The Grasping Straws Talks of New Single, Music, and More!

Modernizers THE GRASPING STRAWS have an all new single out this fall, with much more previous content made readily available. More material is in the works, including plans to perhaps touring and doing shows again! The band talks of all of this below.

 1. Please tell us about the history of your band and its members.

Struggling to find a satisfying creative outlet, in 2012 I felt compelled to start writing songs and performing them to anyone who would listen- at parks, bars, subway stations, parties. It started with me, Rob and Oliver meeting up to play under the arch at Washington Square park with guitars and a cajon. Then I was immensely inspired by the antifolk scene at Sidewalk Cafe, and by the new music and art I was experiencing around New York City. One night I dreamed my childhood friend Sam was in the band with us playing the bass, and it came true. I remember the first time Jim’s drumming blew my mind in the basement of an NYU building. I started touring and playing a lot more shows, developing, screeching, sleeping on floors, and meeting soulmates. I started to accrue even more collaborators: Jake (bass), Henry (drums/percussion), Edwin (cello), Clair (viola/violin), Marcus (guitars) + more. Each iteration has a variety of sounds we embody and songs we play depending on serendipity and the moment and who is available for a specific show or tour or recording concept (so over much of this past year, just me!). We adapt to the space we're in. Musical collaboration and sharing is a study of humanness. We’ve become like a collective, beyond the idea of a band with specific members and it’s the same every time. 

2. What’s the origin of the band’s name?

As I started to write more songs and perform, I was talking to a friend about coming up with the right band name, and I said “it’s like grasping at straws! Oh wait!” and The Grasping Straws was born. The idiom ‘grasping at straws’ comes from an old proverb “A drowning person will clutch at straws,” meaning that a drowning person will grab at anything around to try to save themself, even a floating straw. It represents the hope and willingness to keep reaching out even when nothing is there. It evokes a sense of music creation as a survival instinct. 

3. Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?

We are based in NYC! One of my favorite things about the local music here is that there are so many different overlapping music scenes, each with their own flavor and community. I could go out every night and listen to music I’ve never heard before and meet new people every time. I was first introduced to local music through the Sidewalk Cafe open mic and the antifolk community there. Some local artists I love: Robot Princess, Onesie, Shadow Monster, Jeffrey Lewis, Odd Snakes, Kristin Flammio and the Pretty Bitchin, Brook Pridemore, Echo Moth, Shilpa Ray, Mithunder, Cruel Children, Leone, Rest Ashore, Starcrossed Losers, Frankie Sunswept, Elizabeth Devlin, Jason Trachtenberg, Toby Goodshank, John S. Hall, Sunflower Bean.

4. How would you describe your style?

Grungy, jazzy, expressive, psychedelic, experimental, introspective, dreamy. Like an angry, angsty softness. Enveloped in dichotomies, a scream and a whisper, raw and controlled, dissonant and harmonious, abstract and specific. Each song is a moment in time as we connect ephemerally through sound and emotion.

5. What have you released so far and what can someone expect from your works?

We released our first demo in 2013 which was recorded and produced by Joanna Fang and Nick Zinnanti. These recordings captured us with a jazzy experimental feeling featuring saxophone and some of our first songs. 

Next in 2015, we released our first album, recorded on 8 Track 1/2” tape with Alex P. at Basement Floods Records. We stayed the weekend in Woodstock, NY (before Basement Floods relocated to Catskill), and Alex would make breakfast for us while the tapes rewound in the morning. This album captured us exploring distortion and tape delay effects. We used my dad’s rat pedal from the 80’s and felt inspired by the analog recording process.

We recorded again in 2018 at Ground Control Studio with Murray Trider. That studio has the drums in a windowed isolation room, so we were able to capture very clean and well-recorded drum parts as we played live. I took the stems and I’ve added layered vocal and guitar parts from home, taking my time with it and learning more about the home recording process. I released the first track from this project, “Help” on the winter solstice of 2020, mixed by Somer Bingham, along with a music video created by Erica Schreiner. 

On Halloween 2020, I woke up with an idea of this song in my head. I spent the day playing around with it and thinking about how with the pandemic virus, the high death toll, and the state of our democracy in America, this is by far the scariest Halloween I’ve ever experienced. I wanted to see if I could write, record, and mix the song by myself in one day, and I think performing it as a solo-acoustic track is emblematic of what musician life in isolation is like. There are two voices, and they are both my own. I released it as soon as possible in November 2020, because I wanted it to evoke a specific moment, the same feelings when I wrote it.

Someone listening can expect unexpected leaps, dynamic shifts, introspective lyrics, raw emotion, teleportation, time travel, interplanetary connection. Our recordings are moments in time captured like a sonic time capsule. Our sound is always changing, transforming, evolving and escaping into the universe. 

6. Do you have any new music in the works?

Yes! Always writing and rewriting songs. The most recent song idea came to mind while I was hiking in the mountains of NYC, and it’s about appreciating nature in the midst of all of the intense weather changes and storming around us.

We also have a new single coming out! “Poetry.” Mat from Animal Farm Records mixed and produced the next track from the Ground Control Studio/home recording project. “Poetry” is about text message love letters. The NYC scene. The words. The poetic arousal of imagination. We develop new and insatiable curiosities as we make love with art.

7. How about playing shows and touring, have anything planned out?

Our new single, “Poetry” will be released on Sept 12th 2021 at Mercury Lounge in NYC, and we’ll be screening our music video by Erica Schreiner!!! and Erica will be VJing during our set!! We’re opening for our friends Lorraine Leckie and her Demons!!! It has felt amazing to be able to play shows again, and see friends play shows, and be part of a community. My first show after I got the vaccine was on my friend’s rooftop, and I was overcome with emotion and cried. Crying is cool.

I am in love with touring. With the recent state of music and travel, this is the longest period of time I’ve gone without touring since 2014, and I can’t wait to get back to it. DIY tour booking has led us to many adventures, soulmates, bandmates, and inspiration.

8. What plans do you have for the future as a band?

I want to start booking our tour dates again, and rejoining the larger DIY touring communities around the US, Canada and Europe, and getting to see and travel with our bandmates in New Orleans again, Edwin and Clair on Cello and Viola!

We have more recorded tracks in the works! I had a concept idea of what could be our first vinyl album release: Dichotomy. One band configuration on side A, and another on side B. I’d like to try and get all of the bandmates and collaboration captured through time. Two opposing forces create each other.

9. Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?

Find everything at our website !!

Find our merch on bandcamp:

10. What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most when hearing your music for the first time?

I would want a new listener to remember the way the music made them feel in that moment. Maybe a lyric, the tones of the guitars, an unlikely chord progression, raw emotion, a vocal tremor, something startling.

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