THE BEST READ OF 2018: An Interview with Grant Emeigh from DredNeks

Funnily enough, I just learned how to properly spell DredNeks today. A lot of people spell it “Drednecks”, “Dreadnecks”, “The Drednecks”, or some combination of those three. I always used “Dredneks”, but I suppose the true spelling is “DredNeks”, with that capital N.

Anyone who’s seen this band live, knows that Grant Emeigh is a ridiculous character. I mean that in the most endearing way. He’s an unstoppable force of nature that fronts a band like no other and is hands down the most entertaining show in Western New York. All other front men and women fail in comparison, when it comes to overall showmanship. But I get it. Not every metal band in this area is based on a concept that calls for such over-the-top stage antics from their singer.

Over the last two days, Grant and I have been going back and forth about a lot of stuff on Messenger, making this the longest, most diverse and most in depth interview in this blog’s history.

Grant Emeigh: When did you wanna do the interview?

Mike Marlinski: Now?!

GE: “Hey, where’s my interview, Mr Webzine?!”

MM: First and foremost, I have to know the story behind the name “DredNeks” if there is one.

GE: I’m just firing up the laptop right meow.

MM: Sick.

GE: OK. I’m here. You can start clapping.

studio
GE: A lack of indoor plumbing has driven my creativity to unconventional avenues. Whilst a session of “pondering”, I came up with a word compounding “dreadful” and “redneck.” Sheer brilliance, I thought, as I embraced my band members in celebration. Don’t worry I washed my hands in a nearby mud puddle.

MM: How did you and Devin meet?

GE: DredNeks is kinda two different bands. We are the original act when playing away from home, with nearly 30 songs under our belts, and then we perform as a cover band with our local shows. We only started writing about 6 years ago. A 16-year old Devin Dewyer (equipped with a Justin Beiber haircut) approached us at one of our cover gigs and asked to be a part of our weird project. The band was kind of reborn that day. We started writing shortly afterwards and “Hellbender” (debut album) was born from those songs.

We’ve been hitting it hard since and have played hundreds of shows together. Even when the entire lineup changed over and over, he was there with me pushing to play and create. His ability to play any and all styles, convincingly, has been the biggest reason why we have stayed relevant and popular. He’s the real deal.

MM:What’s your favorite part of the DredNeks sound (besides yourself)?

Oh, and name your top three songs!
…Both by Dredneks and other artists…

GE: I think my favorite part of our sound is how universal it is. We identify as “swamp metal” but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. The influences range from folk and gypsy music to country and rockabilly to jazz and rock-n-roll, to punk rock and heavy metal. We get lumped into a metal genre but transcend into all types of other kinds of music shows.

We’ve had so many opportunities to play with all genres; I think that’s one of the greatest rewards. Every member, past and present, loves that we can really add a new sound and style to the music world and connect with little kids, teens, and adults, alike.

We have a fun and positive approach to our arrangements (most of the time) and I think people gravitate to a sound and lyricism that doesn’t try to them how to think or who they should be. We don’t have an agenda to push, but rather stories to tell for the listener to take what they will from them, and upbeat music for them to wiggle their toes to.

MM: Please give me a rundown of your influences growing up (in music), your current favorite bands and what it means to you to be a frontman. What are your goals every night on stage and what are some ways you’re improving your presence and voice skills?

GE: I’m working on these top 3 songs thing. This is a hard one.

There’s no way I could possibly list my top 3 favorite songs, so I’m gonna give you 10:

Motorhead – ” Love You Like A Reptile”
Ben E. King – “Stand By Me”
The Goddamn Gallows – “The Maker”
Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers – “Cussin’ In Tongues”
Hank Williams – “Long Gone Lonesome Blues”
Judas Priest – “Painkiller”
TSOL – “Dance With Me”
Mastodon – “Curl of the Burl”
Misfits – “Hybrid Moments”
Dead Kennedys – “Police Truck”
Rancid – “Bloodclot”
Ghost – “Ritual”
Murder by Death – “The Big Sleep”
DIO ” Stand Up and Shout”
O’death – “Home”

Well…that’s more like 15….and I know there’s about 50 more where that came from…
As far as my favorite DredNeks songs… “Ain’t Much to Look At”, “Circus Peanuts”, “Eyes of the Devil” {unreleased}.

As far as influences go, that’s a pretty long list. I got into music kinda late but made up for it. I was in sixth grade before my buddy, Brandon, turned me onto backyard punk rock shows. It only took one show and I was hooked, though. Punk and ska bands were my life throughout high school and even now. I was obsessed with Dead Kennedys, Rancid, NOFX, Misfits, Bad Brains, TSOL, Reel Big Fish, Streetlight Manifesto, etc… the list goes on forever. Somewhere down the line, I fell into rockabilly/psychobilly bands{Reverend Horton Heat}{Nekromantix} {Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers} {Demented Are Go} and that added a whole world to my lengthy album collection. From there, it was a natural progression to a love of old country artists and heavy metal, simultaneously {Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, DIO, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Metallica.} Making a band that celebrates all of these styles and attempt to combine them all was the only way I wanted to write songs. I’ll give you a list of my top independent gems later.
Being a frontman is amazing. My motto was always that since I’m not playing an instrument, I’m going to work just as hard as any musician on my voice and the stage show. Jello Biafra {Dead Kennedys}, H.R. {Bad Brains} and J.D. Wilkes {Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers} have to be my biggest inspirations for developing an energetic and unconventional performance. I never want to leave a gig without cuts and bruises and clothes drenched in sweat. My guys work incredibly hard at their crafts and I want their respect as a musician. They play so well, and tightly, that I don’t have to strain and hurt my vocal chords. I try to only drink water to keep my throat clear and stay hydrated. No big secret.

