[ rock/pop ]
West Philly six-piece Grandchildren blurs the line between avant-garde spontaneity and finely honed pop chops. Look at the song "Saturn Returns": It waltzes in on the band in the midst of some Animal Collective-ish freak-out, then the hook lands and it's an instantly memorable psychedelic jam of My Morning Jacket proportions. So I was surprised — a little — to learn that none of the music on their Cold Warrior LP, due out on Green Owl Records later this year, is actually improvised. Songwriter Aleks Martray and multi-instrumentalist Adam Katz teamed up over e-mail to talk process, delays and the band's benefit show this weekend.
City Paper: How much of your music is freeform?
Grandchildren: At this point it's all arranged and rehearsed. Even to the extent that parts of our live show are "choreographed," so we can trade instruments when we need to. Contrary to what a lot of people think, the tight arrangements and lots of rehearsing are what create the exciting vibe of our performances, not improvising. Lots of bands try to capture the energy of their live performance in their recordings, while we try to capture the infinite possibilities we had while recording in our live performances.
CP: Is writing a collective effort?
G: The songs we're playing now, from Cold Warrior, were mostly written and recorded by Aleks, beginning as simple folk songs and evolving into the grandiose arrangements they became. The live versions were a collaborative effort by all of us to learn and rewrite parts in order to capture the spirit of the record at a show. This is an ongoing process, but it's subtle at this point. The six of us have been playing music together for a long time. We always sound loose.
CP: Cold Warrior is finally coming out in May after a long delay. Did the time in limbo free you up to work on new songs?
G: There's no such thing as "time in limbo," just time when people don't hear from us as much. We've recently been focused on the business side of things. Mixing Cold Warrior, booking tours. The Grandchildren have a lot of stuff to keep track of. But we do already have the drop on writing the next album and we're looking forward to starting on that.
CP: The show this weekend is a benefit for the Ronald McDonald House. How did you get on board?
G: We got involved in the show through Hugh from National Rifle. Grandchildren is happy to help good causes, even for McDonald's.
Sat., Feb. 27, 7 p.m., $5, with The National Rifle and The New Connection, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., kungfunecktie.com.