Deciphering the Alternative Sound of The Gray Company
    • THURSDAY, JULY 02, 2015

    • Posted by: Joseph Farago

    The Gray Company is deconstructing the sound of modern indie rock in 2015. With Zebeeb Awalom's effervescent voice sweetly gliding atop standard guitars and drums, the New Jersey band is mixing complex and extensive melodies with their contemporary take on American rock music. Only forming their collective about a year ago, high school friends Awalom and Jason Fandino began with ideas to construct jubilant music with darker undertones. Succeeding in their original mission statement, The Gray Company constructs powerful, charming, and euphonious music that is as sweet as is it is complex.

    Their song off the new record, Direct Affect, triumphs in a lethargic, sunny sound with Awalom's voice vibrantly and vehemently standing out of the commotion. Though the song revels in its uptempo pandemonium, easygoing vibes are also not obscene to feel. The song moves rapidly up and down scales, exercises dynamics, and examines the classic status of young heartbreak. It's a tune that was made for a contemplative summer, with Awalom's vocals as a perfect anecdote to any seasonal sadness. We got to talk with The Gray Company about their influences and songwriting structure for their newest EP Shoplifters. Check it out below and check out "Direct Effect" on their new EP here.

    Has the band shifted in any sort of major ways in 2015?

    Awalom: We're still pretty young as a band, but compared to our earlier EP, Shoplifters takes an upbeat turn. The majority of the songs are danceable, and the subjects of the songs are less serious than our debut EP. We wanted this release to match the summer season: bright and fun.
    As a band, 2015 has definitely brought us closer together. We went on our first little tour along the East Coast. We learned a lot. We sweat a lot. It was definitely a bonding experience.

    There are a host of sonic touchstones on the EP: I hear a bit of the Pixies, a bit of the Dismemberment Plan, and other alt-rock acts of the late 90s/early 2000s. Who were some of you musical influences implemented on the new EP?

    Fandino: I'd never heard of The Dismemberment Plan, but I totally get it. Droney. You'll hear that in our last song on Shoplifters. But for the rest of it I think mostly it came from a more open sort of style. On our first EP, that we now all affectionately call Island, it was a really dense set of songs. Lots of weight to it. On these songs you'll find a lightness in it. The heaviness just sort of lifts off when your feet start moving. I think that's really the core of it. As far as a specific real life influence, I'd say there are way too many to choose from. It's just things I've absorbed in my head and spit back out to the rest of the band. And then they spit their heads back at me. It came from everything we've ever listened to.

    The song Direct Effect is vibrant and full of beautiful melodies. How do you write these complex melodies? Do they all come at once and or do they take more work trying to figure out?

    Awalom: I always write lyrics and melodies at the same time. I'll usually play the recording Jason sends me on repeat until something comes to me. If I scrap lyrics after a listen, I'll start a new melody with the new lyrics -- which is unnecessary, really. I probably lose some good melodies that way. But with "Direct Affect," everything came very naturally for me. There was something flirtatious in the guitar parts Jason wrote, which made putting words to it very easy. I knew where I wanted to go after the first listen and wrote the lyrics and melody in one sitting. Sometimes when I bring my ideas to Jason, he'll make suggestions about what I should change before practice with Josh and Adrian. "Direct Affect" stayed the same except for one line, I think I'm worth it which used to be I think you're perfect.

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