I met The Grayces - Iz Stone, Patrick Ward, and Chas Cantrell - at a friend's cd release party in Nashville. As soon as I heard Iz start to sing, I knew I had to feature them here. They have an intense presence onstage, with notable chemistry and passion.
The band has an exclusive Nashville album pre-release show at The Basement on Saturday, June 28. You can view more about the event on Facebook. I will definitely be at their show, and I hope to see you as well!
Were you creative as a child? If so, how have you evolved through the years? Did anyone encourage you, especially?
Patrick Ward: I think I was most creative as a kid. My mother always told me I had an unquenchable zest for life and a lot of that spawned from having an overactive imagination and a never-ending quest of knowledge. I can remember people telling me stories about how I use to walk around humming or drawing. Life was simple and fun. As I got older, I found that I enjoyed when people complimented me on my art (whether it was visual or audible), and I took that with me to school when I joined the chorus and theater programs. All of my music teachers pushed me to be better and work harder than some other students who were just there for the art credits or were just required to be there. If it weren't for Jean Ellenberger (Grade School through Middle School Music Instructor) or Mary Evers (High School Chorus Instructor), besides the powerful music my parents bestowed upon me, I don’t think I would have pursued it as strongly as I continue to today. Mrs. Ellenberger and my father introduced me to playing guitar (and a few instruments). Ted Jacobs (High School Drama) really brought me out of my shell with acting, which in turn helped me become a better stage performer as well. When I took what they taught me to college, instead of joining a music or theater program I studied Telecommunication within a production and design standpoint which allowed me to learn all of the other aspects of what it took to put on a show. The more I studied music theory, the more it took away from the thrill of writing; it turned music into an equation for possible success rather than being true to my feelings and emotions of why I loved to create art. Even when I met Iz, of the band, I knew I still had a lot to learn, and I remind myself there is more to learn every day.
How do you deal with creative dry spells? Do you make space for them, or push through?
Patrick Ward: It depends on what kind of situation I’m in. If the band is together, we’re working on a new song, and no one knows where to go, then what? Sometimes we set it aside to clear our heads because maybe we can’t see where we want to take it. Maybe we’re thinking about it too much. Other times, you may want to give up and you do push through until that ‘eureka’ moment occurs, and it was right in front of you the whole time. It’s very situational. I have friends who have been sitting on songs for decades it seems, and all of a sudden he/she finished a song they never thought they would play again. Sometimes you have to know which is the best way to go about it, and other times you have no choice. Everyone hits a writers block eventually, but the goal is to not let the discouragement take over the pursuit of what you are trying to accomplish.
How does criticism affect you?
Chas Cantrell: Well it really depends on the type of criticism I'm receiving. I always welcome constructive criticism. For example, if a drummer that I respect came to me with some advice on reworking a beat, or adjusting my foot pedal technique, or whatever it may be. Then I am all about it. I love to further my knowledge in my craft, life, music, whatever. I try to sponge up constructive criticism. Now, if it's criticism in the sense of someone just bashing me, my band, or my music? Just for the sake of bashing. Then, I just let that stuff roll off my back. There's always gonna be people that love what you do, and hate what you do. "Different Strokes for different folks." I believe wholeheartedly in the music I help make. That's what matters to me.
Do you have any other mediums you use to express yourself creatively?
Patrick Ward: If it’s art, I’m there. Musically speaking, I’m always looking to learn a new instrument, and I love engineering and producing when I can. Since I've been to Nashville, I took what audio engineering skills I had and tried to help my band make better demo recordings when we are in a creative mood. I've also engineered a few sessions for my other friends’ bands here and there. I've done a lot with photography, Photoshop, video, and so forth. I get the opportunity to help with editing and layouts for music videos from time to time. I’m not much of a 2-D/3-D artist these days, but I've been known to doodle from time to time.
Do you plan thoroughly for projects, or go with the flow?
