. Earl's records really spoke to me, and his own production style is such a perfect blend of modern and old school techniques. He is, in my opinion, the greatest rapper of his generation, and I totally credit him with my renewed love of making beats. His new record is spectacular, too.
The Chemical Brothers - "Chemical Beats"
A lot of what I learned from studying how those golden era hip hop producers made beats is similar to how The Chemical Brothers made their first couple of records. They were essentially taking the sampling and drum stacking techniques the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy had pioneered and blending it with rave music to create what became big beat electronica. This influence is pretty apparent on tunes like "These Things Happen" and "Constant Pose." I became obsessed with layering drums on top of each other, and I had a lot of fun chopping up some of our live takes and mixing it with drum machines. It took us out of the guitar-based zone we've always been in and made us focus on the rhythm and melody. It let us mess with song structures more, too. (Fun fact: The cover of this record is what I initially wanted to emulate when I was thinking of album art. The washed out quality of the picture really spoke to me, and almost immediately after I thought about that, I found the image of my dad that we chose for our cover. Fate!)
Harmonia - "Dino"
Harmonia was a krautrock supergroup that had guys from Neu! and Cluster in it. A lot of the synth sounds we used were definitely influenced by the warm analog tones of those records, but this one in particular was on heavy rotation for me. You can definitely hear a bit of this at the beginning of "Aphantasia" before the guitars come in. We were really taken with the idea of these long, droney songs that still had some propulsive rhythm driving it forward, which is a staple of most krautrock music. We tried to be more meditative and experiment with dynamics more on this record and a lot of that was influenced by those bands.
Kuniyuki Takahashi - "Night At The Sea Side"
Colin and I got super into a lot of Japanese ambient music, like Hiroshi Yoshimura's "Music For Nine Postcards" which was on heavy rotation for us for a while. This record is a bit closer to some of the sounds we were aiming for on Age Hasn't Spoiled You, with its warm, saturated tape loops and washed out drum machines. We aimed for that on tunes like "Static Beach" and the drone Colin made which precedes it. On our Warm Shadow record, the ambient stuff, the experimental shit and the rock songs are all kinda separate, but here we wanted to try and make them all exist in a space together to create something totally different than the sum of its parts. Colin would set up a station at the other end of the studio and loop shit we were tracking to create environmental sounds and textures within each song, which to my ears kinda builds its own world within each song that isn't always immediately audible, but is more felt than heard.
Prince Jammy - "Martian Encounter"
I was on a huge dub kick for the majority of the recording of this album. I, our engineer Chris Sandes, and Graham Walsh, who mixed it all, really love messing with dubby techniques. We put so much space echo on everything. There are a lot of little production techniques that were used - some of which I probably don't even remember, we were in there for so dang long - but the main ones are space echo, pitch vibrato and this bit crush pedal that Chris had. We just wanted everything to sound spaced out and psychedelic the way those old dub records sound, which is probably the most apparent on the ending of "Western Guilt" and the middle part of "Aphantasia."
Glenn Branca - "The Ascension"
A big part of what we tried to do on this record was to not use guitars the way we normally did. To achieve this, we had to reconfigure where they were supposed to fit in the song if they weren't going to be right in your face like they normally are in our music. We would sample and loop our feedback, like on "Arc Light," or heavily effect them to be less of a focal point and more of a textural thing, like on "Tangerine." I was really into the idea of making the feedback sort of choral and orchestral the way Glenn Branca had done in the past, and you can hear that on "Constant Pose" and "Shelley Duvall." We wanted to make this giant orchestra of noise that was both dissonant and melodic at the same time. Colin and I are big fans of his, as well as Terry Riley and Steve Reich, so those bits were definitely a nod to those older gods. RIP GB.