Alexander & The Grapes
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Alexander & The Grapes

Saint Petersburg, Florida, United States

Saint Petersburg, Florida, United States
Rock Indie

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"Soundcheck Feature and Video Interview"

When Alexander Charos started Alexander and the Grapes in 2007, his band was almost an afterthought.

“On our first EP, it felt like I had written all these songs by myself, and then we got a band together and recorded them,” Charos said.
Four years later, as they prepare their first full-length album, the Grapes have aged — forgive us, but it must be said — like fine wine.
“I wrote all these songs to be played as a four-piece,” he said. “I put a lot more thought into what they can sound like as a band.”

It’s paying off onstage. The Dunedin group’s reliably warm, lush country-folk stylings have landed them gigs opening for national acts like Lovedrug, Say Hi and Lost in the Trees. At one show, the crowd dug the Grapes so much they demanded an encore — a rarity for a supporting band.

And like any good scene leader, the soft-spoken, Galifianakian Charos is always happy to spread the love. The Grapes often bring younger, like-minded indie bands onto their bills — including Friends of Giants, whose pianist, Tim Osterander, is a former member. “When we see some young bands that have potential, we try to hook them up with some shows,” Charos said. This spring, the Grapes are asking friends and fans to give back. The Grapes launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise money for their debut full-length album, which they hope to record in July at an analog studio in Massachusetts. The goal: $3,500.

Charos said he was nervous about setting the bar so high, but within weeks, they’d already pulled in nearly $1,700. To help grease wallets, the band is offering incentives for each donation price point, ranging from an acoustic EP download ($5) to a mega-package that includes a song on the album named after you ($500). Charos’ father-in-law was the first donor to reach top donation level. “So a song on the record’s gonna be named Chuck,” he laughed.

Charos crafts songs with his brother Philip, who plays drums. “I usually get the skeleton of the song together myself, and then have an idea of what the drums are going to be like, and then me and him will polish up the structure,” Charos said. “He played a lot of jazz and classical, so he’s got a lot of good composition ideas. He’ll give me some funky chords.”

Rounding out the group are guitarist Chase Swan and Tom Dicks, who’s currently attending Belmont University in Nashville (“Learning the music business,” Charos said), but returns to the area when possible to play with the band. In the studio, Swan, Dicks and Philip take their cues from Alexander, but bring high levels of energy and levity.

The band’s goal this summer, Charos said, is to write about 15 or 16 songs, then try to decide on 10 for the album.

“It’s usually a feeling we all mutually have, like, 'This song works,’” he said. “Sometimes I’ll have a song that I love and I’ll play it with the band, and it just dies. If we’re in practice and the song feels like it takes off, we can’t wait to play it live.”

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photo/video: Chris Zuppa, tbt* - Tampa Bay Times


"Alexander and the Grapes: A vintage-sounding bunch branches out"

When Alexander Charos started Alexander and the Grapes in 2007, his band was almost an afterthought.

“On our first EP, it felt like I had written all these songs by myself, and then we got a band together and recorded them,” Charos said.
Four years later, as they prepare their first full-length album, the Grapes have aged — forgive us, but it must be said — like fine wine.
“I wrote all these songs to be played as a four-piece,” he said. “I put a lot more thought into what they can sound like as a band.”

It’s paying off onstage. The Dunedin group’s reliably warm, lush country-folk stylings have landed them gigs opening for national acts like Lovedrug, Say Hi and Lost in the Trees. At one show, the crowd dug the Grapes so much they demanded an encore — a rarity for a supporting band.

And like any good scene leader, the soft-spoken, Galifianakian Charos is always happy to spread the love. The Grapes often bring younger, like-minded indie bands onto their bills — including Friends of Giants, whose pianist, Tim Osterander, is a former member. “When we see some young bands that have potential, we try to hook them up with some shows,” Charos said.

This spring, the Grapes are asking friends and fans to give back. The Grapes launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise money for their debut full-length album, which they hope to record in July at an analog studio in Massachusetts. The goal: $3,500.

