Grunge-era sound coming to Lemon Grove

By John Benson

Even though a reunited Soundgarden passed up any Northeast Ohio dates, fans of the grunge-era guitar sound and energy may want to check out new act Grandfather, which makes its Youngstown debut Sunday at The Lemon Grove.

“We get a lot of different comparisons,” said guitarist Michael Kirsch, calling from Durham, N.C. “It’s hard to box us in. The main comparison we get is to a small band from the ’90s called Soundgarden. I actually saw them a few weeks ago, and it was pretty scary watching some of their ‘Superunknown’ stuff. It was like, wow, this sounds so similar to what we’re going for.”

Grandfather released its debut effort, “Why I’d Try,” last summer with ’90s uber-producer Steve Albini. The all-analog effort so impressed Kirsch that he actually took a few extra day jobs to pay for his own recording studio in his basement.

As for the band’s lineup, that only recently came together for its current tour, which finds the act traveling outside of its home base area of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Speaking of the epicenter of hipster cool acts, you better believe Grandfather stands out for sounding like a Seattle group.

“We play with a lot of bands and the volume level doesn’t come close to what we bring,” Kirsch said. “There’s a pretty decent underground metal scene in Brooklyn and even the hardcore and punk scene but we really don’t play that music either. It’s somewhere in between, and it’s a pleasant surprise for a lot of people in Brooklyn when they come to see us play and we don’t sound like every other animal-named bands — Bear Hands, Bear Claws, Bear Tigers, whatever — playing the same sort of breed of synth-pop. We hope people will remember what they loved about guitar driven rock music in the ’90s.”

Another band that Grandfather often gets compared to is Radiohead, which stylistically couldn’t be any more different from Chris Cornell and company. Kirsch said this similarity is based solely on its dark tonality and mood, along with its penchant for experimentation.

This is the mindset Kirsch believes Grandfather will be exploring on its upcoming seven-inch release, which is due out later this year. In the meantime, the outfit is busy hitting many cities for the first time on its nonstop 35-date tour.

“People should come out expecting an extremely high-energy show,” Kirsch said. “If they want to see four guys pretty much putting out everything they have, sweating profusely, playing louder, faster and harder than any other band out there, they should come out. We always put it all out on the line.”

Considering all of the Soundgarden love floating around Grandfather, any chance the band kicks out “Black Hole Sun” or “Fell on Black Days” at its upcoming Youngstown date?

“I don’t think so,” Kirsch said. “Our singer Josh gets comparisons to Chris Cornell but I’m not sure he can hit some of the same notes. So no, I don’t think we’ll do a Soundgarden song on this tour but you never know.”

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