Ben Boggs gets GRIM, AMERICAN GRIM that is.
ML: On behalf of myself and Merchlive.com, thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to us! We are excited to hear your new release on November 1st, Ultra Black One and curious to hear about some of the influences that may have added to this body of work. When you started recording, how did you approach the process and how long were you in the studio?
AG: After a year and a half of touring we headed back into our guitar player, Mike’s, studio located in Hillsborough, New Jersey. We really took our time recording this album. In the early stages we came up with the title, Ultra Black to keep the song writing cohesive. We broke close to 70 songs and wound up picking 13 to go on the full length disc. We knew we wanted to create a heavier, darker album while still crossing over into some other genres. This album also took a unique turn by bringing Mike in vocally. Many of the sessions were just vocal sessions where he and I would go back-and-forth singing and writing. It was a very easy and natural process.
ML: In your press release, you stated that your intentions are to, “shake up the culture of fake outrage”. I was hoping you’d elaborate on that further and maybe discuss what your long term vision is with this mission statement.
AG: Our first album, Freakshow, covered many topics in regards to the drug epidemic. The new album takes listeners down a dark road focusing on overcoming all demons ahead.
ML: How hands-on were you with the video for “Nightmare”? I really loved the dark imagery mixed with the beautiful landscapes. How much artistic input did you provide?
AG: When it comes to filming the music videos most of our work is all done ourselves. I personally spent a lot of time learning video software and have a lot of fun directing the music videos. I try to take inspiration from iconic Hollywood horror films and put my own twist to them. I believe the band creating their own music and visuals is a powerful thing. It is very hard to explain to people your vision, so when you’re in control things get done the way you see it.
ML: I read that American Grim “conjures the rich history of theatricality found in cinematic horror and dark literature”. Given the opportunity, would you incorporate more of this into your stage show, or does this mostly refer to the themes and lyrical content of your recorded music?
AG: I would believe most of the theatrical vibes come from the promotion side of our past album Freakshow. I like to think of our live performance as a raw and in-your- face show. Most of our influence comes from the hard-core music scene so we think it’s funny when people call us theatrical.
ML: Speaking of your live performances, I see you have a November 5th date at the Token Lounge right here in Lansing, Michigan! Do you have any upcoming tour plans in the near future you’d like to share?
AG: We will be touring all year in support of our new album Ultra Black. Full U.S. tours will start in January, 2020.
ML: How is the music scene from where you are based? Is it a vibrant area for local music, or do you find yourselves as the lone group?
AG: We believe growing up playing New Jersey is what helped define this band. New Jersey has always been a great place to come out of musically. We got to see a lot of great bands play the small crowds growing up. I truly feel like being involved in the New Jersey hard-core scene at a young age helped give us roots that we will never forget as well as give us a show that is as intense as it can get.
ML: We frequently find that musicians are involved in more than just the music when it comes to their bands. Are there any hobbies or influences outside of music that contribute to your overall vision?
AG: Well we started writing songs around mixed Martial Arts about five years ago. That led to our management deal with James Jeda at Rocktagon Worldwide. Our music was featured in the film Fight Valley that had UFC champion Holly Holm, Cruz Cyborg, and many other UFC stars. Some of our music was also featured on NBC sports. I am also a brown belt in Brazilian Jujitsu, and I feel working out in the gym helps me stay inspired. Sometimes you have to refocus your mind. Getting out of the studio to fight people is a great reset.
ML: How excited are you to release your new album and how do you feel it compares to your previous efforts?
AG: We are very excited for the world to hear our new album Ultra Black. We believe this is the best thing we’ve done to date and we are truly excited for the world to hear what we have created. This album is a much darker side of the band. It really shows what we’re capable of on many levels. We believe this is a creation of everything we’ve been through as individuals and artists. Lyrically the album stays true to the idea that we all have fears in this life, and that it’s OK to be scared, but you can’t let those fears enable you to not push forward.
ML: It has been an absolute pleasure to get a chance to talk to you guys. We wish you nothing but continued success in the years ahead! Thank you so much and we hope to catch you on the road!
Benjamin Boggs is a free lance journalist deeply embedded in the music industry fronting the band Drink Their Blood. his writing has been published in many notable online locations and we are proud to have him among our ranks