While it’s true that any artist’s work cannot be anything less than the latticework of his/her experiences, it’s ideal if it’s also something beyond that as well. Philadelphia-based sound-pop act Grandchildren strives forâ€”and groks, powerfullyâ€”this ideal.
“I grew up in the military, so I traveled all over the place,” says main man Aleks Martray. “I was born in Germany, grew up in West Point in the military academy and would travel to Broadway all the time. I grew up watching musicals and things like that.”
In addition to touring with Grandchildren, Martray has spent the last several summers in Nicaragua under the employ of Maryland Institute College of Art’s “Art of Solidarity” program, building connections between the communities of the Americas, both South and North. “I think when I got older, it was just natural that I would be traveling and going to different places. I just really connect with Latin America, I’m not sure why. To me, making any kind of art has a lot to do with different perspectives, so for me, traveling is the normal state.”
Martray’s work in Grandchildren doesn’t speak to an assimilation of the sounds rattling around his memory banks so much as the kinetic sum of energy built up through a lifetime of forward momentum. It doesn’t hurt that Grandchildren essentially annexed one of Philadelphia’s most spastically buoyant indie-punk bands, Rad Racket. “It really took shape when I eventually moved to Philly, to the Danger Danger House,” Martray says, speaking of one of Philadelphia’s more active DIY spots. “And at the time, I lived with everybody [in the band], and we were throwing shows, so I was exposed to a lot of different music.”
The Rad Racket guysâ€”Tris Palazzolo, Adam Katz, John Vogel, Russell Brodie and the gregarious and oft-mohawked Roman Salcicâ€”were at the center of that community, eventually outgrowing their basement and moving into the more legitâ€”and always all-agesâ€”Danger Danger Gallery.
Grandchildren and Rad Racket grew to contain many, if not quite all, of the same members. “There was a period in which we were touring as two different bands, a sort of Venn Diagram of people,” says Mantray. “Eventually, it just made sense for us to focus on one project. I’d moved to Philly to solidify the band, and I ended up doing a solo project, because I was getting a lot more interested in recording and writing through the recording processâ€”doing a lot of sampling and using the technology that I had to really develop the music in a way that I hadn’t been able to before when I was doing more singer/songwriter-based stuff.”
Grandchildren set about the task of taking these electronic excursions and determining how to pull them off live, emerging as a rotating cast of multi-instrumentalists. The results are percussive and lively, with a live sound that pops beyond the hard-drive origins of the source material. The band is working at the moment with producer Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog) to finish crafting the follow-up to its previous LP, Everlasting. In the meantime, Grandchildren is touring the East Coast and garnering more experiences, which makes for bigger music.
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