Gravy is a great guy, and one who doesn't deny his roots. Despite being part of Little Rock's infamous Rwake - a band that has created some of the most menacing, venomous metal ever to emerge from the American south - Gravy could easily slip on a pair of overalls and pick along with a gospel bluegrass band. People like him make the south interesting. He and fellow Arkansas guitarist Kiffin are one of the sickest string teams around, and anyone who has ever been to a Rwake show can verify that. Gravy was nice enough to motor up to the dock, put down his fishing pole and answer some questions about Rwake, family, touring, and tone. Thanks Gravy.
Hey man, first off can you talk some about growing up in Arkansas and how you got into heavy music?
Growing up in Arkansas, I was subjected to all kinds of music. My moms side of the family was heavy into old school bluegrass stuff. I remember being three or four years old and seeing both of my uncles with a guitar or banjo or mandolin. All my aunts and my mom played piano and sang, at family reunions they would jam all night. When I was 7 I recall my older brother watching KISS on MTV. One day my brother brought home the Diary of a Madman album by Ozzy. My mom was flippin’ out about the cover and everything. As soon as he put it on the record player I was hooked. Randy Rhoades, that’s all I got to say.
I know you have several kids, and I can relate to that. Can you talk some about how you handle the band/family thing?
Having Kids and touring is an absolute juggling act. I bust my ass working when I’m not touring, have to make sure the family is taken care of while I’m gone. Me and my wife get along great cause we get to spend a lot of time apart. So I guess while I’m home its all good times. My job is cool with me being gone too, I just tell em how it is. I’m going out on the road regardless, so why loose a good worker? I plan ahead so there are no issues with work, bills etc.
What is in your current guitar rig?
The guitar rig I’m using is a Gibson 1981 Custom Les Paul, wine red. It’s got an EMG in the bridge and a stock pickup it the neck. I use the neck pickup for clean stuff, and the EMG for the dirt. A couple of years ago I got a Laney GH100TI head and cab. I love the Tony Iommi head, the leads scream on that rig and it wasn’t too expensive. The only pedals I use are a Boss tuner, a Boss DD3 delay, and a MXR micro amp boost for the leads. I run my pedals through the FX loop on my amp so they wont cut the signal from my guitar. Its a simple rig, but I really like it cause I control the whole sound with my hands and volume knobs.
You and Kiffin seem to have a real solid connection when you play, how do you guys pull things of so seamlessly?
Me and Kiffin have been jamming together since 2002. He is an ungodly riffer on the guitar. When he showed up to our practice with his guitar, he knew all the riffs and harmonies already. He plugged in and rocked it 100 %. Whenever we get a chance me and Kiff sit down and write riffs or just BS around with some melodies or ideas. Practice and one-on-one jam time keeps us in shape. When you play the same stuff so many times it becomes muscle memory, your hands will do the same thing out of habit.
What’s next for Rwake? I’ve heard some talk of a new record.
We’re going mid-January to finish the new album. It will be out soon and be warned, its a heavy one. After it comes out we will be getting back out there and doing some shows. Can’t wait to get back on the road!
I know you like to fish. What is your preferred method? What is your prey? And how long have you been addicted?
When I’m not workin’ I’m fishin’. Before I came to do this interview I was fishin’. Bass fishing is what I prefer, but I like any thing that bites. Bass on a top water lure is the most fun! I been fishing since i was a kid, it’s a southern thing I guess.
I always enjoy your mandolin parts on the Rwake records. I’m guessing you picked that up through family/community exposure in Arkansas. Is that the case? If not, could you talk about your musical roots?
Well my family was huge on bluegrass. When I first stared playing I was 12, and I would sit with the family and play along. My uncle Danny sat me down and showed me the blues. My dad was big into BB KING and Stevie Ray Vaughn, so I would play around with that stuff. I would go to guitar lessons after school and come home and play till midnight every day. I played so much I hated it, but I wanted to get good so I paid my dues. There were some classical lessons and jazz lessons in there also. I was lead guitar in the high school jazz band for two years and also played drums in the marching and concert bands all through high school. My parents surrounded me with music everyday, I guess that’s why I am who I am.
What is your favorite unknown band?
My favorite band to this day is Weedeater, we have such a good time with those dudes when we’re out, but also they bust their asses touring. I respect that, they do what they want to do and nobody’s gonna change that!
Who fights the good fight?
Triumph fights the good fight! You guitar players out there: go learn A MIDSUMMER’S DAYDREAM by TRIUMPH. Great finger-picking exercises in that song!
Thanks again Nate for your time, Gone fishin!!!