A Chat with Chad Gracey
From Megaphone Fanzine issue #2, July-August 1995
This interview was conducted by a Lancaster radio station with Gracey in December, 1994.
Q - Now, we know you guys are from York, are you all from York, or some from Lancaster?
Chad - We're all from York. Ed lives in Lancaster, right at this, at the moment, yes.
Q - Okay, how'd you guys get together?
Chad - We started in the 8th grade, actually, about 1985. We were all friends, and we discovered that we all played the instruments that made up a band, or a traditional rock band, so we just started playing together just for something to do, 'cos York's pretty boring, and uh, especially when you're 13 or 14, and so, y'know, it was just fun. We did a lot of covers at first...started writing originals in, about 1988, 87, something like that.
Q - You noted that you did a lot of covers in the beginning...who did you like to play a lot?
Chad - We covered what was called "New Wave" then, like REM and U2, the Cure, Simple Minds. We did stuff by the Power Station, we did INXS. And stuff like that.
Q - So, do you list them as your like, sort of cliché question, but, your main influences, then?
Chad - REM and U2 were probably some of the biggest, because they were two bands that, when we started listening to them, they were youngin their careers, and, y'know, they've gone so far now and they're just two bands that we really, like, I think, want to kind of emulate in a way. In the fact that they had a really long career and, y'know, we'd like our career to kinda be like theirs, that sort of thing, but yeah, their music definitely influenced us in a way. I mean, it's pretty apparent in "Selling the Drama", you can hear some of the REM in that. And I really learned to play drums from listening to Larry Mullen, he was one of my big influences.
Q - Tell me about your first show. What was your first show, like the first show you ever did...or any kind of group, and where was it?
Chad - The first show we ever did was without Ed. Before Ed got into the group, it was just Chad, Patrick, and myself. We were an instrumental and we did a middle school talent show in 8th grade and that was our very, very first show.
Q - How'd you guys do?
Chad - We won! All the money....twenty dollars!!!
Q - Twenty bucks?
Chad - Went to the mall, went crazy...
Q - Arcade, right?
Chad - Yeah, arcade, and...pizza (laughs).
Q - What was, how about the first show with Ed, then? What was that?
Chad - What was our first show? Our first show with Ed was, there used to be this thing in York called the "Temple Dance." And it was at one of the Jewish temples, and they had, like a dance, an annual dance, they called it the dance, but it was, y'know, like a place where live bands would play. And all these kids would show up, and we did one one year, and that was like, the first...well, actually, we filled in for a band.
Q - Really?
Chad - They were playing, and we asked if we could play between their sets, and we played, like, three songs. So that was like the first show we actually did with Ed in front of people. It was a blast.
Q - It was?
Chad - Yeah.
Q - Did you do, I assume you did parties, and things like that before going to the Chameleon. How did you get a gig at the Chameleon?
Chad - How'd we do that? Uh, no, we sent our tape to Rich. We had a tape, I forget what was on it but Rich Ruoff, the owner, we sent him a tape. And he liked it, and he, we opened for some band, y'know, like the first time we played there, we opened for...oooh...I can't even remember who it was. Some band that was from, y'know, playing regionally, y'know, just, I don't even know if they're together anymore. And he just kept putting us on the front of, opening for different bands, and eventually he gave us our own show. We played there one night, and like 200 people showed up, and he just kept putting us on until we were selling it out. Y'know, well before Mental Jewelry was even made, we were selling out the Chameleon, which was pretty cool for us. And once the record came out, y'know, it was, we had a really strong base there.
Q - Your current album, Throwing Copper...it's done extremely well. Do you notice a difference between the first album and the second album, or was it mostly timing that made the second one, y'know, really popular?
Chad - Ah, no, we, I mean, we have grown as musicians from the first to the second record. We've grown as people. I think that we've gotten better at writing songs, become more mature songwriters...uh, just basic things like that, um...HEY!
Q - How does it feel to come back to...Lancaster's not your hometown, but your hometown area...to perform in front of people that maybe you know or grew up with?
Chad - It's really great, y'know, most of our local fan base is in Lancaster, because we played the Chameleon A LOT before we, even before we had a record deal. So, like I said, a lot of our local fans are here so it's good to come back and play F & M, because it's in Lancaster so the old, y'know, the people that used to come to the Chameleon to support us can come see us and be comfortable, instead of cramming into the Chameleon.
Q - Do you find that people recognize you from videos, or, well you were on David Letterman, right?
Chad - Uh-huh.
Q - I watched that. Do you find that people recognize you and come up to you and ask for autographs and such?
Chad - Ahh, not me personally. Ed gets a little more of it, just 'cos he's the lead singer. But, I've pretty much kept my anonymity (pronounced very slowly). Had to say that slow, just to make sure I got it out. (Laughs)
Q - That's why he's on radio, and we're not interviewing him on TV. He wants to keep that anonymity. Okay, what's the funniest thing that has ever happened to you as a person, or, as a group, like from fans, or whatnot?
Chad - Ohhhh...
Q - Anyone rip your clothes off...? (embarassed giggle)
Chad - We had this, we had this girl, who...Chad and I were in San Francisco, eating sushi at this restaurant, and this girl, like pops in, comes up to our table, like, hits me in the shoulder and goes, "Hey Gracey!". I look up at her and I'm like, "Who's this?". I've never seen her before in my life, y'know. And she's like, "This is what you get for being famous." So, she sits down at our table, and starts jabbering to Chad and I. And she had followed us all the way from like, LA. We had been, y'know, in LA, and San Diego and Riverside and she had been to all those places. And she told us all these things that we had done and she had watched us do and she basically was, like, stalking us...and finally came to us, and was like, (affects voice of psycho freak stalker), "Yeah, I've been, y'know, why were you guys...I saw you guys go eat breakfast at The Source in LA and I saw Ed go to the Viper Room at 2 am..." and just all this weird stuff, and we were like, "Ohhh-kay...".
