A couple weeks back I got an email about an artist that really peaked my interest. His music wasn’t my usual that I gravitate to. Instead this was more classical piano based and it intrigued me enough to want to know more. So, I put together some questions and here we go. Allow me to introduce you to Grant Webb aka Oligarchy Withers.
1. What was the first band or song that your heard that made you a music fan? Fur Elise, by Beethoven. I was around 7 years old or so and when I heard it on my old Casio keyboard I didn’t stop listening until I could play it. Which ties into question #2…
2. What was it about piano and Fur Elise that compelled you to learn it?
In a theory sense; it was the discordant Eb resolving into that beautiful A harmonic minor that pulled me into the song. On a more human level I relate more to the melancholy songs much more than any others, and most of the music I think I was exposed to at the time sounded far too “happy” to me. So this was one of the first tastes of minor tonality for me. I think I was naturally inclined towards piano because of the natural beauty of the instrument. And the fact that you can accompany yourself makes it a very good canvas for songwriting or pushing your own limits.
3. What was the it that drove you toward guitar?
While piano was the eclectic and sophisticated side of my musicality, the guitar allowed me to express myself in different ways. Especially when combined with the right people in a rock band, there were times I’d feel elevated to levels I didn’t know existed during a great show. Being able to move around and swing the guitar gives you more freedom, and being able to bend notes and choose where you want to play certain ones gives you more options.
4. What was the music scene like in Idaho?
Well…my first two shows were at a rented out Senior Citizens Center and a rented out American Legion. That might give you some perspective as to the level of professionalism my bands and I were dealing with. As I got more experienced I did get to open for some established acts like Motionless In White. Of Machines, and Burden of a Day, which was always surprising being a state with less than a million people total.
5. What was your first band and that experience?
I think my first band was called Shiver Me Timbers and was some sort of terrible attempt at All That Remains-esque metalcore. Also, I still had short hair so my band abilities were still in their infancy.
6. What did you study at MI? Why did you choose there to go?
At MI I studied guitar, and was exposed to some truly amazing players. Both the staff and some of my peers were probably some of the best in the world. Combined with me being 19 years old, fresh from a rural town, and thrown headfirst into Hollywood, I had quite the culture shock. And it was also the first place that really felt like I belonged. My choice to go there was simple; it was how I would get to the next level of bands.
7. What was your first impressions of LA?
L.A. remains my favorite place I’ve ever been. Though I moved to Portland a couple years back I miss it dearly and would love to go back. I felt like the city changed a lot in the 10 years I spent in Hollywood but when I first arrived it was a musician’s paradise. All of the sudden clothes people in Idaho thought I was weird to wear became cool, people would ask me about my tattoos on a daily basis, and everyone wanted to be my friend.
8. What was the first show you went to out here and where?
I don’t think I went to a show in L.A. before I was actually playing them. But the first I recall seeing was probably Animals As Leaders doing a live performance at MI. I don’t typically enjoy going to shows that I am not performing at, always feels like I’m scoping out the competition or too in my own head to really enjoy the music. I’m definitely the sullen looking dude in the back with the arms crossed looking brooding. Of course if I’m a huge fan of the band or they are friends then usually it’s easier to have a good time.
9. Where was the first gig you played in LA?
My first gig in LaLa land was at Club Moscow, the same place they host Bar Sinister around Hollywood and Cahuenga. I was in this electro-pop rock band and learned how to play more reserved and with less distortion when necessary.
10. How did you get the stitched up heart gig? What was the best part of that experience? What made you want to go out in your own?
One of the drummers I had in a previous band; Decker, knew I was hungry for something at a higher level. I think I had just quit one of our bands and he was a hired gun so he wasn’t really invested in that project, but he was about to start playing for Stitched and knew they needed a guitarist. He asked me if I’d be interested and I was. Anything to get back to shredding and playing bigger shows. I remember meeting Mixi the day I auditioned at a bar on the boulevard around 2 or 3pm. I picked her up and we drove down to El Segundo, stopping for beer and McDonald’s and then playing well into the night. Afterwards me and her went to the beach and looked for UFO’s for a while. Definitely a memorable audition. I think they offered me the gig either that night or within a couple days.
To this day I consider those cats, brothers & sisters. We went through hell together through 30 states doing it completely ourselves. Even with a booking agent we would be on the phone calling venues while driving from city to city getting the damn gigs ourselves, and sleeping primarily with whatever good samaritans we found at the show at a given night. Doing that for months at a time, for several years, out on the road probably 30% of the time, in a van really bonds you to people in a crazy way. And it also gets really hard. There are many factors that went into my decision to leave, but the main one is that I wasn’t feeling artistically fulfilled anymore. At the end of the day if I am not feeling inspired then I am going to eventually leave and try to figure out where that inspiration is. A trait that causes me a lot of hardship sometimes, but I think it will lead me where I need to be.
11. Why this style of music to debut as your solo material? What is it about this style that drives you?
Hard question. I’d say it’s primarily rock with some ambience and pop sensibilities. But honestly, everyone will interpret that statement their own way so I always say just go listen to it and decide yourself.
12. What do you want listeners to get from these songs?
I always think the main purpose of art is to help people. It’s a way to express emotion and soul in a tangible way and I’d like to help as many people as possible on as big of a scale as I can.
13. What does the future look like for Grant Webb?
I wish I knew the answer to that one sometimes. But then I guess it wouldn’t be much of an adventure if I did. One thing is for sure I’ll always be playing music and pushing the envelope of what I can do with my art.
Oligarchy Withers- Typhoon:
Oligarchy Withers- The Andromeda Sonata: