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Against The Grain Brings Sound Of Detroit To The Nation With ‘Cheated Death'

Courtesy photo

Detroit, Michigan band Against The Grain has spent the better part of the last decade building an audience.

The group's loud, melodic brand of rock has proven difficult to pigeonhole, which has been both an advantage and disadvantage at times.

With its latest album, "Cheated Death," Against The Grain hopes to finally capitalize on its hard work.

The band, including guitarist/vocalist Kyle Davis, performs at The Elbow Room on Thursday, March 29.

Interview Highlights

Jedd Beaudoin: There is an inclination, I suppose, to refer to what Against The Grain does as heavy metal. But it seems like the scope of what you do is broader than that.

Kyle Davis: We're all very partial to rock ‘n' roll, classic rock. Motörhead, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Ted Nugent. We can go out with heavy metal bands. We've gone out with stoner metal bands. And thrash metal bands. Some people are jaded with their opinions. They only like thrash, that's why they're at the thrash show, but they're not going to like us necessarily. People who like music, people who get it, they like us, and that's what keeps us going.

There's that hook-heavy element to the songwriting. It's infectious. Almost on a pop level.

Yeah. You want to give the listener something that they can hold onto after the song's over, something that'll get stuck in their head. We're not artsy or obscure or trying to be something we're not. We play music because it feels good and it's all I can really do well.

What was the Detroit scene like that you grew up in?

When I was younger, there was a bunch of old punk clubs that we used to go to. When I was 15, I was playing in garage rock bands, punk rock bands, there were all these old punk clubs. Detroit, even 15 years ago, was something completely different.

Now it's new Detroit. All the old biker bars, all the old punk clubs that people used to go to are frozen yogurt stands or yoga studios or whatever. It's really crazy. It used to dangerous to go to the city for a show. That was sort of the alluring aspect. But now it's all pretty safe. There's a good scene here now, we've got a lot of good bands that we play with around here. They tour as well. It's Detroit rock city.

Tell me a little bit about Cheated Death and when this material started to come into focus. Are you a band that says, ‘OK, now it's time to go in and write a record' or did you have songs sitting around?

We had a couple of songs sitting around, left over from the last album. We said, "Hey, let's work on a new album." We took about a year to write it and get everything together for it. It's definitely my favorite record so far. Usually, when you're recording back in town, at home, you get off work, rush there, fix the guitar tracks from the night before, you're always rushing. This time we took a whole week off work, went to the studio, out in the woods in Fenton, Michigan. We worked with this great engineer, Mark Hudson, he's worked with Taking Back Sunday, he's Against Me's tour manager. He's brilliant. The greatest guy I've ever worked with.

There's a loft above the recording studio. We lived in this little cabin. We'd drink at night, sit by the bonfire, but all day — from 11 to 7 p.m. — we'd sit and record, do everything live. It was really cool, aesthetically pleasing to make it more of an organic album.

We were there to record. We didn't have to rush to work or anything else. We were there for that purpose. It really was great. It helped.

When you're working like that, living together, does that make it a more cohesive experience as well?

We went out and got groceries together. It was really nice. Recording is really stressful, as always, to get that perfect thing and compromise with it. I'm satisfied with how it turned out. I really hope the people dig it.

Is there ever a point in all of this, where you say, "Maybe it's time to pack it in"?

This is our last hurrah. You can only put out so many albums. We're still going to tour as much as we can with big bands. We used to go out just to go out, where now I think we've established something to where we can sit at home and if we get offered a good tour with a good band, sure, we'll take it. I like being at home. I like being comfortable. By the same token, when I'm out on the road, I like that. It's hard. It's hard being in a rock ‘n' roll band because everyone else my age is going, "Hey, I'm having a baby, I just got my degree." Me? I'm still in the band.


Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.

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