INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY GRIFF’S ROOM BAND AND SAMANTHA FEIN-HELMAN
Though no one in the band is named Griff by nickname or by birth, he has been immortalized for his contribution in bringing fiddle player and vocalist David Adley, guitarist/vocalist Liam Anastasia-Murphy, and guitarist/percussionist/vocalist Michael Cammarata together to form GRIFF’S ROOM BAND. Though the band originated in a dorm room on the William and Mary College campus, they have since relocated to Richmond to focus more time on their budding music careers in one of Virginia’s most diverse and active music scenes. On May 31, 2014, the band released their debut EP, Shut The Case, and they have been busy building a following all over Virginia, Washington, D.C., and beyond. Recently, the three founding members brought on drummer Kyle Osterhaus and bassist Clayton Perry to complete the sound of the band’s live performances.
Who is Griff?
Liam: Griff was a roommate of mine in college, and he had many instruments in his room. He wouldn’t be there very often, so we would go in and play the instruments in his room when he wasn’t there. It kind of started as a joke at first, … but things then got a bit more serious and we started playing a bit more often. It kind of spiraled from there.
How long ago was that?
Liam: That was about three and half or four years ago.
Your music is self-described as “Americana pop,” which seems to be on the rise in popularity . Do you feel like your band has contributed to that in any way?
Liam: Maybe on a micro level. I don’t know.
David: I wouldn’t go as far as to say we’ve had any effect on the larger scene, but perhaps around here in Richmond, I think so.
Do you guys play often at any breweries or wineries in Virginia or Washington, D.C.?
Michael: We’ve played a lot of different breweries and wineries. There’s one up near where we went to school called Saudé Creek; that was one of the first wineries we’ve ever played. We love going back there. [We have] a lot of really great fans there, and really good barbecue and wine too, so that helps. We’ve played at AleWerks, also from Williamsburg, Strangeways here in Richmond, Legend, which was awesome, and we have yet to play at Hardywood, which is a pretty awesome spot and a lot of great bands play there. So we’re hoping to get on a bill there sometime soon.
You guys seem to be busy on social media promoting your upcoming show at The National on Friday, January 23 with BIG MAMA SHAKES. How did you end up getting on that show?
Liam: They contacted us a few months ago and asked if we wanted to do a “Best of the 804” On The Verge series, and we said, “Absolutely.” … Another band playing, called the BROKE ROYALS are friends of ours from William and Mary, and then we know BIG MAMA SHAKES just through the Richmond/Williamsburg scene, because we had been a part of both. David had actually played with the lead guitarist Brady and lead guy for BIG MAMA SHAKES a few times. We really like them, and they’re an awesome band … It should be a really fun show and a really great experience to play at The National.
I love your music video for your song “Corner Booth.” Is there an interesting story behind the meaning of that song?
Liam: “Corner Booth” is kind of a concept song. I wrote it a while ago when I was at home working in a restaurant, and it’s loosely based off of this fellow who used to come in pretty late three or four times a week to the restaurant and eat by himself. He would just hang out at the restaurant, have dinner, and hang out for a little while, and then leave. It was one of the first songs we ever wrote together as a group. I kind of brought the basic foundation, and it really built up from there once I brought it to the guys.
What would you say is your favorite song to play off your most recent album Shut The Case?
Michael: I’m gonna go ahead and pick my own song, and it does happen to be one of the songs that I sing on — “Could Be,” which is the second track. On the EP is just a couple acoustic guitars, a fiddle, bass, and our vocals all together, but lately, when we have been performing it as a five-piece, this whole new sound with the drums added in has so much energy. It’s just a lot of fun to play, but at the heart of it, there’s still the same feeling there is on the recording, where it’s pretty simple instrumentation and the harmonies. It’s still a very satisfying song and a lot more groovy.
David: I think my favorite to play live is “Corner Booth.” I just really like the energy of that song, and I think with our new drummer, he plays a sweet intro that really gets things going for the crowd, and for me personally playing up there. It gets me hyped.
I saw that you guys recently played a show at U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C. How did the audience respond to your music there?
Liam: It was great. That was a really fun show. It was a bit of a funny story. We opened for this band called THE SHADOWBOXERS, and they’re a pretty well known regional act out of Atlanta but they actually just moved to Nashville, Tenn. We got to open for them this summer in Arlington at Iota Club, and the sound was so bad. It was probably the worst show we’ve ever had. I don’t know if the sound guy was having a bad night, but there was so much feedback. The whole set was so terrible. I think they realized it was the sound guy’s problem, and they were very receptive to us opening for them again. This time U Street had incredible sound; it was really fun. It was a great crowd, and they were really responsive. We got to showcase a few new songs that we hadn’t before because we have a pretty good following up in D.C. because Michael is actually from there.
Michael: It was an early show because the way U Street works is they have these DJ sets at night. But despite the fact that it was an early show, there was still a good crowd there for us, which was great, and by the time THE SHADOWBOXERS played, the place was totally packed.
Liam: The other band, WHO NEEDS A PULSE, which is a D.C. based band, was really good.
David: I think for me, that show was one of a handful of times where we got a taste of what it was like to be a real rock band. The crowd was totally engaged, and Liam was standing up on an amp on the last song. The energy was translating really well between us and the audience. Between that and another show we played at Virginia Tech were the most surreal show experiences we’ve ever had.
Would you say that would be the closest thing to a “perfect show” that you guys have ever experienced together?
Liam: I thought as a full band, it was the tightest we’ve ever been as a five piece in a live setting, and musically, sound wise, and crowd engagement wise. It was pretty on point.
Are you guys currently on tour, or are you back home for a while?
David: We’re back here for a bit. We have a couple mini tours coming up.
Liam: And we’re always playing shows. If you want to call it a tour, we’re always playing around Virginia — Richmond, Hampton Roads, and the D.C. area. There’s rarely a weekend we’re not playing.
Michael: We’re doing a sweep through Philadelphia, and hopefully New York in March.
For more updates on GRIFF’S ROOM BAND, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and listen to their EP Shut The Case on iTunes.