Victor Griffn (Pentagram, Place Of Skulls InGraved)
and Jeff Oly Olson (Trouble, Retro Grave, InGraved)
Interview and live pics by Arto Lehtinen
Victor Griffin and Jeff Oly Olson are known for their work with classic doom metal bands like Trouble, Pentagram and of course Retro Grave and Place Of Skulls. When these two guys join the forces together, the result is InGraved. There is no way to ignore these two driving forces behind InGraved! Therefore it is essential to find out how the whole project started out. The conversation was free and extremely flexible, we just hit the record bottom on and let the guys speak. Enjoy !!!
Let’s talk about this clinic thing. These kind of clinic things have become more and more important nowadays. For example, Dave Lombardo, Mike Portnoy, and several other musicians all do clinic things nowadays. Do you think these clinics are getting more important nowadays?
Victor Griffin: Honestly, I haven’t noticed that there has been an increase in clinics or anything. I mean, I just haven’t noticed that, I don’t know. I’m a little bit, sometimes as far as the metal goes (because if you are speaking in terms of metal bands and things like that), I don’t know, I’m maybe a little bit disconnected from some of the metal stuff. But only because as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to appreciate more and more other types of music, such as blues and even classical music. I’ve just kind of gotten my feed of metal over the years. There is so much more and so many different artists and things like that. It’s also nice to go back and re-discover some of my foundation influences before like Sabbath and all this stuff. As for example, which I didn’t mention here, but I grew up on country music, country western music, like Merle Haggard, Wailin’ Jennys, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Senior, Johnny Cash, all that stuff. But I’m starting to find a place for that in my song writing now, just like with blues, stuff like that. So, I have become a little bit disconnected from like the metal scene. Just because I don’t feel that I grew from that anymore, like I did at one time. I mean, obviously I still appreciate it, but I have questions sometimes like, “What would you consider the top five Doom metal albums of all times?” And I’m just like, “You might be asking the wrong guy.” Because I have about 2% of the Doom metal albums that’s been released in the past twenty years. It’s just like, where I kind of come from. When you start looking at generational things, we come from a different generation now.
How did this clinic thing come about?
Griffin: We just got invited to do it. It’s the first time they’ve done it in Roadburn. We all saw it was so cool. I asked how to do it for the very first one and we were like, “Yeah man that would be cool, something different.”
So, basically two classic guys from classic bands together?
Griffin: Yeah, that’s kind of what Walter said, like the Death Row, Pentagram, Trouble. There was, at the beginning of the the Doom metal movement and so, it’s like an honor to be asked to do it, so.
Jeff “Oly” Olson: Yeah, and I miss teaching. I’ve taught community colleges before, I got to teach recording and engineering at a community college in Illinois, in the “PLASTIC GREENHEAD” days. And I miss lecturing; I have a lot fun with my students, all my former. But as far as the question of clinics, I think it’s great. I think a more centered answer is look at Portnoy like sharing his technique, what an incredible player. I’m not being selfish and being so secretive. Every person learns from a mentor, that it be music, art or martial arts. They will put their own spin on it. That’s what I hope to achieve, this is any, a tonal piece that became tonal by just using the Roadburn name and trying to create a song with a class. For me, the clinics, I think, are a celebration and I think is a gift to other people. And I was blown away by Victor’s part of the seminar. I have even interviewed Victor and I was touched very deeply. So, the clinics – I think is a great thing, I think it’s great and I think it’s all about the money. I think it’s really, people want to hear their own voice, I think.
Would you do more of these kind of clinic things if you are asked?
Olson: I’ve always wanted to…
Griffin: I wouldn’t hesitate at all. I think it kind of closes the gap between the familiarization, or they can get a little bit closer and then the musician has more of a chance to talk, like give a little bit more of their personality to the fun other than just the guy that you might see on stage, and have this perception that, that person in one way or the other. And like all influence, I mean he’s a fun guy and you can see him on stage, but a lot of times musicians will come up, and people will think they know what that guy is about stage person. But we are all just people, we just happen to have, be fortunate enough to have been given the platform to be where we are. And obviously people on much higher levels than we are, but to not take advantage of that in such a way as to put ourselves above the people. It’s really cool man to just get in a room with people, who are asking questions and about technique and gear – “How did you find this out? How did you discover that tone and things” like that. And also as well, give a little bit more of yourself personally and kind of become friends with these people.
