Waking Grey
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Waking Grey

Band Rock Acoustic


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The best kept secret in music


"Music Shows the Way"

Music Shows the Way

"The sound is reminiscent of Howie Day, Our Lady Peace, Guster and Dispatch, but fresh and vibrant." -Don Erickson, Nashoba Publishing

TOWNSEND -- When he was having trouble with reading and math in grammar school, Keith Griffis was told he wasn't overly smart and could never expect to get A's.

When he got to Nashoba Valley Technical High School, people told him he could never go to college after attending a trade school.

Now, he's in the top third of his senior class at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell as an electrical engineering student with a minor in sound recording. "But most amazingly, people would never have thought that he was a musician," said Kevin Swarniski, Producer at Somerville-based Cheapjag Records.

Above all else, Griffis is just that. It has been music that showed him who he is, what he can do, and where he wants to go.

The son of Bobby and Gloria Griffis of Highland Street, Townsend, Keith is the leader of Waking Grey, an acoustic rock band familiar to patrons of Capo's in Lowell and Greater Boston club goers. The group is in the process of making its debut album at Handyman Studios in Wilmington.

Griffis and his full-body, six-string Martin, along with drummer, Brendan Finnegan, and a rotating cast of bass players -- Andy Valerio is on this album -- have been together two years as Waking Grey.

"We aren't loud," Griffis said in a recent interview. "We're acoustic-based rock, sometimes electric."

The sound is reminiscent of Howie Day, Our Lady Peace, Guster, and Dispatch, but fresh and vibrant.

Griffis has sung in rock bands, but prefers acoustic rock. "We're not a generalized, angry voice," he said.

He is the first musical person in his family. He credits his upbringing for giving him the confidence to break away from merely copying other bands and to become his own voice.

"My dad is from the South and was in the military," said the well-mannered Griffis. "I was brought up on Devens. My dad is still there as contracting officer. He always told me that people can tell you anything but you have to believe you can do it.

"Knowing someone is there and having someone to come home to is wonderful. My older brother, Bobby Jr., supports me, too. He is the first to help me out with videotapes," he said.

While one of the grammar school teachers who told him he wouldn't get far had a "Cruella DeVille style of teaching," Griffis said he credits a second for "turning me on, making us write poems every day." One of his poems was published in a book he dedicated to his father.

Griffis initially wanted to attend Berklee College of Music and spent one summer studying jazz as a vocalist, even though he plays guitar, bass, and a little keyboard and drums. The school was too expensive, but he kept up with six months of classic vocal lessons as a prerequisite for the UMass Lowell sound recording program.

He turned to electrical engineering when he discovered his lack of a traditional background for voice recording and his distaste for the mechanics of turning knobs in a sound room.

"I wanted to understand what was happening so I turned to double E," he said. "My family is engineering based and recording would have been easy, but I wanted something driven by my own ambitions.

"The hardest part of engineering is to understand it. In order to get answers to music and life you have to ask the right questions," Griffis said. "Writing music down is very mathematical so music and engineering are not very different."

An acoustic musician must be technically pure, he said. "I wanted to put myself out there with a guitar, me as a person. I focused for two years to get my craft down and complement the voice. I didn't want to compromise the music."

He recommends that music students should find someone they are comfortable with to teach them and to fully understand music theory. "You must know theory in a [recording] session," he said. "For example, putting a vocal on recordings often demands you make up lyrics and the song on the fly."

Griffis hears melodies constantly and draws a lot of his lyrics from his family, teachers, loved ones, or other people he meets. "A song can turn a perspective," he said. "It's a big responsibility, and you're obligated to give the best that you have."

Swarniski said of Griffis, "I am still amazed that he continues to develop his music alongside his career as an engineer. His lightheartedness and ability to adapt make him an extraordinary musician and person."

- Don Erickson, Nashoba Publishing

"Dan Phelps"

"Go see Waking Grey. This band has it, that certain
something that sets them apart from other bands of their genre. In fact, Waking
Grey is its own genre. That's why they're different. They sound as though
they've been playing together forever." - Dan Phelps, Lowell Sun - Lowell Sun


Waking Grey - CD Sampler
Waking Grey - Self-titled Debut (Release 9/1/04)

Waking Grey can be heard on:
WBRS 100.01FM
WBTY 105.3FM
Mix 98.5FM
The River 92.5FM
WHOB 106.3FM
Streemed on over 50 Online Stations.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Boston is a place where great music can fall beneath the cracks. How is it then that in under a year a band can create such a buzz? Maybe it is the acoustic rock sound, the flexibilty of venues played, or the intensity and passion of Waking Grey. Most would tell you that it is their drive and determination as well as their personality that has garnered them success. Being compared to acts like Guster, Dispatch, Howie Day, and Our Lady Peace, the band has been extremely well recieved in Boston and beyond. The band was so well recieved in fact that in under 6 months Waking Grey was offered spots at CBGB's in NY and Woodstock 5 in S. Africa, bringing together 50,000 people. This determination and love of performance can be seen in all three members of the band. Their lighthearted, yet hearfelt, performances draw fans to them in large numbers and an evergrowing presence can be seen at each show. So in short, the band is more than music, but drive, personality, and pure energy.