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Interview/Exclusive: Soulful Surf-Rock Quintet Spooky Mansion On New Single “Real Jerk”

Spooky Mansion is back and better than ever. The LA-based band has released their first single from their upcoming EP, That’s Me!, which is set to drop October 29th. The single, ‘Real Jerk’, follows their 2018 debut LP Alright and is accompanied by an animated music video. I sat down with frontman Grayson Converse to talk about their newest single, the band’s history, and what comes next. Stay tuned until the end of the article for an exclusive look at the music video for ‘Real Jerk’.

Responses have been edited for clarity.

 

Mia Vittimberga: What’s the story behind the band name, Spooky Mansion?

Grayson Converse: I was living in France and Rob (our drummer) was living in California. When it was evening for me, it was morning for him, and I’d call him on the way home from bars and we’d chat as I walked through the evening streets. One night, we were discussing some local San Francisco music and I was trying to remember the name of a band. “What were they called?” I asked, “Spooky Mansion?”. And Rob said, “There is no band named Spooky Mansion.” We both knew it was the perfect name. We’d never played rock together before, but that year in France I started writing songs so once I came back to San Francisco we sat in the garage, banged it out, and Spooky Mansion was born.

Your sound is a unique blend of multiple genres — are there any bands or artists that have especially influenced you?

Our influences come from a lot of different places. Rob and I both have degrees in jazz and so a lot of our fundamental compositions and arrangements come out of bands like Miles Davis Quintet, Horace Silver, and Thelonious Monk. The whole band shares a love for groups like The Pixies, Modest Mouse, Orange Juice — bands that emphasize the use of dissonance and counter-melody and complex arrangements. There’s also a thorough line of affection for hip hop, from A Tribe Called Quest to Dr. Dre and Nate Dogg.

How long have you all known each other and how did you meet?

Rob and I met the first day of college. We were put into the same jazz group and hit it off talking about our favorite musicians. We’d travel into the city together to check out live music. Years later, we met Marty (bass) through some mutual friends. He had dabbled in bass, but hadn’t started playing it seriously. He was pretty much the funniest guy we’d ever met so he was promptly added to the group. Charlie (guitar) managed a band we all loved, French Cassettes, and had played guitar in high school. Once again, his hilarious personality and knowledge of the music industry was enough to get him into the band. His crazy energy onstage is a staple of the Spooky Mansion vibe. The newest member is Braden (guitar) who went to high school with Rob. After high school, he moved to LA to become a session guitarist and tour with various acts. His skill on guitar and passion for music in general has brought the band to a whole new level.

What was the inspiration behind the animated music video for ‘Real Jerk’?

The past year and a half has seen our most touring — playing SXSW, Treefort Music Fest, Fisherman’s Villaige, Underground Music Showcase, and others across the North and South West. Because of this, we’ve developed a certain tour van (called the Spooky Vansion) lifestyle. We’re all extremely close friends, and in the tight proximity of the van you get to see a microcosm of our lives and relationships. In addition, out the window is a constantly chnging landscape of seaside, desert, forest, etc. Touring is such a fun and unique experience. I think we wanted to capture a bit of that feeling. Blue Garou, the artist, did a fantastic job interpreting my clumsy description of what I wanted and transformed the idea into a fleshed out, beautiful piece of art that is full of nostalgia, emotion, and humor.

The ‘Real Jerk’ music video was directed by French artist Bleu Garou. Is there a particular artist you’d like to work with one day for a music video?

There are two artists that come to mind — Chris The Simpsons Art and Versace Tamagotchi.

I love how Chris approaches art with extremely odd, borderline bad drawings, with ultra surreal nonsensical captions. But in fact, they are completely beautiful drawings, and extremely funny thoughts that are expressed perfectly. It’s not traditional art, but that allows it to be more unique, relevant, and truthful.

Versace Tamagotchi is such a product of modern times and so hilariously relatable. His insight into the culture around us is extremely poignant and he walks on a tightrope between humor and journalism at a time where the Internet has blurred the lines of reality and satire. He explores the muddling of irony and earnestness at its best while also expressing true passion.

Your next EP is set to drop in October of this year. How has your music style evolved over the past few years, and what differs this EP from the previous ones?

We like to call ourselves ‘surf-rock-n-soul’ but over the last few recordings we’ve focused on different genres including pop, disco, and hip hop. This EP is a return to our original sound. Because we recorded it live and tape-to-tape at Tiny Telephone in San Francisco, it’s the best version of what our live band actually sounds like. The production, samples, and synthetic sounds that we’ve used in the past are at a bare minimum here. It gives the listener the closest experience of what it’s like to be in the room with us. It’s not necessarily better or worse than the other recordings, but it’s definitely different. We’re always striving to change and evolve.

If you could describe your upcoming EP, That’s Me!, in six words or less, what would they be?

Evening swamp frogs on the porch.

Affinity is a magazine primarily read by teens, so what would you say to teenagers looking to start a career in music?

One thing I’ve learned about making art in general is that a lot of what you make will be bad. In the beginning you don’t know what you’re doing, or what you want to achieve, or how to achieve it. If you stop too soon and overanalyze yourself, you’ll see yourself as a bad artist and want to quit. Enjoy the dead ends and strange detours that your art takes you on, and appreciate the small bits of progress you make. Eventually you’ll be making things you don’t hate.

That’s the first step in a music career — allowing yourself to actually make art. The rest is like any other career. Being responsible and accountable, writing emails, following up with people, finishing what you’ve started. Don’t be too precious with anything — if you’re doing it right, the music will continue to get better and eventually people will start to notice.

 

You can stream Spooky Mansion’s music on Spotify and Soundcloud. Be sure to follow the band on Instagram and Twitter.

 

 

 

Featured image via Spooky Mansion Press

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Mia is a 15-year-old Massachusetts native who loves classic literature, 1970s rock music, and fashion. Besides writing, Mia enjoys riding horses, making playlists, and writing bios about herself in the third person.

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