Do you think that someone might ask some embarrassing questions like “why did you do this thing and why did you do that thing” ?
Griffin : I have absolutely zero to hide at this point in my life. I’ve been places that I had never expected that I would be, and this is not only in the old days when I did have a lot of advices. But also after I overcame a lot of those sings, but I also found myself back in that same mud once again. At this point I have people around me that I can be totally honest with, and I am ready to be 100% honest with anybody with anything they want to ask me about, no matter how personal it is. I think I can say that. Because I have a lot of garbage, I have a lot of skeletons, but I’ve overcome a lot of skeletons. Like my wife, for instance, I’ve been honest with her about a lot of the dirt. I’ve given her many, many reasons to not be with me anymore and we’ve been together for twenty four years. And if she can handle it, I can really say I don’t have anything to hide from anybody. But it’s not only, that doesn’t come from me but actually comes from my relationship with God, who has given me that freedom. Because he’s my judge, Jesus is the one who forgave me. And as long as I have that, I don’t have to worry about what a man things about.
What about you, Oly, as people usually going to ask anyway something about Trouble ?
Olson: To connect with the audience I think like that, I love the questions that come because they challenge the person that is teaching. Not that the teacher knows everything in the world, except what they are experiencing and what they are going through. And the questions that we know that we’re technique, we’re perfect to make the seminar have the power, that today’s seminar is a success as far as I’m concerned and it’s the first song we did. And we didn’t know if anyone would even come here. But what’s fun is being ourselves to answer questions, that is what really is the truth of the matter. If we are fake, we are full of crap. That maybe something that takes years and years and years of trials, tribulations. So, I’ve come back to my faith, many, many reasons. I could say it’s my wife, I could say it’s the Victor’s love, but I could – Many people like to use the word religion. But which in Greek means to tie together. As far as personal truth and testimonies, Jesus died on the cross because a person – God said, “I’m going to make myself look ashamed and they are going to beat the crap out of me. And they are not going to believe in me. Some are. I’m going to make this cool, a kind of way of being blown away.” Those related questions about music and tech to me, it’s the truth. What is important of like that Victor, like to like have no idea that it would happen in this clinic, is that it would become ideological. That it would actually to like, people would be talking maybe, that you could for a policy. I mean, it would be debates involved differently really intense and fired up. There would be even arguments and maybe riots, if we went on. But the thing that it is just, I think Victor’s answer. Victor’s answer of, there is nothing to hide is perfect. Because what are we hiding, deception? Are we hiding being selfish or maybe greedy? That’s what you would hide. It’s not, “I’m cool, I’m not cool.” This lays it out there. We might have been worried initially like that some amazing, because the virtuosity is something I’m not, I’m a very armature musician, people say I’m a virtuosive man or something or like that, “Gosh I mean, I consider Barry Stern, the best drummer at Trouble I always have”. Virtuosity is also subjective, it’s not objective, it’s art. So, but death and life, I think the main thing that I does is seminar, is that you are going to breathe your last, what you do, who we got to allow to, for me I need to study more, more to find peace. The more that I, what it is, the more that we look at the Hebrew and the translation is the more I look at the Greek. And go back to just a kind people on the planet versus people that are mean maybe too, this is very general. I just look at, for some reason the scrolled out crazy historical law, history, military history, predictions of prophecies. You are being bad, get your stuff together, you are going to… Awesome, you had a great sound there. I would just that this fun and natural love, natural gravity towards treasures. It doesn’t mean that… I mean to me yes, the sixty six books that are clarified. And we can get in some deep stuff, I shouldn’t have come too far. But because there was like counsel, and I see, you can get too far. And it’s just not…
Griffin: It’s kind of what I was saying out there, it’s like I don’t write songs about getting hammered and driving my car fast. I mean, this thing happens and it can be significant when you are seventeen years old or you haven’t really done anything except – skips and classes in high school and some band to join or whatever. But as you get older, you start to try the insignificant of certain things in life. When you start to realize like, “Hey man…”
Olson: That’s what I was trying to say…
Griffin: This is actually a kind of a real deal going on here, it’s not just, you know, drink some beers with my bros and having a good time man.
Well, as a teen, you have to try everything and learn in the hard way?
Griffin: You do learn, and I have taken every opportunity to learn the hard way.