There’s alot of great music out there today. People get into the mentality that there’s nobody good left but I don’t believe that. Mastodon is a punishing band that continues to evolve every album. Ghost is pretty much the best show going, and their songs are brilliant. Primus is unstoppable after all these years. Gogol Bordello is amazing and will leave you exhausted.

Ever since our first show, I vowed to never write a setlist. Feeling the crowd out was more important. Knowing the next step takes away that tension. My bandmates are {mostly} always ready to jump into any song that I shoot at them. I never wanted any performance to feel like the one before it. This mindset has kept the random craziness a-flowin’. This keeps me on my toes as a singer, too. It’s difficult to change from style to style, so it pushes you to get better. I’ve still got a long way to go but I can tell the work has paid off.

As for my independent favorites: Goddamn Gallows, Th’ Legendary Shakers, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club to name a few of the great independent working bands out there. Their songs and live performances inspire me more all of the time. We just want to be one-tenth as good as them.

MM: You bring up Goddamn Gallows a lot. Have they played Buffalo? I don’t recall.

GE: It’s been a long time since those ruffians have played Buffalo, but they’ll be at the Mohawk Place in July. I advise everyone to go and get rowdy.

MM: Talk about your favorite memories of playing live. List your personal top shows, specifically in Buffalo, if you don’t mind. To follow that up, what’s your favorite venue in Buffalo? Name some of your favorite Buffalo bands too.

GE: Since 2007, DredNeks have played hundreds of gigs. We’ve made a million great memories and hope to make a million more. We’ve played Buffalo so many times, but that very first gig at Broadway Joe’s was one of my favorites. The Freeeek was playing that night and I laughed my ass off the entire time. I got a crash course in the Buffalo music scene that night. The Orius album release at the Waiting Room was of epic proportion. Those guys are killers. Nick Landers {Inherent Vice} put on that one Showplace Theatre show, and it was a hoot. It was a special show for us, because it was Jose’s (drums) first show back in the band and we and hadn’t told anyone about it. That was night the JOSE {OLE} chant started. Our first time at the Evening Star was awesome. Greg Rinker is a great soundman. Our release of “Beast of Boredom” was a great time. Drew (The Long Cold Dark) hit me in every tender area with a ken-do stick and I put him through the table. The list goes on and on. Buffalo has been incredibly kind to us.

There’s a huge list of sweet bands in Buffalo. TLCD, Ish Kabibble, Danimal Cannon, Orius, Scarecrow Show, Pollock and Nuclear Winter are among my favorites. But I sincerely, love playing with everybody. There’s a lot of talented and entertaining people in the area, and the amount of friends I’ve made in the last few years has been a great reward.

Special shoutout to Arlowe Price for bringing his own brand of entertainment and to Lee Hoffman for the amazing live shots at the shows.

MM: Oh, of course. You always have to give it up to those two.

GE: I hate making lists of local favorites…. don’t wanna bum anyone out or forget them.

MM: When it comes to harsh vocals, I’ve heard you dip in and out of that realm in certain DredNeks songs. Is most of that satirical? Or, do you find special places for screaming?

As for forgetting people, it happens all the time. The people you admire in the scene probably know it without you having to say it.

GE: I try to write the vocals to match the dynamics of the instrumentation. If it’s a quirky part of the song, I’ll generally do more singing, but when the heavies come in I like to ramp it up.

And sometimes I just get weird with it. I like to change up the approach as often as possible.

MM; Makes perfect sense, and you nail it, sir.

EVERY. DAMN. TIME.
Okay, man. I guess the last thing I wanna ask is, what can you tell everybody about the next DredNeks album?

GE: The next album is gonna be cool. In a lot of ways it’ll be a mix of the old and the new, and taking on its own original sound. It’s hard to make a lot of speculation, yet, but you can expect a different approach at the DredNeks sound.

MM: Good stuff all around, but I guess I lied about that being the last question. I’m very curious about what you write about most frequently when it comes to your lyrics. You cover a lot of topics, ranging from serious to ridiculous and everything in between. But are there any recurring topics you can think of? And in which songs are those topics present?

GE: I’m glad you asked. I’ve been a fan of horror, sci-fi, comedy and cartoons since I was wee boy. I’ve always been obsessed with the occult and aliens. Obviously, we try to stick to a theme that encompasses whatever “swamp metal” is. There’s a number of songs about the swamp, religious fanaticism, infatuation with inanimate objects, God and Satan, and creatures of all varieties. I try to take these often dark themes and bring a cartoony light to them. I want happy-sounding songs to have dark messages and evil ones to be silly. Mix in my own dose of metaphor and made-up idioms and you have the formula to my lyricism.

MM: Sounds great, man. I’m very excited to hear what you’ve concocted for the new album. As someone with firsthand knowledge, another one I can’t wait for is your new song with Ronnie LePine, “Drive-by Baptism”: one of the most creative and hilarious premises for a song I’ve ever heard. Be on the lookout, masses!

Thanks for taking the time over the last 2 days for this interview. I’m stoked to edit and publish this masterpiece!
GE: My band has been such a huge part of my life, and it means the world to be able to work with hard-working creative people. I want to thank Devin, Nick and Jose for being such a rock solid group of musicians and friends; Doozin the rock and rolls with ya….
has been a privilege.

 

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