Q - Did you feel threatened?
Chad - She wanted to meet Ed, that was her whole lot in life, and uh, she never did it, though (laughs). But she had stalked him and followed us all around. It was just weird.
Q - Did you feel threatened by her, or was it just...?
Chad - No, I didn't feel threatened. It was just really strange to know that someone had been watching us so closely and we never even had any indication at all. Except when she told us, of course. We were just kinda freaked.
Q - Yeah, do you find that people from this area do that? Because you're from here, or do you think they're less timid...?
Chad - Not anybody that's told us, and we really haven't y'know, really, I mean, we've seen people that are from this area that come to a lot of our shows. But they're mostly people that we already know, so I mean, it's not like a complete stranger that follows us around, but...
Q - Okay, well, let's get personal...
Chad - Ohhh-kay.
Q - Alright, your music covers social issues, and personal issues.
Chad - Um-hmmm.
Q - First, tell me what the song "White, discussion" means.
Chad - "White, discussion" is just about, it's about how a lot of people, y'know, talk a lot about everything and never really do anything about it. And I guess the scenario of the song is that it's the end of the world, the world's coming to an end in some shape or form, and it's two people having a discussion about how they've talked all their lives and never, y'know, took any action. And now it's too late to do anything about it.
Q - Is that something that you feel you've done? Or, by watching other people...?
Chad - It's just a general statement about the world in general. About how people rely on the government and religion and everything else to do things for them and never do them for themselves. I'm not saying that we're not guilty of it but, y'know, it's just a general..
Q - Fact of life?
Chad - Yeah, it's a fact of life, basically, yeah.
Q - Alright, who writes the songs? All of you as a group, or one person?
Chad - We all write the music. Ed writes the melody and the lyrics.
Q - Okay, let's see...the personal issues that you deal with in your music..What exactly do you find yourselves writing your songs mostly about...? Like, romance? Family?
Chad - Well, Ed writes...lyrics. The lyrics from this record, Throwing Copper, are more personal and they're just about life experiences that he has had. Or things that he has, y'know, seen in life and witnessed in life, y'know, nothing really specific. But, the things on Mental Jewelry were more kind of about...self revolution. So they took on some social issues. Such as the things we just talked about, like, y'know, governments and religion, and those sorts of things, ruling everyone's lives. And basically, those things haven't worked yet. They really haven't solved anything, and the way things are really gonna be solved is if people look into themselves and change themselves and not rely on someone else to do it for them. PHEW!!
Q - Okay, that was good...If you look at the way Mental Jewelry...it wasn't really publicized as an album. It didn't, y'know, reach besides college radio...Do you think that because that was about more political, social issues and Throwing Copper is about more personal issues, do you think that if, or when, you make a third album...Is that going to be more personal?
Chad - Well, it's hard to say at this point; we don't know. Ed said all he had to say on the topics on Mental Jewelry and, y'know, I'm sure that the lyrics on the third record are probably going to be more in the vein of Throwing Copper, just because that's a much more broad and general kind of subject. Personal, what he sees and does with his personal life, y'know...Oh yeah!! (laughs).
Q - Is there a third one in the making?
Chad - Oh sure, yeah! Yeah, Live's gonna make a lot of records. There'll be a third, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, an eighth...
Q - All right!
Chad - All that stuff...
Q - Sounds good. Is it difficult to have any kind of relationships in your life right now...be it family, or a friendship, or a girlfriend type thing?
Chad - Well, Chad the guitarist is married and that seems to be going all right. And I have a pretty serious girlfriend that I've had for about a year and a half who lives in Oregon, and, uh....
Q - Wow!
Chad - You just have to get used to it, y'know. I kind of, just from being on the road, I knew that I was gonna meet somebody that...I knew it was inevitable that I was gonna meet somebody far away. But it really doesn't matter because I'm always on the road, so it doesn't matter where she lives. But, y'know, we just had, both of us, it took a little while to get used to the fact that I wasn't gonna be around all the time. but we seem to be doing all right so far with it!
Q - Okay, well, relationships in mind, or family, or otherwise...do you plan on being in a band indefinitely? Do you have another career in mind that is a second passion type thing, or is it mostly the band?
Chad - The band is always going to be our main, our main job, if you wanna call it that. Y'know, we're all committed to making music for a long time. And that's the only thing that we really...that the four of us can really do, y'know, right now. Without going to school or something like that. So...and we all love it so much, it's like, why, y'know, why try to do anything else when we're loving this and it's really going well?
Q - Perfectly said. How did you feel on David Letterman?
Chad - Actually, I was really not nervous at all on David Letterman. I was more nervous, we played Jon Stewart the other night. I was more nervous on that for some reason. I don't know. Maybe it was because it was so cold in the Letterman studio. He keeps it, like, 48 degrees. So, it was like walking into an icebox. But it was a lot of fun and he's really into the band.
Q - How do you get rid of your anxiety before you go out on stage?
Chad - I lose it as soon as I play my first beat on the drums. So, I don't...I'm kinda nervous when I go...well, lately, though, I haven't been nervous at all because we've been doing the same set and the same songs for like, 8 weeks, 9 weeks now. And, it's just like, walk out and sit down and I'm ready to go.
Q - Okay, what's your favorite to play? Favorite song?
Chad - I don't have one favorite. I like playin' them all. For real!!