Published Jul 02, 2014Toronto abrasive rock four-piece Greys have always worn their influences on their sleeves and their debut, If Anything, is no exception. What's interesting is the band went into their hometown studio Candle Recordings (Fucked Up, Owen Pallett) with a very clear idea of creating an album that couldn't be defined so easily. Rattling off a list of the underground '90s bands they've been compared to since their inception in the late '00s — Unwound, Drive Like Jehu, Nirvana — won't cut it anymore.
"I get it. We play guitar a certain way, so I'm not ever taken aback by [those comparisons] and I don't want to ever pretend that that's not a part of how we sound," says vocalist/guitarist Shehzaad Jiwani, "but there's certainly more to it than that and I don't like to simplify it that way." If Anything, out now on Buzz Records in Canada and Carpark Records in the U.S., shows the band developing their sound even more, after putting out three EPs since 2011 (Ultra Sorta, Easy Listening and Drift). Citing mid-'90s Flaming Lips and Sonic Youth as the tone they were looking for in the studio, Jiwani says If Anything is "the first statement of a fully realized band."
"We put those songs together as a band and we were in the studio together the entire time, and it shows," he says. "It's four guys creating a sound, rather than how we started, which was a couple guys saying, 'Hey, how come we don't hear stuff like this,' and making music based on what you like. It's all about realizing who you want to be."
Being part of the Toronto underground music scene has always been rewarding, says Jiwani. Support comes internally from within a tight-knit community, but he's also noticing more interest in loud music in the city.
"We've always had good shows in Toronto," he says, "but now it seems like it's catching on and there's lot more people who you wouldn't see at shows going to shows, which I think is a really great thing and really important," he says. "I hope there's going to be a shift towards people paying more attention to the things that are happening here. Because I think there are really amazing, ground-breaking bands happening right here, and it's cool that people are taking notice of that."
With Toronto rock bands like Metz and Fucked Up gaining international acclaim, Jiwani says he's more than happy to swing the underground scene's doors wide open, so bands like Greys can have an impact.
"What's great about it are the bands that are getting attention here aren't doing it with any 'sellout' mentality; people are gravitating towards the city," he says. "Nobody is trying to promote themselves in a kitschy, gimmicky way, it's just, 'This is our music and this is what we're talking about. If you want to pay attention, cool.' And it seems like a lot of people are."