INGRAVED – HOW IT STARTED
How did your co- operation start out in the first place and how this In-Graved started actually?
Griffin : It started with, I went back to Pentagram in 2010. It’s kind of crazy, because you are talking to, I think two people who take spiritual out very seriously. So, to me everything that I do has to do with my spiritual believe and my relationship with God, everything. But anyway, hence to that I went back to Pentagram for one purpose then, because Bobby Liebling called me, his guitar player had quit. He was in another bad situation, but he was doing his very best to put his best foot forward. And he had achieved the certain level of sobriety that I hadn’t seen him at in years, maybe never. He was never, had a problem with alcohol. It’s just always been sobriety as far as smoking crack, heroin, the serious stuff. And which at all can be, if you are taking too its extremes. And I didn’t necessarily ever expect to be in Pentagram again, I never really wanted to be in Pentagram again. But I wasn’t… It was at the place where I was living place in Costco. Because, do an album, tour a little bit, drummer, bass player leaves. Okay, find another bass player or a drummer, do another album, tour a little bit, drummer, bass player leaves. And literally for ten years. And so, we did the last album AS A DOG RETURNS did a tour, came back home, bass player and drummer quit. And then finally I was just like -I can’t beat this horse anymore. And so, I got this call from Bobby about doing, to come in and rejoin Pentagram and his guitar player had left like literally the day before, two days before the tour had started. He quit his tour, then it was the day the tour was supposed to start the very next day. I had been having some calls from Bobby and was just trying to like, be a friend of him, support him in his sobriety and things like that. Anyway, he wanted me to jump on this tour that started like day after tomorrow, I do this impossibility. First of all, and this is when we were coming over in DeathRow to do Roadburn and do a show tour then. I said, I’ve got this tour and like it overlaps, there is no possible way and I said… And this is like in April or something like this, 2010. He had another tour in May, I said, “If you don’t want to have a guitar player in May, I will consider it, so he didn’t. And then I said, okay, I’ll come back and do this tour temporarily. And my thinking was, I’m going to come back, I’m going to help him out as a friend, do what I can do to support him and maybe help keep him lifted up. So, he doesn’t go back into that pit smoking crack and heroin and you know Bobby’s history.
Yes I do.
Griffin : And so, I went back and I knew who… I sort of knew that Bobby, his history, he would try to keep me on top, he understands the situation and so forth. And one thing led to another, and then we got the Metal Blade deal to record the new Pentagram album.
I was a little bit surprised when you got the deal with Metal Blade?
Griffin: Yeah. I was a little bit surprised too, and believe me there was a lot of dealing going on. Because, and a lot had to do with Bobby’s history as being irresponsible. So, nobody wants to dish out thousands of dollars to a guy that they don’t know is going to show up. But anyway, we got all that worked out. So, that was like the first year then we started doing tours and we started doing big stuff. I mean, the big Hellfest, this Roadburn of course. Some of the biggest festivals in Spain where it’s just; Motley Crue and Ozzy and Zakk Wylde and all these huge. And we are on the bill man, and we did a bunch of that last summer. But as we went my heart is just saying, this is not where I want to be, it’s not where I want to be musically. I’m playing the kind of shows that anybody would love to play, but I’m not being true to myself with the music I’m playing. And I kept in touch with Pete because he had done some places Stoner stuff. I stayed in touch with Pete and I called him and said, “Hey man, I got this song. There are a bit frags. So, if you are more complete and there is a few that are fragmented bits and pieces and stuff like that”…
Griffin: Yeah, Pete Campbell. And I like to get him recorded, and just Pete is just a great drummer, killer drummer. And we kind of stayed in contact and I said, “You wanted to help me do this.” I don’t know what would become of these songs if anything, I just want to do… I’m going to, and I told him and said, “I’m thinking of leaving Pentagram, I don’t know when that will be. But I’m definitely headed in that direction.” And so, we went into the studio early 2012, laid down the basic tracks. He came down for a few days before we went in the studio, and we were able to. And he was able to sit with me, for some of the stuff it was fragment in my head, basic parts and I have a tendency to be my own worst critic. And I’ll throw out perfectly good guitar parts probably…
You never save them?
Griffin: Well, I put stuff down on a little. I’ve got little micro-cassettes that have nothing but riffs. And I’ll go, and I’ll play it, I better save that. And then I’ll stay, over think it and two days later I’m going that riff sucks, I’ll never use it.
