The Grey EstatesComment

interview: Del Paxton

The Grey EstatesComment

This March, Del Paxton will release All DayEvery Day, All Night on Topshelf Records. It's the group's debut LP, collecting material written from 2013 - 2015 that's emotive, detailed and intimate. The band was kind enough to answer a few of our questions via e-mail regarding the album, inspiration and more.

photo: Brendan O'Connor

photo: Brendan O'Connor

The Grey Estates: Since this is your debut, tell us a little bit about how you came together and how the band has changed or found the sound you wanted since first forming in 2013?

Greg and I (Zack) had been playing in bands together since we were in high school. He and I grew up in Ithaca, NY playing in various bands in the local scene there. We both coincidentally ended up in Buffalo years later. Greg knew Dylan from their bands having toured together back in the day and that Dylan was also living in Buffalo. Each of us weren’t playing in a band at the time and I think we each had the itch to get back into it. Being that we were old friends living in close proximity, the idea to get together came about pretty naturally.  Since then, I don’t think the band’s sound has changed a whole lot - not intentionally anyway. Our M.O. is to just get together and riff on something until we get it how we want it. I think the determining factor in what we keep and what gets scrapped is how fun it is for us to play. What that usually means for us is trying to make a song just a little more rhythmically complex than 4/4 without treading into actual math rock. We’re not smart or talented enough to play actual math rock. 

You went from self-releasing to Topshelf Records! Was that something you ever imagined when starting the band, and how did having the support of Topshelf help or influence this debut release?

I don’t think we expected any label attention when we started out, necessarily. We put out our first release, an EP called “Worst.Summer.Ever” on Bandcamp. Shortly after that, Secret Audio Club - a now defunct indie label based in upstate New York - released a 12” version of it. Topshelf hit us up around that time. And when they did, we were beyond excited at having the opportunity to work with one of our favorite labels. Many bands on the Topshelf roster are among our favorites: Mock Orange, Toe, Prawn, etc. Having their support means a whole lot. Knowing that we’re reaching a larger audience and that we’re part of a community of artists we respect and admire is energizing and inspiring. We also respect everything about the way Kevin and Seth run their label ethically. We back their support of charities and causes 100% (Planned Parenthood, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, The Trevor Project). On the creative side, they never try to impede on any aspect of anything we’ve ever done. That laissez faire approach really allows for an organic creative atmosphere. I don’t know if we would have ever done an LP without having linked up with them. I’m guessing we probably would have kept releasing EP’s and splits for a while. It was a challenge for us for to get 4 or 5 songs into writing and then to think “this is where we’d usually stop and record”, but instead pushing through and prolonging the writing process. The result was that we reached into new styles, sounds, and dynamics than what we’d been typically doing. 

What about your local scene inspired this recording and how do you feel that community helped you in finding inspiration for this album?

There are/were so many great punk bands in Buffalo that helped us out when we were first starting. That’s exactly why continuing to be involved with and continuing to play DIY shows is important to us. We recorded this album here in Buffalo at a beautiful studio called GCR with our friend and local engineer Jay Zubricky. We nerded out with him on a whole bunch of our favorite 90’s indie/emo records and decided he’d be the guy to work with. The studio is this beautiful state of the art recording space with the nicest liveroom I’ve ever seen in person. It almost felt like we didn’t have any business being there. We tried to take advantage of the liveroom’s natural acoustic resonance the best we could, and I think we did a nice job of it - especially with drums. We recorded without a click track and tried to make the record sound as much like a live band playing in a room as we could. We’re all happy with the end result: )

The tracks on the album are really visual, and you detail a lot of feelings/emotions in a very open way. Do any of the tracks come from personal happenings and if so, what parts of yourselves do you choose to share as a band? 

Thank you! Almost all of our songs are written from personal experiences. I (Dylan) use a lot of street names and highways in lyrics because I love the way details like that resonate. Mundane tasks, or glimpses of everyday happenings like car rides or walks are what I like exploring through lyrics. 

Is there a particular track that really resonates with you or has an interesting backstory?

One of the songs I (Zack) wrote is called Primetime. The day before we went in for our first day of tracking, one of my best friends passed away as the result of an overdose. He and I had been through a lot together. It was a very painful and awkward time in general, let alone to start working on an album the next day. At the last minute I ended up scrapping the original lyrics I had written for the song and wrote new ones for him instead. 

Do you still relate to the material on this album even though it's from 2013 - 2015? 

I think we do! When we’re writing, we try to write music that is personally challenging and engaging enough for us to be able to continue having fun with it in the future. The fun factor is one of the most important pieces deciding whether to keep or scrap something. 

Growing up, were you ever drawn to music as individuals and if so, what did you listen to then and now? Are there any bands or other art that inspired you?

Yeah! Collectively, Braid and Third Eye Blind have been the most influential to our sound. It would be sweet to go on a tour with Braid and Third Eye Blind. Other than those two bands, the answer is still yes - far more than would be responsible for me to try to enumerate here. Not to be too general, but I think all musicians are inherently and necessarily music nerds. 

What was the creation/writing process like for this record and how do you all work together to complete this? Was there any unexpected bumps in the recording process?

This album was very much written one song at a time. We’ll make time to get together as often as we can, and the final product will usually materialize over the course of a few practice sessions. Eventually, we had a large enough collection of songs for an LP, so we just went in and did it. As I’ve mentioned before, the knowledge that Topshelf would be putting it out was a motivating factor to get it done. 

With this album completed, what is next?!

More songs! We have a handful of songs that we’re very excited about. Some elements are more similar to the earlier stuff while some are considerably different. It’ll be exciting to see what happens with them!

Describe the new album using emojis or GIFS!

Bass guitar emoji* - Zack

(ノ^o^)ノ”weeeeeee” - Greg