Against the Grain is a four piece out of The Motor City. They are a Speed Rock band blazing through the US with their brand of Gear-shifting Balls to the Wall music that incorporates all things heavy from Punk, Rock n roll, Doom and the blues culminated together for one huge sound of a rock n roll musical speed-ball. Putting rock music at the forefront, and leaving behind any pretentious gimmick to the side, ATG plans on being heard. After just starting in 2009 they have spread their brand of intense rock and roll across the US with many tours, and show no sign of slowing down. Drummer Rob Nowak took a break from one of the band’s 150 tour dates a year long enough to be our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: I saw you guys absolutely fucking slaughter at the Rock Island show. This was a show that I was ready to stay home and skip – but I wanted to come down and check it out…For anybody that may be considering just staying home and brushing their cat – Why should they decide to leave their apartment for once and catch the performance?
RN: Thanks a lot man! People should get the fuck up and come see live music in general, but with us I feel were going to pry people up and out to come see us because we promise to deliver every single night. We’re a hardworking touring Rock n roll band out on the streets to destroy club music and show people rock n roll is fucking alive with the youth still. With those shows we realized we went from being the opening band of the package, to headlining, so it was strange. We didn’t know if we’d be playing to 5 people, or 200 the day before. So we just plan to rock the fuck out every night regardless of the crowd size. It’s quality, not quantity of the crowd.
RM: What’s the music scene like in Detroit?
RN: Detroit is incredible. There are literally 50 bands we pick from every time we book a show in Detroit. We try not to over saturate the scene, so it’s awesome having tons of great shows we can still go see instead of playing every week when we’re actually home (which isn’t often). There’s a ton of great clubs like Smalls, Magic Stick, Corktown, New Dodge, The Shelter and more that have really helped us out and are always letting us book us AND our friends bands coming through town. It’s a rock n roll town, man.
RM: You appear to play just a four piece kit with no bottom heads on the toms…is that something that you do because you like the crowd to be able to hear the resonance or is it done because it’s easier to store the kit in a van?
RN: Hah, just the high tom doesn’t have a head right now. That’s because I have anti-resonant rings built into the toms and it’s a bitch for a lot of sound guys to get the mics on. So when we record our engineer put the mic inside the high tom and got a great tone. So I kind of just stuck with that. No magic there.
RM: Do you consider the music that you play to be metal or just straight up speed rock? When it comes down to it, do you think that there is a fundamental difference between those two things?
RN: Its funny that we’re getting called “metal” now. I love it, but when we started we thought we were just a punk rock band with riffs. Zeke, Speedealer, Valient Thorr…That kind of stuff. Just like Motorhead; some people call it punk, some call it metal. I call it rock n roll. I think the fact that were willing to keep open to what we can write has drifted us into the metal category, because we definitely like to dabble in some doom and let our Sabbath side show. We all come from punk, rock n roll, metal, doom, blues, and thrash. As long as its rocking we’ll play it. We’re not going to do any full out metal or punk rock songs, its always going to be rooted in rock.
RM: What is the most influential album in rock history to you as a drummer that is a part of the songwriting process? Do you think that the answer to that question would be any different if you were a guitarist or a bassist?
RN: Holy piss, I couldn’t even name a band for that matter. Growing up it was all punk. I learned to play to Dead Kennedys, NOFX, Zeke, and pennywise albums. Then I realized it’s sweet as fuck to “riff” with your drums too like Bill Ward and Bonham. It’s really a song by song case for us right now.
RM: Last question set aside, what’s your favorite Black Sabbath album?
RN: Masters of Reality. Heaviest thing I ever heard when I was young.
RM: Are you the type of guy that closes his eyes and envisions a certain sound that you want to project, or do you feel that it’s more productive to be extremely aware and communicate every visual connection with your bandmates?
RN: I’m so lost when we play, I don’t even know what I do heh. It’s really about getting lost in the moment. I play pretty blindly. Playing as fast as we do a lot I really don’t have much time to listen to the other dudes or look at them. I think they’re more-so just relying on hearing my snare pound through to hold it on the tracks.
RM: Your guitar players really have this sort of interesting thing going on where they do dual leads and then just kind of bash it the fuck out when the situation calls for it…When did you know that this lineup was exactly what everybody was looking for when it came to overall feel?
RN: Me and the singer are brothers. Nick is one of my childhood best friends, and Kyle is Chris’. We all grew up one mile from each other. Me and Chris had been in bands for 14 years (Chris was on stage in a punk band at 9 years old – No lie. When that band broke up I was hanging out a lot. Nick got hit by a car outside of a GWAR show right in front of me and was immobile for a good 6 months. He started playing his guitar a lot more during that and convinced me to jam with him. We all knew Kyle was in bands for years and was talented as shit and best friends with Chris. The chemistry and overall direction and attitude were on the same page, so it fit great and we ran with it. The guys in my band are my best friends. I love it that way…
RM: I love how the “Surrounded by Snakes” video doesn’t sugarcoat anything and simply depicts your live show and the experience that touring bands go through when it comes to loading equipment in and out of the vehicle…What’s the best story that you have from the road and why is it so meaningful to you?
RN: It’s meaningful to us because DIY touring with absolutely no security, comfort or anything was our lives for years. Putting EVERYTHING on the line, quitting jobs, missing girlfriends, not knowing if you’d have enough gas to get to the next show, let alone eat, having no A/C out west for 30 days at a time, all that is what it takes to even begin to make a name for yourselves. There’s no silver lining for Rock n roll bands trying to make it right now. And those are some of the best memories of my life, and I’d do it all over again. Even if we broke up tomorrow, I’d never want to change what we did and the fun we’re having.
RM: What’s up next for Against the Grain in the remainder of 2013 and the beginning of 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
RN: We’re finishing up this Church of Misery tour, then we’re playing a huge Christmas show in Detroit. In 2014 were re-issuing our album “Motor City Speed Rock” on vinyl, and hitting the road all year. We just got picked up by Atomic Music Group to do the booking, so we plan on doing a lot of great tours. No new album next year, we’re slowly writing for a new release in 2015. Just pretty much more van miles and partying!
Chris Nowak – Bass/ Lead Vox
Rob Nowak – Drums, Back ups
Nick Bellomo – Lead guitar, back ups
Bryan Griffin – Guitar, back ups
Kyle Davis – Guitar, vox, touring
Self Titled – out Nov 2010
7″ split EP with Chapstik – out nov 2011*sold out
Motor City Speed Rock – Out May 2012
Surrounded By Snakes – out may 2013 (cd and LP)
Against the Grain on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/atgtheband
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