By: Anand Harsh
It's no secret that the senior staff of The Untz is comprised of recovering jam band kids (hell, some of us are still in the throes of our addiction). That's why you'll notice the lineup for our inaugural edition of The Untz Festival looks so much like a midwest family and friends gathering. Sure, there's tons of psy bass and straight up trap and dubstep acts, but our focus on jamtronica tips our sonic hand.
While we've got some big names in the jam world, like The Werks and Turbo Suit prominently displayed in our lineup, we also wanted to showcase the hustling acts on the come up in the livetronica game.
Greener Grounds is one of many rising Colorado acts who have found their way onto our Phase 2 lineup. Comprised of guitarists Joe Shur and Mathew Buelt, keyboardist Roland Hansen, bassist Jay Rieder, and drummer AJ Gillman, the band leans into its "heavy shred live jamtronica" reputation, and is coming off the release of its 5-track Photosynthesis EP. In early January, the quintet resumes its nationwide winter tour, starting in Colorado, and heading out to New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Michigan, and Ohio through the end of February, teaming with fellow Untz Fest act Dynohunter in Denver, CO on January 16 at the Bluebird Theater, along the way.
I got a chance to chat with AJ Gillman about the band's most ambitious tour to date, bridging the gap between jam and electronica, and what new fans of Greener Grounds can expect from its set at The Untz Festival.
You've got a huge tour on the horizon for the winter. How has the band been preparing?
Preparation for winter tour has mainly consisted of writing a ton of new material to debut out east, and working hard on our improvisation as well as the orchestration in each piece. We're excited to be sharing the stage with some incredible acts from all over the country, playing at the brand new venue, The Foundry at the Fillmore in Philly amongst many more, and being able to engage with a whole new fanbase. We're all flying out so there isn't any van or trailer prep. Our main focus is to make sure the music is absolutely on point.
There are so many factors that go into what we play, the particular order we play our songs, what covers we do. One main factor is who were playing with that night. If we're opening for a more electronic act, our set might cater more towards the EDM fans. We might have some techno style jams, or select songs that are more synth heavy and dancy. If it's our show, we will likely all come up with a setlist that flows, along with longer jam sections. Right now, a song that really brings the best out of us in my opinion would be "Momentous."
You were just added to Kyle Hollingsworth's (String Cheese Incident) show in Fort Collins, CO on January 23rd. Are you more comfortable in the jam world, or the electronica world? Or do you like bouncing back and forth.
Yes we are super excited for that show. Most of us are huge SCI fans so it is definitely an honor to get to play with Kyle. I think one of the best parts about Greener Grounds is that we feel absolutely comfortable in both musical realms. One interesting thing we do is find ways to blend electronic dance beats with just about every genre and style of music we like. Limiting ourselves musically is something we work hard to stay away from because we definitely like to push the boundaries of jamtronica.
I understand you've got plans for a full-length release this summer. Can you give me any details on that?
The only details I can really give is that we're looking to add at least eight new songs to the album, and that there will be bonus stuff on there, as well. This time going into the studio we have so much more to offer. The band has learned so many things since Photosynthesis was recorded and released. Another thing we're talking about is bringing in a special guest to feature on a track or two. Not sure what will happen, but I can say that this will be the best work from us yet, and we're all really excited the project!
Some of those acts are actually friends of ours, which is totally awesome. Being able to see homies from right here in Denver doing their thing hundreds of miles away from home is surreal. We're stoked to be a part of the festival. The Werks are homies of ours, and we're probably most excited to see them play. We also really enjoy seeing Yamn, they absolutely crush. Just about all the acts that The Untz has chosen are definitely worth checking out.
Is this Greener Grounds' first California appearance? What can fans expect?
This is the band's first trip to California and we're hitting the ground running kicking off with Joshua Tree Music Festival, The Untz Festival, and a handful of dates throughout May covering as much of the state as we can! I think if there's one thing to expect, it's that we're bringing the Cali love! Definitely expect a dance party, and plenty of shenanigans. We're looking forward to meeting lots of new faces out west, and we hope California is looking forward to GG!
You can catch Greener Grounds, along with some of the best in livetronica like The Werks, Turbo Suit, Yamn, Dynohunter, Transfer Station, and more at The Untz Festival at Mariposa County Fairgrounds in Mariposa, CA from June 2-4, 2016. Visit www.theuntzfestival.com to grab your tickets!
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