'Lo-fi' lords grift their way into Tucson tonight

By Noah Lopez

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Grifters self-proclaimed Mambo Kings of Indie Rock are coming to Tucson tonight, bringing with them their brand of crunchy Memphis rock.

Although often grouped with the "lof-fi" movement (largely due to their reliance on four-track recordings), aesthetically the Grifters share more with the late-'80s New York noise scene, their guitars burning with bluesy fuzz, drum kits rattling from snare-heavy rhythms and vocalist David Shouse growling and grunting the band's disjointed and despairing vocals. Their three albums, including last year's excellent Crapping You Negative have made the Jim Thompson swiped moniker a household name for indie rock fiends, furthering major-label interest in the Memphis, Tennessee band. Dave Shouse called the Wildcat this week, from the long highway of dive bars that lead to the Grifters' performance tonight in Tucson.

Wildcat: Tell me about the new Eureka 10". It's a little more laid back than your other releases. What was your goal when you went into the studio?

Dave Shouse: Well, after we made it we realized we were really doing something different. You know, we made it in the wintertime and there's kind of a grayness about it. We wanted to make a four-track album, but make it more interesting a more open, less dense sound. Not as noisy. We wanted to experiment, but not necessarily change direction.

WC: You guys get compared so often to Pavement. That probably gets old real quick.

DS: Yeah, for a while that would piss us off, but it doesn't really bug us anymore.

WC: What have you done to counteract that reputation?

DS: We make a record like we just made, I hope.

WC: What about claims that "the Grifters are the next big thing"?

DS: What we started off doing a few years ago has become more of a mainstream thing. I don't know. There's really nothing you can do. It's a real crapshoot. You just go and do whatever you have to do. The media people not that I lump you all together or anything (laughs) have tendencies to project or predict certain things. We do some pretty convoluted things sometimes to prevent getting pigeonholed or whatever. People who come from Memphis are really weird. We just try to keep our heads on the ground. We're happy doing what we're doing.

WC: What do you have planned for the next year. New album?

DS: I'm not sure what we're going to do. Just work. We're thinking about putting out a gatefold double 7". I think we might have a new album by the end of the year. Maybe a rerecording of some older material. We still do a lot of old songs, but I don't want to just put out a tape like "here's what we were fucking around with five years ago." I don't really like that.

WC: So you didn't buy the Guided By Voices box-set, I take it.

DS: No. I have some of those older albums taped. I'm not going to say that they shouldn't do that.

You've got to get that stuff out to the people that want it. We decided that since we still play some of that old stuff, it might be more interesting to see how it's grown up. People are curious to see where you've come from. Or like the Pavement Westing CD there's a lot of people that don't have turntables that want that material on CD.

WC: What are you guys listening to in the van?

DS: We've got all sorts of stuff. I've been listening to the Louvin Brothers a lot. We have a copy of the new Pavement album, but we haven't listened to that yet. We have a tape of a group called Home, you know, like "I live in a home," from Tampa. They're pretty good. We're still fans of '60s and '70s rock, so we listen to Zeppelin also. We love NPR. Sometimes you just don't want to listen to music at all.

The Grifters play the Downtown Performance Center tonight with local art-noise gurus Rocket #9 opening the show. Tickets are $4. For more information, call 628-1650.

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