Did Oly listen to your riffs?
Griffin: Well, not until we started doing this. And then when I was jamming with Pete, I would try and finish the songs. I would go, I was like, “Okay, this needs a part.” And I would play something and I’d be like, and Pete would go. “No, dude that was killer man.”
Do you express your opinion about these riffs that were here?
Olson: The first initial thing was, he posts a picture of the late John Walden, getting down. And my wife who does social media…
Griffin: I was looking for a keyboard, what I said, I said, “I’m looking for this guy.” And it was just this killer picture of John Walden…
Olson : The late John was there just leaning back, and I’m like, he wants some Hammond. My wife and I looking it, standing over the computer like we do. He wants some Hammond, maybe, well, you can give that to him. And so, we responded, “Hey, can we give this a shot.” And so, we just said, “Well, give it a shot.” When he said, give it a shot. I was just like, “He’s going to let us give it a shot? Alright, alright.” We went online, I’m wondering if there is a Hammond. Like I needed my… I saw my L100 a long time ago, it’s in Chicago and it was a great Hammond look. Anyway, long story short. What are the chances on eBay when the town next to you has a guy called “the organ donor”, Hammond’s exclusive. He’s a town over town, I’m in Maine, I’m in the middle of the tundra, we almost have Elk roaming, we have Lobster and Elk. I mean, the guys comes back, he’s like the most chilled guy, his name is Barry Young. And he’s like I got L100s, I got B3s – I go, “What do you want for this L100?” A hundred and fifty? “Are you kidding me?”. He shows up drives in under the Dodge van. I actually got to record a real Hammond on Victor’s rather than what I would use in pro-tools, virtual Hammonds’, were like what I have, my practice and stuff. We started to get the dialogue going, and the first incentive were like, quarter and quarter or quarterly. It’s was just like, probably this guy is not going to cut it. I send him the most distorted tracks on the planet.
Griffin: It was like, “how did you record this?”
Olson: So, we were able to like solve those things and then we got more musical. And also I think my playing started to get better again, it’s still growing, it’s going to take a while. But that was the answer and that was the connection musically.
Griffin: Actually there was a step in between where before, actually before that connection. Yeah, there is another guy who played keyboards too, but there actually that was a little bit later too. So, after we finished the drum and basic rhythm to our tracks, we didn’t have a bass player. And so, we didn’t know who to get. And so I was telling Pete, I said, “Man I know, like okay, I know all these people personally.”Ron Holzner, Gee, Greg Turley, He’s in Pentagram right now, Lee Abney who was in Place Of Skulls in Death Row, because Dennis Cornelius who used to be in Place Of Skulls along with Revelation and some of those bands..
Olson: Dan Lively…
Griffin: Dan Lively, who was this killer bass player musician who lives in West Virginia that no one has like heard of very much. And anyway, I just send out on emails and say, “Hey, we are working on this thing. Do you want to contribute a track to one of these songs?” And everybody wanted to do it, except Lee Abney and Dennis Cornelius couldn’t do it, because they got time to schedule in things. Anyway, so everybody… I sent out to each person the tracks I wanted them to do, Martin Swaney…
Olson: Of course Martin Swaney
Griffin: Yeah. And everybody found their way to get the thing recorded wherever they lived with the guy who had a studio or whatever, and they sent the tracks back and we dropped that on to the mix. And then this keyboard thing came about and that’s how that all came together, no band name, no nothing.
I was about to ask about the band name In-Graved, you Oly have this Retro Garve and there is a bunch of other bands named Grave…
Griffin: Yeah. We didn’t think this out at all. When we were just kind of like. I came across a thing, I was like, “Okay, I want to do something because I am so like a tune to this spirituality thing and all these. How does this relate to without sounding like a religious thing? And I was just thinking engrave, I don’t know, I saw engrave the word that means cut scroll. Of course the word grave is in there, so with that thinking, you say. “Grave man.” And so, I started thinking In-Graved with the word In dash, as in being put in the ground. And then I came up with my own definition for that which is to put away freshly desires to die to your selfish desires. And to me that became the definition of In-Graved is to put yourself to death. And that’s where that came from. And then my booking agent Clouse from Fire said, “You should just use your name.” And I’m not into the whole solo Victor Griffin, I’m just not into that, I’m one of the band names. And so, he said, “You’ve been in Place Of Skulls.” This way people will know what it is immediately because of Pentagram, Place Of Skulls and the whole background. And we don’t have that huddle to get across before people knew who it was, and so I agreed and it became kind of Victor Griffin In-Graved. Which is no longer is Victor Griffin In-Graved, it’s Just In-Graved. So, after this is out it won’t be there. But anyway man, that’s how that all that whole thing came about. It was step by step, there was no plan, there was no strategy really. It was just, and that’s the way it was meant to be. It was like, I don’t know where this is going, we are just going to let it run itself, sort of let it just happen. And this is what’s come to get so far, so it’s cool.
