Grinder
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Grinder

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"Downtime: My Locked Out Life..."

The NHL has been silent for nearly four months now, but crowds are still roaring for Red Wings fan favorite Darren McCarty. The dentally challenged star is the lead singer for Grinder, a five-man band named for McCarty's abrasive on-ice style ("grinding" in hockeyspeak) that has been playing shows from Detroit to L.A. "It's stripped down rock and roll, with a little bit of punk," says the three-time Stanley Cup winner, whom bandmates call Mac Jagger.

Grinder's album, Gotta Keep Movin -- recorded at a studio owned by McCarty's pal, Motor City crooner Kid Rock -- came out on Red Line Records in 2002, and the band played some summer gigs before the NHL season. These days McCarty, 32, tours in Grinder's 40-foot RV -- which they drove 34 hours to play the Roxy in L.A. on Nov. 19. (Proceeds from gigs go to the McCarty Cancer Foundation; the winger's father died of cancer in '99.) McCarty, who lists Motorhead and Nirvana as influences, has also taken his music to Moscow, where he went last month to play in ex-Red Wing Igor Larionov's farewell game. McCarty scored a goal and also had memorable moments off the ice: Kid Rock tagged along on the trip, and the singers got on stage at a Moscow pub and jammed classics like Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama.

McCarty's locked-out life isn't all about being a rock star, though. He lives in suburban Detroit and most weekday mornings drives his kids, Griffin, 8, Emerson, 6, and Avery, 4, to school. (His fourth child, Gracyn, is an infant.) He also skates for several hours with teammates Chris Chelios and Kirk Maltby before Grinder gathers in a warehouse outside Detroit. McCarty, who began singing in drama club and met his bandmates through Wings trainer John Wharton, comes early to work with a vocal coach or write songs with bassist Jim Anders. ("Darren's tough to boss around," says Anders.) McCarty says Grinder's songs often reflect his own experiences. One of his favorites is Shooting Star, about the foolishness of believing your own hype. ("You're a shooting star, living for today./No matter who you are, you always fade away.")

Grinder hopes to release a second album in late March. "We want to take this as far as we can," says McCarty. "When you're playing a set, everyone's eyes are always on you and you have to make sure people have a good time. It's like being on a constant shift." - Sports Illustrated


"Darren McCarty Spends The NHL Strike Rockin Out"

While we, the Canadian public, are reluctantly spending our winter choosing our greatest countryman and crying into our Molson Canadian Cold Shots over the stifled NHL season, the players are also being forced to find creative ways to wile away the down time. Darren McCarty of the Detroit Red Wings is living out his bruiser dreams by fronting a garage punk band called Grinder, who have just signed a new deal with Rubber Road Records.

Billing themselves as "the toughest band in rock 'n' roll," Grinder draw on local Detroit influences like The Stooges and The MC5 (The Stooges' Ron Asheton has even been known to jam with them on stage). The band's debut album, Gotta Keep Movin will come out on Rubber Road (distributed by MapleNationwide) on February 22. Since McCarty has some time on his hands, the band are readying a second album for late 2005.

On the Grinder website, McCarty lists Iggy Pop, Dave Grohl and Jim Morrison as his influences and cites Led Zeppelin IV and Guns N' Roses' Appetite For Destruction as his favourite albums. Shedding some more light on his personality, the player mentions he likes pre-show tailgating and tattoos and dislikes turtles.

Providing the NHL schedule permits, Grinder will do a tour of Southern Ontario in March and are planning more Canadian gigs for the summer. - Chart Attack


"Red Wings' McCarty Grinding the road"

Detroit Red Winger Darren McCarty not only rocks the ice, but is rocking the stage as well. Darren's band, Grinder, is ready to make an impression on the Saliva tour (Nov. 9-11) running through Canada and into New York City with their two new Gibson Custom Grinder SGs. Darren will be touring in support of his first album Gotta Keep Movin'. Grinder's music is featured in the new ESPN Videogame NHL 2K5, and Darren is also slated to provide a voice-over narration for the documentary film Hockey's Greatest Era, due out next year.
- Gibson X-press


"Detroit Red Wing Puts His Money Where His Mic Is With Grinder"

Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty can daftly handle the puck and slam opponents' bodies into the boards (and sometimes into his fist). Now he's working on a second career, just in case the $25 million hockey thing doesn't pan out.

"I would never win 'American Idol' and I'm not going to sing opera. I can hold a tune and not butcher it." — Grinder's Darren McCarty his band Grinder — named after the Detroit Red Wings' "Grind Line," on which right wing McCarty plays. He founded the band as a way of helping former teammate Vladimir Konstantinov and Red Wings' masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov after they were paralyzed in a limousine accident in 1997.

"I always loved music, and after Vladdy and Sergei's accident we put the band together and put a song on the tribute album Believing in Detroit: A Tribute to Vladdy and Sergei. We all hate that song ['Step Outside'], but at the time we liked it. All the stuff we've got now, it's more rock and roll."

