Thee Gravemen

Thee Gravemen
Interview by Lucky (SugarBuzz Hollywood)

Walking through the ancient cemetery I proceeded past a gargoyle monument and continued to the last tombstone on the left. There, illuminated by a full moon, I could see two top hat wearing gentlemen shoveling dirt and then pausing to wipe the sweat from their brow. I had found them at last. Sir Lee Tea and Devilish Daz were on the job, and I convinced them to take a break for a chat about all things Thee Gravemen. The following is a transcript of what was conveyed.

Where are you from and where are you going?

Lee: From UK to Malmö , Sweden and going to any town that wants some primitive R’n'R action!

Darren: We are from England, living in Sweden and on the way to England!

What is you earliest rock and roll memory?

Lee: Looking through my dads old 50′s & 60′s 45′s and finding the Troggs ‘wild thing’, Red river rock – Johnny & the Hurricanes and Monster Mash, never looked back!

Darren: When Elvis died.

Were you “different” as a child?

Lee: I had more hair.

Darren: Yes, I was a lot smaller and could not play the drums, well I still can’t but I am a lot taller. I used to wear shorts all year round and have hats on in bed but nothing really different, well not that my parents have told me.

When and where was Thee Gravemen conceived?

Lee: Thee Gravemen was conceived end of 2009 ish after we played a Johnny Cash tribute night as a one off gig, we decided to carry on, but couldn’t find a stand-up bass player. So after a few rehearsals with just guitar and drums thought sod it lets do a two-man trash combo!

Darren: Thee Gravemen started around autumn 2009 when we started rehearsing for a one off Johnny Cash Party and after Lee Tea consistently annoying me about starting a 2 man band for weeks on end so in the end I gave in!

What people, places or things get you the excited?

Lee: People who dig graves, graveyards and anything with alcohol in it!

Darren: All kinds of rockers, anywhere cool that has an underground scene or has a good vibe, love live gigs and festivals, and I love cups of British tea and slices of toast.

What is your favorite instrument?

Lee: the Theremin it scares the shit out of me!! still!

Darren:  My fav instrument is a bass! Got to start a band with a bass!

Is there a “significant other” in your life?

Lee: ahhh thee others, my girlfriend Johanna and son Alfie.

Darren: Yep, she goes by the name of Christeen Sixteen.

Are you collectors of any items we should know about?

Lee: apart from the boring stuff like old records, I got a lot of old microphones from 40′s – 70′s (I use a lot of them for recording our records), I also have far too many old guitars and basses I guess that counts as a collection :-)

Darren: I got a small collection starting of framed Jesus paintings and models. I am decorating the toilet room with holly artifacts!

We are really excited about your new album on Dirty Water Records. Please tell us about the new record, including but not limited to, album name, favorite tracks, studio snafus, and formats that will be available for purchase.  Where can SugarBuzz readers get this and other Gravemen stuff?

Lee: Yep the new LP will be out in few weeks, we had a problem finding a title, so in the end settled for just Gravemen.

Favourite tracks are the ones I didn’t get bored with after 5 days of mixing, I guess “My Witch”, “Hey There Pretty Baby”, “Shake it” and “Werewolf”  all came out really good, but also very pleased with how “Green Fuz” turned out, we tried to do a mix between the original Randy Alvey version and the excellent version by the Cramps, I think it worked. All in all I think its a pretty good mix across the tomb of trashy, horror inspired rock’n'roll, with a few surprises in there.  Like “Let There Be Drums” which was a last minute addition, we were in the recording studio and just thought fuck it lets see if we can do it, it came out pretty good for a one-take after-thought I think, so it went on the LP.

The LP was recorded in our own studio the ‘Grave-Cave’ using mostly vintage tape echo, spring reverb and old mic’s onto an 8 track tape machine! Using the old shit gear definitely got us the right vibe to the LP!

I think its out on Vinyl and download only, CD’s are dead it seems. To get hold of the stuff probably best go to Dirty Water Records website they have  list of all dealers who sell the records.

There seems to be a tribal undertow to your music, has this ever caused mass hypnosis or hysteria at your shows?
Lee: Pretty much all the time, in order to counter balance the hysteria at shows we both sit down and speak very slowly kinda like Lurch! It helps a bit, but usually we just end up joining in the hysteria and taking our clothes off!

Darren: Yes, we often have to slip in a bit of a mellower kind of song sometimes when it starts getting a bit over the top.

Have you ever or plan to tour America?

Lee: not exactly, haven’t really thought about venturing that far from the graveyard yet, but if someone was to make us offer we cant refuse we’d be over in a shot, hint hint!

Darren: We nearly came a year or so ago but it all fell through unfortunately. We are just waiting for an invite?

Are germs your friends?

Lee: Germs are no friend of mine, unless you mean the LA punk band?

Darren: Not sure about germs, but Germans are cool.

I am going to take my girl on a picnic this week, where do you recommend this take place and why?

Lee: Highgate Cemetery, London, cause its nice.