BLUES AND SOUTHERN ROCK INFLUENCES
When listening to the In-Graved album I thought that people automatically think, this is the stoner stuff, but in my opinion that it has more blues and even the Southern rock elements.
Griffin: I like that…
Olson: I’m very honored, yeah.
How do you view in which way the stuff differs from Trouble, Pentagram or Places Of Skulls? How do you know which songs are for Place Of Skulls, RetroGrave and for In-Graved then?
Olson: Victor looks at me and we say,” well” – He says this a lot as we practiced and gotten to this point, our second gig is Roadburn. He’s like, “I wish we could get rid of all the other songs, and just being In- raved already, that kind of a thing.
Griffin: What he means is because without the album on a forty minutes long, so some of these shows were doing on this tour were implied to play an hour. So, we have like five Place of Skulls songs blended into the In-Graved set, because we needed the material.
Olson: Which for me…
Griffin: What he loved…
Olson: I think it’s awesome, it’s a jam, it’s just fun.
Griffin: So, I’m telling all these things “I wish we could write five more songs that’s In-Graved material.” Because… And to answer your question now about what makes it different, I don’t know, I mean there was… It’s not like there is this intention to go and like I have to make this sound different than anything that I wrote, Place Of Skulls or wherever I contributed to Pentagram. But it does go back to what we said a few minutes ago, where I am at a place where I’m starting to draw off of my foundational influences. And some of the influences that I am observing now other than metal. So, I think these songs, that’s where they’ve come from. And to me what I hear in the set with the In-Graved stuff and then the sporadic Place of Skull songs, I hear a total difference in what it is.
Olson: Yeah. And it’s good old rock and roll, I think we are all loving gravitating to, not simplicity. It’s probably really going to be some pretty cool stuff, but it will, you know the word, the name of the band that keeps popping up. Because you don’t want to say another band when you are talking about being original, that’s important. Our needs to be original, It’s just a sound, a tone that we just love.
Griffin: Are you pretty familiar with the songs of In-Graved?
Yes I am
Griffin: Like the song, “Thorn In The Flesh.” To me is like one of the highlights of the album. And the whole, after the vocal parts on that song and it’s got the whole second half over to the store, the jam type of thing. Is that part, I mean I love that part that whole section, to me that’s the highlight of the album for me. And it’s something that just happens not intentionally, but it has some of the foundational influences and roots of where I came from. That are so obvious to me that it just feels cool that they are there, because I haven’t done anything to this point what I had there. It’s been more less that just strictly that kind of Doom metal concept. And this is where for the past five years, I’ve really wanted to grow more and more into this direction. But this is just the way the material is, I’m not going to force myself to try to write something to be something that’s not. With song writing to me is song writing, once you start writing song, the song will kind of write itself, it will write what it wants to be…
Olson: The next day, like your micro is coming on the micro sense, next day you are like, what? I loved that riff the night before.
Griffin: I mean, I’ve kind of collaborated with different people before who I didn’t necessarily end up playing with and try to write, “We need to put this kind of part right there.” And I said, “Well, if the song wants it to be there we will put it there. But I’m not going to force that in there just so we can say, Hey, we put this freaked out part here.” Just for the sake of putting the freaked out part there. I mean if it works, yeah, yeah. That’s what the song, the song itself is calling for, it will work. But if you are just like cramming part two in there just so, you can act like, “We put this coup, this wild part here because it needed a wild part.” And it’s like it doesn’t always work.
You were playing the keyboards on the In-Grave album, but do you consider yourself more as a drummer or more as a keyboard player? Which are you more?
