I’d like to take this opportunity to nip something in the bud: Cambridge, Ontario’s Greber is in no way associated with, saluting, paying homage to, or actually even really aware of, former NHL goaltender Martin Gerber. The first indication should have been that the moniker as selected by the two-man sludge/doom monolith is spelt completely differently than the former Mighty Ducks/Senators/Maple Leafs/Hurricanes/Oilers netminder. Topping that off is the fact that the band has gone on record numerously saying their chosen handle is made up and means absolutely nothing.Anyhow, Greber’s formation comes at the hand of friendship and geography. Bassist/vocalist Marc Bourgon and drummer/vocalist Steve Vargas are based in Cambridge, but play in Ottawa’s Fuck the Facts and Montreal’s The Great Sabatini, respectively (Vargas also plays in Biipiigwan, which is based at various points between eastern and northern Ontario). The two used to be in a band called Tugnut and amidst that band calling it quits and the long distance relationships with their other bands, the two joined forces to live out their fantasies of playing a ridiculously bottom-heavy racket in crusty rehearsal rooms and any shitty basement that’ll have ’em. After a series of splits and EP’s, they’ve recently issued their debut full-length, Kiln Hardened Psalms via Handshake Inc./No Why/Sludge Hummer Records. Below, Bourgon introduces the band by answering some of my boring questions in his not-so-boring style.
Let’s get the introductory crap out of the way: hit me with some band history?
We were in a trio years ago and when that band ended we figured it would be fun to keep on playing music together. We’re good friends and just needed an excuse to hang out. Seems legit right?
Since this is your first time on the Deciblog and given the millions of bands out there these days, what do you feel has Greber standing apart from those millions? Why should a dude think twice about spending his beard shampoo money on a Greber record or gig?
Depends on the beard shampoo, I suppose. We are doing something that NO ONE has EVER done before. Just bass and drums you ask? That’s right! Name one band off the top of your head that has only bass and drums. Didn’t think so. Our past musical endeavour was pretty far out so coming off of that, we were just out to make some heavy shit that makes you laugh at how ridiculously crushing it is. Hopefully we succeed, but if not, it’s a great release for the both of us and it’s something that we’ll continue to pursue. If you decided to grow a beard, which shampoo would you use? Damn dude, you could be the next Frank and Oak model on the Lambgoat ads! (I’m serious, let’s talk)
Were there ever any initial reservations about limitations or restrictions in deciding to a two-piece band? What have you found to be the more salient pros and cons of Greber vs. Fuck the Facts/The Great Sabatini?
It’s a different beast entirely. A ton of time and scrutinization goes into what we do seeing as we only have one melodic instrument and to be honest, we’re still figuring it out. With only having two members it’s easier to decide on something during the writing process, but at the same time, having only one other person to bounce your ideas off of is a limitation as well. With FtF, everyone’s opinion gets factored in which takes a lot longer, but in the end the songs are something that not one of us every pictured. It’s pretty sweet. So, I guess the pro IS the con, if that makes any sense. The songs we write take less time to finish but they undergo less of a transformation. Oh shit, and loading gear. That’s fun with just the two of us.
On a related note, with your being separated from your other bands/band members by geography, aside from the obvious ability to spend more face-to-face time in Greber, what does this band offer to you that you other bands don’t? Was there a particular “a-ha” moment when you realised you were on to something with Greber?
I think that we have practice with Greber as much as we practice with Fuck the Facts/The Great Sabatini, respectively. We’re always pretty busy practicing for our other bands and it’s usually only before shows/recording that we get to bang out the hits together.
The new album was pieced together over the course of a year or so, was it not? Walk us through the creative/writing/recording process, if you could be so kind.
It was actually pieced together over the span of four years. We suck. We wrote the songs over a few years, recorded the drums a few summers ago, and then finished with the bass/vocals/theremin/turntables this summer past. The next one won’t take as long hopefully. Manowar wrote and recorded Kings of Metal in under a year. Fucking gods right there.
When you look back on the creation of Kiln Hardened Psalms, what do you wish had more time to do/could have done differently/avoided/etc.?
Nothing. I’m stoked on how it came out. Wish it was done sooner but fuck it, it’s done now and I couldn’t be happier. Ask me in a few years when I think it sounds like shit and the songs are lame.
What’s the story behind the album’s title?
Just based on an old story between friends. Nothing too deep. A sort of trial by fire at the risk of sounding lame. Ahh shit, too late.
Is the CD really limited to 50 copies? Sure, creating demand is one thing and CD sales are down, I’ve been told, but that hardly seems like a financially swift plan. What gives?
Fuck it, we don’t want to be looking at the damn things for the next five years, so we figured do a limited run of them to bring on our east coast tour. We’ll have a butt ton of vinyl that we are releasing through No Why Records which is a new label run by our good friend Mark McGee. Should be available soon.
How difficult is juggling the recording and touring schedules of Greber and your other bands and the rest of your life when, at best, your musical endeavours are breaking even?
It’s definitely tough, but that’s the gig. Is it worth the cost of travel, lost time from work, eating plane ticket costs etc.? Absolutely! I suppose if I can find a legit job that I enjoy doing as much as this music bullshit I would do it in a heartbeat. But as of right now, KNOUPE. People will always tell you how hard it is to do this underground band thing and they’re right. That being said the rewards outweigh the bowls of shit you eat to get them so I guess that makes it just about even.
What’s been your sketchiest tour experience of the last calendar year?
When I was in Mexico with FtF some huge skinhead dude was trying to get me to show him my passport. He looked like Bane with a sloped forehead. Nothing came if it and that was pretty much it. Tough life, eh? I think I saw Bill from The Acheron there handing out flyers. I might have been drunk. Hey Bill, did that happen?
What does the new year hold for Greber?
We’ve already got most of a new album written and we are going to be recording some new material for a split with Anthesis (who I would recommend checking out). When all that will be out, I do not know. Steve is expecting his first kid in January as well as heading out to Europe with The Great Sabatini in the spring and FtF will be busy with exotic high-roller touring plans and getting our new full-length out so Greber might not be doing all too much. We’ll see, maybe I’ll grow another arm.
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Watch some beer-soaked shenanigans: