[Interview] Killing Grace Welcomes 2018 at Boro Bar & Grill in Murfreesboro
The hard-rock and metal scene in Nashville has had its ups and downs throughout the years.
Contrary to popular belief, "Music City" is not all twangy lyrics about being in love with the girl next door, cowboy boots, trucks, and going out on a Friday night. There is a large scene here in Nashville whose main focus is to melt your face off with heavy guitar riffs and brutal vocals that will scare your grandmother. Rock on, right? With venues dying out recently, it's been harder to keep the scene breathing, but hard-working, dedicated, and down-right talented local bands like Killing Grace are keeping the scene going and growing.
We spent the last day of 2017 at the New Years Eve Throat Punch show in Murfreesboro, TN. Killing Grace with special guests Warclown, Eye on the Sky, and Of Serpents (who recently dropped a new EP, The Mortuary Sessions) packed in the Boro Bar & Grill. We had a chance to sit down with the men of Killing Grace, Matthew Dee Edmondson (vocals), Chad Grant (bass), Colt Hendricks (guitar, vocals), Rob McKee (drums), Brandon Bell (guitar, vocals) to chat about their large fan-base and the Nashville scene.
How long has Killing Grace been together and how did the band get started?
Matt: 13 years ago, me and a guy named Doug got together in a shed in Leiper's Fork, TN. And it was just two of us and we started writing, and we wrote about six or eight songs. About two of those made it through. But we started with six or eight songs. We were together, just two people, for almost a year. We didn't get a drummer or a bass player. So that's how it came about and then it got started when I got online and looked for a drummer and then we just got a bass player from Sam Ash in Rivergate actually, a guy named Shawn, and we just started out. We didn't play a gig before we recorded our first demo. We did a 10 song demo called 10 pound Bullet and then we went on for a couple of years, made some lineup changes and that's kind of how we got to where we're at today.
You guys have a loyal fanbase in Nashville. What's one of your fan-favorite memories?
Rob: Probably the NIMA awards (Nashville Industry Music Awards). We've won five over the course of five years and that is a fan-voted deal. They choose the nominees but then your fans vote. I know one of the years they told us the vote was not even remotely close. Everyone that listened to us voted so I would have to say that would probably be the top thing.
Matt: It's our favorite awards show for the simple fact that it's the most legitimate way to win something. All thanks goes to our fans.
Robb: And it doesn't suck when you go play shows and people are singing your songs back to you.
Matt: When some lady that's never talked to me, ever, but has sat in her house and listened to our music so much and knows our words and she's up front (and I don't even know who she is) I thought, "That's pretty cool, man." What an honor.
Robb: We can't leave out the fact that we just found out that a fan is going to name their child Killing Grace.
Matt: We've had a lot of people get tattoos. We've seen a lot of Killing Grace tattoos, which is crazy because none of us in the band have a Killing Grace tattoo. But we have tons of fans, so if we ever break up, we're going to get killed.
The album Speak With a Fist is your most recent album. What's your creative process in and outside of the recording studio?
Brandon: Really, with that album, it depends on the song. There were a lot of them that started in the jam room, someone had either a vocal hook or guitar riff or something. We also had some start out with a couple of us on the couch or me and Matt getting together after work. It's pretty full straight collaboration. It's a five-way split for sure.
Matt: Honestly, the one thing people listening to this interview need to know is, don't let any of us tell you any different, every one of our songs has to go through all five of us, so there is no way you can say that all five of us didn't write it.
Colt: That's one thing that makes this album...
Matt: Special to us.
Who are your musical influences?
Chad: Faith No More. From an early [age], like when I was beginning to play, and they hit about the same time "Epic" hit on MTV, I saw that and I was like that's it. That's my band, that's what I want to do. And even till this day, as a bass player, you get a lot of people that are like, "Geddy Lee is my favorite bass player," or Steve Harris. By all means, I love those guys, but Billy Gould from Faith No More is my number one influence of all time.
Matt: I'm going to answer Colt's for him--Amon Amarth, Trivium, In Flames.
Colt: In Flames, Amon Amarth, Trivium...Arch Enemy...
Robb: Although, in recent years, he has been introduced to some old school thrash.
Matt: We took him to his first Slayer concert. Just watching his face when it started was nice. I was like, "Yeah, this isn't the little kids no more. These guys are 70 and they will crush you."
Any new stuff you've been listening to recently?
Robb: As far as newer stuff for me, Gojira. They kind of seem to be like the ridiculously heavy metal version of Pink Floyd. They're heavy as can be. They've been around for a little while, but they came up on my playlist and I was like, "Wow, what is that?" I've been listening to a lot of that lately.
Brandon: Here lately I've been jamming a lot on Nothing More. I told the guys they're a band initially when I heard them I kind of wrote them off as a decent radio rock band. I heard a single but ended up having their songs come up a lot on my playlist while I was at the gym and they're way more than that. Their vocals are really great, lyrics are really good and the guitar is really intelligent for what they're doing. Also, they work some electronic ideas into their album. Normally, I don't always go for that, but if it's done well it just kinda mixes it up.
