If the Midwestern states collectively had a theme song, Kansas City-based six piece The Grisly Hand deserve to be the creators of it. The Americana/folk/country/rock group not only gives middle America a good name, they put on a helluva dance party.
Alongside leading lady Lauren Krum (vocals) is Jimmy Fitzner (vocals and guitar), John Nichols (bass and vocals), Matt Richey (drums), Mike Stover (steel guitar) and Ben Summers (guitar and mandolin). Shortly after coming together in spring 2009, founding members Krum, Fitzner and Nichols released their first album, Safe House. Their essence goes beyond just boogieing down, however; their songs are about self-discovery, relationships and finding one’s roots. Their two-stepping tunes capture relatable phases of life and Midwestern culture all in one.
Pop ‘stache: What’s the story behind the name?
Lauren Krum: The name was drawn from Edgar Lee Master’s book “Spoon River Anthology,” specifically from the piece titled “Webster Ford.” We had a long list of ideas, most of which were wildly inappropriate or would make people think we sounded like Parliament, and The Grisly Hand just stuck.
P ‘s: With a second EP, Western Ave., under your belt, how has the band matured since its first release [Safe House]?
LK: I think Western Ave. is closer to capturing our live sound, and that’s what we’re looking to get out of recording. Recording for us is an ongoing learning process. I think with the players we have now, we are realizing songs in the best way possible, at least so far. I also think we have gotten better at live shows and at performing. It’s nice to watch an old YouTube video and realize we’ve matured and improved.
P ‘s: Seeing as Grisly Hand is based out of Kansas City, has the Midwest influenced your music? If so, how?
LK: I think people’s homes always influence their music, and we’re no exception [to that]. The first song Jimmy and I learned together, which he penned, is called “Paris of the Plains” and it’s about trying to find where you belong and finding out you want to be where you came from. The introspective mid-twenties lend themselves to the search for belonging and trying to understand your own roots. I also think that our country influences have something to do with not only being in the Midwest but [also] having parents who played country and Americana.
P ‘s: Where does Grisly Hand fit into the local music scene? How do you think Kansas City compares to other cities, in terms of being a local, up-and-coming band trying to develop a fan base?
Mike Stover: Very comfortably. We determined the other night that between the six of us, we play in 12 other Kansas City bands. The music scene [here] is, by necessity, a tightly-knit community. We share the stage with some of our best friends, and I think fans share in that sense of community.
It’s nice to watch an old YouTube video and realize we’ve matured and improved.
That sense of community, as well as a comfortable standard of living and a lack of the trappings of the so-called “music business,” [is what] makes Kansas City a wonderful place for musicians and artists to develop their talents and their audience. Honestly, I can’t imagine a band like The Grisly Hand coming from any other city.
The Grisly Hand’s latest release, Western Ave. EP, is available now. Catch them live in Chicago at Three Aces on August 19th.