It seems to have worked, too. The band has been picking up solid national press (Amplifier, Magnet) and college radio play, and was recently named "Best New Band" by the readers of this newspaper. Creative Loafing recently had a chance to chat electronically with Grasty, who, along with his bandmates (Tina Cargill, synth, vocals; Chris London, bass; Vance Carlisle, drums; Stephen Yount, guitar) will play the Evening Muse this Saturday, November 30.
Creative Loafing: What led you to leave Laburnum?
Wes Grasty: It's funny that you ask. I'm writing a book on that subject. So, obviously, I can't answer this question concisely, but here's an excerpt from the chapter entitled, "They Don't Believe in Me Anymore": I remember lying down in the fetal position with my hands covering my face on the cold, concrete basement floor where we use to practice. The rest of the band was working on what they claimed to be "our greatest song idea yet." I think they wondered what I was doing on the floor while this "masterpiece" unfolded, so one of them finally asked: "What's wrong, Wes, why aren't you singing?" I thought, should I really tell them that what they're playing sounds like shit to me? Should I ask them why they've abandoned my vision that has gotten us this far? No, instead I...
I will say that there is a happy ending and I'm still good friends with all those guys, and I wish them well in their endeavors.
How quickly after Laburnum did the idea for FNOE come about?
Not too quickly. The short of it is that I had no idea what I was going to do post-Laburnum. I do know that I was mentally and emotionally drained. I had poured all my heart and energy into something I was very proud of for over five years of my life and it took its toll. I just started writing songs to myself. It became very therapeutic. At some point, I decided that I needed outside help from other musicians. I was getting lonely.
How did you go about assembling the band?
Here's an excerpt from that chapter entitled, "What Next?": I wrote in my diary some descriptions of the type of people I wanted to help with my songs. Then, one day out of nowhere, Chris London asked if I needed help and I said "Yes, I could use some good bass lines." He mentioned a friend named Steve that played a mean guitar, so we invited him along for the ride. I also recruited Tina Cargill for some backing vocals (I saw her performing with my old bandmates) and I was floored. After the completion of the CD, we asked Tina to join the band and she agreed! I had written in my diary that I would want someone with a style like Vance Carlisle, since I couldn't convince him to play all the previous, multiple times I had asked him to. Lo and behold, he called me after he heard the CD and said, "I'm in!"
With the band all set, what led you to sign with Liquilab?
I had been searching for a producer for a while that would understand our music and share their vision of where it could go. Paul Jensen referred me to that producer -- Mike Vagianos. As it progressed, Mike and I talked about the "business" side of music -- sharing knowledge and ideas, etc. His band, Baleen, was working on a CD at the time as well. I had run a label in the past and mentioned to Mike that we should do something like that together. A few weeks passed and Mike had recruited a couple of other people (Tricia Stanaland and Christy Constable) to help with the re-formation of Liquilab, which was the label that his bandmates had started a few years ago. At that time, Mike asked if we'd like to be on it, and we agreed whole-heartedly.
You have a very recognizable sound. Are there bands all of FNOE agree on as influences?
I think the only thing we agree on is that we don't really like this question too much. It usually starts some pretty heated debates like: "Wes, you don't like The Beatles? Are you CRAZY?"
First Night On Earth plays the Evening Muse on Saturday, November 30. Showtime is 10pm. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 the day of the show. For info, call 704-376-3737.