There’s certainly a lot to be angered by in today’s climate. Collectively, we’ve endured one of the worst years in living memory due to global events, and have had misery compounded on us by those in power whose idea of what is best for the people certainly isn’t reflective of what is truly desired by the general public. To spare you an extensive list of everything that’s going wrong (although I’m sure you’re all already aware), Bristol punk trio Grandma’s House have arrived with brand new single ‘No Place Like Home’ to give you their grisly take on this state of affairs.
The successor to previous single ‘Devil’s Advocate’ continues in the same rich vein of form with a brutal assessment of post-Brexit Britain and the confusion that has been so rife in the public consciousness. Without wanting to mince their words, the track sees the band get straight to the heart of the matter, bemoaning how questions are asked and no answers are given. While the title obviously takes a sarcastic jab at flag-waving nationalism, there is a potent rage running through the song, accentuated by the murky production and collectively howled vocals. The fury is justified and unapologetically sans filter, but it feels as though to not dilute their message the band have deliberately taken this approach and it works to a stunningly stark effect.
Musically, the track builds from a slow and sludgy introduction into the band’s trademark blend of surf and post-punk, at which point the aforementioned howls of the chorus penetrate right through the listener in just how raw and guttural they are. The overall sound is certainly unpolished, but it wouldn’t feel right to have it any other way – this is confrontational music designed to sound rough in its delivery. Their assertion that there’s no place like home might be tongue in cheek, but it can sincerely be said that there’s few bands quite as bold in their message as Grandma’s House.
Having previously been featured on Wax Music as one of our ‘bands to watch’ for 2020, we caught up with Yasmin (lead vocals, guitar), Zoe (bass) and Poppy (drums) in anticipation of the new single to discuss the background for the track and how the band have dealt with the challenges posed by the year that is almost behind us.
‘No Place Like Home’ is a raucous, politically-charged track which has for a long time been a favourite in the live set – how would you feel about this being described as the best reflection of what Grandma’s House is about as a project?
Yes, it’s definitely a good representation of what we’re about as a band! Grandma’s House became what it is today out of frustrations with the things going on in this world – political and non-political. We write about our experiences and topics we feel passionate about. ‘No Place Like Home’ was born during the aftermath of Brexit, focusing on the warped ideologies of the British press that continue to fester their way into the country’s psyche. Yasmin and Zoë are both from Germany so have experienced the frustrations of Brexit first-hand and have found the process extremely disheartening. Basically, hatred disguised as ‘British pride’ made us want to scream sarcastically into a microphone, so that’s what we did.
What made you feel as though now was the best time to bring this song out? I feel there’s also an underlying irony in the title now having all spent most of the year at home…
Yeah for sure, we obviously wrote this song before we knew we’d all be at home so much, but as soon as lockdown happened it felt like ‘No Place Like Home’ should definitely be our next single. COVID, as well as the failings of our government have definitely made this song relatable in a completely different way and has given it even more of an ironic twist. It’s also one of our favourite songs so it worked out really well!!
How did the song initially come together? You’ve said before how all being under the same roof together has positively impacted your collective songwriting ability – was this conceived in the same collaborative way?
All our songs are definitely super collaborative! This song was actually funnily enough written in our house and not in a rehearsal studio like with a lot of our other songs. as had just bought her first reverb pedal, so we were just really excited to use it on a song and then ‘No Place Like Home’ just happened! One of us will usually start playing something and then we all join in and have a jam – it’s definitely the best way we work. We also write all the time so we’ll usually have some lyrics ready to go that we feel just fits with the instrumentals we’ve come up with. Sometimes we’ll also have some lyrics we feel very passionate about and just need to have in a song, then we’ll work out a melody around that writing.
You’re frequently labelled as being heroes of the Bristol underground and DIY scenes – given that you’re so reliant on playing countless shows to gain traction, how do you feel the unfortunate circumstances we find ourselves in this year have impacted you all individually, as a band and a community, and what do you feel you’ve done to try and overcome this?
It was a massive shock to suddenly not be on stage anymore. There’s something incredibly rewarding about writing new material, practicing and then being able to present it to an energetic crowd. However, it was a nice break to start with – we played almost every week, sometimes multiple times a week in the year leading up to lockdown, so there wasn’t much room to actually write a lot of new songs. Not having to practice our usual set between gigs meant we could take a break from it for a bit and just recentre ourselves, as well as writing loads of new songs! Aside from the band stuff, it’s been really upsetting not being able to go to gigs and immerse ourselves in the Bristol scene, seeing our friends and family whenever we want etc. Everyone has obviously struggled with that – most of our friends are either in bands or somehow involved creatively so everyone was kind of in the same boat. We’re very lucky to all live together, and one of the ways we coped with lockdown was adopting two long haired, extremely sassy guinea pigs who have saved us from a pit of despair.
Working on ‘No Place Like Home’ was exactly what we needed to refocus on the band, so just keeping busy and planning lots of things was the best way to overcome this! We can’t wait to play at The Lanes (2nd November) either, it’s going to be very strange to play to a seated audience but we’re excited!
Here at Wax, we labelled you as one of our bands to watch for 2020 back at the start of the year. While it’s fair to say the year has been a complete write-off, how do you see yourselves moving forward once things return closer to normal and do you have any plans for the near future?
We’re very excited as we feel like things are moving forward again for us – we’re not in standstill anymore! We’ve been planning a lot of things for next year including hopefully releasing an EP and prior to that we’ve got another single that we wrote in lockdown which we’ll hopefully release at the end of this year. It’s definitely going to be very hard for a lot of smaller bands like us, but we’ve got some great people around us so all we can do is just keep working and doing what we love!
Words: Reuben Cross Photography: Alex Stark
‘No Place Like Home’ is out now and can be streamed below on Wax Music via the band’s Soundcloud.