Olson: I’m a musician, I love music. My first instrument as a child, I look back I have..- We have photos from the 60s that my mom showed me the other day. And I’m like, no way, you got to be kidding me. And I’m sitting with my aunt Elma, and she played this Christmas song, “Do You Hear What I Hear.” I’m sitting at the piano with her, and I have a Uke and it’s a real one there and I’m playing left handed and I’m not a lefty. So, that means I wasn’t doing any fix on that. That was just a little comical diversion right there. No, truthfully, yeah, it was true though. Truthfully, right. Piano is my first instrument that we like Victor, Victor said in todays interviewer is given a challenge by his father. I will give you this instrument, it will be, if you want it. But I want you to study, I want you to learn. So, I was kind of given that. Do you guys… My sister and I only have one sister, sibling. My parents are school teachers, they said, “Would you like to do this?” This is what we would do, we would go and we will get a piano. This simple piano, my siamo and my sister still has it, I want it. And that’s how it started, so piano was the first and that was the basics. And from there my grandpa was a trumpet player, and I inherited trumpets. So, I went then to trumpets and I took lessons early and as a trumpet player and I really loved that. So, as a musician, and this might go wind up why I love the organ so much. I wind up in an incredible musical environment other than school band. And it’s not like the American Pie, movie “one time a band camp” kind of stuff. Our band campus, Military, I was in a drum and bugle corps and it was very, very intense, top eight in the world. You had to audition to get in to get to that point, that’s what I wanted to do. My dad wanted nothing to do with it, because it starts at age sixteen and you age out at twenty one. So, my dad is like, “What do you want to join?” And you are like, I point to this tense snare drum line over there. And right then, right when I point to them, they go to a break, they are all firing up cigarettes and stuff, “You are old enough to smoke.” My dad is like, “You’re not going into that!”. Anyway, long story short, the drum and bugle corps influenced that brass plan, I became a a sopranist, like what’s called soprano bugle, a little different than trumpet clamps, the trumpet clamp. From there I started studying like the second place soloist in all of the US and Canada. Kevin Dunker he taught me how to play drums, because my teeth started messing up and blood was coming out of my mouth. And it was like, you might have to stop playing trumpet like this. And I probably an armature, I was just shoving the horn down, my mouth.So, I started training in rudiments. And I made scenario one, so that started drumming. Keyboards always came back as Trouble grew, Trouble always had keyboards. I wrote the intros for Trouble, I wrote the intro to the “Tempters”, this kind of carnivore weird thing, we love and it’s because Trouble loves bands like Lucifer’s Friend, Night Sun, Bruce Sinos. Everyone has a greatly, all these stores, great influences. How can we not, Wish Bone Ash for Rick Walter. All these are part of our blood and stuff. So, the keyboards wind up behind the drums. And so, they were always there in Trouble. But the strange drumming that I learned in Rudimental drumming in championships in the stadiums that we would match at and stuff, I think that caused the drum. So, back to the question. I would just say, I like it, all these types. I’m not that, what instrument? I’m terrible guitar player, I use a guitar as a sound effect device somewhere, my things that I do. And the albums that I’ve created like my projects, I do. Guitars are hard instrument, I can’t image trying to play violins and like violas. I don’t how a lot of people do it. To answer this question, drumming and percussion, I can sight-read. Key boards, I can play, sight-reading I have to learn. So, keyboards are secondary, would be secondary to drums. Because of the ability, that like in drums I can do any, you can hand me a chart or you can hand me a tape and I can go go right out there on tour. So I would say drumming is the top ability and then it goes down to those other things.
SHOCKING PEOPLE NOWADAYS
I guess there are some topics and songs that you don’t want to touch anymore, because the current way you see life and religion. Alright, I was teaching young kids that they were talking about “I’m going to a concert, yeah, I’m going to concert to see Slayer.” Then I came in “Okay, we got to do something guys”. “We are talking about the concert.” “Yeah, which concert?” ,“Slayer, you probably don’t know Slayer? “, “Yeah? I have been digging Slayer since ‘85”. The guys were like, ooohhh. Do you think that kids are trying to provoke and but they are not able to shock you anymore, because we have seen that stuff before and we are like “ I have done that before”. How do you also see this lyric wise, and what have you done before? There are not certain shocking values anymore like there used to be back in the day?