Grinder continued as an off-season summer staple in the Midwest. The band has played to hundreds of club patrons, and up to 12,000 at the Arts, Beats and Eats festival in Pontiac, Michigan. But with this year's postseason cut short, McCarty decided to take Grinder to the next level, even working with a vocal coach to improve his singing.

"I would never win 'American Idol' and I'm not going to sing opera," said the Stanley Cup champion. "But the best way I would describe it is that I'm improving. I can hold a tune and not butcher it."

Earlier this year, Grinder — which also includes guitarists Billy Reedy and Eli Ruhf, bassist James Anders and drummer Eric Miller — released Gotta Keep Movin', available through their Web site. It was recorded at the Chophouse, the studio owned by McCarty's good friend Kid Rock, and produced by Al Sutton of Rustbelt Studio.

"The sound's just so good in there," McCarty said about the Chophouse. "[Kid Rock is] approachable. He's awesome."

Gotta Keep Movin' includes five originals and covers McCarty's influences, including the Damned and the Stooges.

"We did [the covers] just because they're fun. They're great songs. I'm a big Iggy Pop fan," McCarty said. Raised in Leamington, Ontario, Canada, he is also proud of the songs, which reflect his love of lo-fi '60s and '70s music, that he penned himself.

"I'm not very musically [savvy]. I play a couple chords, [enough] to put the music together. But I always loved English and stuff like that. I could write poetry and put words together," he said.

Grinder are making the rounds in the Midwest throughout the summer. They recently played the tailgate party prior to the Jim Rome World Tour stop on July 26 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. McCarty said it's a natural progression to go from the ice to behind a mic.

"It's cool. I'm one of those adrenaline junkie guys. I'll try anything to get a rush. I'm not great [as a singer], but I'll try to make myself as good as I can just for the sheer enjoyment of it. There's nothing like it. It's such a great learning experience."

Besides being an outlet for his pent-up energy, McCarty uses Grinder as a way of remembering his father, Craig, who died of multiple myeloma in 1999. A portion of the proceeds from the Grinder CDs, merchandise and shows go to the McCarty Cancer Foundation, a Royal Oak, Michigan, organization that Darren McCarty founded.

As far as support for his endeavors go, McCarty need only look as far as his hockey teammates. Many have pitched in, joining him onstage and attending shows.

"[Goalie] Manny Legace's our biggest groupie. He saw about eight shows in a summer. … He's a 'Band-Aid.' That's the proper term," McCarty said with a laugh.
- MTV


"McCarty filling NHL silence with rock 'n' roll"

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — Detroit Red Wings forward Darren McCarty is touring these days, but not with his locked-out NHL hockey teammates.

Instead, he's performing with his Detroit-based rock 'n' roll band, Grinder. It plays Friday in Sault Ste. Marie and Saturday in Marquette.

"Things are great with the band," McCarty told The Mining Journal. "I have taken this opportunity while I am not playing hockey to do more with the band. We have been doing a lot of work with Best Buy and with the ESPN video game. The band has been doing a lot of shows. We were at the Roxy (in Los Angeles) last week.

"It has been a chance for me to explore other avenues that I haven't been able to explore in the past," he said.

He says the lockout has been tough on him and the other Wings. NHL owners say they need to control salaries because they lost $273 million in 2002-03 and $224 million last season. The players union disputes the claim.

"It has been difficult more mentally than physically to begin with. I am in a mind frame that I am used to playing and traveling this time of the year," McCarty told The Mining Journal. "It has been an adjustment." - USA Today


"Catching fire off the ice"

Don't call hockey's Darren McCarty a rock wannabe

SHANDA DEZIEL

Even a 40-foot recreational vehicle feels like cramped quarters when Darren McCarty's on-board. It's noon, and the six-foot, 220-lb. Detroit Red Wing wants to nap, so he grabs a comforter and the big fluffy pillow he "borrowed" from the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas and then collapses on whatever makeshift bed is closest. It doesn't matter that someone's already sleeping there. "He's not too good with the sharing," says drummer Eric Miller, making room on the kitchen table/fold-out mattress.

Six months into what would have been McCarty's 12th NHL season, the 32-year-old is on tour with his rock band, Grinder (named after the Wings' three-time Stanley Cup-winning Grind Line, the aggressive checking trio of McCarty, Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper). Moonlighting as the lead singer of a punk/heavy rock outfit -- with influences including Iggy and the Stooges and the MC5 -- is something McCarty's been doing for seven years. Each off-season the band would play a handful of shows in and around Detroit, and in 2002 they found two weeks to write and record a debut CD, Gotta Keep Movin, in the home studio of Motor City musician and hockey fan Kid Rock (the album is available in Canada this week).

But momentum is hard to come by when your front man is MIA for eight months of the year. Now, in this hockey-less winter, the band's gotten considerably tighter -- McCarty's voice is stronger, and he's developing a stage presence not unlike his rugged hockey style. Grinder is able to give new songs time to breath, and the group has undertaken a real tour, with stops in Northern Michigan, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Chicago. They hit Ontario in March.

