Grand Analog is back with Modern Thunder
Better than ever, this album truly epitomizes what Grand Analog is all about – having classic funk elements with a modernized flare of hip-hop and instrumentation.
“Approaching this album, we took our experiences and musical maturity, and really had a fresh start,” said Odario Williams, front man and MC of Grand Analog.
“We wanted to use an analog recording process, while adding an element of music today. Not many bands can do this today.”
The album’s set to be on shelves as of August 20, with the release party slated that night at the Drake Hotel in Toronto. The band is excited to finally have their new material on board. Only problem now is being able to select a set list for live shows from their expanding plethora of music. With a group like Grand Analog, where no two songs ever truly sound alike, it’s difficult to pick and choose, since they just want to play them all.
“Before this, putting together a set list was easy, now, we may have to put on our ego hats and say we’re playing for two hours, because we can dammit!”
He followed it up laughing with “then someone will want that kazoo in there, someone always wants the kazoo.”
A follow up to their 2009 smash record Metropolis Is Burning, Odario’s observational paradox of life in the Metropolis of Canada, that is Toronto, Modern Thunder is less a concept album than one of jams and jives.
The album features many hip-hop greats from the Canadian underground, like Saukrates, SonReal and Shad, which Odario attributes to a bond created out of mutual respect.
“Sometimes, you have to make a good song better by letting someone else throw down on it, and take a step back. Grand Analog is a true brotherhood.”
They record most of their tracks live to tape right off the floor, and they found this to be a great challenge to accomplish. The song off the new album “4 a.m. in Parkdale” is actually recorded all in one take, and it sounds like anything you’d hear produced and overdubbed in studio.
“Some people couldn’t even tell the difference between us playing live and in studio, when people listen to the record, they can’t tell it’s in one take or very few. Sometimes we can’t even tell after listening,”
“We’re constantly evolving,” said Warren Bray, bass player.The band attributes their unique style to a sense of liberty in the writing process. Quite simply put, they never strive to write a certain song. They simply play music and arrange it accordingly once they find something that appeals to them.
“It’s about waiting until you’re inspired, and not forcing it. Caligraffiti was just to make music because we can. The second album, we were tied up in trying to beat the first. Going into this third one, we realized to just leave the rest alone, and come out with something fresh,” said Odario.
Odario Williams has been a hip-hop music mogul for almost two decades now, making his name with his old band Mood Ruff from Manitoba, which brought the world the classic tune “Rocketship.” If you don’t know him for his music, you’d surely recognize him as a guest voice on CBC’s Radio 3 ON AIR.
Odario didn’t want to even mention Mood Ruff in this interview, but he finds it impossible to not somehow relate everything back to it one way or another.
“Oliver Johnson played guitar on ‘Rocketship.’ Recorded here in Toronto at Hive recording studio, which is where we record now,” said Odario.
“Here I met Alister Johnson (DJ Catalist) and it took off from there, we wrote “I’ll Walk Alone” in a day, it was just seamless.”
The group really unified with a random meeting of Bray and Williams when they worked at HMV together. Odario consistently ordered music and Bray was on ordering and receiving, where they realized they had the same musical tastes.
Williams was looking for a bass player to complete the sound he had idealized. As Odario simply puts it, “Thank God Warren went around telling everyone he was a phenomenal bass player. I looked deep into his eyes, and something told me he knew what he was talking about.”
“It was a brotherhood meant to happen,” said Bray.
Story by Devin Size