Patrick Ward: You can try to plan as much as possible, but you never know what is going to happen the day of the project. Sometimes, the more you plan, the more you miss when you are actually creating the project. For example, on some video shoots we have done, we might spend all day trying to follow the storyboards, but maybe a keen eye might say, “Why don’t we try this out instead?” and it turns out to be the best part of the project. You should have a solid plan coming into any project; however, be relaxed to try sometime in the moment even if you don’t think it will contribute in the end. You never know when creativity will strike when it is actually happening.
Do you surround yourself on a daily basis with creative, inspiring people?
Iz Stone: If you are a creative person, I believe it is important to surround yourself with a wide variety of people. In the complexities of diversity is where the boundaries of inspiration fall dead. While living in that perception, I can say , my most dear to heart long lasting friendships are with creative inspiring people. I believe this is true because we can share the open mindedness, curiosity, love, knowledge and excitement of new insights and the resulting new outputs which in itself is a form of creation. It is the journey to the final output that I have learned to love and put much value in. Therein lies the precious value of any finished art piece of all mediums.
Do you believe art can change the world?
Iz Stone: I believe, it is the conviction or belief in the art , not the art itself that has the power to yield change.
What effect do you want your art to have on the world?
Chas Cantrell: At the end of the day, I really just want my art to make people happy. Whether it effects them on a spiritual or emotional level. Whether it inspires art that they create, makes them dance and get wild, or maybe it just brings back some good memories. Happiness is what I want my art to give. Because that's what the art I loved growing up did for me.
Iz Stone: Emotional affirmation for the listener. It doesn't matter how small or large.
These kinds of connections can bring this hefty world to be a palatable experience for even the most disturbed individual.
What music, if any, plays while you work? What are you listening to at this very moment?
Chas Cantrell: Wow! I could sit and talk about this all day. The music that plays while I'm working can span from the outlaw country sounds of Hank Williams Jr., to the super heavy sounds of Slayer, all the way to Roots Reggae. Depends on my mood. I JUST DIG MUSIC. From all spectrums. At this very moment, as I type this, I'm listening to Dr. Dre - The Chronic 2001.
What is the best advice you've been given?
Iz Stone: Someone said to me, “You just need to suck it up, go in the corner and birth out a litter of kittens.You’ll feel better after it’s all said and done and people will fall in the love with all their irresistible faces.” Although oddly put, the point was taken to heart.
Do you have any advice for aspiring creatives?
Chas Cantrell: Advice I would give to an aspiring creative is, learn from the art or music that you enjoy. Let it inspire you, and develop your path. Stay true to yourself. Have your opinion, but don't let your opinion have you. Keep your mind open, and just HAVE FUN.
How do you resolve creative differences?
Patrick Ward: Try everything. Give everyone a chance to have a say, give it a shot, and see what works best. At that point there is almost no room to disagree over what truly works. If we can’t all agree, we move on to something else until someone comes up with a better, solid solution.
The Grayces: Rock, Paper, Scissors or the almighty Coin Toss.
Do you have a preferred way of cataloguing ideas?
The Grayces: Everything and in between. Situations call for drastic measures when you have to remember an idea by recording it to your cell phone. We prefer to record in-house with different interfaces and technologies of many eras. Our music is cataloged anywhere from paper to analog to digital.
Do you utilize social media? If so, how?
The Grayces: Everywhere we can. Each has its own respective use, so it is good to have a vast social media network.
Do you have any rituals that help to set your creative time and/or space?
The Grayces: After each show we are sure to meet together as a group before we exit the stage. Or you can just call it a hug...whatever. Instead of having a ritual that we do previous to a task, we use it as a reward or goal as a sign of completion.
Are you active in your local art community? If so, how do you help and support each other?
The Grayces: Why, yes, actually … we just recently performed at an art show, where we performed a sonic interpretation of one of the visual pieces. We strive to promote the importance of art in all its forms, as well as the camaraderie we all should share as artist in all veins.