Darren: You should forget the picknick, its not that time of year. Just bring her to our release party at a lovely little pub in London called the Stags Head. There will be 3 bands, Thee Gravemen, The Rippers, and the Toyotas and the Dirty Water Record dj crew plus the pub has real English ale on draught! And its FREE entrance!

Should I bring protection?

Lee: yes bring an umbrella its always raining there.

Darren: Well that depends if you are planning a family or no.

What kind of car do you drive? Please share your fondest memory of said vehicle.

Lee: I’m currently driving a 1986 Chevrolet G20 van, with sexy red velour interior!
Fond memories - well it sounds like a beast and its got a sexy red interior and looks like a burlesque club inside!

Darren: I have an old battered black Opel Rekord from 64 but I am waiting for new brakes, so if yo see me coming you’d better step aside (sounds like a song) My fondest memorys of every car I have is that when I arrange concerts in our home town Malm, I usually have the car parked outside as kind of a backstage area, and the boot full of beer and vodka.

Name 3 artists that have had a major impact on music history, and why?

Lee: well The Cramps as they are pretty much the reason I am doing this sorta stuff in the first place, a real big influence, they introduced so many great records to the world including Green Fuz! They also managed to do what most bands struggle to do and make the covers sound better than the original. I guess next it would be the Damned as I managed to see them a lot when I was young  and they kinda showed that even if your a big band you don’t have to be slick and tight, and Dave Vanian’s dracula look was something I really dug! Then probably the Milkshakes and Headcoats, as around the late 80′s there wasn’t much in UK music that sounded honest and real raw rock’n'roll, they saved the day!

Darren: Elvis Presley for kicking jazz and western swing music up the arse and putting the party back into music and spreading the rock n roll sound world wide. Lux interior/Cramps for being one half hillbilly and one half punk, a kind of Elvis Rotten. John Lydon/Johnny Rotten, because he got the music scene back on track and continued playing what he wants. He takes a lot of bollocks from the industry and people as a whole, but then he likes to say the word bollocks a fair bit as well. If it wasn’t for him then maybe PUNK as we know it would have only been a slang word.

Rumor has it that the Grim Reaper is a close personal friend of yours, what type of bloke is he really?

Lee: Yes, he started hanging around us quite early on, in the end we just said ‘well seeing as your at pretty much every gig, you might as well get on stage and be a part of the show’ he was vey happy. By the way did you know he wears red and white Y fronts? We have photographic evidence.

Darren: He is a good mate of ours; he spends a lot of time in Norway but pops up now and again when we play. He will be with us this weekend aswell in London. He is a crap dancer, but he knows loads of sexy women and he has got a bloody great record collection. His favorite comedian is the late great Tommy Cooper from the UK and if he had the choice he would rather be on stage telling a joke and having a laugh in the pub rather than being depressing old death!

What type of creature attends a Thee Gravemen show?

Lee: dunno, people with really weird music tastes I guess ;-)

Darren: Quite often we have crazed lunatics jumping up and down and pushing into each other, but then sometimes we have kind of zombie looking people that just stare at us and you know they are thinking “where is the bass player” so never a dull moment!

Have you ever been in a haunted house?

Lee: Yes, didn’t see any ghosts though, my constant farting all night probably scared them off.
Darren: Yes, my wife said that our summer cabin is haunted, and when Dead Elvis, and The Black Magic Six came to stay the night after a gig things fell off the walls and strange noises were heard. She said she caught the ghost on camera but I have never seen the picture because I am scarred of ghosts.

Are you fans of the cinema? If so, what is your favorite genre and do drop titles.

Lee: Well thats easy!! Car chase movies, Bullitt. And also horror, the hammer house of hour UK 60′s/70′s films with Vincent Price, Peter Cushing etc, like Dracula AD 1972 is a face and Dracula has Risen from the Grave, The Witches etc. Also the other Hammer films like Slave Girls and The Creatures the World Forgot.

Darren: Hate the cinema! Hate sitting with loads of other people munching bloody popcorn and taking the arm rests on both sides!!!!  Although saying that I had a great memory of an all night cinema show in London years ago, it was all night Mad Max and Blade Runner. There were about 20 friends that went and the cinema was full of punks, bikers, rockers etc etc the popcorn was exchanged for drugs and booze. Fabulous night!

Do you have a “day job” or do you just “work nights”?

Lee: I’m carpenter by day and teenage werewolf by night…hmmm, I think that’s the beginning of a new song :-)

Darren: Well living in Sweden it is always night! So yeah I guess we work just nights. Unfortunately we are not making as much money from the “garage” scene as the likes of Jay Cee or Beyonce or whatever their names are, so we take any old jobs going.

Is less more?

Lee: no more is more

Darren: Well I think so as when Lee Tea turns his Spinal Tap like amplifier up to notch 11, one guitar certainly sounds like more!

Any plans for Halloween?

Lee: yes hopefully to scare the shit out of people in London! We play the Dome on 28 October with the Fuzztones, Gravedigger V and Higher State and then a record release party Saturday with the Dirty Water gang!

Darren: Yep, we will be in rainy old polluted smelly loud and dirty London playing a couple shows and drinking some cider and ale and maybe having a curry or 2.