Interview: Jack Foley
SAN-Francisco based outfit, Gratitude, dropped in for a chat
with IndieLondon's jack Foley earlier this year, ahead of the
launch of their excellent self-titled debut album.
The 12-song album is filled with timeless rock and a batch of
delicious hooks and has helped them to be named by the New York
Times as one of the ten bands to look out for in 2005.
The band was co-founded by former Far frontman, Jonah Matranga,
with ex-Crumb guitarist, Mark Weinberg.
Here's what they had to say for themselves...
Q. Congratulations on an excellent debut album, you must
be very proud of it? How have you found the reaction on both sides
of the Atlantic, thus far?
Mark: Thanks. I am very proud of this record. Anything
that I take time in creating brings a smile to my face and I get
a great feeling of pride, but I feel that this record is more
special than anything I have ever recorded in my life.
This whole thing started with Jonah, myself, and acoustic guitar
and to watch it grow into this record is unbelievable.
The reaction from everybody has been overwhelming, and everyone
is excited, but all of that is just icing on the cake.
Q. Being identified by the New York Times as one of the
ten bands to watch must have helped? How did that make you feel?
And did it add to any pressure?
Mark: It feels great that people that listen to a lot
of music dig the record, but all of that doesn't change the way
I think about the record or how I go about song-writing.
I'm still just as stoked on this record today, as the day we finished
recording it and that will never change. If somebody puts us on
a list of bands to watch it doesn't add any pressure to the situation.
It's just cool to read about Gratitude in a magazine or newspaper
where I read about some of my favorite bands growing up.
Q. Do the days of Far and Crumb seem a long way behind?
What was the most valuable experiences you took from being part
of those bands? And how did that experience help to shape Gratitude?
Mark: I loved being in Crumb. We got to play with so
many cool bands in so many cool places, and I got to meet some
of my closest friends because of it.
I never really expected anyone to care about us as much as they
did. Being in Crumb taught me about being in a band, and that
is an invaluable experience.
You can read all about being in bands but nothing is as exciting
or as hard as actually being in one.
I started playing in Crumb when I was a teenager, and I've learned
a lot about playing and working with other people because of that
band, all of which has helped in Gratitude becoming a band. I'm
still learning in Gratitude.
Q. Jonah and Mark were first introduced to each other
in 1992, why do you think it took so long to put something together?
And having decided to do something in 2003, does it feel like
a long journey before finally getting to the stage where a debut
album was ready?
Mark: We have always been helping each other in one way
His band would take my band out on tour, he would sing on a recording
that I was doing, I would help him with a project he was doing...
just friends looking out for each other.
This only became a band after we started working on songs together,
which was an idea that we talked about over burritos (which a
burrito from Gordos in San Francisco can inspire).
It has felt like a long journey before releasing our debut, but
two years doing anything is going to feel like that. We just wanted
to make sure that when we released something that we thought it
was truly special, and I think we did that.
Q. You cite U2, Led Zeppelin,
and Jimmy Eat World as influences and certainly the spirit of
U2 is evident in the tracks such as The Greatest Wonder with
the guitar riffs, etc. Was this conscious when writing?
Mark: Jim Atkins from Jimmy Eat World is a good friend
of mine. He played guitar on the entire second Crumb record, with
me, and both Crumb and Gratitude has toured with Jimmy Eat World.
I think we both have a lot of the same influences in liking bands
like Sunny Day Real Estate, and Guided by Voices and I think that
you can hear that in both our record and their records.
U2 is one of my favorite bands and their songwriting and The Edge's
guitar playing has definitely influenced and inspired the way
I write and play guitar, in more ways than I know.
That's funny you mentioned Greatest Wonder, cause I remember
writing my rhythm guitar part thinking, 'man this sounds like
The Edge, but fuck it, add more delay to my guitar!!!'
Q. The presence of Jim Scott, as producer, is a huge
bonus. How did you come to meet him and what did you learned from
Mark: You're telling me.... having Jim Scott is like
having David Beckham on your high-school football team. He is
I have been a fan of all his recordings, from Wilco to the Red
Hot Chili Peppers, and everything in between.
When we started to talk about producers, he was on the top of
He came down to rehearsal and the rest is gratit-history. He taught
us how to make a record just by being ourselves, and not having
to lay track on top of track for a sound.
Q. And being snapped up by Atlantic? Have you had to
pinch yourself at times?
Mark: It's cool that they dug and got behind us to let
us make whatever record we wanted to make. You hear so many horror
stories about being part of a big label, but they have been nothing
but supportive and helpful.
I just consider myself truly lucky....... I usually let Bob pinch
Q. Given the success surrounding you and the postive
vibe, it all makes everything seem so smooth. Do you care to impart
any anecdotes about some of the bumpier moments? Or anything that
has struck you as particularly funny along the way?
Mark: This life is funny. I'm typing these questions
from a hotel
in London, and a day ago I was in Austin, Texas performing at
It doesn't get any crazier for this kid from San Francisco.
Like any band, there are bumpy moments. Jonah and I have so many
creative ideas that we bump heads when deciding certain things,
but that's normal for any band and since there is such a history
between the two of us we are able to work through those moments.
Q. What are your favorite songs on the album and why?
Mark: I love them all, but if I had to pick a few I would
say Drive Away, Sadie, Feel Alright, and This Is
The Part. These are so much fun to play live.
There is such a great energy on the record, when I listen to these
songs I just want to air-drum along..... ahhh the life of a guitar
Q. Now that the album is set for release......
Mark: Right now, I think Drive Away is going
to be the first single in the UK and we plan to come back here
in June to do a three-week tour with Funeral For a Friend.
Q. Do you have a long term plan for Gratitude.....
Mark: Gratitude is all about the songs, and I think this
band will go until we get to the moment when we sit down and we
just don't think what we are doing is special anymore.
There are two bands that I think are really special at the moment.
I love the new Interpol record and The Arcade Fire, from Canada.
Q. And finally, in your biography, you describe yourself
as a band for everyone......
Mark: For us it doesn't really matter who you are or
what you look like. We don't want to be an exclusive band that
can only play for people who listen to a certain kind of music,
or dress a certain way. That's all we meant by that commment.
And just for the record, the only person at our shows with a mullet
is our bass player, Bob, but what else can you expect from a bass
player? I love you, Bob.