Charos said he was nervous about setting the bar so high, but within weeks, they’d already pulled in nearly $1,700. To help grease wallets, the band is offering incentives for each donation price point, ranging from an acoustic EP download ($5) to a mega-package that includes a song on the album named after you ($500). Charos’ father-in-law was the first donor to reach top donation level. “So a song on the record’s gonna be named Chuck,” he laughed.

Charos crafts songs with his brother Philip, who plays drums. “I usually get the skeleton of the song together myself, and then have an idea of what the drums are going to be like, and then me and him will polish up the structure,” Charos said. “He played a lot of jazz and classical, so he’s got a lot of good composition ideas. He’ll give me some funky chords.”

Rounding out the group are guitarist Chase Swan and Tom Dicks, who’s currently attending Belmont University in Nashville (“Learning the music business,” Charos said), but returns to the area when possible to play with the band. In the studio, Swan, Dicks and Philip take their cues from Alexander, but bring high levels of energy and levity.

The band’s goal this summer, Charos said, is to write about 15 or 16 songs, then try to decide on 10 for the album.

“It’s usually a feeling we all mutually have, like, 'This song works,’” he said. “Sometimes I’ll have a song that I love and I’ll play it with the band, and it just dies. If we’re in practice and the song feels like it takes off, we can’t wait to play it live.”

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photo/video: Chris Zuppa, tbt* - Tampa Bay Times


"Review of Orlando Show 2-12-11"

. . . Alexander & the Grapes drove in from the Tampa area ready to make their impact on the 407 music scene. The Grapes consistency between their EP and live performance is dead on. They kept the tempo high and transitioned quickly between songs sparing little time. The Grapes are a truly enjoyable live experience.

5 out of 5 Stars - Art Exurb of 407


"Orlando blog gives EP 4 out of 5 stars"

It’s true that Alexander and the Grapes are a Tampa band, but since they’re headlining a 407 show at Stardust with locals Maximino, Mandy Sloan, and Howling Owls it seemed apropos to review their self-titled EP, that features a free-to-download track called “The Walk.”

The Grapes are a hard band to put your finger on, but that’s a good thing. They would fit in on Orange Twin/Elephant Six with bands like Nana Grizol, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Beulah. They transcend genres but are always channeling pop sensibilities with catchy hooks. “Made,” my favorite of the EP, is a love ditty that has a 50’s sound. “Susan” carries a country twang with punk breakdowns, while “Breathing” and “Listen” are more plodding folk jams. “The Walk” picks the tempo back up with catchy guitar riffs and a 90’s alternative feel. “Still See You” is the perfect way to close the album, a slower tune that channels “Fevers and Mirrors” era-Bright Eyes.

4 out of 5 Stars - Art Exurb of 407


"8/14/10 CD Release Show Review"

