15 Oct 2019
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The Stungrenades - Interview with The Stungrenades

20 Apr 2019 // An interview by Kerry Kingi

Punk rock band The Stungrenades are on fire at the moment having released their latest album Class War: Fight Back! in 2017. These New Plymouth based punk rockers are not afraid to tell you how it is. Kerry from Muzic.net.nz spoke to Craig, the mastermind who founded The Stungrenades. Craig has been extremely busy within the punk rock scene for years and it seems there's no stopping for them!

I'm aware that you have been involved in bands for years now, how many bands have you been involved with? And how did The Stungrenades come about?

My first attempt at a band was in 1997 at Taradale High School, playing Nirvana covers. We never really did anything except try to play along to the songs, I had been taking informal drum lessons with a dude around the corner from home. It wasn’t until I moved to New Plymouth in 2000 that I started being in bands that were writing our own songs and using whatever methods were available to record demos and stuff. I had played some house parties with bands, but my first proper PPP (Pub, Posters and P.A) gig was as the Drummer for Fusion Inc who became the Evil Dead Crew opening for Flesh D-Vice at the Red Room in the White Hart Hotel, an iconic New Plymouth venue. Off the top of my head, I think The Stungrenades is my 13th band that’s managed to get out of the practice room. A lot of those have been with my mate Von Toxic, and include Horror Story, Nekrotika and Dead City Rockers.

In 2013, an old band of mine Shut The Hell Up! Played a reunion show after a 3-year hiatus, opening for The Hard On's from Australia, it was great being onstage again playing Punk Rock music, but I wasn’t sure rehashing an old band was the way to go forward. I met T-Boner around that time, and we started just making noise in my garage, him on guitar and myself on drums, playing some Stooges and Misfits songs to get a feel for things, we got a demo down of a few original songs that we had been working on, shorter and faster than the STHU! Type of punk that we were playing at the time. A couple of drummers jammed with us, but it never felt right until I convinced Cam from Three Ugly Shmucks to join us, which was a double stroke of luck, because I had told our STHU! Bass player Scotty (Also from Three Ugly Shmucks) that there was always a spot for him in The Stungrenades, as I like his style of playing, and he’s a great dude to be around as well. With Cam on board, Scotty joined in as well. We were never in a hurry to get this band going, it was good being able to do it at our own pace and on our own terms. We chucked together a demo called Give Us a Hoon which has most of the songs found on our first album Front Toward Enemy.

How many albums have The Stungrenades released? And how can people find your music?

The Stungrenades have released two full-length albums Front Toward Enemy from 2015 and Class War: Fight Back from 2017. There have been a couple of CD singles released and some limited-edition Lathe Cut records of singles and the first album. All of those have sold out, as have all CD version of the second album. There’s still a handful of the first album available on CD, but Bandcamp and Spotify have both albums. Vinyl Countdown in New Plymouth have been great in supporting local bands and stocking our stuff and making it available through their website as well.

What are your best and worse venues you have played at?

It’s a hard one, because each venue has its own things going for and against it, a shitty room run by a great crew can be excellent, but a “proper venue” run by arseholes isn’t worth bothering with. I’ve been really impressed by the Whammy crew in Auckland and would love to go back there, some of the bigger venues we’ve played at have been good, but that’s only really been for International support slots throughout our career. As long as there is somewhere to play, be it a house, or a venue, or even the back of a truck on a farm (I once split my pants in front of 200 bikers!) and the people can enjoy it, then that’s all that matters really.

What's your motivation for making the music you make? What's your creative process?

I love Punk Rock. Unapologetically We are a punk band that mixes our influences, from the UK82 stuff like GBH, Exploited, to the American Hardcore scene like Black Flag, Circle Jerks etc. I listen to a lot of different music, but I wanted The Stungrenades to be a punk band, short sharp, angsty punk rock. The audience gets assaulted by rhythm and is left wondering “What the fuck was that???”. Our songs are short, and we play 2 or 3 in a row before we stop to catch our breath. Bang bang bang like a flash-bang grenade, a stun grenade!