Griffin: When I rejoined Pentagram, I told one of the… I had two conditions, one was to… Three conditions, actually there were three conditions. One was that Bobby to maintain the sobriety and whether he stumbled in that or not that was not the issue, it wasn’t, because we all fall. It’s like, but if you fall, get back up don’t stay down there and smoke crack for six months. If you stumble, get back up. We had to drop all those satanic symbolism using the bathroom A, any kind of other symbolism that would be similar, upside down crosses, 666s…
Like in every other bands?
Griffin: Every other band has it, Pentagram, which is to me is just, is very norming. It’s very norming for one thing, it’s like…
Olson: How cliché
Back in the days, in the 80s. It wasn’t that…
Griffin: It wasn’t, exactly. And then there are certain songs that we recorded that we started to record on Day of Reckoning like “Burning Savior”. I wrote Burning Savior and it ended up being this epic nine minutes song, and intentionally wrote it…
Olson: To shock?
Griffin : Not to shock. That’s when I was talking before about wearing the upside crosses and we were really, we were into that. I mean we weren’t so much into it when we went to join the black mass, satanic church something like that. But that was our philosophy at time. And so, I wrote “Burning Savior” At that time when that was the way… I considered that was my personal philosophy. And which basically also Satanism what it is, it’s all about selfishness, it’s all about you. Which is pride, and if you get into scripture, pride is the number one thing that God hates about men. Pride…
Olson: I hate about it too…
Griffin: And so that makes sense that Satanism would be all about that. So, anyway those were the conditions about rejoining Pentagram that I wouldn’t do certain things. As far as kids now, they see all these stuff and it’s an overload on the senses.. It’s over-saturated And when I look at it where I’ve been and spiritually and all these different ways of looking at it spiritually and so forth, like that. I think that it’s one of the biggest deceptions in the world, the media that is aimed at kids who don’t know, but they are being desensitized as they get older with all the media, Internet, all types. Every kind of media that you can think of to desensitize. It’s like, who would have thought there would ever be a day, our kids can sit home playing video games, where they are just like brutally blowing like people’s heads off and gut slaughtering everywhere. In their home watching, only it’s just a game. And it’s like, man that’s graphic man, that’s graphic stuff. And I think as far as like the Black metal stuff come long, it has gone to a point where it’s just like, it doesn’t belong with me. To me that seem to me, that’s the deception of it, is that it’s harmless. To me that’s the deception of it, is that it’s harmless. Because none of it is harmless, it’s not harmless. When a person brain gets desensitized to the point where they don’t see the graphic implications and all these thing. It’s like, I think that you’ve seen in world, you have these kids going out and do any school shootings. And when they look back, they look back into what they were into. And these kids are going to play in these graphic video games, and it’s like, well, most going to be that bad. And we are talking murder and all kinds of things.
Trouble didn’t hassle with the symbolism and darker things in lyrics back in the day, even though you had religious aspects in your lyrics in your lyrics however?
Olson: Eric writes all of the lyrics a 100%. Now, there is an exception to the rule on the Rubin Trouble album, where Bruce handed actually, handed this lyric called “Heavy Things on My Mind.” Bruce is very influenced by Jesus Christ Superstar, “Heavy On My Mind.” them on my mind. And Eric just took a skeleton of it and kind of made it his own. But Eric I think is a 100% of the lyrics. Now Eric’s lyrics always searched his family history, and he liked, he went into scriptures and really liked the things that it had to say. Both using scriptures, shock is no evangelism by any means in this group. That everyone said White Metal in these things, those were things had coined up because we had a White vinyl. I was, no fine, I’m not really responsible for that, that much.But I really, really was… As we were on our tour, I was totally no words about, really kind of buy, was going to be eating when things got selfish. I saw pain, selfish, selfish people and all this. It’s lyrics of Trouble and all those records. The only thing and evil is like condominium layer, they are just saying to the harmless. If you look at the early embarrassing interview, and wasn’t against war and we were sort of a hippy band. But Eric’s lyrics are influence very psychedelically, influenced by maybe lesser… I think influenced by his own mind, his own way of saying things but also by whatever it is, indulge us in, like all of us.
What influences your writing nowadays?