Two so-so acts were sandwiched between two really great ones at this past Saturday night’s New Granada show at New World Brewery.
Bradenton’s Marian offered up one of the tasty performances. The post-rock foursome had a knack for instrumental prowess that affected me more in the heart than in the head. Blame the drummer — he provided the chugging locomotion behind each track, a collection of gritty chords and melodies that reverberated in my ribcage and left me smiling.
Proud Iron Lion, however, underwhelmed me, another post-rock group that didn’t have any distinguishing musical elements to set them apart from the pack of post-rockers out there today. If Marian were Explosions In The Sky at their best, Proud Iron Lion was them at their most generic and derivative. Proud Iron Lion’s stylings simply didn’t possess any punch or zest. Perhaps it was an equipment issue, however, because their songs sound much better on their MySpace page.
Matt Hires was next. A local favorite for his work back with the group Brer, Hires amassed a sizeable crowd for his set — including a contingent of women in high heels, a rare site at the low-key New World. He was visibly nervous, which was surprising for a major label artist. Yet, his voice held true and clear. Problem is, what he sing was a little too cloying. He was crooning the type of lyrics that makes a certain type of lady swoon. Someone next to me summed up his estrogen-pleasing performance adroitly: “I don’t like this because I don’t have a vagina.” With his great hair and Dondero-meets-Oberst vulnerable quaver in his voice, Hires’ music could definitely be appreciated by people in the mood for kinda-girly soft rock. But, unfortunately, he didn’t have the artistic ability of Dondero or Oberst, as evidenced by his commonplace songwriting and schmaltzy demeanor. I was going to write that this type of music would be perfect for a TV drama — conventionally emotional, yet harmless — but his songs have already been picked up on shows like Gray’s Anatomy and Cougartown.
Alexander and The Grapes redeemed the evening with another kickass set. The group has really improved since I saw them last. And they were awesome that time, too. On this night, the band was celebrating the release of their new self-titled album, and performed selections from that release as well as from their unrecorded catalog. “Susan” was the opener and set the tone for the show — straight-up rock with an Americana backbone. It also saw lead singer Alexander Charos employ a more Johnny-Cash-like bass tone of a voice. Each that followed was rocker after rocker, and showed me I was right to bill this band as one of the best in Tampa Bay. It also reminded me about the assertion made by new CL Arts & Entertainment editor Julie Garisto in a St. Petersburg Times profile she wrote on the band. She likened their sound to the “rock backbone of the Band and psychedelic earthiness of Foxtrot-era Wilco.” With all of the sonic experimentations, I agree with the Wilco comparison. And in terms of rockability, it was definitely held together by a spinal column of similar stuff that the Band used. Case in point, near the end of the set, I thought someone was flicking cigarette ash on me. I soon realized that said “ash” was brown flakes of what appeared to be roofing insulation. Seems about right for Alexander and the Grapes — rocking the roof off the place… - Creative Loafing


"Concert Review"

I came to the show pretty much unaware of the first two acts and expecting to be blown away by the band I came for, Clock Hands Strangle. That’s not exactly what happened.

The opener, Tampa’s own Alexander and The Grapes, were the best band of the night. They sounded like Tallahassee’s fantastic Holiday Shores with Yoni Wolf of Why? on vocals (if Yoni were less nasally). The foursome produced some pretty pleasant pop-infused rock music, not too loud or too heavy. For one of the songs, “The Walk,” they brought out a slide guitar and the delayed twang of the instrument complemented the song’s country-tinged melody. The crowd was digging the band during their almost hour-long set and clamored for an encore. The band satisfied, ending epically with a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” Although lead singer/guitarist Alexander Charos called the freezing cold weather “Floridian blasphemy,” the music made this reviewer warm and toasty.

I couldn’t handle Tampa rock band Palantine. Their music was too aggressive for my taste. The songs had a sneering punk attitude, but not enough melody, or really anything positive I could get behind. A friend of mine who went with me to the concert — and who is far more technically inclined than I am about music — described their sound as “musically repetitive” and “full of 1/8 notes.” All I know is that the band was too much for me; too loud, too fast, too angry.

Now, I’d expected Gainesville headliners Clock Hands Strangle to play at least 45 minutes, but perhaps the cold of the night got to them because the set only clocked in at around 25 minutes. The band’s short burst of music was weird yet interesting — it sounded more like poetry set to music, like “A Stone Questions it’s Sculptor,” which sounded more like it was written by a creative writing student than a musician with its focus on mortality and themes. The band wasn’t really on stage long enough to get into a groove, so I don’t have much more to say about them other than I did find their abbreviated bit of jazz-flavored pop intriguing.

Oh, well. I guess it just goes to show that expectations don’t always turn out as planned. But at least I discovered a new local band I like — Alexander and The Grapes. - Creative Loafing


"Summer Jam 5 Review"

The night was getting late, and I was getting tired, having been back and forth between the two venues several times on a half-healed broken toe, so I decided to swing by New World to catch one final local act before hitting the road: Alexander & the Grapes. Lead singer/guitarist Alexander Charos looked the part of mountain man with his thick, gnarly beard, well-worn plaid shirt and cowboy boots, his emo-twangy vocals paired with the band’s easy-going roots rock. Bassist Tom Dicks brought the good-natured bounciness to his low-end frequencies and looked like he’d just got back from summer vacation with his youthful appearance — sloppy tee-shirt, boat shoes (no socks, of course), and a tendency to smile goofily while staring off into space. Drummer Philip Charos (the younger underage brother of Alexander) played
with lively enthusiasm and grinned all throughout, wearing the blissed-out expression of a person perfectly in his element, his dark curls and dressy casual attire (white collared shirt and tie) reminding me of Tom Everett Scott’s stick-wielding character in That Thing You Do. And support guitarist Chase Swan played electric guitar but was best when he was drawing out the long, lazy sliding notes from his lap steel, adding a nice texture to the band’s countrified leanings. - Creative Loafing