Our motivation is it’s our outlet, we are working class, with families, and the type of music we want to play will never make us rich and famous, it isn’t about that, it’s about having a hobby that lets us let off some steam, have a beer or 2 with the boys and when it’s possible, play a live show, or record. We are extremely lucky to have Cam Grenade and his recording gear, he has done an amazing job on our 2 albums so far, and it’s good to be able to record at our own pace, without worrying about costs and things like that. If we feel like a take could be done better, we can just go ahead and do it, having short songs means we only lost a minute of time anyway, smash it out again and see how it goes.

As far as our creative process goes, I mostly write with a good hook, or something short and fast. Lyrically I write about the usual punk rock stuff, war, politics, beer and our friends. I’m not out to be a poetic romantic or anything, I just wanna write good old Punk Rock songs. Everyone chips in with riffs or complete songs as I don’t want this to be a “Craig and the Such and Suchs” type band. Tony and I wrote a few songs by ourselves before anyone else joined, but Scotty quickly bought some great songs in, and Cam does his thing on the drums and recording. I’m extremely lucky and grateful to have those 3 guys with me and we have become the best unit we can be. Due to work and family commitments, we can’t get together every weekend, and that’s fair enough as we will never be able to make a living off this band so it becomes a hobby, earn a living and look after the family first, We have kids from babies to teenagers and at 35, I’m the youngest in the band. We just try to have fun with what we have and when we can have it.

Who are your influences? Who are you inspired by?

Again, we are unashamedly a Punk Rock band. We all listen to and like a lot of different music, but we narrowed down what The Stungrenades is and we do our thing. There’s still a lot of bands in New Plymouth playing punk, metal, rock and all the other genres out there, which is cool. Hateseeker, Souls of Hades and 80 Grit are doing quite well, and we have all been friends and band mates for years so it’s good that there’s still a scene here. It’s nowhere near what it used to be though, and that comes down to a number of factors, the next generation not getting into live original music, the older generation of punk and metal fans are moving on with their lives if they make it, as a lot of them haven’t. Nostalgia is all well and good, and I appreciate it more as I get older, but we are about the here and now. One important life lesson I’ve learnt is that nothing lasts forever. Enjoy what you have at the time, with the people you are with, because it can all change. Band mates die, venues close, bands break up, albums never get released. Longevity teaches us this, so we just do what we can, while we do it.

What's coming up for The Stungrenades in the future?

We have 5 songs for a new album, when that comes out, I don’t know, but we aren’t in a rush. The CD versions of our first two albums have nearly sold out, so any re-releases will be both albums on one CD as I believe in giving good value for money. We don’t do deluxe editions with extra songs or anything like that. There is a lot of competition for people's money from all angles, so if someone can spare 10 or 15 bucks on one of our CD’s I’d like to think I am giving them good value for that money. As for immediate plans? We are just going to keep doing what we are doing, in our own time and on our own terms

What advice would you have for someone following in your footsteps?

You gotta decide what you wanna be pretty early on. If you’re chasing fame and fortune you gotta do what that entails, keeping up with the latest trends and coming up with marketing plans and treat your music like a business, wearing the right clothes and making music come secondary to your goals of stardom. Otherwise you can take the route we have and play what we want, how we want it and if anything good comes from it, album sales, international support slots etc, that that’s awesome and we are grateful for every opportunity and sale that has come our way.

 

About The Stungrenades

The Stungrenades are flash bang, not flash in the pan.

Born out desperation, fuelled by the promise that punk rock can be a threat again, it might be a sunny day, but work is sparse, wages are down and the bastards in power have declared class war!

The Stungrenades are an answer to a question that should be asked, How can pre-packaged rebellion take on the establishment? You won't see them in bondage pants and leather jackets, we are working class, at work they wear overalls or shorts and t-shirts for the builders among them.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Stungrenades

Releases

Class War: Fight Back!
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Front Toward Enemy
Year: 2015
Type: Album

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