Olson: Me, it’s changing quite radically. Retro Grave to me is reversed grave, my lyricist, he’s an atheist, but he’s an awesome dude and I love this guy very much. He doesn’t conflict because the stories we create, they are not even angelic, they are not shock. He’s like a writer, so really, I think those things as far as me, you are asking about lyric content. What I’m going to do on my next project, which I want to say that my next project is turning in more of fun things for this guy, Victor here. But I am at home when I’m going to work on the next my thing too, I do it for fun, music to me is fun now. Is just this is into any means of kind of living for me. The project that we are doing is a story, but it has a lot of attitude to me. It’s about a run away, now that runaway goes with some crazy stuff and I’ve given the plot in too many interviews. But I would rather redirect, go write to Victor about what he likes to write about lyrically. And I like what In-Graved is doing, because I like what Ann and Victor, the heart and soul and purposes. And a friend we met the other day, and the things that they do. These are guys that get on their choppers and go to where places have had hurricanes, this is different than just lyric writing. This is how they live their lives, they will get on the chopper or an aircraft or a pickup track and they’ll go someone got in a flood, somebody had a fire, they’ll go to their house, they’ll help them , they’ll talk to people, they’ll talk to the homeless people, they’ll help people. They really doing the work that’s not for a trophy, they are doing actual things that really matter. Just, these people are hurting. So, as far as lyrical contents goes, right there, you go right to this guy.
Griffin: My lyrics have always been having that content, the spiritual aspect with content. Because like you said, this is my lifestyle and this is what it is, what it’s about. And to me there isn’t nothing of more importance than our spirituality, these people. But I don’t… I tend to look at, like we were just talking about the desensitization of people. And there is like the song “Digital critic.” Was one of those things where, digital critic. And it kind of came, where the media, where I’ve started to notice with the internet and everything, people and the whole Facebook trend and people have this power now, whether they really have that power.
The social media?
Griffin : Yeah, the social media that they assume is power that they have. And there is some to that, because the thing is digital critic came about, because it kind of came with the last Place of Skull Album. I got this idea, because I would read… Which is a bad idea to read your own reviews for once? But I read some reviews that I had these, it could have been a kid in his basement writing this review. And they went on and on about who is, what this album was about, what the lyrics were about. And he was wrong on so many points that it really kind of angered me, and so I came up with this thing called… And I said its digital critics, they are just these guys that have a computer and they started a little website that says, metacritic.com or whatever. Digital Critics man, I was like that’s it, that’s the name of our song. And so, I write the whole song, it’s about someone who gets an album, has their little website or a little Facebook page and they decide they are a music critic. Okay, I’m going to critic this artist and what he’s thinking and the reason he wrote this song and what his intentions by writing that lyric. And so, that’s if you go and read the words to that, that’s what it’s about. And towards the end of the song, you see that this guys has not a clue what he’s talking about. And the last line of the lyric is he feeds on the feces he stirs, and the feces he stirs…
So, last question for you, Oly. When will Trouble return with a classic line-up?
Olson: I think it could…
People are waiting for the return
Griffin: Honestly I think it could, but that’s…. I think it could be, because somehow we forgave each other now. I should have answered falling and been honest with Eric about the stuff, the thing that did happen to me in our last conflict. I would say, yeah. But original line-up of Trouble, Sean McAllister, Bruce, Rick, myself and Eric. There is a possibility that they did happen for fun, if they wanted to do, if we all said we would do it. But to end that it won’t happen for a while because Bruce and Rick are having a fun time, almost like Victor and I are having fun, discovering Trouble that is the two guitar players creating their own album without all of the baggage of the rest that a van can maybe drag in, and sway guitars in certain ways. So, I think… I’m hoping I’m not answering the question too much. I’m not saying that it’s not impossible, but I’m saying that the new Trouble has to do some stuff right now. And I know that they really, Rick and Bruce and Mark… And I think they are going to audition a bass player for life, when they all does come out. They had Shane for awhile from Red Animal. But Kyle Thomas…
Olson: Yeah, Exhorder, Floodgate and Alabama Thunderpussy and he’s done Trouble live and one with even with Barry at the Stoner metal doom back in the Baltimore days. They have their chemistry now and they are really enjoying it, and the need thing is everyone they are waiting for. And they’ve got a jam, I know and I want them to… I want them to have that jam right now. And so, I think that needs to happen like become something.
Alright guys, thanks for this long interview and I will wish you extreme good gig tomorrow.
Griffin: Thank you.
Olson: Thank you.