"The more expressive you are with your form, your physical body, the more it translates into your delivery with your words, what you're singing, what you're trying to get across."
I first have to ask about this because as I’ve been researching you, I saw that Stormy Daniels directed your music video for “She Likes Guns” – how did that come about?
You are correct. Last year we were– I’m going to back up just one second. We got a full album that’s already been recorded, Jesse James Dupree, the singer for Jackyl, he’s got a record label called Mightly Loud, we’re on his label. We’ve been releasing singles and the first single that was going to come out was She Likes Guns. We needed to back that up with a video and he said, “Hey, I’ve got a friend named Stormy Daniels, you know who she is right?” This was last June. I said, “Yeah, I know who she is.” He was like, “she makes Rock videos too, I think you two would hit it off and be able to do something cool. That’s how it started.
But then, the radio station was a little sketchy about a song with guns in it because, as you know, it’s always in the news and it’s mostly negative. We just shelved the whole project until about maybe 3-4 months ago. This was way before Stormy was in the news. Then, we were like, even if the radio doesn’t play it, we still got the song, we still got the video by Stormy, why don’t we just put it out?!” And that’s what we did.
I think the video is amazing. How do you feel that she was able to capture what Granny 4 Barrel is all about? And also how do you feel she was able to capture the vision that you initially had for the video?
I think that she did a fantastic job. I mean, when we did the video treatment, Stormy and I worked on that about 2 weeks, back and fourth. I told her about what my ideas were, she checked out the song and listened to it, tried to understand the lyrics in her own way and we just kept going back and fourth. Then we said “alright, here’s what we’re going to do.” So, it was a joint effort, then the day of the shoot, she had her own ideas… And I just let her do what she wanted – that’s what you see. She got her friends, those other “models”, she got Casey Calvert, Lily Lane, and Arya Fae; that just topped it off right there.
Again, I think it’s an amazing video. A lot of people love it too. I also read that she’s going to be directing another video for you soon?
She is, yes ma’am! She’s going be doing a video, we’re going to do one in October.
Well, we think that it’s going to be for the track, Nitro Sexy. This song isn’t super deep on the philosophical side, it’s basically fast and sexy. That’s what it is! [laughs] But it just rocks, you know? It’s just a cool track. In fact, one of our best songs live is Nitro Sexy. We usually end the set with that.
When you’re on stage performing, how do you feel you take that energy you have on stage and incorporate it into your recordings?
The thing that you have to understand is that when you’re playing live, and people are in the room, it’s like a three-dimensional experience. So you’re getting all of the things you wouldn’t get just listening to the audio. I feel like live is always better. Not to say that you can’t get into and rock out to a cool track, but you just get that extra when you go to a live performance. And then you get to see it in a three-dimensional experience.
You get to feel it, you get to see Granny, sometimes you get to touch Granny! [laughs] And it’s a good time! Plus, here’s the best part, Jenna, whenever you do anything live, theatrical, music, whatever it is, you’re walking out on a tightrope because anything can happen. You got your shit rehearsed, but I mean, microphones go down, sometimes the power goes out, hecklers giving you a hard time; it’s the adrenaline there. That’s what live is.
Going back to the last question, while you’re recording, it can be very isolated in the studio… I’ve had artists tell me that while they’re in the studio, they’ll have to get into a certain mindset, they will black out all of the windows, light candles, etc and make it so it captures a certain feeling or emotion. What is it like for you when you’re recording?
Here’s the thing, especially for singers, if you put a singer in the studio, and he’s not–he’s inexperienced, or she…They go in there and they start singing a song, it might be a cool song. Now, if you got a cool producer who’s on the other side of the glass listening, when that singer says or sings a word, if you’re not feeling that, that means something’s not quite right. Because it’s always about capturing emotion.
So, one of the things that I do, and one of the things that I learned from one of my dear friends, the legendary Michael Wagener, who was Rock ‘n Roll’s most famous Rock producers– just check out his discography, everything from ACCEPT to Motorhead to Plasmatics, to Skid Row— you know who he is! He told me, back 15 years ago when I was doing some stuff in the studio, he was like, “hey, I’m not feeling that. What are you doing with your body? What are you doing with your hands when you sing that? The more expressive you are with your form, your physical body, the more it translates into your delivery with your words, what you’re singing, what you’re trying to get across. So, turning the lights down, concentrating, really thinking about what that song is.
That’s how you translate. That’s one thing that can pass you by live. Because live is just hit and miss, “alright, I did the song. Oh, shit! I missed that note. Oh the guitar player just did this!” It’s gone. But once it gets on tape, once it’s on CD, once it’s recorded, that’s it. You get one shot, so you better make it good.
Yeah, and there’s the aspect of the honesty with that and playing live too. Playing live, you definitely get some of the most honest and raw moments, but you get it in the studio too sometimes. How do you feel you captured that honesty?
You know, it is. It’s about that concentration. It’s like, “Ok, I’m going to sing a song, Freak Flag,” for example. Now, when I’m singing Freak Flag, I got to be thinking to myself, you’ll just be singing the words, I mean, you’re feeling your freedom of expression right now with your body, with your movements, with your hand gestures. You’re actually acting out the song in front of the microphone and that’s what I do. I’ll tell you what, if you don’t believe it sometime, you go in the studio and you have somebody sing something and then you say, “now I want you to go over the top and sing the same thing, but I want you to move your body.” And you’re going to hear the difference. You will actually hear the difference. That’s why narrators that do cartoons and shit, that’s how they do it, right? They’re living the part, it’s like old-time radio.
Yeah, I’ve noticed when actors and musicians are making a speech or something, they’ll always talk with their hands.
