I have a confession to make. I really like Adelaide’s Sincerely Grizzly. I have their debut album Halves on CD, vinyl and MP3. And it messes with my head (in a good way) every time I listen to it. So when the opportunity arose to ask Joshua Calligeros (guitar + vocal) a few questions ahead of their Brisbane show, I jumped at the chance.
Josh, who is a migration lawyer by day, answers my questions from the foyer of a cinema about to screen the new Jurassic Park film, and we start by talking about the similarities in the GC and Adelaide music scenes. He says he really enjoys living and working in Adelaide, but that hasn’t always been the case.
“Until recently I always wanted to be somewhere else. But I think as I’ve gotten older what I want has changed and I’ve learned to appreciate what it is and has to offer.”
Sincerely Grizzly came out of the blocks firing. In just a small window they released their debut and played Laneway, Big Day Out and Bigsound. We talk about festivals and Joshua says of those three Laneway was the pinnacle because the lineup was curated perfectly and the team was organised and professional. But I’m curious as to what the pinnacle of other Australian and global festivals might be for Josh and his band.
“In terms of the future, our next home show is a part of a two day festival called Party Party Part-B which is being put on by our friend Ben from the Hard Aches and features a whole bunch of our friends’ bands which our friends will attend. Ben is kind of a culture in and of himself and is the hardest working musician I know so maybe that will become the new pinnacle, but I don’t think you can know what the pinnacle is until you’ve been there, you know?”
Fans of Sincerely Grizzly would know that the band pigeonholed their own sound as literature rock. Sometimes math pop. Joshua said to begin with it was all tongue in cheek. He tells me they wanted to be art rock (because Trail of Dead are art rock). “But none of us were good at art.”
So are any of them good at maths? Apparently not. “So, we settled on literature rock,” Josh said. “Some people seem to get hung up on the fact that we generalised ourselves that way and I think that’s the reason that we’ve kept the tag. Now I’m writing for album number two I’m writing a story in chronological order to perpetuate that genre tag, mostly out of spite for those people that seem to have an issue with us calling ourselves that.”
And now I have a problem because before I just liked this band because of their music. And now I like them because they think. I ask Joshua about their debut, Halves as it had conflicting reviews. The album was a long time in the making and I’m torn between hearing something that came effortlessly but also knowing that that couldn’t possibly be the case given the time it took to create. Were they trying?
“We were definitely trying,” Joshua reassures me and says he doesn’t like that people pretend that something they did was effortless to somehow make it seem more valuable. “I can’t attempt to calculate how much time and money we spent making Halves (mostly because I am bad at maths), but we did it because we felt compelled to and we did it the way we did it because we wanted to make it as close to the way we envisioned it.”
“We each have relatively vast and differing musical tastes and are easily bored, so if every song on the album sounded the same or even remotely similar we wouldn’t be doing the spectrum of what influences us any justice. That might have the effect of making it seem like the album lacks focus to some listeners, but I’d prefer it to be that than unimaginative.”
Joshua says that next year (hopefully) some new music will materialise in the form of an album and adds “many years in the future in the form of a novel. And I think we’ll just do what makes us happy and systematically eliminate anyone who criticises us for it.”
Given the time and commitment the band invested in their debut, Joshua tells me what they might do differently with a new release.
“Lyrically, as I mentioned before it will be a story,” he said, and adds that he has been writing it in his head over the last five years. “But the difficulty I am currently having is reducing that detail in order to fit into the structure of the songs. Musically, most of it has already been written. As a general rule the songs aren’t as long as those on the first album but they are all still a smorgasbord of our influences.”
“And terms of the actual release, it will be through our label Black Night Crash,” Joshua said.
Now I can add live show to my Sincerely Grizzly fangirl collection. And you can join me. They play Crow Bar in Brisbane on Saturday 11 July.
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Sincerely Grizzly will play in Brisbane on Saturday 11 July at Crow Bar.