So this is the thing. Against The Grain is bad ass rock band from the motor city that you need to know about. Marc from Doors To No Where and my buddy Matt Hutchison from Self Destructo records both told me you absolutely need to check these guys out! I got my hands on their last album “Road Warriors” and have been blasting it weekly ever since. In fact, it made number 5 on my top 10 albums of 2015. Check my album review here! If you’re a fan of Motorhead, Maiden and in your face guitar you need to pick up “Road Warriors” ASAP and you need to crank it to 11! You also need to check them out live as they hit the road with Bongzilla, Lo-Pan and Black Cobra on a can’t miss rock tour. Lucky for me this tour stops through the Bay Area on Wednesday March 9th at the Catalyst in downtown Santa Cruz. So in anticipation of the show I was lucky enough to be able to check in with Rob Nowak who is of course the drummer from the mighty Against The Grain. Check out our conversation below.
WH – First off, thanks for taking the time to do this. When I listen to Against The Grain I hear the influence of bands like Motorhead, Spirit Caravan, and some Maiden. How would you describe your sound?
Rob – Of course, happy to do it! ATG has a love for a lot of different kinds of music. We all come from different backgrounds in rock n roll, punk, metal, blues and all other kinds of music. Some of our favorites collectively Id say are; Motorhead, Zeke, Deep Purple, Discharge, ACDC, Maiden, Ramones, Sabbath and Thin Lizzy. Whenever we write songs, we keep our influences pretty all over the place, but like to always bring it back to being based in Rock.
WH- What artist or bands have had the most impact on your style of playing?
Rob – Me personally, as a drummer Id relate it back to punk rock. I grew up playing punk rock and keep it to single pedal. Philthy Phil (RIP) of Motorhead is probably my favorite drummer of all time.
WH – I loved Philithy Phil and his style, what are some other drummers that you dig?
Rob – I really dig Phil, Bill Ward BC he would riff along with the song. JP from Clutch is the master of groove. DH Peligro from Dead Kennedys was always incredible. Byron from Pennywise for his intensity and single pedal work. All of Primus’ drummers have always been fantastic. Rudd from ACDC has perfect timing. I love a good beat keeper, just as much as a shredder.
WH – Is there any bands I should be checking out?
Rob – There’s so many incredible bands both locally and nationally. Some up-and coming bands Id say are Death Alley, Lecharous Gaze, The Biters, Demon Eye. All holding it down for rock n roll. If you dig our “Speed Rock” sound theres a ton of under-the-radar bands like Reo Speedealer, Nashville Pussy, The Humpers, The Candy Snatchers, The Hellacopters, Zekes.
Rob – Detroit has a great thriving scene too. Check out: Bison Machine, Wild Savages, Voltage, Her Dark Host, Stone Ritual, The Highborn, Nuke, MRSA, The Savage Seven and a shit ton more.
WH – Road Warriors is a fantastic album, how did the writing and recording of the record come to fruition?
Rob – The writing was/is always very natural/ In-between all the tours we practice and people write parts on their own. We get together and go from there. Sometimes the person has a good deal of the song written and we go from there, and sometimes it all comes together at practice. The recording was a very fun one for us this time; we got to record with Bryan Griffin, who was in the original lineup of ATG, and still help with writing/producing. Bryan had a large part in getting our sounds together as he is super into Mountain/Clutch and groove rock. He’s also a tone-fanatic, so he helps us get our tones to where they should be. It was all recorded with him, so he knew exactly what we wanted. The mixing was done by Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust) and mastered by Brad Boatwright at Audio Siege ( Portland,OR) who’s done a ton of huge albums. We’re very happy with it, but I’d still say were much more of a live band.
WH – How did you guys land on the title Road Warriors?
Rob We almost went with “IV”, but thought it was Cliche. The artwork inspired it, Kyle came out with it. Made sense! Shawn Knight of Child Bite had called us that in a previous interview, and I loved it.
WH – What is your favorite track on the album to play live?
Rob – I love playing Pendulum. Its got grooves and a lot of fun drumming parts.
WH – Can we expect more new music soon?
Rob – I think we’re going to tour a ton more in 2016/2017. Probably nothing new til at least mid 2017. We’ve only done about 60 dates since this album was released.. We want to do another 150 in 2016 for support of the album.
WH – What can the people in Santa Cruz expect to see from you all?
Rob – 30 minutes of non-stop loud and true rock n roll. No gimmick, just a show that punches you in the face and makes you wanna go home and crank your amp to 11 and solo along to your favorite ACDC leads. Then fuck your girlfriend. or just a fun show haha.
WH – Are you familiar with any bands from Santa Cruz?
Rob – No! Would love to be though!… its been abut 3 years since we last played here.
WH – Do you plan on getting in the water for a surf session in while in SC?
Rob – We will definitely be out on the beach enjoying the water, but none of us have ever surfed. We’re MI Boys!..
WH – So what does a punk rock kid living in Michigan do?
Rob – Work 2 jobs so I can tour! Got a g/f of 7 years. Go to a lot of shows. Got a good record collection going. Pretty big into movies too.
I wanna thank Rob for taking the time to chat with me. If your in the Santa Cruz area you don’t want miss ATG! Make sure you follow Against The Grain on their Facebook here!