Last Spring, No Sleep Records announced the addition of emerging singer-songwriter Grey Gordon to the label’s eclectic roster. Gordon released his third EP, Still At Home Here, via No Sleep on May 28
Hailing from Fort Wayne, IN, Gordon got his start performing as a solo act in July of 2011. After a string of demos, he recorded his debut EP, Outgrowing Hope, which he released as a free download for fans. Over the next two years, Gordon continued to build a name for himself with additional free demos and eventually a follow-up EP, Sleepless, in 2012, which caught the attention of No Sleep president Chris Hansen.
The heavily tattooed singer identifies as vegan and straight edge, which both factor into his musical ideology, along with topics ranging from depression to more overtly political content. He draws influence from artists such as Kind of Like Spitting, Elliott Smith, Superchunk, and a large contingent of the Midwest emo movement of the 90s.
When Ghettoblaster discovered he’d be in our stomping grounds of Dayton to support JT Woodruf (of Hawthorne Heights) as Woodruff releases his solo album Field Medicine, we got Gordon on the horn to talk about his own output. This is what he shared with us about his music, tats, being straight edge and vegan, and Gucci Mane.
Are you still living in Fort Wayne? Do you think the Midwest is a good breeding ground for musicians and artists?
Yeah, I’m still posted up in the Fort. There’s an interesting dynamic there for artists. On one hand, living expenses are exceedingly cheap, so it’s easier to sustain oneself. On the other, it’s something of a cultural vacuum. It’s hard for anything especially intellectually challenging to thrive there. It wasn’t always like that, but the Internet has changed a lot of things. It’s a tough question, man. Fort Wayne is home. I’ll say that.
Did No Sleep catch wind of you via the free download of Outgrowing Hope, or had you met Chris somewhere along the way?
I sent a copy of Sleepless to them right after I finished it in January of 2012. Had a brief interaction with Chris, but nothing beyond that. I slowly started playing with more bands on No Sleep, Run For Cover, etc., and I think somewhere along the line, Chris noticed. He hit me up for my number via an Instagram post and I was on the label within a month. That was about a year ago.
What catalysts or influences led you to an understanding of veganism and straight edge that made it appeal to you as a lifestyle?
There’s no short answer, but I’ll give the shortest possible. Basically, I came up with my pops listening to hardcore music. By the age of 12 or 13, I was pretty much an avowed leftist. As time went on and I dug deeper into hardcore, hip-hop and leftism, I saw these ideas consistently espoused by people whose words I really respected. In time, it became clear to me how veganism and straight edge were the logical extensions of my preexisting ideas about the world. They now stand as some of the most integral facets of my identity.
How does being vegan and straight edge impact your musical ideology and identity?
It influences literally every aspect of my worldview, and my songs are written from my perspective, so those ideas are definitely present in my songs. They express themselves in a ton of different ways, sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly. People seem to be very aware of my political stance, and I’m thankful for that. I think we live in a time where people are put off by the idea of taking a firm stance on something. I’m sure there are people who hate how vocal I am about my worldview, but that’s ok. I’d rather alienate someone with honesty then endear myself to them disingenuously. That being said, people are people and many of my friends aren’t vegan or straight edge by any means. I hope people understand that at the end of the day, I’m not a blind zealot.
Although tattoos aren’t as taboo as they once were, people still call face, neck and hand tattoos “career killers”, which lends me to believe that they aren’t as widely accepted or understood as people make them out to be. Do you think people are surprised when a singer songwriter of your ilk shows up so heavily tatted?
People are definitely taken aback, yeah. I think it’s pretty funny, honestly. I get that it’s unorthodox for a “tough” looking dude to be singing songs with an acoustic guitar in his hand. That being said, yeah I have Hatebreed hand tattoos, but it doesn’t mean I’m not a multifaceted person who experiences the world similarly to everyone else. Yeah, I mosh like a dick at hardcore shows sometimes, I listen to tons of Gucci Mane, but I’m a human being and I experience the entire spectrum of human emotion like anyone else.
Were you pleased at the way people responded to your first three EPs? Did any criticism change the way you thought about the record?
People reacted really well to them. By and large, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Any criticism seemed to be from people who either don’t like acoustic music (which I can’t blame them for) or people who thought some of the lyrics were a bit sophomoric (which they were at times). All in all, I’ve grown immensely as a person since I started this project, and my songwriting is growing along with it I think.
Will you be doing multiple dates with JT Woodruff? How did this opportunity present itself?
We’ve talked about it, but nothing’s set in stone. It’s gonna be a busy year for both of us. JT just shot me an email saying that he was into my stuff and was stoked on us both being straight edge. We talked and he eventually asked me to play his record release. I’m stoked to do it. His solo stuff is cool and he’s such a nice dude. I sincerely hope we get a chance to do more dates together.
Have you been to Dayton before? If so, what do you remember about your previous trips?
I’ve been, but never played. Honest to god, I can’t remember the last time I was there. Maybe for a hardcore show? It’s getting to the point where I travel so much that I’m starting to forget where the hell I’ve been. I think I remember liking it, for what it’s worth. Ask again after I play there with JT, and I’ll tell you what’s up.
Have you begun writing or recording for a full-length, or can we expect another EP in the not-too-distant future?
I’m actually writing this in the car on the way to the studio just outside of Olympia, WA right now. I’m up here for ten days recording my full length. We’re tracking guitar overdubs today. I couldn’t be more psyched on this record. Ben Barnett from Kind of Like Spitting is producing it, and it’s sounding insane. All full band stuff recorded to tape. It’s a total departure from what I’ve released thus far. I hope people are ready for a loud indie rock record.
(Grey Gordon performs with JT Woodruff at RockStar Pro Arena in Dayton on March 21. Also on the bill are Front Porch Step, Before Their Eyes, The Lost Boys, and Rambo. Keep up with Gordon at https://www.facebook.com/greygordonofficial.)