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San Francisco, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

San Francisco, CA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Pop Art Rock




"Interview: Thriving on change with the eccentric sound of Growwler"

I expected more than three people when Growwler took the stage at the Night Light in Oakland a few Sundays ago. Their new LP Even Tenor, after all, sounds like an army of talented musicians and producers descended upon the project to create a refreshingly rich and unique soundscape, incorporating everything from psychedelic head trips to bluesy rockers to folk-tinged melodies and countless sub-genres in between. It’s a big, ambitious album in an age when most indie bands are scaling back due to either financial limitations or purposeful creative choice.

“We got to play with the Red Beans and Rice horn section at the Great American a few weeks ago,” lead singer and guitarist Davis Il tells me at a Nation's adjacent to the Night Light, his eyes noticeably brightening at the recollection of the experience. He runs a hand through his mad genius haircut and continues, “Ideally we’d love to have a full band all the time but that’s just not realistic at the moment. Four schedules is hard enough to juggle.”

“Plus we don’t wanna be Chicago,” drummer and backup vocalist Patrick Weber adds playfully, a gloriously greasy cheeseburger in his hands. “It was a big venue and a big opportunity for us, and we wanted to be a bigger band for the night.”

“And having horns all the time wouldn't make it nearly as special,” bassist Kazmo Vilmar thoughtfully points out in his soft-spoken manner. “It’s nice to bring it out at certain moments, but we don’t need that backup to express our sound.”

Kazmo's certainly right about that. Though the band did, admittedly, sound a bit raw without their keyboardist/backing vocalist/saxophonist Robert Gibboni, they nevertheless put on one blistering rock n’ roll show. During our conversation we discussed their new album, their peripatetic existence and covering Lana Del Ray (and actually making her sound cool).

The Bay Bridged: Your latest album was recorded in both Oregon and California over several years. Did you ever fear that the sporadic and spread out recording process would result in a messy, disjointed album?

Davis Il: No, but if I could do it over again I would stay in one spot. There is definitely a Smorgasbord of vibes and sounds on it but most of that is intentional.

Patrick Weber: I personally thought about that a lot. The record is split by location. When you listen to it straight through, it has this patchwork quality, a sort of quilt-like effect reflected by the cover. In a weird way it's consistent and I think it makes sense overall.

DI: That’s funny, I never thought of the quilt analogy before…There is a purposeful split with the A side recorded in San Francisco and the B side in Eugene. In my opinion, you just go where the studio is, where you think your sound will best be captured.

PW: The fact that me and Dave have been playing together for about ten years now helps with the consistency too. I think this band has always existed in a constant state of change. Some of these songs have changed completely over the years and they each have a unique character. That’s just the sound of Growwler.

TBB: Some of the songs off the LP have a loose, almost improvised feel to them. Did these creations result from jam sessions or were they carefully planned out from the beginning?

DI: I’m pretty meticulous in the studio and think it’s important to plan out ahead of time. Some of my favorite artists have that off-the-cuff sound but, in actuality, it’s all really mapped out. For us, most of it was planned before we entered the studio. When we hit the stage it's a whole different experience. We like to change it up live, especially for the fans who have seen us numerous times. We want to give them something new at every concert, something to get excited about. Maybe that seeps into our songwriting process as well.

TBB: The band has been through a number of incarnations over the years. Has the constant movement and tenuous formations ever threatened to permanently derail this project?

PW: There has definitely been a cloud of people that have come through and we’ve rotated numerous members over the years, but the core of me and Dave was always pretty solid. I think that has helped to sustain Growwler.

DI: We’ve separated at times but when I decided to come back to San Francisco in 2012 things became more solid. The addition of Kazmo on bass has really helped too.

Kazmo Vilmar: Yeah, these guys had two bassists before I joined. I kind of fell into it too. I contacted them through a craigslist ad about a pedal they were selling. I didn’t even know they were looking for a bassist at the time, but one thing sorta led to another and now I’m in Growwler!

PW: Rob (Gibboni) being a solid member really helped us out too. He really fills up the live sound and the fact that he’s a multi-instrumentalist is a huge asset. The turnover can slow things down but the fact that we’ve held on this long is a positive sign of the band’s future.

DI: It’s kinda like Jenga. If it falls down you just have to build it back up again. Perseverance is the key.

TBB: I have to ask--whose idea was it to cover the Lana Del Ray song?

DI: Well, Pat originally brought in Lorde’s “Royals” as a potential cover.

PW: Yeah I thought we could do a blues-rock version of that song. I felt like we could really make that one our own. But then Dave countered with an arrangement of “West Coast” and won out.

DI: I couldn’t get behind “Royals” one-hundred percent. I jammed on “West Coast” by myself and came up with an arrangement that fit our sound. Sorry Pat (laughs).

TBB: Even though you just released this great album, you’ve mentioned you’re already working on new material.

DI: Yeah, we have a three-song EP in the works planned for the summer. This is where Kazmo comes in and really contributes.

KV: Yeah, I’m not on the album but I’m involved in the songwriting process for the new EP. I guess what I’m trying to contribute to the band is more texture to the sound and more melodic bass tones. The Beatles were a huge influence on my playing style so that’s what I bring to this group.

