In Columbia’s shape-shifting metal and hard rock scene, it often feels like new bands are born every minute, only to disperse after a year or two and then reassemble in different variations six months later. Such is the case with Grüzer, a wily metal sextet that gathers members from familiar local acts like Death Valley Driver, DIAVOLO, Carolyn, SHAOKAHN and Mean Weiner. Featuring a trio of guitarists in Steve Moore, Travis Nicholson and Jason Brown as well as vocalist Claude Spurlock IV, bassist Matt Campbell and drummer Jay Crosby, the group flirts with sludge and doom metal styles but also ranges freely outside of such confining descriptors.
Free Times caught up with Brown to talk about Grüzer’s formation, the band’s relationship to metal subgenres, and how the members see their place in the local scene.
Free Times: So how did Grüzer form? Where did the name come from?
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Jason Brown: We've all been in the heavy scene around the Carolinas and Columbia since the late ‘90s playing in various bands. We all knew each other from over the years and always wanted to jam, but time never permitted. At the end of 2013, we all decided to get together and just see what would happen musically without any intended direction. Grüzer was born.
The name actually comes from singing a lyric to a Clutch song that was obviously wrong. The word "grooves" was pronounced "groov-sa," which in turn was sang for years as "gruzer." Silly, we know, but that's the truth and we're sticking to it. The umlauts are strictly an accessory.
You guys seem proud of the eclecticism of your sound. Why do you think you escape easy descriptions like doom or sludge?
Because we aren't really either in the typical sense of the terms. We straddle many different styles, but nowadays everyone wants a description or to peg you into a certain genre or subgenre. We don't really fit any. We love all types of music and want to show that in what we do. We just play heavy-ass music with a lot of different influences. It's all really metal at the end of the day anyway, isn't it?
Grüzer has a very thick sound even by metal standards. How does the songwriting go with three guitarists in the room?
It's a job sometimes!
No, all kidding aside, all three of us write so much stuff that the real challenge is piecing it all together to make it work. We wanted to have three guitar players to utilize three guitars. We actually spend more time working harmonies out between the three of us more than anything else, so we aren't simply three guitars playing the same riff all the time. That would be boring. As far as songwriting actually goes, it's a process with all six of us. We all contribute to the finished product. With the talent in this band, we'd be crazy not to!
How does your band fit with the larger hard rock scene in Columbia and South Carolina?
We hope and think we'll fit in just fine. We're working on it right now and have had nothing but great experiences so far. What we really want to do is bring the hard rock/metal scenes together and get bands together for great shows all over the place. Bring younger bands and great bands to Columbia that wouldn't normally play here on a regular basis. Columbia is on an upswing right now as far as the music scene goes, and we just want to do our part at making it great. Luckily for us, we can play with many different types of bands and still appeal to the audience.
Can you tell us a bit about your forthcoming record?
That's top secret without the proper clearance. But I can tell you it's gonna crush!
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