Grassy Spark made a big deal about them having their last show in Johannesburg for the year but they never mentioned Pretoria…so Gauteng welcomes the Cape kids back to the last Park Acoustics of 2017. You can still win tickets by the way. Grassy is a really vibey band. I play them a stack on my breakfast show when I want to wake my audience up, jam them in my car on long roadtrips and skank as hard as possible at any live gig I can to. Casually, I got hold of guitarist-vocalist, Josh Riley and asked him some things about deep eye contact, the effects of a 7-man-band and, of course, he throws in a Lil Dicky reference for control.
Richard Chemaly (RC): Straight up! I was literally hanging on the barrier right in front of stage at Oppi at your set. Both Josh and Simon made some serious direct eye contact with me and I felt so loved. I was wondering how to resolve this but then I saw them making eye contact with so many other people in the crowd and felt sad…not just because I felt eye contact cheated on but because Yanick totally blanked me *cries*. How can you make this up to me? I notice you do this a lot and I’m sorry to expose it but I’d like to offer you this platform to apologize to your adoring fans for eye cheating on them. An apologetic picture making apologetic eye contact wouldn’t hurt either.
Josh Riley (JR): Sorrry! No! Eye contact is super important when connecting with people but every connection/moment is unique so don’t feel bleak; just maintain the gaze – *laughs*
RC: You’ve been going for just over 5 years now, a great achievement in and of itself, but you’ve also gained many accolades along the way. While getting playlisted, selling out stages and hitting top ten lists are the obvious things to be proud of and brag about, what are the things you’re most proud of but can’t really brag about? I’m thinking things like playing your granny’s old age home, become famous enough to get free coffee at your local or lending your fame to a community radio station with 500 listeners and pushing it up?
JR: Joh you’re going hard here, only on question and the questions are gooood! Tough one though, *laughs*. What can’t we brag about but we’re proud of…The moment Full Squad Lit was born on a beach in Mozam while the sun was rising after FORR Fest…Can’t go into detail, but yaaa…*laughs*
RC: I’m told that your bassist Kevin has taken up amateur boxing. Generally navigating band politics sometimes means that a system has to be in place to make decisions, like drawing straws or ching-chong-cha. How then do you decide who has to go tell Kevin when his bass is half a semi-tone out?
JR: Kev has yet to punch one of us, despite how annoying we are. Like a gentle Rocky Balboa. Italian stallion and all, ‘cept… he’s gentle. Na, but Kev’s burning man. We seldomly need to tell him anything *laughs*
RC: Having a 7 man band is awesome when all the sound harmonizes and gives it that “super ideal grassy feel”. That phrase is yours by they way…a gift to you…you can have it…as thanks for all the great roadtrips you’ve accompanied me on. However, moving 7 young lads from the Mountain to the Jacarandas can’t be easy, nor cheap. What’s the manner in overcoming individual schedule conflicts, added costs for the size of the band deciding between Steers and McDonalds at 3am?
JR: We could get deep about this with Whatsapp screengrabs, but your PC/phone/Mac will jem uit from low memory, *chuckles*, next question P.S. It ain’t easy *laughs*
RC: So me, I also play sax…and I’m looking forward to accidentally meeting Simon in the streets for an intense sax-off, but until then…I picked up sax back in grade 7 because ska was my marmalade. I’m not sure why but I suspect you’re also fans of the genre. In my mind, I’ve always wanted to share a stage with Reel Big Fish but for guys as huge as you, it’s actually possible for you to share stages with great names. Who are you most keen on getting on the lineup with…save for Cat Empire because you’ve like already done?
JR: Joh, hard to say…our hearts and minds are moulding and changing, and although we love Ska, our experience is evolving.
That means its difficult to pin point a specific artist; since you talking to me, personally defs Anderson Paak – the man is a legend. But be prepared for a new experience with Grassy. Open doors, and remember there’s always time for some reggae *winks*
RC: I love how you’re all about spreading love and good vibes. Other than my roadtrip companionship, what’s the coolest compliment you’ve received for your work?
JR: The best ones are the deep ones. This girl at Lentedag told me our music got her through the death of a close friend. These moments give meaning and validation to our experiences. Making at least one person feel good with what we are doing is everything.
RC: Obviously you’re no strangers to Park Acoustics. Do you chill out your sets for this gig or are you going to blow a few speakers?
JR: We gonna blaas Pretoria hard mybru *laughs* mense must stretch!
RC: What’s your take on social media to promote artistry? How are you going to celebrate when you hit the big 10k Facebook page likes?
JR: Well you know, you can buy those these days and we really would get it over and done with if we weren’t into social media and digital marketing – *laughs*. 3 of us work in the digital and content creation space, so we understand the importance of content over any paid advertising. You can waste a year buying likes or make something that people are going to love – it needs to be a combo of both, but creativity can make things cheaper and more meaningful. 10k? Maybe a new song…
RC: From being in the parties with you guys, it seems collectively you have collective an affinity for a collection of shots. I’ve also read a number of interviews with you where people boringly ask you to introduce your band members. Soooo uhm, like, if each band member were a drink, who would be what and why?
JR: I honestly believe as a band we are pretty tight – like we roll hard but the love is harder. I’d say we are all collectively the liquid in a Jagermeister bottle; just some chaotic juicy flowing under, over and in between one another – crazy but unified basically, and you’ll always have a good time.
RC: Finally, thanks for a rad time and the rad music. Last question: Should we go for it?
JR: We go hard on earth. Earth go hard.