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Detroit's Finest: Against the Grain

I remember the first time I snorted cocaine. The coppery taste in the back of my throat and the sudden jolt of ex nihilo energy reminded me of the first time I listened to "Ace of Spades." That itch to find another band to produce that same feeling remained unscratched, until I l listened to Against the Grain. The Detroit outfit had my instant attention with "Surrounded by Snakes", and I again am hooked. I spoke with drummer, Rob Nowak about their newest album (which will be released on July 31st at Small's), and what is currently spinning on his record player.

Motor City Blog: What is the inspiration behind the Detroit speed rock sound the band produces?

Rob Nowak: The inspiration for Against The Grain's Detroit speed rock sound comes from a lot of different things. We were all weaned on Detroit rock n' roll as children.  Some of us got heavy into punk, some more so into rock, and some metal. Obvious bands like Motörhead, Zeke, and Sabbath played a large part of the original influences, while bands like Mountain, Grand Funk, Ten Years After, Fu Manchu, Motown and even D-beat punk rock played a not so obvious influence and unity with our overall sound.

MCB: Can you give us any details on your fourth full length album? 

RN: The album is 13 tracks, just under 40 minutes.  It has some of our heaviest songs. It's sprinkled with the occasional dash of our signature speed songs with a large focus on song writing.  As a drummer I got to play a lot more fun stuff than I did on previous albums. It's our biggest production album so far, recording it with Bryan Griffin at Train A Comin Recordings, then hiring Brad at Audio Siege in Portland, OR to master the record.  We've also hired great photographers and artists for the artwork/photos.  It's our third full length release with Self Destructo Records.

MCB: I read that you've been working with Joel Grind from Toxic Holocaust? What was that experience like?

RN: I actually didn't get to "work with" him, but he is mixing the album.  Funny enough, I knew that I was a fan of a bunch of the albums produced at Audio Siege by him and Brad, but didn't realize it was Joel from TH until we actually signed on to be a part of it.  Even more stoked because the drummer of Zeke drummed for TH for a while, and they are my favorite band ever.

MCB: What's the name of the record?

RN: I can't say yet, there's an announcement coming soon with artwork.

MCB: I read an interview you and Kyle did with Metal Assault and you said that you "play a form of metal that's embodied by rock n' roll." Can you expand on that?

RN: We call our music Rock n roll.  Its part metal, doom, thrash, punk rock and even some Motown, but in the end- Its rock n roll.

MCB: You guys tour a ton. What's the most insane experience you've had?

RN: Oh, shit. This could be long. Touring is non-stop insanity, in a good way.  I actually feel more insane at home now, because you're so used to ridiculousness and adapting.  The beginning was all non-stop insanity having no A/C and being out west in 100+ degree weather with $5 to your name a day for 40+ days.  It's the funnest thing you could ever do, and it really has changed me for the better.  When we get home from tour, a warm meal and your bed seems like heaven, but going to work 9-5 seems like hell.  I can't see us ever stopping.

MCB: What're you personally listening to?

RN: Right at this very moment I'm listening to our new record because five of the songs were just emailed to me, but lately - Tons of Mountain, AC/DC (Bon Scott era), Thin Lizzy - Chinatown, Blue Oyster Cult, Easy Action, The latest Meatmen record, Discharge, Bongzilla, Church of Misery, and The Hookers.

Against the Grain will play at WAB in Ferndale this Thursday as apart of Berserker's 4-day music festival before embarking on a tour with Ohio heavy-hitters, Lo-Pan. Don't fuck up.