Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Talk New Music, Life On The Road And More
Wisconsin acoustic ragers Horseshoes & Handgrenades has seen their stock rise in the music community over the past year or so, behind a workhorse load of touring and bringing the people what they want: hard-picking bluegrass and old-time music. They’ve toured with heavyweights like Yonder Mountain String Band and Greensky Bluegrass and been able to impress people in new places with both their intense musicality and their palpable enjoyment that comes from playing in front of people. Probably the person who sports the biggest grin during shows is singer and guitarist Adam Greuel. Live for Live Music’s Garrett Bethmann had the chance to talk with him Saturday at the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, CA as he was preparing for a long day of workshops and late-night sets. A sort of mutual admiration society commenced as Greuel revealed his religious dedication to checking up on Live for Live Music to check the pulse of the live music scene, and we revealed our love for what Horseshoes & Hand Grenades are doing up on stage.Bright days are ahead for Greuel and company! Read below to find out where the guitarist thinks you can find some of the best musicians at a festival and what the plan is for a new album.This interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity.Live For Live Music: I have a recorder on both my phone and my computer, I am using the computer today just cause it is a little more high-tech. Adam Greuel: My buddy Charlie Parr, he’s recording like shit tons of demos and stuff on his phone while he’s driving. Its funny because its Charlie Parr, a rootsy, organic dude, and I am just envisioning him driving his truck and recording on his iPhone, sort of struggling (laughs).L4LM: I caught y’alls set on Friday and met you at WinterWonderGrass briefly, when you flew in from…Greuel: Yonder! From the Yonder tour. Straight from Austin on the Yonder tour to WinterWonderGrass. And then our fiddler wasn’t able to be there. So Tim Carbone from Railroad came and played the three sets with us and that was a hoot. Then we got to know him sort of well kind of as a result and that was really cool. L4LM: So what has this experience been like, cause this is your first time at High Sierra. What were you guys doing yesterday?Greuel: Again we kind of came in on a whim. We had gotten here just before our set. I think one cool thing from California festivals is the vibe of the people. It is just so damn mellow. So laid back and kind. They have this gentle kindness to them, and you can feel that and it is fun to be a part of. It is fun to take a little bit of our midwest roots and bring it out west where maybe people haven’t seen that kind of thing. It certainly feels that way in the times we’ve been out here. But the positive energy is alive and well here at High Sierra.L4LM: This is my first time here at this festival and you guys hit up a lot of festivals I am sure, right? But how many are you able to actually stay and enjoy? You guys are playing tonight as well with Greensky.Greuel: Dude that is the best! You’re right, a lot of the times we have to come in and leave right away. But it is sweet when you get to spend time at a festival and you begin to understand the sense of family and community that exists at music festivals, that along with music pulls people there. That energy that is created by people helping one another or getting behind something together. The energy of the collective. You get to start to see that. Like here, you walk around, and everyone is down to help each other. Like “Hey do you have a beer? You look like you need a beer.” Or, “Hey you’re hungry? I just cooked up some food and come on over to our camp and hang out.”You get to see the kindness of people and the culture of the people in that area. L4LM: What has the vibe at High Sierra been like?Greuel: It was good. Our set was really, really fun. We had shown up really quick and everyone who runs the festival was super nice, way down to help you out. It’s interesting because the crowd is a lot more mellow. Like definitely when the song ends they’re really excited and rage, but during the song there is a lot of minds really thinking about the music, which is different than what we are used to in the upper midwest. So that was a neat component. I’m excited tonight about our late night set and that is really one of our more favorite times to play; play at midnight with our friends Greensky Bluegrass. That will be raging. We got to know them after a month long tour this year. We are also hosting at like 5:15 p.m. we are hosting a pick, a bluegrass pick. There are a lot of great americana and folk bands that are here like Gipsy Moon and Billy Strings and the bluegrass pick will be a chance to play with everyone. L4LM: Have you ever doing anything like that?Greuel: We are sort of notorious for fostering collaboration. We dig on that. It is a strong component in all of the americana scene, I think. There is a language we are all speaking with music that makes it easy for those collaborations. Even if you don’t know the song you can sort of communicate it using your instrument to fellow musicians. We love feeling other bands vibes, getting to co-mingle. Cause there is so much new music happening. The more you travel around the more you realize you are just a small piece of the puzzle. L4LM: Yeah, one thing that has been fun for me is walking around the campgrounds because right where I am camped there are like three bands that all brought in their equipment and are jamming all throughout the day and night. Have you been able to get into the campgrounds at all?Greuel: That is awesome! So that will be my tonight. We had a big day yesterday and I zonked out early. I did catch Chis Robinson Brotherhood who I had never seen before. I wanted to catch their set after I met Neal (Casal), their guitar player, when he was working with the Hard Working Americans— and still is. So that was sweet. I love the campfire jams because some of the best songwriters and musicians are there, not on the stages. Just cause 2,000 people are at a show enjoying someone’s music, doesn’t mean they are any better or have any more musicianship than the guy playing for five friends in his campsite. I find that to be really inspirational. There is so much good music out there and you never know who you are going to stumble upon that will revitalize your muse. L4LM: Is there anyone you want to see Saturday?Greuel: Dr. Dog. A lot of friends have hipped me to them but I haven’t heard one song of theirs, so I going to heed the call. But I don’t know man, I love all the kinds of music. One thing about Horseshoes and Handgrenades is that we are rooted in bluegrass and old-time music, but our approach to it is really open. We want to take any of our musical interests and incorporate it into acoustic music. For instance our bass player Sam (Odin) is really into Miles Davis and jazz.L4LM: He looks like he is into jazz.Greuel: Yeah he does (laughs), and he’s good at it too. Our accordion and harmonica player Dave (Lynch) is really into cajun music. That works its way into our stuff. I love that San Francisco rock and roll. Chris Robinson Brotherhood was awesome for what I am into. But we like it all and at a festival like High Sierra, where it is just a big ball of music, it is a great fit for us to walk around and experience it all and put it in our pocket for later in our own music. L4LM: What are you guys working on right now? I know you guys have a lot of things on SoundCloud and are touring a bunch. When can we look forward to something getting pressed to tape?Greuel: So there are five guys in the band and we all song write often. It is just part of my life, I’ll write a couple songs in a week. There is tons of material all the time. The biggest obstacle to recording is the fact we love touring. So this winter we’ve specifically planned to take time off to record a record and come out with that at some point in 2017, probably the first half. We’ve got three studio albums so far so this will be the fourth one. I think we are going to have some friends come on there and do some recording, friends we’ve met along the way like Tim Carbone. We are going to see where it takes us, we’re excited about it with plenty of songs to choose from. L4LM: I’m really excited for new music and seeing you play. You always look like you are so stoked to be up there playing, which I really appreciate and gravitate towards.Greuel: I mean it comes from a place of joy and a real sense of happiness. I think if folks can come to a show and forget about everything else for an hour and a half, and if helps them feel good that is awesome. It makes me feel really, really good. Music for me is an outlet and I don’t know if I ever feel better than when I am up on stage playing and I can look out into the crowd and see folks beaming with a smile, or crying, or even zoning out. Whatever people need to do I hope we can help facilitate that and they can get the release they need. That is the biggest joy in playing music.