By Ellen Eldridge
Call me a sucker, but I’m a sucker for horns. Let’s hear it for the guy with the trumpet! If you love that good-feeling, ska rhythm to shake out your troubles, strap on your skanking shoes and head out to see Grove Stain. This group of talented guys shines in tradition of bands like Reel Big Fish, Mephiskapheles and Cake. Take a minute to check out Out All Night with tracks like the opener, “All In Your Head,” and its driving vocals that break at all the right times. Every track on the album has a tinge of the islands in a fast-paced, rumbling of lyrics, but the songs feel as comfortable as fun-loving pop played on the radio. “Get Back” shares that out-all-night, partying sensation that will keep crowds jumping up and down until the set or the bar closes. “Roll One” proves a popular hit for fans of music from rap to reggae because of the dynamic combination of trumpet, guitar riffs, vocal rhythm and punctuated drum fills. The lyrics “Don’t take shit from no one come on and roll one” will be a surefire hit in college dorms.
These guys have been beating the local venues in Atlanta down for well over 10 years playing dozens of shows, and this year will be no different. Frontman and trumpeter Jonny Etheridge took the time to explain a bit more about the long history behind the band and just what stirs the motivation to continue along a path of inspiration.
Where does Groove Stain find that motivation to continue touring after 14 years?
It’s easy for us; 14 years and it still feels like the beginning. We have so much more musical energy to share with the world. Although Groove Stain in essence is a success to us, we know that we have much more to accomplish. Eric, Mike and I created the band back in high school with a cast of other characters that have moved on since. Eric has always had this talent for songwriting and his great since of humor doesn’t hurt either; he was a natural front man. We knew it from the real beginning that what we were creating with him was special and needed to be developed. We’ve had to endure a number of lineup changes throughout the years which could explain why so much time has passed. Brian Daggett came in three years into the operation after our former drummer quit saying, “Three years was too long for a band without making it big,” a statement that I scoff at to this day.
Brian Daggett is a true professional drummer. When he records a part to a new song, he gets it in one take, flawlessly. Even when writing the songs, Brian already has the rhythms down before the ideas are even solidified. He has also seen his closest friends Solders of Jah Army, a band that we have toured with, blow up to international success. The motivation is all around us. You don’t get heard of all over the world by sitting at home and clocking in at work 40 hours a week. You have to hit the streets hard as nails. Everyone asks us about record labels and why we aren’t signed, but those questions are very stupid to me. We’ve been offered record deals, indie and major. We’ve seen our close friends sign similar deals and most of them are no longer performing. The bands and artists we know that are making a real mark in the music world are doing so because they did it themselves. Those who are determined succeed, those who need motivation fail to succeed.
How did working with Grammy Award winning engineer and producer Juan Covas come to be?
In 2003 our bassist (Mike Hatton) attended Full Sail University in Orlando, Fla. for recording arts. Juan was and still is an instructor there. Mike got us into the multi-million dollar studio to lay down some tracks for our 2004 release The Other 9 to 5. We were lucky to have Juan run a couple of our recording sessions. His professionalism was evident immediately. Groove Stain and Juan became instant friends. Our 2007 Groove Stain album, recorded at Full Sail, gave us time to develop a stronger friendship.
We decided in 2009 that we wanted to use his talents as the chief engineer and mix master for the album Out All Night. We released the album in June of 2010. Groove Stain wrote and produced all the material, we just needed him to put his decades of production experience to work on the mixes. People don’t know this generally, but the difference between a good album and a great album, aside from a good performance, is how well your album is mixed. I wanted our album to sound different. I didn’t want someone with young ears and less experience to have this task. I wanted someone who had worked with artist like Dizzy Gillespie, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Bootsy Collins “Bootsy Rubber Band,” Ray Parker Jr., Chubby Checker, Puerto Rico All Stars, Smokey Robinson, Teddy Pendergrass, Kool and the Gang, someone who knows how to make a successful album with six gold and platinum albums and singles, four number one singles and albums, five Grammy nominations, and one Grammy award (for Mark Anthony’s “Contra La Corriente”).
What expectations and anticipations does Groove Stain have for its future?
2011 has us planning to tour nationally in full support of our latest album, Out All Night, an album that has already solidified Groove Stain into the music world as it was ranked 18 for reggae albums of 2010 on iTunes, and is featured on iTunes UK, Europe, Japan and South America. We really want to see the whole world by playing music, and we believe we have international appeal. We are also releasing a B-sides E.P. in anticipation of a new album, and collaborating with notable artists regularly. We average over 100 shows a year and this year will prove to be no different.
Groove Stain play Smith’s Olde Bar on March 29.