SONG FOR EWE with
DAVID GRUBBS of
GASTR DEL SOL, SQUIRREL BAIT & BASTRO
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.
Today’s guest is someone whose intelligent approach to noise then avant-garde has spilled over into fully fledged academia – it’s the Louisville music legend behind Squirrel Bait, Bastro and Gastr del Sol, turned solo artist, soundtrack composer and Associate Professor in the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, City University of New York – you can call him Dr, David Grubbs…
I first heard of David when I got into Slint “Spiderland” (see my Slint interview for The Quietus here) and it was a jumping off point for all kinds of lo-fi, high volume noise from Louisville. Grubbs was a founder member of Squirrel Bait, a band which also featured Slint’s Brian McMahan and Britt Walford. He then started Bastro which included John McEntire later of Tortoise.
The first Grubbs record to enter my house via the Rough Trade Records counter however was the Gastr del Sol album Camofleur…
A name derived from a racehorse and Bastro, Gastr del Sol was a duo featuring Grubbs and the other esteemed intelligent art-rocker Jim O’Rourke, and their music pre-dated what became post-rock but also included elements of music concrete, which certainly opened my ears.
Not only responsible for part of my musical education with his bands in my bedroom in Gravesend, Kent UK, he’s doing that for many students in Brooklyn (not far from the other Gravesend) these days, and a component of that course is David Grubbs’ “song for ewe”…
Over to David:
“I teach a college course on pop music and technology, and I guess it’s not revealing too much to say that each time I’ve played Isaac Hayes’ “Walk On By” I have to check myself to make sure I’m not getting completely overpowered by the song.
I know that the lyric is about foolish tears, but it’s not my place to enact its content in front of a classroom. It’s one of my handful of very favorite pieces of music: words, lyrics, arrangement, recording. Also: that guitar slinking back and forth across the stereo spectrum like a big cat in the zoo. Smoke ain’t makin’ me cry!”
THANKYOU TO DAVID GRUBBS, A REAL HONOUR.