It’s been about four years since Graveface Records put on a music festival, but the label is returning in a big way.
The Mini Graveface Fest at The Jinx is a showcase for some of the best bands and music coming out of the Graveface record label, albeit with a smaller line-up than past fest’s.
“It’s just a way of scratching that itch for me and doing it in a cheaper way, because before it would be eight to 12 bands,” Ryan Graveface, owner of Graveface Records said. “This is all, in my opinion, heavy hitting bands,..with the exception of my own band maybe.”
Headlining the mini-fest are emo/post-rock legends, The Appleseed Cast, from Lawrence, Kansas. Ryan has been a fan of Appleseed Cast since their 2000 release, “Mare Vitalis (Deep Elm).”
When Ryan saw the band play a show in 2003, he asked them if he could put out the vinyl release of their latest album at the time, “Two Conversations (Tiger Style),” and to his surprise the band unhesitatingly said, “Yes.”
“Now they record for me instead of me just licensing the vinyl rights,” Graveface said. “It’s been a pretty wild journey, because at the end of high school they were my favorite band, so it’s crazy to think that I’m almost 40 and I’m still working with them and they’re still one of my favorite bands.”
Graveface recently released The Appleseed Cast’s latest single, “Time the Destroyer,” and their new full length LP, “The Fleeting Light of Impermanence,” is out on June 28.
“This new LP is literally one of the best albums I’ve ever heard from any band,” Graveface added. “I don’t say that about anything. It’s just so advanced from what is happening in music. It’s crazy good.”
Also on the lineup is L.A.’s Tennis System. The punk/shoegaze trio have a new album coming out on Graveface Records in August. “I like the direction they’re going,” Graveface said of the new material. “It feels very youthful, but very dramatic in a very good way...Youthful is the only word that comes to me because I can’t think of a better word.”
After some consideration, Graveface decided on a better description of Tennis System: “Zippy, how about that. Dreamend is the opposite. Dreamend is not zippy.”
Graveface, used to play in the enigmatic psych-rock band, Black Moth Super Rainbow, and his current bands include Marshmallow Ghosts and Casket Girls, but Dreamend is his solo project. For Dreamend’s mini-fest performance, Graveface (guitar and vocals) is going to be joined by the two, green-haired drummers from The Flaming Lips.
“It’s a sad bastard sort of project,” Graveface said. “I think with the two drummers from the Lips that should help live.”
Graveface had used double drummers for Dreamend gigs in the past and loved the results. “It’s raucous,” he said. “It was awesome. It was almost like a punk band, but it’s got that visceral sort of energy.”
The drumming duo from The Flaming Lips are Matt Duckworth and Nick Ley. When not rocking with the Lips, they call themselves Brothers Griiin and put on high energy DJ sets at afterparties and other gigs. The Dreamend collaboration is something new for them that they are looking forward to.
“We both play together in the Lips, but we never really do double drumming,” Duckworth said. “One person will play drums and one person will do samplers. It’s going to be a new thing for us, to both be on kits playing…I think we’re going to come up with our own version of Dreamend, and our own version of that set and see what happens.”
Brothers Griiin are not just in Savannah for a gig, but for an artist residency through an organization called Six Twelve that trades artists between Oklahoma City, Chicago and Savannah. “We’ve been slowly working on a record of original music and we’re going to do this residency down in Savannah and try to, not necessarily finish it, but work on it for a solid ten days,” Duckworth explained. “It’s going to be a cool record. We’ve put some rules on ourselves as far as making music that it has to be something we can DJ. It has to be uptempo and danceable. We’re going to try to collaborate with some Savannah artists and get creative for a couple weeks.”
Graveface Records is assisting with the residency and will probably release the final project on their label. Duckworth’s other band, Stardeath and White Dwarfs, is also on Graveface. “We’re definitely excited to work with the Graveface folks,” Duckworth said. “Just making this music, but also making art, working on a record cover, taking pictures, and just doing everything we can while there.”
During the five years that they have spent with the Flaming Lips, Duckworth and Ley have learned a lot from the seasoned band of fearless freaks.
“I always tell people most of the lessons I learned from the Lips are less about music and more about work ethic and accountability,” Duckworth explained. “Musically what I’ve learned, and I think it helps me and Nick a lot, is to have an open mind and say ‘yes’ to everything...not being afraid to follow an idea down a road.”
The strong lineup for Mini Graveface Fest highlights the adventurous variety of amazing music that has been coming out of the Graveface label for two decades. While other bigger labels have focused on one genre or tone to build their roster, Ryan has cultivated a uniquely diverse catalog of weird and wonderful sounds.
“If I had been smarter I would have not released based on emotion, but released based on business, because I put out stuff I know is going to fail and it does,” Graveface said. “No matter how much money I funnel into PR and marketing, it’s just stuff that I like and it will never translate. But, at the end of the day, that’s also what helps me sleep is knowing that I have this 20-year catalog of stuff that, for the most part, I’m very proud of.”