"Dunedin-based foursome Alexander and the Grapes attempt to describe their sound"

Opening acts, especially the locally-brewed variety, seldom get begged for encores. But a few days into the new decade, on-the-rise Bay area group Alexander and The Grapes earned lengthy applause and hearty shouts for more after their support set for Gainesville art-rockers Clock Hands Strangle came to an end.

What makes it even more intriguing is that no one in Alexander and The Grapes was older than 21 at the time.

I spoke with the foursome a little while back in the cramped rehearsal space/bedroom of lead singer/guitarist Alexander Charos at his parents' home in suburban Dunedin.

The Grapes produce melodic alt-country in the vein of artists like Micah P. Hinson, Lambchop and Wilco, the sort that calls to mind scuffed cowboy boots and dusty Southern barrooms. For interested new listeners, Grapes members tend to use Wilco as reference. And sometimes, even Wilco draws a blank. "The conversation for me will go, 'Hey, how does your band sound?'" bassist Tom Dicks explained. "And I'll say, 'Have you heard of Wilco?' And they'll say, 'No.' and I'll say, 'Nevermind.'"

However, for those who have heard of Wilco, there's no denying the similarities between the alt-country megastars and the emerging Dunedin four-piece. They both make innovative yet accessible downhome-flavored rock music that fits in with people who enjoy a bit of Southern Comfort in their indie latte. Yet, it'd be hard to find a person who hasn't heard of another, more popular group the band appreciates and is influenced by: The Beatles. The band's 17-year-old drummer, Philip Charos, sees a resemblance in terms of their song structure.

"A lot of the Beatles songs have memorable melodies and I think Alexander tries to write -- or doesn't try to write, but it ends up that way -- a memorable melody," said Philip, younger brother to Alexander. The siblings live under the same roof, which makes sharing creative ideas easier, and though the two generally get along, they diverge in their musical tastes. The younger Charos leans more toward jazz and classical while Alexander is drawn to straighforward rock 'n' roll. They both like the Beatles, however, and so does the rest of the group.

Though two of the four members claim George Harrison as their favorite, Pete Best (the guy who came before Ringo) is likely pretty high on their list as well. Early in the history of the Grapes, they opened for the former Fab Four musician. The support gig was arranged by Charos' dad while he was working at Clearwater's Royalty Theatre (now the Capitol Theatre).

Alexander and the Grapes have also been likened to Coldplay (you can hear the Grapes' respect for melody, but they don't have that Chris Martin wussiness), Vampire Weekend (I suppose, technically, the Grapes purvey college rock, since two members are in college, but I don't hear the Afrobeat), and even introspective indie singer-songwriter David Bazan, former frontman for Pedro The Lion. "I think people just say that because I have a beard," said a smiling Alexander.

The band has two shows on the horizon: one at New World this Saturday, the other opening for Lovedrug at Crowbar on June 13. Both should generate a nice healthy buzz in anticipation of the Grapes' studio debut, which the band plans to release sometime this summer. Check them out. Who knows -- you just might find yourself demanding an encore. - Creative Loafing


"Check out Alexander & The Grapes from Dunedin"

Well the weekend was good all in all. I hope all of you had a nice one as well. However, mine was enhanced at the New World Brewery in Ybor City Friday night. After a couple beers, I was sitting with a smoke and a band kicked in. The sound was new and took my ear immediately. Then, a gentleman by the name of Alexander pushed lyrics out to the crowd with a wisdom of that from another era. This four piece band, by the name of Alexander and the Grapes not only caught my attention, they were able to captivate a crowd of about 100 people. The band played a half hour set that was filled with their originals. Alexander Charos the lead singer, Phillip Charos the drummer, Tom Dicks on Bass, and Chase Swan playing lead guitar/slide combined to put out a sound infused with a little Wilco, a little Dylan, and all of their souls. Be on the lookout for Alexander and the Grapes 6 song LP which was recorded and is being mixed in Cambridge, MA as we speak. You can catch them on MySpace where they have the band’s gigs posted regularly. - SLAM Magazine