The Nashville metal scene has changed throughout the years. What do you think of it now compared to 13 years ago?
Matt: I've been in it the whole time. I really shouldn't answer that because I'm really biased. I think it was incredible in the Cannery days. I think that was the peak. I'll be honest with you. Some of the bands that we came up with, they started getting older and broke up, and it started dissolving and then underneath us came another scene that was a lot younger, playing practice spaces. That's cool, but what we were so used to on the metal scene was playing all the big clubs, rocking them out, packing them out. For Nashville, that's unacceptable. There are a million bands around here. Part of the problem is a lot of those bands can't get into the places we can, and we know because we used to not be able to get in there. Part of it is just the politics of the scene has never changed.
It's hard to get that chance. Just like tonight's show. We have Eye on the Sky and War Clown from Knoxville, two established bands that are badass. The opening band, Of Serpents, another badass band, they've earned this show.
Colt: When I first came into it, I remember it being a lot more ego driven. Each band picked a corner and kinda stuck to themselves.
Robb: Like Matt said, the Cannery days were kind of the peak. But then it went through a lull. Every time it's been good, it's when all the bands were supporting one another instead of competing. In all honesty, it is a competition, but it can be a friendly one. It started getting close-knit, then we started losing venues. I'm gonna take a second, not to hate, but to just tell the truth. We were talking about bands that are coming up, somewhere in all this, somebody started thinking they were entitled to things instead of working. Every little thing that happens, the first thing they wanna do is get on social media and trash the venue. Do you really think we have enough venues for that?
Matt: We're just trying to get jumped by a bunch of younger bands.
Robb: A scene can stay strong if everyone supports one another. Don't just play and pack your shit and leave before anybody else plays.
Matt: And here's the secret, man. I really shouldn't even give this one out. What we all started doing was putting four bands on a bill, three bands stand in front of the first band and so on. Here's the secret to packing out a show. You know where people want to go? Where people are. So if they see pictures of 45 people partying in front of the stage, at least 25 are the band, and next time it's 65, then 100. There's your secret. You're welcome. You owe Killing Grace a lot of money. Never forget. Never let your ego get in the way. People only wanna go where people are. Where's the party? Where's the fun time? About five years ago, Killing Grace became that fun time. Ever since then, we've been drawing 200 to 250 to all of our local shows and everybody is like, "How do you do it?" You know how we do it? We're having fun and we're not dicks.
Colt: Not to our fans.
Last question. If you could spend the day with any megastar, dead or alive, who would it be?
Robb: I recently found out that Ray Luzier lives in Nashville. I would love to go spend a day with that dude. As far as recently, last three or four years maybe, he's been a big influence on me. I love to watch him play and hear him play. I would like to hang with that dude awhile.
Brandon: If I were to go right off the top of my head, talking megastars, I would love to spend an afternoon with Slash from Guns-N-Roses. I got a feeling I couldn't hang with that guy like on any level whatsoever, but he's strongly connected to the reason that I play music now. My turning point was back when MTV used to play videos, I was home one day after school, I think I was like maybe in middle school, and the "November Rain" video came on and that moment at the end where Slash steps onto the grand piano with the cigarette lit and just rips that solo. I was like, "That's what I wanna do, man." You can't beat that.
Chad: I'm gonna have to go right back to Faith No More. It's gonna have to be a twosome. I'm gonna have to be stingy because not only do I want to hang out with Billy Gould, I want to hang out with Mike Patton all day because he is badass. I'm not a vocalist, never was, never will be, but that dude can do no wrong vocally. And on top of that, his stage show has always been just off the chain, from early on till now. Billy Gould is the same way. They throw down on stage. But I'd like to see what they're like just hanging out, you know?
Matt: For me, I want to give the interesting one. Perry Farrell from Jane's Addiction.
Brandon: I'm sure that would be a unique experience.
Matt: Oh yeah. There's no doubt, I've seen 5,000 concerts in my life--I'm a show guy. My favorite show I've ever seen was when Jane's Addiction first came out in the late '80s, the "Nothing Shocking" tour. It's a legendary album. I saw that tour in a theatre and I've never experienced what I experienced (closest would be Rage Against the Machine) It was a religious experience. Jane's Addiction did that to me so I give them props. So to hang out with him would be amazing. The most standard and boring answer, but it's the truth, I would have to say Jim Morrison.
Colt: Earlier days I would have probably said Kirk Hammett from Metallica. That's really what got me into the music, shredding and solos and stuff. Nowadays, it would be really hard to pass up a chance to hang out with Jimi Hendrix. He's not one of my heavy influences, but, I mean, of course, he's badass.
Matt: I would like to talk to Jimi Hendrix just so I can go, "I'll wash your feet dude. Do you know who you are?" And he'd probably go, "I know who I am. I've been me my whole life." I actually met Lemmy, but never met him because he never turned around and looked at me, but he talked to me. And the way he did it was, I was going into the pisser, and Lemmy was playing on a poker machine at the Rainbow and I walked right past him and I didn't know what to say. I went, "Hey! You're Lemmy!" 'cause that's a thing, and he goes, "And you're not!" And never turned around.
Photos by NVK Photography.