After Grinder's raucous two-night stint in Vegas, Chicago pays the price. The band is scheduled to do a morning show and radio interviews the day of the concert. But instead of making its way to the local TV studio, the RV ends up parked at a hospital, after bassist Jim Anders suffers a severe asthma attack. McCarty, Miller and guitarists Bill Reedy and Chris Wujek while away the day, watching The Simpsons and This is Spinal Tap, sleeping, playing video games and Texas Hold 'Em -- waiting to hear if Anders will recover in time for the gig. This is the last stop of the U.S. leg of the tour. And while they're exhausted and worried about their buddy, there's an undercurrent of adrenaline. "Everywhere we go," says Miller, "the biggest thing people say to all of us is, 'I came to see Darren, I'm a huge Wings fan, but you guys have a great band. I'm totally going to come and see you again.' What more can you ask?"

Everyone on the bus has a stake in this being seen as more than McCarty's vanity project -- in people recognizing that these veteran musicians haven't given up their real bands to back a singing jock. Sure, they have a fancy tour bus for the first time in their careers (bought by McCarty) and are playing Hollywood sports awards parties -- in front of the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, no less -- but they're also proud of the music they're making, and of their friend. "It's so inspiring to me," says Miller. "You have a guy who's jumping into our world. I try to imagine reversing the roles; I wouldn't even want to try, let alone be any good at it."

While no one's about to call McCarty a poseur to his heavily scarred, dentally challenged face, he knows others are skeptical. "I learned early what I had to do to overcome all the naysayers," he says. "It's just like starting over again, using the same skills and the same mindset as I had trying to be a hockey player. Since I was 8, that's what I wanted to do, and I had more people tell me why I couldn't do it than why I could."

Born in Burnaby, B.C., and raised in Leamington, Ont., close to Detroit, McCarty was an average skater but a hard worker, willing to do anything to make it to the NHL. During his summers off from Junior A, when other teenage boys were lazing about, he was bulking up and working on his cardio, taking aerobic step classes -- not exactly a macho male activity. "I tell these guys I have the same passion toward music as I did back then with hockey," says McCarty. "I want it to be legit, I want to be good and I want us to be taken seriously."

A divorced father of four (an eight-year-old son and three younger daughters), he's one of Detroit's most loved personalities, a tough guy with a big heart. He started the McCarty Cancer Foundation in 1997 as a Father's Day gift to his dad, Craig, who later died of multiple myeloma. These days, when he's not out with the band, you'll often find McCarty at an arena, watching and helping his son's team. "Griffin's at the age where he knows as much about the game as I do -- he eats, breathes and sleeps it," says McCarty. "To go out and give him tips and watch him do it and succeed, that's fulfilling. He was playing in a tournament and I said, 'Man, when you go to the net you've got to get your stick on the ice and you've got to stop and be ready for whatever's next.' Boom, he goes to the net, stops, the puck comes to him, he bangs it in, scores."

Things aren't as sweet when McCarty senior's on the ice. Opponents who mess with a Red Wing know they'll be answering to this scrapper. He can also be counted on for a few playoff points, including the Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1997. But now, with a contract that expires in three years, he's starting to see this rock band thing as a retirement plan. Even sitting in a hospital parking lot, he doesn't buy that music, like hockey, might be a young man's racket. "Our influences are a lot older," he says. "We look at the Stones and they can still play. Look at Paul McCartney doing the Super Bowl show."

Going on nine hours at the hospital, the musicians on the bus are extraordinarily patient -- after all, they've spent the past six months waiting on an NHL decision. And when the Chicago show is cancelled, it's nothing compared to the thought of McCarty being called back to the ice. The other guys in Grinder don't want to share their front man this winter. And now that the NHL season's toast, they won't have to. - Macleans


Discography

Albums:
2005 - Out of Our Heads
Ron Asheton of The Stooges and Michael Davis of the MC5 both played on the album which was produced by Al Sutton, Kid Rock's engineer.
2002 - Gotta Keep Movin'

Photos

Bio

Grinder is pure Detroit, punk-infused rock led by former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty, now with the Calgary Flames. Due to the recent NHL lockout, Grinder was able to record their second album 'Our of Our Heads' and play more than 80 shows in the past year, including concerts at The Palms in Las Vegas and the legendary Roxy in Los Angeles.

Sadly, tragedy struck the Grinder family in May 2005 only days after the completion of the new album when bassist James B. Anders passed away suddenly due to heart complications. Jim was a driving force behind Grinder, writing the majority of the music and lyrics. The band decided to continue performing and have dedicated 'Out of Our Heads' to Jim.

Grinder consists of original members Darren McCarty on vocals, Billy Reedy on guitar and Eric Miller on drums. This summer Grinder added two new band members: Paul Lamb on bass and Rachel May on guitar. Both bring a dynamic stage presence to the high energy, fuel injected shows.