"Artist of The Day 7-8-2010"

Alexander and the Grapes packs a sweet and juicy wallop of pop, psychedelic and country. Whether those styles come at you mixed up or distilled with pure directness, there isn’t a bad tune in the bunch.
The college-aged group formed in Dunedin in 2007 and comprises brothers Alexander and Philip Charos, with Alexander on vocals and guitar and Philip on drums. Chase Swan plays guitar and lap steel; newest member Tom Dicks, bass.
At first blush, the vintage-nouveau Grapes might seem a little mellow, something you might slip on in the background, but during recent live performances, the band’s rousing rave-ups have stolen the attention of mingling barflies and unwitting passersby – while opening up for other bands. At one New World around New Year’s, they were kept on the stage for encores, a rare occurrence for any warm-up act.
See these scene stealers in action and hear music from their first, self-released album at their CD release party this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Missio Dei, 2750 Fifth Ave N, St. Petersburg. Helping them celebrate at their St. Pete CD release party will be the funtastic Grecian Urns and Friends of Giants.
Why did it take so long for the well-established local band to put out a CD?
"We have been slowly mixing it and getting the mastering done," Alexander Charos explained. Having enough money to complete it also presented some delays, he said.
They recorded it around a year ago in Boston, at the home of friend Jeremy Mendicino (of the band Pretty and Nice). Mendicino helped mix the six songs they recorded on tape with a bevy of vintage gear.
The result: "It’s got an old, warm sound to it," Charos said.
-- Julie Garisto, tbt - Tampa Bay Times Soundcheck


"Artist of The Day 3-26-2009"

Dunedin brothers Alexander and Philip Charos (vocals and drums, respectively) lead Alexander and the Grapes, a young, lo-fi folk foursome that also features Chase Swan on guitar and lap steel and Tom Dicks on bass. With plans to record in Atlanta this summer and release an EP in the fall, the group is keeping busy by playing with their friends in the local music scene, including Tailgunner Joe and the Earls of Slander and Matt Hires, formerly of Brer.
The band plays April 3 at an art show at the Family Life Center at 10002 N 56th St., Temple Terrace. Click here to listen to an mp3 of Alexander and the Grapes' The Walk in the player on the right. And for more on Alexander and the Grapes, check out this interview. - Tampa Bay Times Soundcheck


"TBT Feature/Interview"

Based in Dunedin and formed in 2007, Alexander and the Grapes are brothers Alexander Charos, 20, guitar and vocals, and Philip Charos, 15, drums and trombone, along with Chase Swan, 18, guitar and lap steel, and Chris Buckler, 21, bass.

The young band members display sophistication beyond their years by selectively incorporating elements of acoustic-electric folk pop of today and yesteryear — the introspective gentility of the Swell Season, rock backbone of the Band and psychedelic earthiness of Foxtrot-era Wilco.

Do you have any recording plans?

Alexander: Recording our EP is our main priority right now. We're looking at going up to Monsters and Marigolds studio in Atlanta this summer and hopefully releasing our EP in the early fall. At the present time we're just playing a lot of shows in the bay area with some really great bands.

You've played around town with other musicians …

Alexander: We have friends fill in with us sometimes so we can incorporate more instruments. Tailgunner Joe and the Earls of Slander are cool guys. They played a Dylan cover with us. Kyle used to play a lot of shows with us before he joined TGJ.

Chase: We are pretty much best buds with Proud Iron Lion. We have barbecues all the time.

What do each of you have going on these days outside the band?

Swan: Well, I'm finishing my A.A. at SPC this spring. I was a chocolatier. However, the store I was at went out of business recently.

Philip: I've been playing lots of gigs lately and studying music at PCCA.

