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Grace Falls


Grace Falls is a rather cryptic name for a band, like one of those oxymoronic phrases such as ‘jumbo shrimp’ or ‘military intelligence’. However, the name also implies something of a yin and yang balance, as well as the image of an angel falling from heaven.

While Grace Falls’ founding member and guitarist Dean Taylor-Levey isn’t exactly a fallen angel, he certainly has a dark side. In a past life, Dean carved out an international reputation making frightening real replicas of horror movie props. For legal reasons he is unable to divulge exactly which replicas he made from exactly which movies, but suffice it to say that Dean is on a first name basis with actor Robert Englund who played Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Dean has given up attending horror film conventions since immigrating to New Zealand, focusing instead on his music … Grace Falls in particular.

With an accessible rock sound that sits somewhere between the Goo Goo Dolls, Foo Fighters and Counting Crows, Dean says that everything surrounding the band’s formation was guided by a magical intertwining that was equal parts coincidence and destiny.

“We all crossed paths or connected in some way before Grace Fails without knowing it,” he says. “I read about the band’s assistant producer in the book that inspired me to move to New Zealand from Liverpool, England, without knowing I would end up working with him.” Dean has something of a MySpace habit … a rather healthy habit which has netted Grace Falls almost 20,000 fans worldwide, over 330,000 plays of their songs, as well as regularly featuring in the Top 10 of NZ bands. It was while surfing MySpace that Dean was first impressed by a recording of Jesse O’Brien’s vocals. This was before Dean realised that producer Regan McKinnon had already booked Jesse for a vocal session on the Grace Falls project. The fateful blessings continued as Dean’s wife won a sum of money on the television game show The Singing Bee … the exact amount needed to record Grace Falls’ debut album 'Restless'.

“Those events and a lot of other strange occurrences surrounding us is such a phenomenon,” Dean says. “Grace Falls could not have happened at another time but right now.”

Jesse, who subsequently became lead singer, and previously of NZ Idol fame (2005), expands on Dean’s belief that Grace Falls was simply meant to be. “I was in a band called Saving MacGyver with drummer and radio announcer Blair Dowling, so we were already good friends when Grace Falls came about,” Jesse says. “Our bass player Jared Harper is Dean’s boss at a CD store in Mt Maunganui, which is perfect when they need time off for our shows. Our keys player Paul Smith and I work together at a musical instrument shop in Hamilton, which is great for gear hook-ups!”

Jesse lists vocalists Mike Patton and Chris Cornell as inspirational influences, as well as his wife Cat who is soon to appear on Wheel of Fortune along with Blair’s wife Suzanne (Jessie has a hearty chuckle as the coincidences continue, describing Grace Falls as “the television game show band”). Like Dean, the tattooed and pierced Jesse isn’t exactly a fallen angel either, but he certainly has a light side, bringing balance to the force by having served his local community as a man of the cloth.

Speaking of religion, drummer Blair Dowling began his percussion career at age 12 when his church bought a drum kit, despite the fact that nobody in the congregation could play drums. “They handed me some drumsticks and said, ‘You’re the drummer,’” he says, laughing about his on-the-spot initiation into the brotherhood of musicians.

Paul Smith describes playing keyboards and piano in Grace Falls as “… a gift. I’m grateful to be working these guys. Music for me is an obsession. It’s always evolving. It’s my anchor, my reason to be excited in life.”

When asked about naming the band ‘Grace Falls’, Dean concludes, “The name just came to me after realising my past mistakes in life, and seeking forgiveness for those mistakes. Everybody falls from grace some time, and I hope that, from the lightest through to the darkest of our songs, we can inspire others.” Grace Falls is a band that has graciously fallen together.

Check out their debut album 'Restless', released on Cruel Records via Pure Entertainment. Available from Monday 17 November 2008.

Band Members:
Jesse O'Brien (vocals)
Dean Taylor-Levey (guitar)
Jared Harper (bass)
Blair Dowling (drums)
Paul Smith (keyboards)




  • Mt Maunganui

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