TBB: Do you ever fear your unique, eccentric sound can potentially turn off an audience?

KV: It’s a matter of finding that balance. It you try to sound too pop it can become artificial, and if you go too far off the meter people can’t relate to what you’re doing. I think we’re close to a good balance at the moment.

DI: I think we definitely do alienate some people. I love the music scene in San Francisco but, if I’m so bold as to make one slightly controversial statement in this interview, it doesn’t really represent us. We’re always trying to familiarize our sound with different vibes and sometimes it doesn’t fit into the larger scene. But I think we’re okay with that. If we’re making the music we want to make and can find some kind of audience for it, then we’ve succeeded. - The Bay Bridged

"Growwler - Bae of the Week"

Growwler has been around in some form since 2008. Starting out in Santa Cruz as King Kongress, the band moved up to the Bay Area and formed power trio Ladyfinger. After a short stint in The Bay, Ladyfinger traveled further north to Eugene, Oregon and honed in on their sound. After working and recording out of Eugene for a couple years, Growwler emerged in 2010 and since then has taken on an art rock angle, describing themselves as, "different, progressive and weird".

Currently living in San Francisco, Growwler consists of frontman Davis IL, drummer Pat Weber, bassist Kazmo Vilmar and multi-instrumentalist Robert “Gibby” Gibboni, who has been called their secret weapon (by the band themselves) as he's proved to be dexterous on keyboard, saxophone, flute, and harmonica. We got a chance to talk with them as they kick off the Halloween season with a "Dead-sidency" (get it?) at Amnesia where they'll perform each Thursday throughout the month with a few other locals acts. Although we're halfway through October, you still have two more chances to see Growwler on Thursday, October 15th and Thursday, October 29th at Amnesia. - Do The Bay

"lowbrow presents: An Interview with Growwler"

Working the crowd into a stir, they divert the attention of the dark room's inhabitants forward. A harmonica wails against the backdrop of old-fashioned lyrics that harken back to a time long past. Feelings repressed. Feelings expressed.
These boys can put on a show.
You can listen to more Growwler over at their bandcamp:
And make sure to stop by for more. - Lowbrow

"Growwler to begin October residency at Amnesia"

Growwler is gearing up for their October residency at Amnesia that starts later this week. Sorry, not residency — it's a "dead-sidency." The month-long Halloween celebration is sure to be full of costumes, candy, ghoulish themes, creepy covers and a steady diet of solid bands to accompany the headliners. Thursday's kickoff is impressive enough, featuring both garage rockers The She's and psychedelic grunge outfit French Girls.

The hosts will be releasing a new Halloween-inspired single to commemorate the four-week fright fest soon. You can come dressed for the occasion or you can come dressed for work, but it's clear you need to just come and check out this event. - The Bay Bridged

"Growwler releases new Halloween-themed single"

Growwler has a spine-chilling new single out just in time for Halloween. Titled "Dawn of the Red" and conceived as a tribute to "slasher cinema," the thumping bass line certainly sounds like a heartbeat racing as an axe-wielding maniac closes in on the group of sex-crazed teenagers partying at the haunted summer camp.

The axe wielded in this tune is equally effective in quickening the pulse with its sharp, staccato rhythm, backed by a charging drumbeat and eerie backing vocals.

In addition to their love of horror flicks, the band also composed the tune for the Ninkasi Brewing Company's new compilation release of Northwest bands. You may not be into Friday the 13th, but you can probably appreciate the dedication to craft beer.

Three weeks are left of Growwler's October residency at Amnesia. If you want to catch this song live, now would probably be a good time to go. - The Bay Bridged

"Growwler October Residency at Amnesia"

You’ve already missed two shows, but you still have the chance to catch the last two Growwler DEAD-SIDENCY shows.

Tonight, OCTOBER 15, you can see Portland band Tango Alpha Tango and San Diego band Gayle Skidmore. On OCTOBER 29 our local legend Kendra McKinley will play along with Growwlers **Secret Creeper Surprise** band. Both nights are guaranteed to be fun!

Perhaps you’ve never seen Growwler before? You are in for treat. I attended their first show and had a blast. I got candy at the door, creepy bats, bugs and eerie fog machines waited for me inside. Davis and his band hit the stage decked out in their Halloween best. They played some band classics, but also introduced us to a new track called “Dawn of The Red.” I was highly entertained … and I think you will be to.

I hope to see you tonight! - I Heart SF Bands

"Growwler Hosts Dead-sidency at Amnesia in October"

The San Francisco based art rock band, Growwler will be hosting a month long residency at Amnesia in which they appropriately named the Halloween themed event, ¨Growwler´s Dead-sidency¨! This event will be every Thursday in October, starting tomorrow, October 1st. This residency looks like a blast!