Alexander: I'm out of school, working construction and trying to write as much music as I can.

Describe how you go about writing lyrics.

Alexander: I usually just sit down with the guitar and find some chords that I like, and then I just start singing phrases that are in my mind till I find something that I think can turn into a good song. I try listening to a lot of different songwriters and find different styles of writing. I've been really into John Mark McMillan and Glen Hansard's songwriting lately. I've been trying to focus more on writing songs that I like, because the worst feeling is when you get so caught up in what you think other people will think that you can't even enjoy writing anymore.

If you had to vote for a groundbreaking record of 2008 …

Alexander: The Medicine by John Mark McMillan

Chase: Microwavable by Brer. It's from '07 but it's too good to leave out.

Philip: The Baron Von Bear EP.

Name a band from the past you would open for.

Alexander: The Band, because I wish we could be just like them.

Philip: Elvis, the Vegas years. He had such great costumes.

Chase: The Wonders — Steve Zahn made me want to play guitar.

- Julie Garisto, tbt - Tampa Bay Times


"Sarasota Herald Tribune 7/22/10"

Band: Alexander and the Grapes


Members: Alexander Charos (vocals, guitar), Chase Swan (guitars), Tom Dicks (bass), Philip Charos (drums)

Base of operation: Dunedin

When formed: 2006

Style/genre of music: Indie folk rock

Bio: Swan joined the talented Charos brothers after seeing them perform in late 2006 (with a previous bassist); Dicks came aboard in January 2009. Originally called Alexander and The Greats (a play on Alexander the Great and the Charos' Greek heritage), a venue misprinted the name as "Alexander and The Grapes," and it stuck. The surprisingly young group (all but Philip Charos, 17, are in their early 20s) is fueled by Alexander's prolific and reflective songwriting. With dozens of tunes catalogued, The Grapes' sound pushes standard genre boundaries, garnering descriptives such as alt-country, psychedelic and roots rock (and combinations thereof), yet the band's own conception is that it's "younger, hipper" folk rock. After playing to growing crowds and receiving more-frequent regional print accolades, The Grapes laid down six tracks (including one conceived while recording) on its first EP (self-titled), released last weekend.

Quote: "I think I speak for all of us in saying that we want as many people as possible to hear and enjoy our music," Swan said, "In the near future, we would like to do a little tour of Florida so we can get our music out to a wider audience and also get to know our lovely state better. Above all else, we just want to play music all day every day."

Where to buy CDs: Amazon and iTunes; performances ($5)

Website: www.myspace.com/alexanderandthegrape

-- Dawn Scire, - Sarasota Herald Tribune


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

"Hemispheres" coming June 26th on New Granada Records. Tour to follow, check back soon for dates.

2011 was an amazing year for the band. We exceeded our Kickstarter goal of $3,500 thanks to our amazing fans, friends, and families. We then drove to Boston to work with our friend Jeremy Mendicino at his analog recording lair, Esthudio, and we recorded our first full length album. We’re really proud of the music that came out of those blistering 11 days in the studio, and we can’t wait for you to hear it.

video & photos at: alexanderandthegrapes.com

The Grapes have shared the stage with Portugal the Man, John Vanderslice, Surfer Blood, Say Hi, Pretty & Nice, Lovedrug, Honorary Title, Matt Hires, Yellow Ostrich, Lost in The Trees, Plants & Animals and many more nationally touring bands.

past dates:

3/17/2012-
SXSW Official: Skinny's Balroom, Austin, TX

3/16/2012-
SXSW Day Party: Dogwood, Austin, TX

3/14/2012-
SXSW Day Party: Dominican Joe, Austin, TX

10/29/2011
Boston, MA Middle East Upstairs

10/31/2011
New York, NY Joe’s Pub

11/1/2011
Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live

11/2/2011
Vienna, VA Jammin Java

11/4/2011
Chapel Hill, NC Casbah

11/5/2011
Atlanta, GA Smith’s Olde Bar – ATL Room

11/8/2011
Orlando, FL The Plaza Theatre – Small Hall

11/9/2011
Tampa, FL The Orpheum