New album “Four of Arrows” out October 25th on Big Scary Monsters
SEE THE PREMIERE AT GOLDFLAKEPAINT HERE
“their boldest work yet, thick slabs of guitars conjuring up an atmosphere that sits as a moody backdrop for Alex Menne’s heady, enthralling lead vocal, which has never sounded more guttural; close to the very edge of breaking.”
HEAR/SHARE THE NEW SINGLE “DIGGER” HERE
Pat Goodwin (guitars/vocals):
“I used to have a dog who would get into this intense and almost manic trance when he would dig a hole in the yard. We called him Digger because he just became obsessed with these seemingly pointless pits. Something about his eyes in this state has lingered with and haunted me for years. It felt familiar, human even. Over the years Carrie and I began to liken it, even using the name, to describe ourselves when our mental health was spiraling or/and we were diving into the dangerous game of obsessive existential inquiry/patterns. Written in the wake of a fateful Wildwood Tarot reading following months of creative drought, this song is, like the spaces it explores, messy and without much resolution — simultaneously a meditation on the process of creation, determinism vs agency and an ode to Philip K Dick’s “The Transmigration of Timothy Archer”, mental illness, and those in our lives who dug too far. It’s safest to never go out in the darkness, but perhaps we’ll miss something in the dark.”
HEAR/SHARE THE NEW SINGLE “DIGGER” HERE
“Carrie and I love to toss around ideas for potential short films, and have always fantasized about writing/directing a feature length as a team. Over the years we’ve stockpiled quite a few half baked ideas. When the opportunity arose for videos on this album cycle, we thought — why don’t we finally tackle one of these concepts and shoot a video that stands alone as a short and is relatively unrelated to the actual song. We found a contender in this idea of a character who is seemingly in mourning and has this deep emotional nostalgia but proves to just be a neighbour who’s secretly in love with the person next door. I think we’d been watching a lot of Black Mirror, West World and bingeing classic sci fi at the time. There’s something deeply human and tragic about our inability to connect and the dark places people will go that’s present in the best works of that genre. Originally we envisioned this piece to be more futuristic, with the protagonist living essentially a second life in a simulated reality, obsessively watching these high quality volumetric videos of the neighbor and slowly slipping further and further away from their actual life — seemingly most alive and lucid in this fantasy. Of course, none of this was possible on our shoestring budget so we opted instead for the next best thing, filming a contemporary adaptation, staring our family members on a single DSLR in two days.
An enormous amount of work was done in the edit by Mike Vernon Davis (also produced Four of Arrows) and Hannah Shmidt, who took a crazy jigsaw puzzle of shots and made it cohesive and elegant. They deserve a ton of credit for making this video the best it could be and their feedback and contributions were invaluable.”
In the Wildwood Tarot deck, the ‘Four of Arrows’ is adorned with a painting of man face down on the ground. The titular arrows surround him, sticking straight up from the ground but never making contact; a large butterfly hovers above him. The card symbolizes rest – a call to recharge and recovery. This card revealed itself to Great Grandpa’s Pat Goodwin in a reading and the symbolism aptly embodied where he and his fellow bandmates were in their lives.
Following the 2017 release of Plastic Cough, the band were a unit, they lived together, worked together, and toured tirelessly across the country. As tours ended and band members relocated across the US, they found themselves suddenly separated and eventually isolated. The time spent apart wasn’t planned, but it proved to be necessary. It was a chance to gain perspective into their lives, relationships, and creative purpose.
Thus enters Four of Arrows, a creative turn toward introspection and Great Grandpa’s collective result of rest and solitude. Undoubtedly, the 11 songs comprising Four of Arrows are a departure from the playful nods to pizza and zombies on Plastic Cough. The writing and recording process had evolved — less Seattle garage jams and more vulnerable solo songwriting sessions. Most of the songs on Four of Arrows were written in isolation by Patrick and Carrie Goodwin while traveling and living in the Midwest. Though written separately, the songs came to life when the band reunified and began recording with producer Mike Vernon Davis (Modest Mouse, Portugal. The Man) on New Year’s Day in 2019.
The band instantly found common threads between their individual contributions, citing mutual love and admiration for vulnerable and emotionally resonate music. Four of Arrows embraces subtlety and pays close attention to the quiet. From the methodical dirge of “Dark Green Water” into the haunting and howling guitar of “Digger” — Great Grandpa try something new by letting the acoustic guitar and piano lay the foundation for many of the album’s tracks
Despite the quiet, Alex Menne’s charismatic vocals burst triumphantly through on each song. The attention to detail is clear down to each echo and the silky addition of vocoder. Since most members contributed lyrics, Menne is that of an emotive voice for the group — channeling the heart of each song’s message and keeping Great Grandpa’s playful touch alive.
The songs weave through the pains of familial divisions, partnership, internal and external forgiveness, and the struggles of mental illness. Pat Goodwin describes “Digger” as the emotional pillar of the album. The lyrics allude to the titular tarot cards and set the scene for Four of Arrows — solitude and an exploration of the obsessive, neurotic and even paranoid existential questioning seen in ourselves and the characters in our lives. “Shouldn’t go out in the darkness” repeated over tranquil guitar, serves as the mantra of the song before it erupts into an evocative and tense outro.
Thankfully, Great Grandpa go headfirst into the darkness and escape from the other side with their most transparent and accomplished work to date. Though the content remains heavy, the bright poppy arrangements of “Mono No Aware” and “Bloom” serve as an unreliable light amongst the dark. “Mono No Aware” a wistful ode to loss of innocence, impermanence, and more explicitly “the pathos of things” combines starry synths and polished harmonies that when paired feel like floating. “Bloom,” the seemingly most hopeful track on the record, shines with conversational charm and demanding hooks (“When I think about Tom Petty, and how he wrote his best songs when he was 39”), before dramatically shedding the facade to reveal it’s melancholic heart in a grandiose, Phil Specter esque outro.
Leaving it to the cards, Great Grandpa used their time off to grow, and their time together to reunify. Their collaborative approach cultivated a musical backdrop for their shared emotions and Four of Arrows is a testament to themselves and their ability to adapt.
1, “Dark Green Water”
3, “English Garden”
4, “Mono no Aware”
8, “Treat Jar”
9, “Human Condition”
10, “Split Up The Kids”
11, “Mostly Here”
Praise for the band’s debut album, Plastic Cough:
“…like the best of Weezer. Only cooler.” The FADER
“The band orbits around Alex Menne’s towering voice, which serves as an anchor to the rest of the group’s nervous thrashes and squalls that build and break down with gale-strength force.” Stereogum
“…the Seattle indie-rock band Great Grandpa doesn’t ignore the gracelessness of youth. It embraces it.” NPR
“…contorted and off-kilter riffs mixed with witty lyricism to charm audiences and build a reputation as one of Seattle’s most thought provoking bands” KEXP
“Led by singer Alex Menne, the Seattle band arrives with a solid debut of anxious bubblegum grunge…” Pitchfork
“…layered instrumentals that push and pull in different directions without ever coming off as chaotic” Get Alternative