¨(There will be) new costumes & spooky music tributes every week, food trucks, horror film projections, local sponsor DJs, freak shop stage decor, new Growwler music giveaways and of course free candy, so start collecting masques & wigs, dust off the freak flag and prepare to come out & get deeply weird on a weekly basis.¨

OCTOBER 1: The She's, French Girls
OCTOBER 8: And And And (pdx), Sahab (fresno)
OCTOBER 15: Tango Alpha Tango (pdx), Gayle Skidmore (san diego)
OCTOBER 29: Kendra McKinley, **Secret Creeper Surprise**

SPONSORS: Different Fur Studios, BFF. fm, Ninkasi Brewery, Counter Culture Management
Showbill Artwork by Gianna Badiali: - The Deli Magazine

"Growwler premieres new song "Long Hair, Short Wits""

The exuberant band, Growwler is celebrating their album release today. We wrote about it here. We're honored to be able to share a song from their upcoming single, Long Hair, Short Wits. This A side title track is a charming acoustic track that has style and character, melding folk and college indie rock together in a talented and unassuming manner.

I know that combination sounds odd, but Growwler makes it work and owns their musical style effortlessly. Please take the time to enjoy Long Hair, Short Wits and join Growwler, Giggle Party and Taxes at Public Works TONIGHT to celebrate this single's release!! Support hardworking, local, emerging bands. We'll say it over and over, cus we love what they do. -je - SF Deli Magazine

"Growwler Releases Director's Cut of New Music Video - Shooter's Hill"

The intense San Francisco based garage-folk rock band, Growwler has released an ambitious new music video for the title track of their 4-song album entitled, Shooter's Hill. The music video is just as high energy as the track, making Shooter's Hill an action packed effort that is hard to ignore.

Keep an eye out for Growwler for their music is unique because their creative heavy garage rock folk songs also exhibit pop undertones, making the band's music accessable and addicting to listen to. The Shooter's Hill music video is officially released today, and we're excited to share it! - The Deli Magazine

"Growwler – “Burnt Siena Brown”"

San Francisco’s Growwler is one of the few high-school bands that survived the inevitable post-graduation breakup and scattering of members, and it’s a good thing they did. Having just returned to the Bay Area from Eugene, Oregon, Growwler is set to release an EP and video over the next couple of months. For now, check out “Burnt Sienna Brown” off their latest EP, led by front-man Davis IL’s loud and twang-infused vocals. Is it country, chamber pop, southern rock, or something else? Who cares? Just enjoy it – the track is a great introduction to a band that I’m glad is back in the Bay.

Update: Growwler sent over video of the band’s live take on the track “Station Talkin” at Eugene’s W.O.W. Hall, a former Woodmen of the World lodge that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, recorded when they opened for Tumbleweed Wanderers there last November 16th. Check it out: - The Bay Bridged

"Rumbles!! Hellfire!! Houseplants!! Talkdemonic, Ferns & Growwler @ Sam Bond’s Garage."

Words by Joshua Isaac Finch

As an avid show hopper, it’s not every weekend that I get to see, not only three bands I’m excited about, but three bands I’m excited about and have never seen. This was my Friday at Sam Bond’s Garage.

Opening the show was brand-spankin’ new piano pop/rock act, Growwler. These guys brandished their very own unique brand of baroque pop like a sword forged for the sole purpose of slaying boredom dragons (needed: One editor for editing our editor). GRR twanged, hand-clapped and sing along’ed their way through nearly an album’s worth of originals, already tighter than a pair of hipster jeans, but with more of an effortless cool, the kind of cool that let them get away with practically re-inventing Mason Jenning’s “Crown” (see here: We’re pretty stoked about these cats. - Exiled in Eugene (Magazine/Online Blog)




*** latest LP "Even Tenor" preview streaming link here ***






San Francisco's G R O WW L E R creates art rock sounds that combine ebullient power pop harmonies with sophisticated weirdo music arrangements. Not content with "verse-chorus-verse" or a pop scene saturated with rubber artists singing fake plastic songs, the band is unpardonably happy making beautiful things even if nobody cares.

The story begins in 2008 as King Kongress: an ambitious, yet failed 6-person ensemble from Santa Cruz. Upon a move north to San Francisco in 2009, the group pares down to power trio form & dubs themselves ladyfinger. Their debut single ("Burnt Sienna Brown") is released in 2010 & recorded in the hills of Oregon by ex bandmate-turned-producer Ben Schaaff.

After a glowing reception to its release, the band relocates to the Whiteaker District in Eugene & rechristens themselves Growwler. The subsequent single "How can you be so Sure" earned them a finalist spot in Eugene Weekly's "Next Big Thing" and artistic sponsorship via Ninkasi Brewery. A remix collaboration with Brooklyn-based Vinegar Hill Studios followed in 2011. 

They permanently relocated their songcraft & musical errantry back to San Fran Bay in 2012: releasing an EP ("Shooter's Hill") and explosive, Tarantino-inspired music video debut to accompany it (awarded "Audience Favorite" at 2013 Music Video Race). Two expansive single releases ("Long Hair, Short Wits" & "Song of Songs") were released on cassette tape in 2013. In 2014, they were chosen to be part of a documentary series from the culture website Lowbrow & released a feature video from that

Their 1st full-length LP ("Even Tenor") was released via vinyl/CD/digital on March 2015 and distributed by the InGrooves imprint, Creature Distribution. The album can be streamed & downloaded on Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, and Soundcloud.