Five Questions With… Andrew Davis of Grounders
The Drew Carey- approved Toronto alt-rockers deliver their second album, Coffee & Jam, today. In this irreverent interview, their singer/guitarist compares its grittiness to '70s-era Jack Nicholson.
By Jason Schneider
Since releasing their self-titled debut LP in 2015, Toronto alt-rockers Grounders—comprising guitarist/vocalist Andrew Davis, keyboardist Daniel Busheikin, bassist Mike Searle, guitarist Evan Lewis and drummer Kurt Marcoux—have logged countless miles touring throughout Canada and the United States. That experience led to some seismic changes on their new album Coffee & Jam (out Feb. 23 on Nevado Records), a classic example of a band finding itself on the road.
The album’s origins lay in the eclectic range of music they listened to most often in the van, including Kraftwerk’s Computer World, the first Modern Lovers album, and the turn of the ‘80s New York Noise compilation. The band began laying down new ideas during tour stops two years ago in whatever spaces they could find, with a fair chunk of work completed over the course of a week in a small cabin near Sacramento, California.
Back in Toronto, Grounders dug in to complete Coffee & Jam at Union Sound with songs lyrically reflecting Andrew Davis’ fascination with cinematic anti-heroes like Robert DeNiro’s portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, and Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke. Combined with the music’s rough-edged synths and jangly guitars, Coffee & Jam’s overall effect—heightened through a mix done by reclusive sonic mastermind Dave Newfeld—updates anti-authoritarian rebellion from a millennial perspective.
Andrew Davis spoke to us in the midst of Grounders’ current run of shows in southern Ontario with label mates The Wooden Sky, before they head to South By Southwest in March and further touring later this year. You can find out more at groundersmusic.com.
What makes Coffee & Jam stand apart from your debut?
It’s grittier—more skrank, less skrunk, kind of like Jack Nicholson in the ‘70s. The debut was more for grilling on a hibachi by your backyard koi pond.
What songs on the new album do you feel best capture your current musical vision?
“Scum For You” and “Bringing It In.” They both represent how we ended up reflecting The Cure, The Talking Heads and The Stranglers with our funhouse mirror.
This album was largely made while you were on tour. What are your best tips for surviving on the road?
Every time you stop at a gas station that sells any sort of low sugar green juice, grab four of ‘em. They’ll help break up the sludge building up and clogging your intestines from the 50 McDoubles you eat everyday.
It’s been revealed that Drew Carey is a fan of the band. If you made it on the Price Is Right, which game would you most want to play?
Probably one of the games of chance, like Plinko. All the games where you have to guess the prices of things are in U.S. dollars, which really throws me off. They might as well be in Thai baht. What’s a bottle of Scope cost in Sudbury? $6.99. In Utah?I have no idea.
If you could fix anything about the music business, what would it be?
I would re-animate [saxophonist and Frank Zappa favourite] Chuck Higgins’ corpse. Then I would give every band a jet, and give David Wilcox a solid gold guitar.