Exactly. That’s the way you translate. You know, you’re not just an automaton with a sound coming out of your voice, it’s your whole being.
You have a new album that’s still in the works, correct?
That’s right. Yeah, we got a record, it’s called “Deal With The Devil: A Compendium Of Wicked Sonic Schemes“. That’s my first real, debut album, it’s got 12 tracks on it, two of them you’ve already heard. We’re getting ready to release that whenever the label and we all agree it’s the right time. We’re probably going to put out this third single maybe right around then because we got another Fall tour coming up here and it ain’t locked in yet, but in the next week, you’re going to hear about it.
I hope you guys come to North Dakota! …Which song on this album do you think embodies what Granny 4 Barrel is all about?
Well, I’m going to say Freak Flag, because I’m all about freedom of expression. I mean, that’s really what it is. Granny is your– think of Granny as your surrogate, Metal, bad-ass Metal-Granny you always wished you had. And I’m here to inspire people to put up your middle finger to all the stereotypes of the world and just be authentic. So I think that song exemplifies who we are the most, but all of the songs in some-ways express Granny, but that one, if I had to pick one, would be Freak Flag.
Which song has the most meaning for you, and this could also go for any song you’ve ever written?
They all mean a lot to me because I put a lot of time, heart, and soul in every one. But each one, each song has it’s own special part that I like. I mean, Monolithic is another song we play live that’s on the record and it’s as big as it sounds. It’s one of the heaviest, biggest songs. It’s not fast, it’s slow and sliding with a mammoth guitar riff that repeats over and over and that’s what I like about that. I like the song called, Granny Does Your Dog Bite, which is a pretty crazy song and there’s some high notes in it. I’ve always been about singing high notes. One of my Rock heroes is Rob Halford. I like that song because of that, so each song has it’s own special part.
How do you feel that you bring your music to life? Like when you have a vision of your music, how do you take that vision and make it alive?
Well, it all starts with a seed of an idea. So, maybe I got a little in my head, a guitar riff, and so I’ll start to play it on my acoustic guitar and I think, “alright, this has potential.” Then I come over to The Butcher, my guitar player, and I say, “hey! Why don’t you plug this into your stack and play this with heavy crunch with distortion on it. Let’s see.” And then all of a sudden, it starts to change form and evolve. At that point, I could either keep going down the same road or I might say it’s giving me new ideas. So, it’s like an evolution process and that’s what happens. It takes on, to answer your question, it takes on a life of it’s own.
How do you feel your music has grown and evolved ever since you have been playing and creating music?
One of my favorite bands is Queen. Now the reason I like Queen so much is because Freddy and the boys never had any restrictions on them. I mean, if you listen to a Queen record, any Queen record, you’ve got songs that are all over the place. It seems that they always wrote specifically for the song, they didn’t just say, “hey, we’re a Rock band and it’s got to sound like this and we’ve got to look like this.” I mean, it was wide-open. That’s one of the things that I like to do. I just like the freedom of saying “if this song is this, why do I have to try to make it something that it’s not?” I only want the song to be what it is. If it’s not as heavy as the song before, I don’t care. As long as it’s a good song. I think that’s what a lot of the great bands from the past, you listen to any Beatles record… Those boys were all over the place. Every song was a hit!
Led Zeppelin, there’s another one!
Yeah, they are one of my most favorite bands of all time. Even if you go into the heavier side [of music], Pantera, they’d have songs like Suicide Part 1 and then Suicide Note Part 2.
Yeah, yeah! Exactly! And then they do Planet Caravan! You know, they weren’t afraid. Van Halen is another band that used to do that. I know there’s more, I’m old-school so I’m naming some older bands right now.
Well, I have a dog named Morrison, so I love my Classic Rock too! [laughs]
[laughs] That’s cool.
I’m involved in an organization called Guitars For Vets, we give guitars and guitar lessons free of charge to our Veterans. We truly believe in the healing power of music. What is your feeling as to why music, especially to create music [or try to], is so important to have in life?
Well, number one, I want to– my hats off for you doing that because that’s a good thing you’re doing. It’s like and you know this, Jenna, music changes lives.
I mean, I could be having the worst day of my life, doing something I really don’t want to be doing right now and as soon as I put on one of my favorite tracks, get on YouTube, maybe look up an old, live Judas Priest 1981 show playing Desert Plains, I’m reminded, how fucking cool music is and how much it means to me and how much it messed me up. There’s your answer!
Yes, it does. Do you have any experiences, that you’d like to share, where you’ve been in a dark state of mind, or something, and it’s completely lifted you up, helped you get through that time?
Since I’ve been around a long time. [laughs] There’s a lot of experiences I’ve had. I can’t even name them all. But I will say, one of the most recent ones, for example, on our last tour… We did a two month tour with Texas Hippie Coalition.
Now, when I’m out on tour, I’m having the best time of my life, for the most part. But as you know, and any bands know, that tour a lot and for a long time, it can kind of get you down from time to time. I mean, you’re traveling a lot, you’re not feeling so good. But let me tell you, every night, no matter how I felt, when I walked out on stage and I feel the power and the energy of the music and the energy of the people in the room, I’m transformed into a different being. And I’m like, “this is where I’m supposed to be.” I love music more than anything. It’s never let me down.
Yeah. It’s like the best friend you’ve ever had, it’s always there and it never will turn it’s back on you. It’s loyal.
Exactly. That’s why music is so important.
Those are all of my questions, would you like to add anything else?
I just want to thank you for having me. I want all the Rock ‘n Roll children out there to remember to be true to yourself. Be true to yourself and don’t be a douchebag! Be cool to people, be cool to your brothers and sisters.