By Nicole Schmidt
Grizfolk is a Los Angeles based electro-rock/folk band made up of members Adam Roth, Sebastian Fritze, Fredrik Eriksson, Brendan Willing James, and Bill Delia. Formed in 2012, the band members combined their unique musical backgrounds and styles to create an original sound, which led to the production and release of their first EP, The Spark, in December 2013.
They teamed up with the popular English rock band, Bastille, and have been touring Europe and North America alongside them for the past year. On Oct. 15, they played for a sold out crowd at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
The Eyeopener sat down with the band members to talk about their music and the tour.
Eyeopener: Let’s start with the early stages of your music. How did you become the band you are today?
Grizfolk: We started off as a songwriting production team and it kind of just grew from there. We were experimenting with music and we recorded The Struggle and put it online. It went viral so we said, “we should start a band.” The rest is history.
E: Originally, you named your band Griz Adams, after Grizzly Adams. What’s the relationship there?
G: We called him (Adam Roth) Griz Adams. That was his nickname because he had a beard. At one point it got really big, so that’s how that started.
When we started realizing that we had something going on and we wanted to start a band … we wanted a name that encompassed a community.
E: If you had to describe your music to someone who had never heard it in three words, which three words would you choose?
G: Electricity meets Americana. Everything we write we always make sure we can dumb down to just an acoustic guitar and then we bring in the electronic aspect. We come from different backgrounds when it comes to music — hip-hop, Americana, electronic — we put everything together and it comes out as whatever it comes out to be. There’s no thought about, “we have to make it electronic, or we have to make it more Americana.” It comes naturally.
E: How do you all work together to infuse all of those different musical genres into something new?
G: It’s like a mystery. I think it’s been like that from the start where the song just comes to us. It’s just meant to be every time … it’s a natural hybrid.
E: Do you have any specific thing that you draw inspiration from when you write and when you create?
G: We always kind of picture in our heads where the song takes place, so we draw from different landscapes. Sometimes people write about love and they try to tell a story about that. Because we come from a songwriting background, we’ve gotten a little bored taking that view, so being on tour has inspired us to be a little more visual with the songs.
E: You’re on a huge tour right now — you’ve packed the Air Canada Centre tonight, you played Radio City this month. How did your collaboration with Bastille come to be?
G: We were introduced to Bastille through our record label and they originally asked us to do a couple dates with them. We did New York, Boston and Detroit and then they asked us to go on the European tour with them. We did it and it was the coolest experience ever.
They were coming to the United States to do a tour and they asked us again to come on the road with them. We’re really inspired by the way they work and watching how it’s done when you have a smash hit like Pompeii.
E: Do you guys have any crazy or absurd tour stories?
G: We are five guys that are always looking for fun and mischief. Pretty much every night is crazy when you’re on the road with Bastille. We’ve never played places this big. For example, last night (Montreal) was one of the craziest nights of our lives. We’re in the middle of a song and 10,000 people pull out their phones and are waving them back and forth. You’re trying to sing a song and not think about it because you’re trying not to forget the lyrics, but it’s really happening.
On another tour, we wound up going to a grilled cheese party in the middle of Georgia with some of the guys from The Walking Dead. That was pretty random, but awesome because we love that show, and grilled cheese — perfect combination.
E: How would you say being on a tour this size has helped you grow as a band?
G: It’s cool to watch Bastille, we’re kind of shadowing them as little brothers. It’s cool to see how it all goes down and be a part of something that’s pretty much as big as it gets. We feel like we’re learning and growing every day — becoming better performers. Before we started touring with them we had never played shows this big.
It’s so weird seeing these songs come to life and playing them for that many crowds. It’s so inspiring meeting people from all over the world and seeing how they react to the music.
E: Let’s talk about your EP for a minute, why’d you decide to call it The Spark.
G: It’s a line from our song Hymnals. We felt like the EP was a good starting point — it was a good spark to ignite something that hopefully would be bigger than this spark. So far, it’s opened up a lot of doors for us. It’s been a good launching pad for the album that we’re finishing up right now.
E: What’s next for Grizfolk, in terms of your music and the new album?
G: We’re finishing the album. It’s almost done and as soon as it’s finished we’re going to put a release date on it. We’re really excited to put it out there. We’ve been playing these new songs live and shaping the recordings around that. We’re excited to put it out there and put the final touches on it.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity