D//E Interviews: Grand Lord High Master

Earlier this year Los Angeles heavy rock band, Grand Lord High Master released their debut self-titled full length, which turned out to be a furious and grabbing record and an all around immersive listening experience. The band spoke to D//E about it and more.

What is the band's origin story?

A long time ago in a desert, a few hours out from Los Angeles, called Apple Valley, where incidentally there are no apples, is the humble home town of all the members of GLHM. Vocalist Nathaniel, guitarist William, and drummer Jamie and a few others shared a band called The Bob Barker Bloodbath which could be considered the true beginning. After a hiatus to finish school and explore rock bottom we came back together having all found our way to Los Angeles and formed what is now GLHM. The sound is a melting pot of our different influences. We have attempted to be free of the shackles of the pigeonholed subgenre heavy music seems to fall into. The name was given by our good friend Dano, coined as the most pretentious band name possible. It has also come to represent the great influence, catharsis and power that music (particularly metal) has over all people and how regardless of one opinion over another the Grand Lord High Master endures as pure creation.

The band's sound is not very easy to categorize. How would you describe it yourself?

We generally refer to it as a sort of aggro-psychedelia or thrashjazz, but not really. Honestly, we tend to avoid categorizing ourselves as we feel it sets the precedent of expectation that people love to misinterpret as their own idea instead of, you know, listening and just calling it cool or shit. I just hope we aren't in the shit side.

What were the inspirations behind the debut album and how would you compare it next to your previous EP releases?

We are a blend of influences ranging in drums, a great respect for jazz, hip hop, and experimental madness. Also Zach Hill, that dude's rad. The guitar has obviously been influenced by Dimebag who carried the weight of the hair metal baggage, with a thrash edge that was gained touring with a thrash band called Destruction's End. There is also a deep respect for experimental noise and soul/blues guitar that lends a beautiful, if not bastardized style of shred. The vocals are ugly things, sang in an ugly way for ugly people to enjoy, heavily influenced by classic punk mixed with hardcore and a dash of visceral poetry. These are the core influences that should stand out but are simply a foundation to build upon a bigger and bigger sound to be achieved. 

The EP was recorded at the Tygers Den by another Apple Valley native, JR Kurtz, and was a great way for us to wrap our heads around what we had started. Comparably, I would say it is much brighter and more raw than the finished album but it has a sort of freshness and excitement that comes from its lack of production that kind of makes me think of that "ahhh" sound the commercials insist everyone does after drinking soda.

A rough description I'd give about the album would be that it sounds like a super extreme version of Pantera, combined with the more contemporary adroitness of Converge. Is there any particular comparison to another band you've heard or read about GLHM that you feel the most flattered by? Or the opposite maybe?

While the Pantera influence is undeniable, we have been compared to so many different bands it's almost like our name might actually bear some meaning. Great innovators such as Mastodon,Tool and Refused we don't mind the comparison, but a lot of the more mid 2000 hardcore stuff we get compared to is a little off putting. We aren't tough guys and that flexing camaraderie is for the birds.

How do you see metal holding up in 2017? Especially the more extreme aspects of it?

As a genre I feel metal music tends to paint itself in a corner by being far too exclusive, which has caused it to stagnate in the exploding internet music scene. All in all, extreme music has begun to rise again given the extreme world we are now painfully aware of. With that being said, if some good evolution can take place then I believe metal music could be poised to be a strong influential force over the sound waves, possibly even breaking back into popular culture and not in the ironic just a cool t-shirt. "Hey, look I'm edgy cause I wear skulls and snakes way." It could possibly even be considered a complex art that challenges notions of taste and gives people the freedom to express their frustrations and resentments by finally screaming out into the world to fuck off. Maybe.

What do you mostly listen to these days?

Billy Cobham.

With all the craziness going on in the world at the moment, would you consider yourselves politically active as a band in any way?

Not active. More like goading. Or satirical, as we all try to keep a fairly strong sense of humor about it. Lyrically there is a lot of influence by older punk and thrash that lends a fairly heavy political edge, as it should, being that is the core perpetrator of a lot of people's anger in the world. That being said, our political motivations are simply to rouse people out of the bullshit they tend to simply allow these troglodytes in power to dump on them like hungry maggot, and instead give birth to a glorious fly, enjoying its buzzing drift of freedom till the inevitable short existence is ended by swat or sweat. At 4:40 of our song AXIOM you get the gist of it.

GLHM is based in California. The words “Los Angeles” are drawn on the album's cover. Have your surroundings influenced the music in any way and how?

Definitely. Though the ground level was growing up in a desert where there is not much more to do than drugs or music, Los Angeles was the place to get to as an escape from that fresh aired open ranged prison. Ultimately the album is about that disenfranchised feeling you get when you come to LA and find the dream is dead and its corpse is bought and sold as a novelty for transplants. This realization that the pretty shell with a hot fart inside it makes you wonder why everyone wants to stick their nose in it. Pretty much the story of Cattle Call on the album. Truthfully, we love LA and our album hopefully helps to illustrate the grit and diversity that makes this city so great.

The album's cover looks incredible. Who did the semi-abstract art and how do you see it connecting to the actual music?

It is actually a chalk wall that had been thoroughly coated by all the passers of our rehearsal space known to most as the Tygers Den. Just as this album is a culmination of artistic efforts with a GLHM edit, so is the cover. The reverse name design was done by our original bassist, Ruben, also from Apple Valley (you getting that invasion vibe yet?) who left recently to pursue his own art.

After the album's release, what comes next for GLHM?

At this moment we plan to bang around Los Angeles and play live as often as we can. We are currently working on new material and expanding our sound and chops. We have contributed to a few compilations that will be released within the year. Our goal is to keep pressing forward and keep surprising our listeners, maybe get them to expand themselves as well and join us in the revelation. Maybe scrounge up enough dough to bake another album or just get baked ourselves.

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