On March 20, groovy Montreal blues-rock band The Grove played at Petit Campus, opening up for Starstruck Avenue’s album release show. The hilarious and talented members of the band (Lawrence Di Iorio, Adam Passalacqua, Paul Maffei, and Domenico Carbone) sat down with me before the show to talk about their future, their influences, and oceans.
How long have you guys been together?
Lawrence: A year and a half, but we’ve known each other for quite a while.
Domenic: Basically, a year and a half ago, me and Paul were still in another band, and we recruited these two guys.
Paul: I’ve known Dom forever; we like, hit puberty together.
Adam: Actually no, that’s not the story. We had another singer, but because he didn’t want to, we just figured alright, well we’ll get Lawrence. It wasn’t our first choice but yeah.
Lawrence: I was just there, sitting in the corner.
How long have you been playing music individually?
Domenic: I’ve been playing since 2001, so it’s probably like fourteen years now.
Paul: Half of that.
Adam: My dad was a drummer so when I was two or three years old, he introduced me to the instrument and then I just never stopped. Like, every year I just kept going. I got a drum set at like four years old so, like, a small one. So basically, almost all my life.
Lawrence: I started playing guitar for probably the end of elementary school. But singing, like, being a singer in a band seriously, it’s probably been only three years. Not more than three or four years.
Who are your musical inspirations?
Lawrence: Vincent Van Gogh.
Adam Steven Spielberg.
Domenic: No, but seriously, obviously Zeppelin.
Paul: I’m glad that was the first band you said.
Domenic: The Beatles, Chili Peppers, Guns and Roses
Adam: Guns and Roses is for him, not for us. We should also say Half Moon Run.
Lawrence: They’re our musical inspiration with their success in Montreal. Their fame freaking exploded in a short amount of time. That was cool. For me vocally, especially lyrically, The Arctic Monkeys are a major influence. Incubus, obviously Led Zeppelin, The Beatles.
Paul: If it’s good, we listen to it, and we try and take something from it. We don’t limit ourselves to one style of music.
I noticed you’ve done a few covers at your shows, is there one song in particular that you enjoy covering the most?
Adam: I have to say “The Ocean” is pretty badass.
Domenic: Yeah, so Beatles, Zeppelin.
Lawrence: We try to switch it up, but “Oh Darling” is the one we never get rid of.
Domenic: The thing is we’re very stripped down; we’re only one guitar, one bass, two vocals, and a drum set, so we kind of have to go in the direction of songs that won’t be empty, whereas in the recording, there’s two guitars, a keyboard, this and that. There are some songs we want to cover but it’s just not going to work.
Lawrence: “Oh Darling” is probably our favourite one, but now “The Ocean” is a new edition–
Adam: — and it sounds like one of the best. But I think the cover we play the most is “We’re Gonna Groove.”
What inspires you when you’re writing your music?
Paul: Our music is kind of like the bottom of the ocean. It’s deep, it’s dark, and it involves fish. Not too many people have been there, and if you get too into it, you can die.
Adam: That’s why we’re playing “The Ocean” as a cover.
Domenic: When I write guitar riffs, I pretty much write at least one thing for each song, and every time it just literally comes from nowhere. I don’t really practice; I just play what’s in my head. When I hear something in my head, I just play it through my hands with the guitar. And once I hear it, I figure out what sounds good, and then it takes off from there. Then, I present that little piece to the other guys and everyone just throws different shit and, after a while, it just becomes an entity. It sounds like a trip.
Lawrence: For me, lyrically, I’m pretty good at improvising on new songs. Sometimes, something happens during the day, or I see something on TV that bothers me, and I’ll write a song about it, depending on how I feel, but most of the time I just show up and this is what I’ve been working on and just try it on the spot, see what I come up with, and see if some lyrics work on some other stuff. Even when I read, if I read something that’s cool.
Adam: You can draw inspiration from anything, like Spiderman. I don’t have a specific drum part but usually I’ll work cause Dom will have a riff and he usually works it out with Paul, so like they have it typed and then they bring it to the band and work it out, and I have to make sure that what I’m playing locks in with him.
Lawrence: A little bit of our personalities leak in the music too.
Out of the venues that you’ve played, which one is your favourite?
Domenic: Il Motore, which is now The Ritz, was freaking awesome.
Lawrence: Il Motore was the best. Katacombes was good to us. But definitely, Il Motore by far. We also played Frites Alors, and it was probably the worst one.
What are your plans for the coming year?
Lawrence: Right now, I think, until summer comes along, this is probably going to be our last show.
Domenic: We’re planning to write an assload, because right now I just have so many riffs in my head that just need to be played, and if it doesn’t happen soon, my head will explode. And then, we’ll hopefully record an EP, out next year hopefully.
Lawrence: We definitely need to focus on writing, cause we’ve had a few shows recently, where we’ve played the same songs over and over.
What makes a good show?
Domenic: An interactive crowd, and not screwing up–
Adam: — Lawrence.
Domenic: And good sound on stage.
Lawrence: Good sound on stage. It doesn’t matter who’s in the crowd or what’s going on, if I could get that sound on stage, like hopefully tonight, I’m just going to beast it out, and I love playing live. From the morning when you get up, it’s a whole hype.
What advice would you give aspiring musicians?
Lawrence: Give up, it’s all mine!
Adam: No, I would personally say do whatever makes you happy but, whatever instrument you play, it’s important to learn different styles because whatever you want to be, it’s important to know and dabble into any style possible you can grasp, because if music is really what you want to do, don’t listen to anyone. Just listen to yourself, because that’s why people quit.
Lawrence: But also to see what you’re good at, what your talent is, and then pursue it.
Paul: Take it seriously. A lot of people think they can just throw a band together. They all know how to play a little bit of every instrument and just start, but you have to really take it seriously, work hard, practice.
Adam: Don’t do it for the image, or the girls.
Paul: You should be doing it because you love it. That’s the only reason.
Written by Franca G. Mignacca
Photograhy by Michael Rossi